Dr Piel did his undergraduate degree in Biology at Cornell University and completed his PhD at Harvard University studying the systematics of spiders. Prior to joining Yale-NUS College, Dr Piel was a lecturer and postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University (1997-1998) and Leiden University (1999-2001), then Research Assistant Professor at the University at Buffalo (2002-2006), and later Director of Informatics at the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University. Dr Piel created, and continues to manage, an online research tool called TreeBASE, a database of phylogenetic knowledge.
Dr Piel studies how the growth of phylogenetic knowledge impacts biological questions. His research spans the bioinformatics of assembling and organising phylogenetic data, the visualisation and synthesis of this knowledge, and the analysis of key biological questions in a phylogenetic context. A current research interest for Dr Piel is the convergence and divergence of key adaptations in spiders in a phylogenomic context.
Piel has published over 30 papers in the fields of arachnology, phylogenetics, and bioinformatics. The following is a sample of papers that have appeared since joining Yale-NUS College.
Piel, W.H. and D.-Q. Cheng. 2018. The Origins of the Psechridae: Web-building Lycosoid Spiders. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 125: 213-219. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2018.03.035.
Wolf L.E., et al. 2018. A roadmap for global synthesis of the plant tree of life. American Journal of Botany, 105(3): 1-9. doi:10.1002/ajb2.1041
Goldsmith, G.R., et al. 2016. Plant-O-Matic: a dynamic and mobile guide to all plants of the Americas. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 7(8): 960-965. doi:10.1111/2041-210X.12548.
Chen, B., W.H. Piel, and A. Monteiro. 2016. The Distal‐less homeobox genes of insects and spiders: genomic organization, function, regulation and evolution. Insect Science, 23: 335-352. doi: 10.1111/1744-7917.12327.
Ho, S., S.R. Schachat, W.H. Piel, A. Monteiro. 2016. Attack risk for butterflies changes with eyespot number and size. Royal Society Open Science, 3 (1): 150614. doi:10.1098/rsos.150614.
Šímová, I., C. et. al. 2014. Shifts in trait means and variances in North American tree assemblages: species richness patterns are loosely related to the functional space. Ecography, 38:649-658. doi:10.1111/ecog.00867.
Lamanna, C. et al. 2014. Functional trait space and the latitudinal diversity gradient. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 111(38): 13745-13750.
Oliver, J. C. et al. 2014. Nymphalid eyespot serial homologs originate as a few individualized modules. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 281: 20133262.
Lyubetsky, V., W. H. Piel, and D. Quandt. 2014. Current Advances in Molecular Phylogenetics. BioMed Research International, 2014(596746): 2.
Boyle, B. et al. 2013. The taxonomic name resolution service: an online tool for automated standardization of plant names. BMC Bioinformatics, 14(16).
Uhen, M. et al. 2012. From card catalogs to computers: databases in vertebrate paleontology. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 33(1): 13-28.
Oliver, J. C. et al. 2012. A single origin for nymphalid butterfly eyespots followed by widespread loss of associated gene expression. PLoS Genetics, 8(8): e1002893.
Neurobiology and Behaviour