Joseph Felsenstein

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Joe Felsenstein
Joe Felsenstein
Joseph Felsenstein

(1942-05-09) May 9, 1942 (age 76)
Alma materUniversity of Chicago
Known forPHYLIP
Felsenstein's tree-pruning algorithm
AwardsSewall Wright Award (1993)
Weldon Memorial Prize (2000)
Darwin–Wallace Medal (2008)
John J. Carty award (2009)
International Prize for Biology (2013)
Scientific career
Population genetics
Phylogenetic comparative methods
InstitutionsUniversity of Washington
ThesisStatistical Inference and the Estimation of Phylogenies (1968)
Doctoral advisorRichard Lewontin[1]
Notable studentsFred W. Allendorf

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 .[18]

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.[19] He was a red diaper baby (child of CPUSA members) and was named after Joseph Stalin.[19]

An interview covering aspects of his academic career is part of the Distinguished Faculty Interview Series [20] of the Department of Genome Sciences, University of Washington.


  1. ^ Joseph Felsenstein at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  2. ^ "International Prize for biology | Japan Society for the Promotion of Science". Retrieved 2015-12-03.
  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. (subscription required)
  5. ^ Joseph Felsenstein publications indexed by Google Scholar
  6. ^ List of publications from Microsoft Academic
  7. ^ James F. Crow Archived 2006-08-28 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-08-28. Retrieved 2006-08-16.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  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. doi:10.2307/2408678. 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. Archived from the original on 29 December 2010. Retrieved 25 February 2011.
  18. ^
  19. ^ a b Early History of the Personal Computer
  20. ^