David M. Hillis is the Alfred W. Roark Centennial Professor in Natural Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, where he studies molecular evolution and biodiversity in the Department of Integrative Biology. He is the Director of UT’s Biodiversity Center, and also directs the Dean’s Scholars Program of the College of Natural Sciences. He served as the first Director of UT’s School of Biological Sciences and oversaw the reorganization of the biological sciences at the University of Texas. His work developing, testing, and applying phylogenetic methods has led to the wide application of phylogenetics throughout biology. Dr. Hillis was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, and grew up around the world in Europe, Africa, and Asia. He attended high school in Baltimore, Maryland, and then graduated with a degree in biology from Baylor University. He earned his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of Kansas. After a few years on the faculty of University of Miami, he moved to the University of Texas at Austin, where he has remained since 1987. He is a John D. and Catherine T. Macarthur Fellow, and has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as well as the National Academy of Sciences. He has served as President of the Society for the Study of Evolution and the Society of Systematic Biologists.

Research Interests

My studies of evolution include experimental investigations (using viral systems), empirical analyses (of both molecular mechanisms and organismal evolution), and mathematical modeling. Phylogenetic analyses have been one focus of my investigations: work in this area has included the development of molecular methods for phylogenetic inference, statistical analysis of phylogenetic results, visualization of complex sets of phylogenetic trees, and testing the accuracy of phylogenetic analyses. I have also worked on developing new applications for phylogenetic analysis, including viral epidemiology, forensics, ancestral sequence reconstruction, assessment of selection, gene convergence, the evolution of reproductive isolation, and systematic applications of the Tree of Life. I also study the evolution of asexual organisms and the effects of asexuality on molecular evolution. My work has involved many groups of organisms, from viruses to vertebrates, with an emphasis on eukaryotes.

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Primary Section

Section 27: Evolutionary Biology

Secondary Section

Section 63: Environmental Sciences and Ecology