Ziheng Yang develops statistical methods and computational algorithms for comparative analysis of genetic sequence data. These methods are useful for inferring the evolutionary relationships among species and for understanding the forces and mechanisms of the evolutionary process at the molecular level. His work has rejuvenated the field of molecular systematics.
His methods have been used to identify genetic changes that are responsible for major adaptations in evolution. Working forwards as well as backwards in time, his models allow evolutionary biologists to extract the vast amount of historical information present in the genomes of modern species, to understand the past demography of a species, to delineate species boundaries, and to identify new species.
Ziheng received the President’s Award of the Society of Systematic Biologists in 2008 and the Frink Medal of the Zoological Society of London in 2010. His recently published book Molecular Evolution: A Statistical Approach (2014) provides a comprehensive and authoritative summary of methodological developments in the field.
Interest and expertise
Organismal biology, evolution and ecology
Population genetics, Evolution, Biological statistics, Taxonomy and systematics
Evolution, , Systematics, , population genetics, MCMC, Computational statistics