Using Evolutionary Trees to Frame Research Questions

Did you know that scientists use evolutionary trees all the time to help them in the creative process of asking new research questions?

As a freshly-enrolled PhD student, STEAM Galaxy founder, Ariel Marcy is currently creating a version of Go Extinct! based around her study animal group, the Australian rodents! Mostly this is to help her learn and encode her new study system — and is already helping to spark interesting angles to explore through her research.

Check out the prototype below!

She plans to adapt the game to teach advanced biology students (and researchers!) how to use evolutionary trees to formulate research questions. These research questions have to be based on what we already know about our study organisms, for example: how they relate to each other, where they’re found and what kinds of environments they live in, and the adaptations they’ve evolved.



Pictures from: Breed, William, and Fred Ford. Native Mice and Rats. Collingwood: CISRO, 2007. Print. Australian Natural History Series.

Ariel Marcy