Shan Huang

Shan Huang, PhD candidate in ecology, developed a creative project for her doctoral research that integrates computer programming with global-scale databases to ask questions about the relationship between evolutionary history and current biodiversity. Huang’s research applies spatial analysis methods, phylogenetic comparative methods using evolutionary “supertrees” and statistical models to analyze data sets compiled across large spatial and taxonomic scales. She hopes to evaluate phylogenetic information as an explanation for global patterns of mammal biodiversity and the diversity of parasites in free-living carnivore populations. Her use of computational methods would expand significantly methods of investigation that have traditionally focused on a few species contained in a small geographic scale. The databases Huang uses span thousands of species and combine data on their geographic ranges, biological traits, evolutionary relatedness and common parasites.