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Tandy Warnow

2010 - US & Canada Competition
Natural Sciences - Computer Science

BIO

Tandy Warnow is Professor of Computer Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, and is a member of five graduate programs: Computer Science; Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior; Molecular and Cellular Biology; Mathematics; and Computational and Applied Mathematics.

Warnow received her Ph.D. in Mathematics in 1991 at UC Berkeley under the direction of Gene Lawler, and did postdoctoral training with Simon Tavare and Michael Waterman at USC. She received the National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award in 1994, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation Award in Science and Engineering in 1996, and was a 2003-2004 Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Warnow develops algorithms and mathematical theory for estimating phylogenetic trees, a discipline that requires mathematics, computer science, probability, statistics, and intensive collaborations with domain specialists. She has contributed mathematical techniques for analyzing the statistical performance of phylogeny reconstruction methods, and new methods that can recover the true tree with high probability from polynomial length sequences. Her main focus is software development for large-scale phylogeny estimation, including complex evolutionary models of genome evolution. She has developed new methods for estimating evolutionary histories for whole genomes using rearrangement events, for detecting and reconstructing reticulate evolution (i.e., hybridization and horizontal gene transfer), and for co-estimation of phylogenetic trees and alignments. A recent focus is to produce methods that can produce highly accurate phylogenies of datasets with up to 500,000 molecular sequences. Warnow also works in computational historical linguistics, where the objective is to estimate evolutionary histories of natural languages, and has developed mathematical models of language evolution and algorithms for estimating evolution from linguistic data. She has collaborated with linguist Donald Ringe for more than a decade in an analysis of the Indo-European family of languages.

During her Guggenheim Fellowship, Warnow will focus on three new problems in phylogeny estimation: whole genome phylogeny, co-estimation of sequence alignments and phylogenetic trees, and metagenomic phylogenetic placement.

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