Monday, September 28, 2009

The Biomechanics Tree

Many people have dedicated many decades to studying the biomechanics of trees. Thanks to the people at, the tables have now been turned, and we can finally waste time studying a tree of biomechanics.

Visit the Biomechanics Tree

The Biomechanics Tree is a database of biomechanics researchers past and present. It is your typical academic family tree, showing lineages from advisors to graduate students. You can search for a person and see all of their academic "children" and all of their academic "parents". Masters, PhD, and postdoctoral advisors can all be listed.

The Biomechanics Tree was launched in September 2009, so it's still young. If there's someone missing, create yourself an account and start filling in the missing branches. The tree is user-created, and it's up to the users to make it complete.

As an example of how the tree works, here's a tree centered on Mark Denny at Hopkins Marine Station:

You can see his various graduate students and postdocs on the branches below Mark, and Mark's PhD advisor (John Gosline) and postdoctoral advisor (Bob Paine). Gosline's PhD advisor, Stephen Wainwright, sits on the highest branch here.

If you click on Wainwright's name, you get a tree centered around him:

This tree is quite a bit more extensive, and only part of it fits in the picture here. You can adjust the number of levels of "generations" above and below each person (only two generations are shown here).

Since not ever biomechanic in the world shares the same lineage, there are multiple trees. You can be taken to a different tree by hitting the "Tree" link at the top of each page at the site.

Additionally, if you click on the "Info" link below each person's name, you will be presented with additional information about that person (as available) including their area of study, web pages etc.

There are a number of other academic trees at, including trees for Neuroscience, Drosophila researchers, Linguistics and so on. Keep an eye out for an ecology tree sometime down the road...