Gude Part of NSF "Tree of Life" Design Team

Posted on: September 16, 2013

Gude Tree of LifeThis week, MSU faculty member Karl Gude is in Arlington, Virg., to present the first phase of his National Science Foundation grant.

As it is a larger grant, valued at $6 million, there are 10 universities, including Michigan State, working on it. Together, they are building the evolutionary tree of life to display on an interactive website.

Once created, this project will be the first-ever online, comprehensive tree of all species, accessible to both the public and scientific communities. According to the grant team's project summary, the tree of life will link all biodiversity through a shared evolutionary history.

The base of the tree, showing a common ancestry, will lead up to the three different domains of life. From there, it will branch off into all 1.8 million named species.

Of the $6 million grant, Gude has received $300,000 to work on the educational aspect of the project. Currently, he and his team are working to write synopses of 200 representative species.

"The best part of working on this grant is that I get to create cool, dynamic visualizations that will make it fun to explore and learn about evolutionary biology and the tree of life," Gude said. "I've been working with two very creative people here in Lansing, former student, John Allison ( and Benoit Bonnet from Tucknologies. Together we make a great team."

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