Workshop in phylogenetic comparative methods for early career biomechanists


Do you study biomechanics, locomotion, or functional performance? Are you a primarily experimental biologist who would like to expand your work to multiple species? Have you heard about phylogenetic comparative methods but are unsure how they might apply to your research field? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” you may be interested in an upcoming summer workshop on phylogenetic comparative biology.

The Moen lab in the Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology at the University of California, Riverside, will hold a summer workshop on phylogenetic comparative methods in evolutionary biomechanics. This workshop is part of an NSF CAREER grant focusing on the evolution of locomotor mechanics. Phylogenetic methods for analyzing trait evolution will be covered, particularly those methods most directly related to the evolution of biomechanical systems. A key goal of the workshop is to expose early career researchers with more experimental, single-species experience to methods and perspectives helpful in studying the evolution of their study system by analyzing data from multiple species.

No previous experience with these methods is required. Most expenses for attending the workshop will be covered. As a consequence, participation is limited to a maximum of 15 participants. We expect applications to be competitive.


Participants must be mid-level to advanced Ph.D. students or post-docs at any stage. Strong applicants will have experience in one or more of the following research areas: biomechanics, locomotion, muscle physiology, and functional morphology and performance. Prior work in R will be especially helpful, though less-experienced participants will be provided materials to learn more prior to the workshop. Because learning will be facilitated by having your own data to analyze, we are particularly looking for applicants who have an interspecific dataset they can analyze or those who plan to soon collect such a dataset. More generally, we seek highly motivated applicants with a desire to expand their research into studies of phylogenetic comparative biology.


Workshop format: Most days will include lectures on the theory of methods, followed by hands-on exercises with R tutorials. We will also discuss key research papers, which will be provided to participants in advance. The workshop will finish with participants analyzing their own datasets, using the methods they have learned. Participants without their own dataset will be provided with one.

Workshop dates: The workshop will take place at the Owens Valley Station of the White Mountains Research Center from 24–29 August. Most participants will be expected to arrive to the Ontario, CA, airport (USA) on Friday, 23 August 2024, from which they will be picked up by us on the way to the workshop Saturday morning. Participants will then depart from Ontario on Friday afternoon, 30 August. Those from southern California may alternatively make arrangements to arrive at UC Riverside and ride with us to the workshop, or to drive directly to the workshop if coming from northern California or Nevada. Within reason, travel arrangements may be flexible.

Details of financial support: All participants will be eligible for reimbursement of up to $500 in travel expenses to Ontario. Additional travel support to Ontario may be available given need. Travel to and from the field station will be provided by us. Lodging and meals the night of arrival and during the workshop will be fully reimbursed.

Application deadline: Review of applications will begin on 15 April 2024, though we will still consider applications until we have filled all available seats in the workshop.

Applications must include:

(1) A cover letter answering the following questions:

(a) Why do you want to participate and what do you hope to learn?

(b) In which part of your current or future research do you envision yourself using phylogenetic comparative methods?

(c) Do you have or plan to collect an interspecific dataset you could analyze as part of the workshop?

(d) What is your previous experience with data analysis in R? With phylogenetic comparative methods in particular?

(e) Do you anticipate needing additional travel support beyond the $500 for travel to Ontario? If so, what alternative sources of financial support are you seeking (e.g., other travel grants, lab funding)?

(f) What is the contact information for your recommendation letter writer (email and phone, if possible)?

(2) A full CV

(3) One recommendation letter from a research advisor or supervisor. The letter should address your motivation for applying and how the methods would fit in the context of your current research and plans.

Please submit the cover letter and CV as a single PDF in a single email to Monique Simon (, Rafael Bovo (, and Daniel Moen ( Please use the subject line “PCM workshop application: <Your name>”. Recommendation-letter writers should send their letters to the same email addresses with a similar subject line. These letters are due on the same date as applications.

If you have any questions about the workshop or application process, you can email Monique or Rafael before applying.