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Ross Island

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Neurotree: Graphing the evolution of science through mentorship networks
Neurotree ( is a collaborative, open-access website that tracks and visualizes the academic genealogy and history of neuroscience. After eight years of growth driven by user-generated content, the site has captured information about the mentorship of over 70,000 neuroscientists. It has become a unique tool for a community of primary researchers, students, journal editors, and the press. Once linked into the tree, each researcher can be characterized by their mentorship network, defined recursively as their graduate and postdoctoral mentors and their mentors' own networks. Recently, we have linked Neurotree researcher profiles to several publication databases, including PubMed, ProQuest, and Scopus. Each researcher can thus be characterized by unique fingerprints derived from their mentorship network and publication metadata. We have begun analysis of mentorship network structure and the influence of this network on the research program of trainees. Driven by the enthusiasm of participants, Neurotree has spawned parallel sites for other fields that share a common platform and central database under the umbrella of the Academic Family Tree ( These growing genealogies span fields as diverse as music composition, history, physics and theology. Future efforts will expand the network analysis to explore properties of the larger tree and interactions between its constituent fields. Data in the Academic Family Tree is shared via a Creative Commons license.
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Oregon Health & Science University