Abstract: I will discuss your ancestors -- both in the short-term and in the long term. Going back in time, you have a great many ancestors. How many of them did the genes in your genome come from? Is one of your ancestors very famous? If so, how much of your genome are you likely to have inherited from them? Do you share ancestors with other folks that you meet? Did you and they get similar genes from those ancestors?
We can go back even further and ask what other forms of life share ancestors with us (spoiler: all of them), and how we know this and how sure we are of these relationships.
Bio: Joe Felsenstein is Professor Emeritus at UW in the Department of Genome Sciences and also in the Department of Biology. This November he will have been there for 50 years. His work was on the use of mathematical theory, computers, and statistics in evolutionary biology. He trained in theoretical population genetics, which deals with changes of frequencies of genotypes in populations.
Most of his work has been on inferring phylogenies (evolutionary trees). He has received various honors and has been president of two scientific societies.
One of his scientific papers is the most highly cited paper ever written at his university -- it is one of the 100 most-cited scientific papers of all time. His Curriculum Vitae will be found online at