Joseph Felsenstein

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Professor Joe Felsenstein
Joe Felsenstein
Born Joseph Felsenstein
1942 (age 72–73)[citation needed]
Fields Systematics
Population genetics
Phylogenetic comparative methods
Institutions University of Washington
Alma mater University of Chicago
Thesis Statistical Inference and the Estimation Phylogenies (1968)
Doctoral advisor Richard Lewontin[1]
Doctoral students Jeffrey Thorne
Bruce Walsh[1]
Chul Joo Kang
Known for PHYLIP
Felsenstein's tree-pruning algorithm
Notable awards Sewall Wright Award (1993)
Darwin–Wallace Medal (2008)
John J. Carty award (2009)
International Prize for Biology (2013)

Joseph "Joe" Felsenstein (born May 9, 1942[2]) is Professor in the Departments of Genome Sciences and Biology and Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Computer Science and Statistics at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is best known for his work on phylogenetic inference, and is the author of Inferring Phylogenies, and principal author and distributor of the package of phylogenetic inference programs called PHYLIP. Closely related to his work on phylogenetic inference is his introduction of methods for making statistically independent comparisons using phylogenies.[3][4][5][6]


Felsenstein did his undergraduate work at the University of Wisconsin–Madison where he did undergraduate research under James F. Crow.[7] He then did doctoral work under Richard Lewontin in the 1960s, when he was at the University of Chicago,[8] and did a postdoc at the Institute of Animal Genetics in Edinburgh[8] prior to becoming faculty at the University of Washington.


In addition to his work in phylogenetics,[9][10][11][12] [13] Felsenstein is also noted for his work in theoretical population genetics, including studies on selection, migration, linkage, speciation, and the coalescent.[14][15][16]


Felsenstein is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He was awarded the Darwin-Wallace Medal by the Linnean Society of London in 2008. In 2009 he was awarded the John J. Carty Award from the National Academy of Sciences.[17] In 2013 he was awarded the International Prize for Biology by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science .[2]

The moth species Ufeus felsensteini was named in his honor.

Personal life[edit]

Felsenstein is the older brother of early personal computer designer Lee Felsenstein.[18] He was a red diaper baby (child of CPUSA members) and was named after Joseph Stalin.[18]

An interview covering aspects of his academic career is part of the Distinguished Faculty Interview Series [19] of the Department of Genome Sciences, University of Washington.


  1. ^ a b Joseph Felsenstein at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ Felsenstein, J. (1985). "Phylogenies and the Comparative Method". The American Naturalist 125: 1–2. doi:10.1086/284325. 
  4. ^ Joseph Felsenstein's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database, a service provided by Elsevier.
  5. ^ Joseph Felsenstein's publications indexed by Google Scholar, a service provided by Google
  6. ^ List of publications from Microsoft Academic Search
  7. ^ James F. Crow
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ Felsenstein, J. (1973). "Maximum Likelihood and Minimum-Steps Methods for Estimating Evolutionary Trees from Data on Discrete Characters". Systematic Biology 22 (3): 240–249. doi:10.1093/sysbio/22.3.240. 
  10. ^ Felsenstein, J. (1981). "Evolutionary trees from DNA sequences: A maximum likelihood approach". Journal of molecular evolution 17 (6): 368–376. doi:10.1007/BF01734359. PMID 7288891. 
  11. ^ Felsenstein, J. (1982). "Numerical Methods for Inferring Evolutionary Trees". The Quarterly Review of Biology 57 (4): 379–404. doi:10.1086/412935. 
  12. ^ Felsenstein, Joe (1985). "Confidence limits on phylogenies: an approach using the bootstrap" (pdf). Evolution 39 (4): 783–791. JSTOR 2408678. 
  13. ^ Felsenstein, J. (1988). "Phylogenies from Molecular Sequences: Inference and Reliability". Annual Review of Genetics 22: 521–565. doi:10.1146/ PMID 3071258. 
  14. ^ Felsenstein, J., and B. Taylor, eds. 1973. A Bibliography of Theoretical Population Genetics. U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, Technical Information Center, Oak Ridge, Tenn.
  15. ^ Felsenstein, J. 2004. Inferring Phylogenies. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, Mass.
  16. ^ Felsenstein, J. 2005. Theoretical Evolutionary Genetics (free ebook)
  17. ^ "John J. Carty Award for the Advancement of Science". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 25 February 2011. 
  18. ^ a b Early History of the Personal Computer
  19. ^