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Assembling, Visualizing, and Analyzing the Tree of Life  (AVAToL)

Name Email Phone Room
Timothy  Collins (703) 292-4763   
Maureen  Kearney (703) 292-7187   
Anne  M. Maglia (703) 292-8470   
Vicki  J. Martin (703) 292-7361   
Sarah  Mathews (703) 292-4415   


Solicitation  11-534

Important Information for Proposers

A revised version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 22-1), is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after October 4, 2021. Please be advised that, depending on the specified due date, the guidelines contained in NSF 22-1 may apply to proposals submitted in response to this funding opportunity.




In the 150 years since Darwin's recognition that all living organisms are related by descent with modification, we have made enormous progress in elucidating phylogenetic relationships within major branches of the tree of life. In the last decade, DNA sequences and other data have provided compelling confirmation of many previously inferred relationships, provided evidence of unexpected relationships, and accelerated the discovery of new clades. The NSF Assembling the Tree of Life or AToL program has further enabled clarification of relationships within major groups of organisms. At this point, compelling needs are to achieve integration and synthesis of these separate phylogenies into a cohesive tree across all of life and to develop new tools for visualizing, querying, and further analyzing the tree of life. This is a daunting challenge requiring enormous conceptual advances, potential use of new kinds of data and characters, massive data collection, and the development of powerful analytical and visualization techniques.

The Assembling, Visualizing and Analyzing the Tree of Life (AVAToL) activity supports novel and transformative approaches to the development of an integrated and robust tree of life, as well as visualization and analysis on a dynamic tree of life. This will take place through the Ideas Lab project development and review process. The goal of this activity is to identify opportunities for investment to significantly advance the state-of-the-art in tree construction, visualization, and analysis across the tree of life. Participants selected through an open application process will engage in an intensive five-day residential workshop to generate project ideas through an innovative, real-time review process. New multidisciplinary teams will form during this workshop to engage in creative problem solving directed at outstanding problems concerning the tree of life. Multidisciplinary integrative approaches calling for communication and interaction among diverse scientists are key to the success of the approach. For example, in addition to those working in systematics and phylogenetics, AVAToL might benefit from mathematicians and computer scientists to contribute algorithms and models, bioinformaticians or genomicists to contribute data pipelines and novel molecular characters, or statisticians and artists with an interest in novel methods of visualization and interactive use of the tree of life. Therefore, members of the systematics research community, bioinformaticians, genomicists, morphologists, paleontologists, computer scientists, statisticians, mathematicians, educators involved in training the next generation of researchers, and representatives of any other disciplines that might contribute important ideas are all strongly encouraged to apply.



What Has Been Funded (Recent Awards Made Through This Program, with Abstracts)

Map of Recent Awards Made Through This Program