Research & Outreach

The Biodiversity Synthesis Center (BioSynC) is home to a community of biologists interested in research and outreach related to the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL). Staff, students and postdoctoral researchers are addressing a wide range of important questions in biodiversity, while at the same time integrating their program with the Encyclopedia of Life.

Research programs associated with BioSynC include those of Field Museum Botany curator Rick Ree on the phylogeny, biogeography and biodiversity of plants in the Himalayas, and Zoology curator Mark Westneat on the phylogenetics and evolution of coral reef fishes.

Postdoctoral research at the Center includes the phylogenetics of the Asilid robber flies by Torsten Dikow, the population genetics and conservation biogeography of coral reef fishes by Josh Drew. Past postdoctoral research included the computation and visualization of large phylogenetic data sets by Karen Cranston, reconstruction of natural patterns of reptile diversity, distribution, and phylogenetic relationships by James Parham, and the biodiversity of birds and their parasites by Jason Weckstein.

BioSynC pilots and implements digital learning programs in collaboration with Field Museum scientists and the Education Department to enable youth to become active science learners and participate in cutting edge Museum research. Please view the WhyReef, I Dig Science, Science@FMNH project tabs, and the Outreach News page for detailed information on our programs.


The primary funding for the Biodiversity Synthesis Group is from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in support of the Encyclopedia of Life. The Biodiversity Synthesis Center is also funded by donations from the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation, The Harris Family Foundation and MaryEllen and Richard Keyser, and others.

Grant funding has also been obtained for a number of synthetic biodiversity research projects and innovative education efforts.  These include support from the National Science Foundation Systematics panel for work on coral reef fishes and plant biogeography, support from PEET and RevSys grants for a range of EOL-related taxonomy and biodiversity research, and collaborative efforts with several groups from NSF's Assembling the Tree of Life program. In addition, separate funding from the MacArthur Foundation is supporting a digital learning programs on coral reefs in the virtual world and the I Dig Science programs.

Lastly, collaborative letters have occasionally been useful to colleagues desiring a web presence on EOL for grant-related biodiversity data. EOL Synthesis staff are interested in collaborating with principal investigators on a wide array of biodiversity projects that may benefit from a presence on the EOL as a way to reach a broader audience with important biodiversity information.