Home > People > Dennis Keith Pearl
Dennis Keith Pearl

Dennis Keith Pearl

Main Content

  • Professor,
  • Director of CAUSE
412 Thomas Building
University Park, PA 16802
Email: dkp13@psu.edu
Phone: (814) 863-7395


  1. U.C. Berkeley A.B. Statistics 1972
  2. U.C. Berkeley M.A. Applied Statistics 1975
  3. U.C. Berkeley Ph.D. Applied Statistics 1984


I am the Director of the Consortium for the Advancement of Undergraduate Statistics Education (CAUSE: see www.causeweb.org) a national organization providing resources and professional development opportunities to instructors of college-level statistics.

Selected Publications

Ten in Statistical Phylogenetics:

  • Critchlow DE, Pearl DK, and Qian C. (1996) The triples distance for rooted bifurcating phylogenetic trees.  Systematic Biology45, 323-334.
  • Li S, Pearl DK, and Doss H. (2000) Phylogenetic tree construction using Markov chain Monte Carlo.  JASA95, 493-508.
  • Salter LA and DK Pearl (2001).  A stochastic search strategy for estimation of maximum likelihood phylogenetic trees. Systematic Biology50:7-17.
  • Liu, L. and D.K. Pearl. (2007) Species Trees from Gene Trees: reconstructing Bayesian posterior distributions of a species phylogeny using estimated gene tree distributions.  Systematic Biology 56: 504-514.
  • Edwards, S.V., Liu, L., and D.K. Pearl.  (2007) High resolution species trees without concatenation.  PNAS 104: 5936-5941
  • Liu L, Pearl, DK, Brumfield RT, and SV Edwards. (2008)  Estimating species trees using multiple allele data. Evolution 62(8): 2080-2091.

  • Liu L, Yu L, Pearl DK, and SV Edwards. (2009) Estimating Species Phylogenies using Coalescence Times Among Sequences. Systematic Biology 58(5):468-477.
  • Kubatko, SL and DK Pearl, (2011). Seeing the Trees on Your Terrace.  Science vol 333 July 22: 411-412.
  • Anderson C, Liu L, Pearl D, and Edwards SV (2012) “Tangled Trees: The challenge of inferring species trees from coalescent and non-coalescent genes” Chapter 1 in Evolutionary genomics: statistical and computational methods (M. Anisimova, ed.) Springer.

  • Pearl DK and LS Kubatko (2016). “DNA Sequence Evolution” in Statsref: Statistics Reference Online (Balakrishnan, et al , editors)\. John Wiley & Sons (also online at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/9781118445112.stat05368.pub2/full


Ten in Education:

  • Lesser LM and DK Pearl. (2008) Functional Fun in Statistics Teaching: Resources, Research, and Recommendations. Journal of Statistics Education v.16 (3) (on-line journal)
  • Garfield JB, Pantula S, Pearl DK, and Utts JM (2009) Statistics Education Graduate Programs.  Report of an ASA sponsored workshop on graduate programs and support for statistics education faculty.  Published on-line at www.amstat.org/news/pdfs/StatEdGraduatePrograms.pdf
  • Pearl DK, Garfield JB, delMas R, Groth RE, Kaplan JJ, McGowan H, and Lee HS. (2012). Connecting Research to Practice in a Culture of Assessment for Introductory College-level Statistics. Published on-line at www.causeweb.org/research/guidelines/ResearchReport_Dec_2012.pdf

  • Rector MA, Nehm RH, and Pearl DK, (2013). Learning the Language of Evolution: Lexical Ambiguity and Word Meaning in Student Explanations. Research in Science Education. 43: 1107-1133.
  • Lesser LM, Wall AA, Carver RH, Pearl DK, Martin N, Kuiper S, Posner MA, Erickson P, Liao S-M, Albert J, and Weber JJ III (2013). Using Fun in the Statistics Classroom: An Exploratory Study of College Instructors’ Hesitations and Motivations.  Journal of Statistics Education v.21 (1) (on-line journal)
  • Beggrow EP, Ha M, Nehm RH, Pearl D, and Boone WJ, (2014). Assessing scientific practices using machine-learning methods: How closely do they match clinical interview performance? Journal of Science Education and Technology23:160-182
  • Federer MR, Nehm RH, Opfer JE, and Pearl DK, (2015). Using a Constructed-Response Instrument to Explore the Effects of Item Position and Item Features on the Assessment of Students’ Written Scientific Explanations. Research in Science Education. 45: 527-553.
  • Dinov ID, Siegrist K, Pearl DK, Kalinin A, and Christou N. (2015). Probability Distributome: a web computational infrastructure for exploring the properties, interrelations, and applications of probability distributions. Computational Statistics, June p. 1-19
  • Federer MR, Nehm RH, and Pearl DK (2016) Examining Gender Differences in Written Assessment Tasks in Biology: A Case Study of Evolutionary Explanations. CBE Life Sciences Education. 15: 1-11
  • Lesser LM, Pearl, DK, and JJ Weber (2016). Assessing Fun Items’ Effectiveness in Increasing Learning of College Introductory Statistics Students: Results of a Randomized Experiment. Journal of Statistics Education v.24 (on-line journal)


Ten in Bio-Medical

  • Libet B, Gleason CA, Wright EW and Pearl DK. (1983). Time of conscious intention to act, in relation to onset of cerebral activity before the act.  Brain  106, 623-642.
  • Libet B, Wright EW, Feinstein B, and Pearl DK.  (1992).  Retroactive enhancement of a skin sensation by a delayed cortical stimulus in man: Evidence for delay of a conscious sensory experience. Consciousness and Cognition  1, 367-375.
  • Sung C-C, Pearl DK, Coons SW, Scheithauer BW, Johnson PC, and Yates AJ. (1994). Ganglioside as diagnostic markers of human astrocytomas and primitive neuroectodermal tumors.  Cancer 74, 3010-3022.

  • Li Q, Shen X, and DK Pearl.  (2007). Bayesian Modeling of the Dynamics of Hepatotoxicity. Statistics in Medicine 26: 3591-3611.
  • Yu, L. and DK Pearl. The LASSO method in Variable Selection for Right Censored Time-to-Event data with application to Astrocytoma brain tumor and Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. (2009) Chapter 18, pages 421 – 440, in Design and Analysis of Clinical Trials with Time-to-Event Endpoints (K.E. Peace, ed.)
  • Prior TW, Snyder PJ, Rink BD, Pearl DK, Pyatt RE, Mihal DC, Conlan T, Schmalz B, Montgomery L, Ziegler K, Noonan C, Hashimoto S, and S Garner (2010). Newborn and carrier screening for spinal muscular atrophy. Amer J Med Genetics Part A 152A:1608–1616.
  • Pollack DJ, Pan X, and DK Pearl (2010). Concentration of specific amino acids at the catalytic/active centers of highly-conserved “housekeeping” enzymes of central metabolism in Archaea, Bacteria and Eukaryota: Is there a widely conserved chemical signal of prebiotic assembly Origins of Life and Evolution in Biospheres 40(3): 273-302.
  • Guo Y, Pennell ML, Pearl DK, Knobloch TJ, Fernandez S, and Weghorst CM. (2013) The Effects of Choice of Reference Gene in Quantitative PCR Data Analysis. BioTechniques  55:207-209
  • Pollack DJ, Gerard D, and DK Pearl. (2013). Uniquely Localized Intra-Molecular Amino Acid Concentrations at the Glycolytic Enzyme Catalytic/Active Centers of Archaea, Bacteria and Eukaryota are Associated with Their Proposed Temporal Appearances on Earth. Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres 43: 161-187
  • Knobloch TJ, Uhrig LK, Pearl DK, Casto BC, Warner BM, Clinton SK, Sardo-Molmenti CL, Ferguson JM, Daly BT, Riedl K, Schwartz SJ, Vodovotz Y, Buchta AJ, Schuller DE, Ozer E, Agrawal A, and Weghorst CM (2016). Suppression of pro-inflammatory and pro-survival biomarkers in oral cancer patients consuming a black raspberry phytochemical-rich troche. Cancer Prevention Research 9(2): 159-71

Research Interests

Applications: Statistics Education, Analysis of Nucleotide Sequences and Phylogenetic Trees, General problems in Biostatistics, Cancer biomarkers

Theory: Methods for High-Dimensional tree-structured data, Modeling education data

Honors and Awards

  • Evelyn Fix Prize for 1985
  • Fellow of American Statistical Association, 2002
  • Computerworld Honors Program Finalist, 2003
  • National Center for Academic Transformation Redesign Scholar, 2006
  • Sloan Consortium Award for Effective Teaching Practice, 2006
  • PI or Co-PI on approximately 60 grants (NSF & NIH)
Filed under:

Navigation for this Section