Neurotree and Academic Family Tree are web-based databases for the academic genealogies of neuroscientists and of people working in academic settings respectively.

Neurotree and Academic Family Tree are notable because they have been used as sources of information for the history and prospects of various academic fields such as psychology,[1] meteorology,[2] organizational communication,[3] and neuroscience.[4][5][6][7] Neurotree has also been used to address infometrics[1][4] and to research issues of scientific methodology.[8]

Neurotree and Academic Family Tree are volunteer-run; accuracy is maintained by a group of volunteer editors. Hierarchical connections between parents and children are defined as any meaningful mentoring relationship (research assistant, graduate student, or postdoctoral fellow) between researchers. Continuous records extend well into the Middle Ages and earlier.

As of 5 February 2018, Neurotree contained 116,874 people with 135,773 connections among them.[9] As of 5 February 2018, Academic Family Tree contained 689,800 people with 606,600 connections among them.[10] Academic Family Tree encompasses a broad range of disciplines. As of 5 February 2018, there were 55 disciplines spanning science (e.g., human genetics, microbiology, and psychology), mathematics and philosophy, engineering, and the humanities (e.g., economics, law, and theology).[11]

The two databases are closely linked. A search for a person in Neurotree gives results not only from Neurotree, but also from any of the 54 other trees in Academic Family Tree in which that person appears. The same is true for a search in any of those trees under Academic Family Tree or from the main page of Academic Family Tree.


Neurotree was founded in 2005[10] by Stephen V. David, an assistant professor in the Oregon Hearing Research Center[12] of Oregon Health and Science University, and by Benjamin Y. Hayden, an assistant professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Center for Visual Science, University of Rochester.[13] Academic Family Tree began shortly after 2005.[10]

In November 2014, David received funding for Neurotree from the Metaknowledge Network.[14] In November 2016, David received funding for Academic Family Tree from the National Science Foundation (NSF) SciSIP Program.[15] In July 2019, David again received funding for Neurotree from the NSF.[16]

Relation of Neurotree and Academic Family Tree to other academic genealogies

One other notable discipline-specific academic genealogy is the Mathematics Genealogy Project.[17] Academic Family Tree has its own mathematics tree, MathTree[18] but it is much less complete than the Mathematics Genealogy Project. As of 6 February 2018, MathTree contained 33,634 people[18] whereas the Mathematics Genealogy Project contained 223,794 people.[17]

One other general academic genealogy was PhD Tree.[19] PhD Tree ceased functioning some time after June 2017.

Criticism of Neurotree and Academic Family Tree

Marsh (2017) pointed out that information for Neurotree and Academic Family Tree is provided by volunteers and it is not formally peer-reviewed.[1] She cautioned that this can mean their information is inaccurate.[1]

See also


  1. Marsh, E. J. (2017). Family matters: Measuring impact through one’s academic descendants. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 12, 1130-1132. doi:10.1177/1745691617719759
  2. Hart, R. E., & Cossuth, J. H. (2013). A family tree of tropical meteorology's academic community and its proposed expansion. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 94, 1837-1848. doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00110.1
  3. D'urso, S. C., & Fyke, J. P. (2017). Genealogy of the field. In The International Encyclopedia of Organizational Communication. doi:10.1002/9781118955567.wbieoc086
  4. David, S. V., & Hayden, B. Y. (2012). Neurotree: A collaborative, graphical database of the academic genealogy of neuroscience. PLOS One, 7(10), e46608. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046608 Retrieved from
  5. Patterson, M. M. (2011). Two streams make a river: The rabbit in Richard F. Thompson’s laboratory. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 95, 106-110. doi:10.1016/j.nlm.2010.11.005
  6. Soltesz, I. (2011). The Brain Prize 2011: From microcircuit organization to constellations of brain rhythms. Trends in Neurosciences, 34, 501-503. doi:10.1016/j.tins.2011.08.006
  7. Smith, G. P. (2011). Stephen C. Woods: A precocious scientist. Physiology & Behavior, 103, 4-9. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2010.12.027
  8. Tebaykin, D., Tripathy, S. J., Binnion, N., Li, B., Gerkin, R. C., & Pavlidis, P. (2017). Modeling sources of inter-laboratory variability in electrophysiological properties of mammalian neurons. Journal of Neurophysiology doi:10.1152/jn.00604.2017
  9. "Neurotree".
  10. "About The Academic Tree".
  11. "The Academic Family Tree".
  12. "Oregon Hearing Research Center". Oregon Health & Science University.
  14. "1.4 Million in Grants Awarded to Metaknowledge Projects – Knowledge Lab – The University of Chicago".
  15. "NSF Grants".
  16. {{cite web|url=
  17. "Welcome! - The Mathematics Genealogy Project".
  19. "PhDTree: academic genealogy & family tree". 8 June 2017. Archived from the original on 8 June 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
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