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Diana Leigh Lipscomb
Robert Weintraub Chair
and Professor of Biology

Systematics and Evolution of Protista
Department of Biological Sciences
George Washington University
Washington, D.C. 20052

Tel. Office (Biology): (202) 994-5804
Tel. Office (Chair's Office): (202) 994-5828
Tel. Lab (202) 994-9219
Fax: (202) 994-6100

BA (Agnes Scott College, 1976), Ph.D. (University of Maryland at College Park, 1982)

Research Interests:

Phylum Ciliophora
My research is on the systematics and evolution of unicellular eukaryotes, or protists. Currently, my work is focusing on the Phylum Ciliophora. Ciliates are especially important trophic links in microbial food webs because they are the major consumers of bacteria, pico- and nano-photosynthetic plankton, diatoms, dinoflagellates, and amoebae, and they are eaten in turn by animals such as crustacea in the zooplankton and larval fish. For example, they are important in cleaning water in sewage treatment plants where some species consume sewage and others consume the bacteria growing on the waste. Because of their keystone role in microbial food webs, they are important indicators of the conditions and health of the environment at the microbial level.

Studying the evolution of protists allows me to examine the evolution of the eukaryotic cell and the origin of multicellular groups (plants, animals, and fungi). In addition, I am interested in general systematic theory and am addressing questions such as how to code multistate characters, how to analyze large datasets, and how to code missing or inapplicable characters.

Undergraduate courses
BiSc 150 - Organic Evolution (Fall semester)

BiSc 151 - History of Life (Spring semester)

Graduate courses
BiSc 209 - Current Topics in Evolution (Spring semester)

To download a basic guide to phylogenetic analysis (using cladistics) click HERE.

To download a manual for using Hennig86 click HERE

You'll need the Acrobat Reader to view either of these two documents.

I also have a brief guide to using Nona (by Pablo Goloboff) for phylogenetic analysis. And a guide to Winclada (by Kevin Nixon) in Word format.

Winclada and Nona can be obtained from the web site.

Current Graduate Students:
Hua Lu (Ph.D., Phylogenetic analysis of polychaete annelids)
Svetlana Maslakova (Ph.D., Phylogenetic Analysis of Nemertene Worms)
Megan Schwartz (Ph.D., Phylogenetic Analysis of Nemertene Worms)
Joana Zanol Silva (Ph.D., Phylogenetic Analysis of polychaete annelids)
Former Graduate Students:
Marymegan Daly, PhD 2001. Systematics of Cnidarians
Ellen Strong, PhD 2000. Systematics of gastropod mollusks.

Selected publications:

Lipscomb, D.L. and J. O. Corliss. 1982. Stephanopogon, a phylogenetically important "ciliate" shown by ultrastructural studies to be a flagellate. Science 215: 303-304.

Lipscomb, D.L. 1985. The eukaryotic kingdoms. Cladistics 1: 127-140.

Lipscomb, D.L. 1989. The relationships among the eukaryotes. In Fernholm, B., K. Bremer and H. Jornvall eds., The Hierarchy of Life. Elsevier Science Publishers B.V. (Biomedical Division), pp. 161-178.

Lipscomb, D.L. and G.P. Riordan. 1990. The Ultrastructure of Chaenea teres and an analysis of the phylogeny of the haptorid ciliates. J. Protozool., 37: 287-300.

Lipscomb, D.L. 1990. Two methods for calculating cladogram characters: transformation series analysis and the iterative FIG/FOG method. Syst. Zool., 39: 277-288.

Lipscomb, D.L. and G.P. Riordan. 1991. The Ultrastructure of Helicoprorodon multinucleatum. Trans. Am. Microscop. Soc., 110: 93-117.

Lipscomb, D.L. 1991. The Kingdoms and the Protozoa. In Kreier, J. ed., Parasitic Protozoa 2nd ed., Academic Press

Mickevich, M. and D.L. Lipscomb. 1991. Parsimony and the choice between alternative transformations for the same data set. Cladistics, 7:111-139.

Lipscomb, D.L. and G.P. Riordan. 1992. Reexamination of the ultrastructure of Didinium nasutum and a reanalysis of the phylogeny of the haptorid ciliates. J. Protozool., 39: 110-121.

Lipscomb, D.L. 1992. Parsimony, homology and the analysis of multistate characters. Cladistics 8: 45-65.

Lipscomb, D.L. 1995. Biodiversity of protozoa in the United States. In Our Living Resources, G. S. Farris (ed), Department of the Interior.

Lipscomb, D.L. and G.P. Riordan 1995. Ultrastructural examination of virus-like particles in a marine rhizopod (Sarcodina, Protista). Acta Protozoologica, 34:35-44.

Farris et al. 1995. (I am one of 30 coauthors). Explanation. Cladistics, 11:211-218.

Lipscomb, D.L. 1995. Women in systematics. Ann. Rev. Ecol. Systm. 26:323-342.

Farris, J.S., V. Albert, M. Kallersjo, D. Lipscomb, and A.G. Kluge. 1996. Parsimony jackknifing outperforms neighbor-joining. Cladistics 12:99-124.

Lipscomb, D.L. 1996. A survey of microbial diversity. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard., 83: 551-561.

Kivimaki, K., G.P. Riordan, and D.L. Lipscomb. 1997. Ultrastructural examination of Zoozerdasyies deroui (Ciliophora, Protista). J. Eukaryotic Microbiol., 44:226-236.

Lipscomb, D., J. S. Farris , M. Kallersjo and A. Tehler. 1998. Support, Ribosomal Sequences, And The Phylogeny Of The Eukaryotes. Cladistics 14:303-338.

Maurakis, E. G. and D.L. Lipscomb 1999. Historical relationships of Atlantic slope river drainages. Virginia Journal of Science 50:3-12.

Strong, E. and D. Lipscomb. 1999. Character coding and inapplicable data. Cladistics 15: 363-371.

Tehler, A. , Lipscomb, D., J. S. Farris , M. Kallersjo. 2000. Support, Ribosomal Sequences, And The Phylogeny Of The Fungi. Mycologia, 91:231-245.

Antonius A, and D. Lipscomb. 2000. First protozoan coral-killer identified in the Indo-Pacific. Atoll Res Bull 481:1-21.

Daly , M., D. L. Lipscomb and Marc W. Allard. 2002. A simple test: evaluating explanations for the relative simplicity of the Edwardsiidae (Cnidaria: Anthozoa). Evolution , 56: 502-510.

Lipscomb, D.L., N. Platnick, and Q. Wheeler. 2003. The intellectual content of taxonomy: a comment on DNA taxonomy. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 18: 65-66.

Malia, M.J., D. L. Lipscomb and M. W. Allard. 2003. The misleading effects of composite taxa in supermatrices, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 27: 522-527.

For reprint requests, please send an email to

WWW Links of interest:

Willi Hennig Society
Systematic Biology
Biodiversity and Biological Collections
Phylogenetics Resources
Systematics Servers

Protistology, etc.
Microscopy Online
Protist Image Database
Society of Protozoologists