Diana L. Lipscomb

Ronald Weintraub Chair and Professor of Biology
Phone: 202-994-5828

Areas of Expertise

Evolutionary biology and systematic theory; evolution of protozoa; origin of and early evolution of animals.

Download a manual for using Hennig86.

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.

Current Research

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.


B.A., Agnes Scott College, 1976
Ph.D., University of Maryland at College Park, 1982


For reprint requests, please send an email to biodl@gwu.edu.

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.

Classes Taught

BISC 2450 - Organic Evolution
BISC 2451 - History of Life
BISC 6209 - Current Topics in Evolution