Ward Wheeler

Curator, Computational Science, Molecular Systematics

Principal Investigator, Institute for Comparative Genomics

Professor, Richard Gilder Graduate School



  • Harvard University, Ph.D., 1988
  • Yale College, B.A., 1985 

Research Interests

Wheeler Lab

Dr. Wheeler’s research focuses on systematic theory and its application to the historical relationships among and within a number of metazoan lineages. He has developed theory and algorithms to interpret evolutionary patterns from multiple sources of phylogenetic information including anatomy, behavior, and a diversity of genomic information. Lately his research has expanded to integrate linguistic, ethnographic and genetic information of human populations. Dr. Wheeler´s funding has been equally diversified with grants received from DARPA, NASA and NSF, among others. His laboratory at the AMNH reconstructs evolutionary graphs to study how metazoan taxa and their anatomy and genomes have evolved over the past 500 million years. Dr. Wheeler develops software and hardware tools that are put to use in the American Museum’s quest to link extinct lineages with the genomes, morphology, and behavior of species that survive today. Dr. Wheeler serves as Curator-in-Charge of the AMNH Science Computing Facility and professor of the Richard Guilder Graduate School. Dr. Wheeler joined the Museum in 1989 and has authored over 150 scientific publications and books, including a general textbook of systematics. He has also authored software packages (e.g. POY), and has been awarded a US patent in DNA sequence analysis.

Courses Taught

  •    Systematic and Biogeography
  •    Molecular Systematics
  •    Computational Phylogenetics
  •    Sequence Analysis
  •    Phylogenetic Algorithms

Selected Publications

  •   Wheeler, W. C., J. A. Coddington, L. M. Crowley, D. Dimitrov, P. A. Goloboff, C. E. Griswold, G. Hormiga, L. Prendini, M. J. Ramírez, P. Sierwald, L. Almeida-Silva, F. Alvarez-Padilla, M. A. Arnedo, L. R. Benavides-Silva, S. P. Benjamin, J. E. Bond, C. J. Grismado, E. Hasan, M. Hedin, M. A. Izquierdo, F. M.   Labarque, J. Ledford, L. Lopardo, W. P. Maddison, J. A. Miller, L. N. Piacentini, N. I. Platnick, D. Polotow, D. Silva-Dávila, N. Scharff, T. Szuts, D. Ubick, C. J. Vink, H. M. Wood, and J. Zhang.  The spider tree of life: Phylogeny of Araneae based on target-gene analyses from an extensive taxon sampling.  2017.  Cladistics, in press.
  •    Sharma, P. P., M. A. Santiago, R. Kriebel, S. M. Lipps, P. A.C. Buenavente, A. C. Diesmos, M. Janda, S. L. Boyer, R. M. Clouse, W. C. Wheeler.  2017.  A multilocus phylogeny of Podoctidae (Arachnida, Opiliones, Laniatores) and parametric shape analysis reveal the disutility of subfamilial nomenclature in armored harvestman systematics. Mol. Phyl. and Evol., 106:164-173.
  •    Ford, E., and W. C. Wheeler.  2016.  Comparison of Heuristic Approaches to the General-Tree-Alignment Problem.  Cladistics, 32:452-460.
  •    Wheeler, W. C. Phylogenetic Network Analysis as a Parsimony Optimization Problem.  2015. BMC Bioinformatics. 16:296.
  •    Wheeler, W. C. and P. M. Whiteley. 2015.  Historical Linguistics as a Sequence Optimization Problem: Uto-Aztecan Language Evolution and Biogeography. Cladistics 31:113-125.


Division of Invertebrate Zoology

Computational Sciences

Richard Gilder Graduate School

Wheeler Google Scholar Page