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Hackathons, Interoperability, Phylogenies (HIP), a NESCent working group, envision the future as a virtual phyloinformatics bazaar in which comparative data and phylogenies are saved, shared, annotated, liked, re-used, aggregated, mashed up, and linked in. In pursuit of this vision, the working group will stage a series of hackathons (intensive participant-driven code-development meetings) that empower early-career scientists to build the links of an emerging network of interoperable evolutionary resources [1].

  • Hackathons - A hackathon is an event in which programmers ("hackers") meet to do collaborative programming. Hackathons naturally attract early-career researchers, and they provide a unique experience that combines learning, achievement and teamwork. Members of the HIP leadership team have extensive experience organizing and participating in hackathons (including 6 years of NESCent hackathons, as well as other bioinformatics hackathons).
  • Interoperability - ISO defines "interoperability" as "The capability to communicate, execute programs, or transfer data among various functional units in a manner that requires the user to have little or no knowledge of the unique characteristics of those units" [1]. An operational definition is that interoperability exists when objectives can be achieved automatically, using human labor or "mind work" only where absolutely essential (e.g., for tasks that cannot or should not be automated, like fighting fires or answering the phone; see http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue24/interoperability/intro.html)
  • Phylogenies - The focus of HIP is on supporting a variety of use-cases in evolutionary analysis that depend critically on making and using phylogenies (thus it is much broader than the problem of statistical inference of phylogenetic trees). This list of use-cases includes such problems as analyzing character evolution, building super-trees, making functional inferences about genes and proteins, and calibrating a molecular phylogeny with fossils.


  • PhyloStars: Developing a Socially Networked Bioinformatics Community-of-practice for the Evolution Research Community : To be announced soon
  • Phylotastic 2 (Jan 28 to Feb 1, 2013) took place at iPlant headquarters in Tucson, Arizona, building on the success of the first phylotastic hackathon described below
  • Phylotastic: the Tree of Life, as you need it (June 4 to 8, NESCent) was HIP's first hackathon event. Woo hoo! At its January meeting, the HIP leadership team decided to throw away the playbook and opt for a new (for us) style of hackathon in which all participants are focused on a single over-arching goal. In this case, the goal is to build web-services infrastructures that provide the pruning, grafting, name-reconciliation, and translation operations needed for users to take advantage of the growing supply of megatrees. For more information:


How to Get Involved

  • HIP events will be advertised on the NESCent web site, the evoldir email list, and by other means
  • if you have an idea for a hackathon target (something that a small team can do in a few days)


Leadership Team

HIP is managed by a leadership team (HIP-LT) consisting of the 3 PIs, and other members representing different dimensions of evolutionary informatics, and ad hoc members helping with planning of specific events. HIP-LT manages all aspects of the project-- advertising events, managing information resources, staging hackathons, and so on. The group meets electronically to conduct its business, and keeps a record of its meetings.

Name Affiliation Image Name Affiliation Image
Julie Allen Illinois Natural History Survey, University of Illinois UC Julie Allen Joachim Baran Stanford Center for Biomedical Informatics Research, Stanford University, California, USA Joachim Baran
Karen Cranston National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) Karen Cranston Hilmar Lapp National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent)
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Naim Matasci Scientific Lead, The iPlant Collaborative and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson Naim Matasci Brian O'Meara Assistant Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Brian O'Meara
Enrico Pontelli Professor and Head, Department of Computer Science, New Mexico State University Enrico Pontelli Michael S Rosenberg Associate Professor, School of Life Sciences & Center for Evolutionary Medicine
and Informatics, The Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University
Michael S Rosenberg
Brian Sidlauskas Assistant Professor and Curator of Fishes, Oregon State University, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife
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Arlin Stoltzfus Fellow, IBBR (U Md) and Research Biologist, NIST
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Rutger Vos Marie Curie Research Fellow, University of Reading, UK
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Mark Westneat Curator and Chair of Zoology, Director, Biodiversity Synthesis Center, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago Mark Westneat

Past members of the Leadership Team

Name Affiliation Image Name Affiliation Image
Sergei Kosakovsky Pond Assistant Adjunct Professor, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego
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Mark D Wilkinson Associate Professor, Institute for Heart + Lung Health, University of British Columbia, Canada
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