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SBU News > Events > October 24 Provost’s Lecture with Dean Adams and Presentation of Rohlf Medal

October 24 Provost’s Lecture with Dean Adams and Presentation of Rohlf Medal

Dean C. Adams

Morphometrics, Macroevolution, and an Effect Size Measure for Multivariate Data

Dean C. Adams
Dean Adams

Dean Adams is Professor of Evolutionary Biology at Iowa State University, where he is the Director of Graduate Education in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. His research focuses on the development of new analytical tools for quantifying multivariate phenotypes (morphometrics), methods for characterizing patterns of phenotypic evolution, and the use of statistical permutation approaches for evaluating high-dimensional datasets. He is primary author of the popular software R-package geomorph, which facilitates shape analysis and phylogenetic comparative analyses of high-dimensional data. He is also an author of the R-package RRPP for high-dimensional data analysis. He has taught many workshops that have brought advanced morphometric techniques and phylogenetic comparative tools to scientists throughout the world. Dr. Adams’ empirical work focuses on morphological evolution in vertebrates, with an emphasis on plethodontid salamanders. Professor Adams is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He received his PhD from Stony Brook University’s Department of Ecology and Evolution in 1999.

Abstract: Understanding how phenotypes evolve at macroevolutionary scales is a major goal in evolutionary biology and lies within the purview of phylogenetic comparative methods. However, while comparative evolutionary biology provides a paradigm for characterizing patterns of phenotypic evolution, much of this toolkit is univariate, allowing only single-valued traits to be evaluated. By contrast, the field of geometric morphometrics provides a rich analytical framework for quantifying complex traits in a multivariate context, yet these approaches have been typically applied to non-phylogenetic questions. To decipher evolutionary patterns in complex traits, the best of both analytical toolkits is required. His work has attempted to bridge this gap by providing new analytical theory and methods that merge and advance these two fields. In this talk, Dean Adams will review some of the developments that underlie the mathematical merger of multivariate shape theory and phylogenetic comparative methods. He argues that the unification of geometric morphometrics with phylogenetic comparative methods provides a path forward to addressing many recalcitrant issues in the macroevolution of multivariate phenotypes and has revealed several unexpected patterns not appreciated from a univariate perspective alone. His work has also led to the emergence of an effect size measure for multivariate data, which has surprisingly broad application across a wide range of research questions. He anticipates this new effect size measure will have wide utility in morphometrics, evolutionary biology, and beyond.

This Provost’s Lecture, co-sponsored by the Department of Anthropology and Department of Ecology and Evolution, will be held on Thursday, October 24, at 4 pm, in the Charles B. Wang Center Lecture Hall 2.

Dr. Adams will be presented with the Rohlf Medal for Excellence in Morphometric Methods and Applications, which is awarded every two years to the top researcher contributing to the development and application of morphometrics and multivariate analyses in the biological sciences.

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