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About Me

Wrighting April

Dr. April Wright

NSF Postdoctoral Fellow in Tracy Heath's lab at Iowa State University and Corrie Moreau's lab at the Field Museum

For my full CV, please click here.

For information on my current NSF Fellowship, please click here.

For my Google Scholar, please click here.

Previous: Postdoc with Mark Holder at the University of Kansas

Previous: PhD student with David Hillis at the University of Texas at Austin

E-mail contact: wright [dot] aprilm [at]

Office: Bessey Hall 228

Research Interests

You can find a copy of my thesis here.

Broadly, I am interested in statistical phylogenetics, particularly the integration of molecular and morphological information to answer evolutionary questions.

Fossils and Phylogeny

I'm very interested in the best practices for estimating phylogenetic trees from combined molecular and morphological datasets (including information from the fossil record). Fossil data present many challenges for researchers investigating phylogenetic and macroevolutionary questions. Missing data, biases in preservation and model adequacy are all topics in which I have an interest. Keep an eye on my blog for tutorials and other hosted materials on this topic.

Relevant Outputs:

Lanfear R, Wright AM, Fransden PB, Senfeldova T, Calcott B. Accepted. PartitionFinder 2: new methods for selecting partitioned models of evolution for molecular and morphological phylogenetic analyses. Mol. Biol.

Matzke NJ, Wright AM. 2016. Inferring node dates from tip dates in fossil Canidae: the importance of tree priors. Biol. Lett. 12: 8.

Bapst DW, Wright AM, Lloyd GT, Matzke NJ. 2016. Topology, divergence dates, and macroevolutionary inferences vary between different tip-dating approaches applied to fossil theropods (Dinosauria). Biol. Lett. 12: 7.

Wright, AM, Lloyd, GT and Hillis, DM. 2016. Sys. Biol. Modeling character change heterogeneity in phylogenetic analyses of morphology through the use of priors. Syst. Biol. 65: 602-611.

Wright, AM and Hillis, DM. 2014. Bayesian Analysis Using a Simple Likelihood Model Outperforms Parsimony for Estimation of Phylogeny from Discrete Morphological Data. PLoS ONE 9:e109210.

Putting Fossils in Time Trees

How can we best make use of fossil data when estimating divergence dates? How can current methods, such as 'tip-dating' methods, be applied to paleontological information? Along with collaborators, I am developing empirical projects to address this question.


My NSF postdoctoral fellowship was recently funded. You can read it here.

Relevant output:

Along with two collaborators, I hosted a workshop and symposium at the SVP meetings.

Matzke NJ, Wright AM. In Review, Biol. Lett. Ground‐truthing tip‐dating methods using fossil Canidae reveals major differences in performance. Preprint here.

Bapst DW, Wright AM, Lloyd GT, and Matzke NJ. In Review, Bio. Lett. Topology, divergence dates, and macroevolutionary inferences vary between different tip-dating approaches applied to fossil theropods (Dinosauria)

Estimation and Use of Phylogenetic Trees

If you can put a tree on it, I'm interested. I'm a part of several projects including phylogenomic studies of population history and examining the contribution of topological uncertainty in modeling the evolution of complex traits.

Relevant Outputs:

Hillis, DM, Devitt, TD, Wright, AM, Cannatella, DC. 2015. Genomic Assessment of Taxonomic Status of Central Texas Eurycea Salamanders. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Meirelles L; Solomon S; Bacci M, Wright AM, Mueller, U, Rodrigues, A. 2015. Shared Escovopsis infections destabilize the tripartite co-evolution hypothesis in the higher-attine fungus-growing ant symbiosis. R. Soc. Open Sci. 2:9.

Wright, AM, Lyons KM, Brandley M, Hillis DM. 2015. Which Came First? Robustness in Phylogenetic Reconstruction of Ancestral States. J Exp. Biol. 324: 504-516. Data and code

Li, T, Hua, J, Wright, AM, Cui, Y, Xie, Q, Bu, W and Hillis, DM. 2014.Long-branch attraction and the phylogeny of true water bugs (Hemiptera: Nepomorpha) as estimated from mitochondrial genomes. BMC Evolutionary Biology 14:99.

Computational Literacy and Education

I'm probably most vocally interested in the pedagogy of computer science and increasing the participation of underrepresented groups in this field. My courses taught page is frequently updated with course materials, all of which are CC-BY. Feel free to use these materials as you see fit (but attribute me!), or get in touch with me to talk more about them.

Relevant Outputs:

Archived workshop materials can be found here.
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Wrighting April by April Wright is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.