Phylogeneticist to Discuss Microscopic Organisms in UA’s ALLELE Series

  • March 21st, 2017
Dr. Casey Dunn
Dr. Casey Dunn

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Dr. Casey Dunn, an associate professor at Brown University and a pioneer in the study of the tree of life, or phylogenetics, will give the next installment of the Alabama Lectures on Life’s Evolution, or ALLELE, series at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 30, in the North Lawn Hall Auditorium on The University of Alabama campus.

Dunn’s lecture, “More than Filling in the Holes: Why Poorly Known Taxa Are Critical to Understanding Animal Evolution,” will discuss the importance of microscopic organisms in comprehending the world’s ecology and evolutionary relationships. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Among other things, Dunn studies phylogenetics, a field that focuses on inferring the evolutionary relationships among species or genes. Dr. Kevin Kocot, an assistant professor of biology at The University of Alabama, said that Dunn is at the forefront of this field and that his work aims to understand how animal life on Earth is related using cutting-edge genomic approaches.

“If you look at the animal tree of life, there are entire branches made up entirely of microscopic organisms and other poorly known groups that most people go their entire lives without knowing about,” Kocot said. “Although small or obscure, these organisms can be critical for understanding broader patterns in animal evolution. Dunn’s talk will address recent, sometimes paradigm-shifting insights gained from studies of poorly known animals.”

Dunn received a Bachelor of Science in biological sciences from Stanford University. He then studied evolutionary biology at Yale and did a postdoc in evolutionary developmental biology in Hawaii. Since 2007, he has been on the faculty at Brown University.

The ALLELE series brings speakers to the UA campus to discuss aspects of evolution.

The 2015-2016 ALLELE series is supported by UA’s College of Arts and Sciences, the Alabama Museum of Natural History, the Office of Academic Affairs, Honors College, the Blount Scholars Program, New College, the Summersell Center for the Study of the South and UA’s departments of anthropology, biological sciences, chemistry, communicative disorders, education studies in psychology, research methodology and counseling, English, geological sciences, history, philosophy, physics and astronomy, psychology, religious studies and telecommunication and film.

Learn more about the series at

The ALLELE lecture series is part of UA’s College of Arts and Sciences, the University’s largest division and the largest liberal arts college in the state. Students from the College have won numerous national awards including Rhodes Scholarships and Goldwater Scholarships.




Dr. Kevin Kocot, assistant professor of biology,


Courtney Corbridge,, 205/348-8539

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