“Test of Time Award” for HITS researcher

13. September 2021

Alexandros Stamatakis, group leader at HITS and professor at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), has received the “Test of Time Award”. The prize was awarded during the 25th “Conference on Research in Computational Molecular Biology (RECOMB)” in Padova (Italy) and honors publications that have a great influence on research even years after their publication. Stamatakis was awarded for his research paper “How Many Bootstrap Replicates are Necessary?”, which was published 12 years ago.

Science is a fast-moving field. New influences and findings constantly challenge the existing state of knowledge. Thus, it can happen that further problems and questions arise shortly after the publication of current research results. It is all the more remarkable when research results continue to have a high impact on the work and development of the field, in this case computational molecular biology, even years after their publication. The paper that Alexandros Stamatakis published together with colleagues from Germany, Switzerland, and the USA in 2009 has now been recognized for precisely this foresight and applicability even 12 years after publication.

The approach presented in the paper was directly implemented in a tool that was already used to compute the reconstruction of genealogical trees. Therefore, the new method could immediately be used in research. The adaptive and pragmatic approach analyzes how much signal is present in the empirical molecular data and then produces only as many calculations as necessary to obtain stable results. This process has led to a large increase in efficiency in the calculation of phylogenetic trees. The tool has been continuously improved over the last decade by Alexandros Stamatakis and was completely reprogrammed in 2019.

Link to the publication: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-642-02008-7_13

Alexandros Stamatakis, professor at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and group leader at the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS), develops software for the analysis of large biological datasets. His research focuses on developing scalable methods and software for analyzing molecular data. Through the impact of his work, Alexandros Stamatakis has been among the most cited scientists in the world for five consecutive years. His work focuses on the development of software to compute evolutionary phylogenetic trees, the evaluation and use of new parallel computing architectures, the evolution of cancer cells, and the statistical classification of intestinal bacteria. Within the framework of two international research projects, he deciphered the phylogenetic tree of birds as well as the phylogenetic tree of insects.

More about his research at HITS: https://www.h-its.org/research/cme/


RECOMB is a series of algorithmic computational biology conferences bridging the areas of computational, mathematical, and biological sciences. The conference features keynote talks by preeminent scientists in life sciences, presentations of groundbreaking research in computational biology, selected over the course of a highly-rigorous peer-review process, and poster sessions on the latest research progress.

The RECOMB “Test of Time Award” 2021 was awarded to Alexandros Stamatakis and co-authors Nickolas D. Pattengale (University of New Mexico, USA), Masoud Alipour (EPFL, Switzerland), Olaf R. P. Bininda-Emonds (University of Oldenburg), and Bernard M.R. Moret (Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics) at RECOMB 2021.

Link to the conference: https://www.recomb2021.org/

About HITS

The Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) was established in 2010 by the physicist and SAP co-founder Klaus Tschira (1940-2015) and the Klaus Tschira Foundation as a private, non-profit research institute. HITS conducts basic research in the natural sciences, mathematics and computer science, with a focus on the processing, structuring, and analyzing of large amounts of complex data and the development of computational methods and software. The research fields range from molecular biology to astrophysics. The shareholders of HITS are the HITS-Stiftung, which is a subsidiary of the Klaus Tschira Foundation, Heidelberg University and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). HITS also cooperates with other universities and research institutes and with industrial partners. The base funding of HITS is provided by the HITS Stiftung with funds received from the Klaus Tschira Foundation. The primary external funding agencies are the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the German Research Foundation (DFG), and the European Union.

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