Current PhD students

Current PhD students

Currently, about 50 students are working on their PhD project at CAU, the MPI and the Geomar.

Khawla Abualia

Khawla Abualia

I’m from Palestine where I did my bachelor in Medical Laboratory sciences at Arab American University. I received a DAAD scholarship for my master in Molecular biology and human genetics at Jordan University of Science and Technology in 2016. I worked for one year at the Natural History museum in Palestine. I was always interested in learning more about evolution, so now I started my PhD with Dr. Linda Odenthal-Hesse at the Evolutionary Genetics Department. My work focuses on meiotic recombination and hybrid sterility in mice.
In my free time I enjoy cooking, reading, learning German and travelling.

Contact: abualia@evolbio.mpg.de

Caren Bascon Cardozo

Aditi Batra

Aditi Batra

I was born in the city of New Delhi, in the Indian subcontinent. I hold a Bachelor's degree in Botany from the Hindu College, University of Delhi, and a Master's degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics from the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore. For my Master's thesis I worked to elucidate the role of the cryptic RNAi machinery in the human pathogenic yeast Candida albicans. My interest in evolution brought me to the International Max Planck Research School for Evolutionary Biology where I am pursuing my doctoral studies in the group of Prof. Dr. Hinrich Schulenburg. My work focuses on the evolution of resistance to antibiotics in the opportunistic bacterial pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
In my leisure time, I enjoy reading, listening to music, dancing and spending time with friends and family.

Contact: abatra@zoologie.uni-zoologie.de
Devika Bhave
My birthplace is Pune, India, where I also completed my bachelors in Microbiology at Fergusson College, Pune University (2012). My masters was also in Microbiology in the MS University of Baroda, Gujarat, India (2014). During my masters I developed interest in evolutionary biology and hence I joined an evolutionary biology lab in the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune, India. I worked at the Institute as a project fellow for a year (2015). Now, I work with Prof. Dr. Diethard Tautz at the MPI iin Plön as an IMPRS student. My project deals with de-novo gene evolution in prokaryotic systems (mostly bacteria).
During free time, I would prefer to travel to different places.

Contact: bhave@evolbio.mpg.de
Joanna Bonczarowska

Joanna Bonczarowska

I was born and raised in Poland where I earned a BSc degree in human biology at the University of Wrocław in 2016. During my undergraduate studies, I had several opportunities to take part in archaeological excavations, which deepened my fascination with the human skeletal system, its durability, plasticity and thus richness of information it carries.
That led me to major in forensic anthropology at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. During my master studies, I worked with CT scans of over 400 human crania with the goal of creating 3D models of the inner ear and producing mathematical formulae for sex estimation based on various measurements of the bony labyrinth. In 2018, I graduated from the UoE with a MScR degree. After learning how to extract information from the human skeleton through traditional macroscopic analysis and with the use of medical imaging, there came time for me to study human remains at a different (molecular) level.
At the moment, I am conducting my doctoral research under supervision of Prof. Almut Nebel at the ancient DNA  research group, where I mainly concentrate on the question to what extent the pathogen-driven selection events in the past affected the frequency of genetic disease factors in the present day. My academic interests include paleoanthropology, paleopathology, forensic anthropology and primatology.

Contact: j.bonczarowska@ikmb.uni-kiel.de

Andrea Bours

Andrea Bours

Born near Maastricht, the Netherlands, I decided to do my bachelors in biology at the Universiteit Hasselt in Belgium (2017). My Interest in evolution sparked early on during my first course and this made me decide to do a Master in Evolution and Population Biology at the University of Bath, the UK (2018). For my master’s thesis I studied the morphological differences in the baculum of male hybrid mice.
My interests in evolution, speciation and island biology led me to start a PhD position at the MPI, within the IMPRS, in the beginning of 2019, under the supervision of Dr. Miriam Liedvogel. The group studies the genetics of migration; however I will research the resident populations of our model species, the blackcap (Silvia atricapilla). My efforts are focused on the genetics behind the residential phenotype.
When the weather is crappy I enjoy music and reading indoors, but if there is sunshine or snow I love to spend my time outdoors.


Contact:
bours@evolbio.mpg.de

Aleksa Cepic

Juryung Cecilia Chung

Juryung Cecilia Chung

I was born in California, USA, and raised in Korea. I earned my B.Sc in Animal Science at UC Davis, California, USA, in 2011. Then, I did my masters in behavioral ecology at Seoul National University, Korea, assessing and studying various effects of a pesticide on toad tadpoles.
I worked in the molecular ecology group at Yeungnam University, Korea, until I joined the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology for my PhD. Here, my research is supervised by Prof. Dr. John Baines of the Evolutionary Genomics group. I will focus on host-microbiome interaction and variation in mouse lung, establishing the concept of lung microbiota by examining the role of host genetic variation.
I personally enjoy cooking, listening to music of various genres, and traveling.

Contact: cjchung@evolbio.mpg.de
Gillian Durieux

Gillian Durieux

I am originally from the Netherlands but I have lived in the UK since I was little. I read Zoology at the University of Sheffield, completing both my bachelor’s and master’s there in 2014.
In January 2017, I joined the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön as a doctoral student under the supervision of Dr Miriam Liedvogel. My project aims to shed light on the molecular underpinnings of migratory traits in the blackcap, Sylvia atricapilla.
In my spare time, I enjoy horse riding, reading, theatre, concerts and visiting museums and galleries.

Contact: gdurieux@evolbio.mpg.de

Artemis Efstratiou

Wagner Fagundes

Wagner Fagundes

I was born and raised in the southermost part of Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul state), where I completed my BSc in Biology at PUC-RS. During that time, I had the opportunity to do an exchange program for a year in the US, studying at Arizona State University. After finishing my bachelor's, I moved back to the US and completed my MSc in Plant Pathology in Dr. Burt Bluhm's group, where I was analyzing the molecular and genotypic patterns of race structure in the soybean fungal pathogen Cercospora sojina. Since April of 2019, I am working with Dr. Eva Stukenbrock's team in the genetic and genomic basis of fungal host adaptation and speciation. We are using closely related populations of Zymoseptoria species originally isolated from "wild" (Aegilops sp.) and "domesticated" (wheat) plant hosts to answer questions in how these populations differ throughout evolution. When not in the bench, I enjoy spending time outside, traveling, watching movies and spending a good time with friends.

Contact: wfagundes@bot.uni-kiel.de
Rossy Johana Fajardo Castro

Rossy Johana Fajardo Castro

I was born in Bogotá, Colombia, but I studied Biology at the University of Tsukuba in Japan, where I received my B.Sc. in Biology with emphases in biochemistry and molecular biology. After returning to my home country, I joined the Evolutionary Immunology and Immunogenetics research group at the National University of Colombia, where I got my Master’s degree on 2014. In between my studies, I have worked in different areas of the private and public sector.
On January 2017, I started my PhD at the Evolutionary Genetics group under the direction of Prof. Dr. Diethard Tautz. With my project I aim to get a better understanding of the mechanisms of evolution of de novo genes using an eukaryote system.
In my free time, I enjoy reading, learning languages, dancing and traveling.

Contact: jfajardo@evolbio.mpg.de
Nico Fuhrmann

Nico Fuhrmann

I started my PhD project in the research group of Tobias Kaiser in the beginning of 2017. I want to investigate the loss of biological clocks in northern populations of non-biting midgets using molecular methods.
I studied biology at the University of Leipzig with a strong focus on animal evolution and systematic. In my bachelor thesis I used molecular biological methods to search for a specific toxin in venomous marine Polychaetes. My master thesis had a bioinformatic background, in which I identified various toxins in the transcriptome of robber flies in order to describe their venom composition.

Contact: fuhrmann@evolbio.mpg.de
Ana Garoña Delgado

Ana Garoña Delgado

I am from Vitoria, a city located in the Basque Country, Spain. I earned my bachelor in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the University of the Basque Country in 2017 and then moved to Barcelona, where I did a Master in Genetics and Genomics with the specialty in Evolution. For my master thesis I studied the evolution of the GAL gene regulatory pathway in yeasts. My main scientific interests are genetics, microbiology and evolution, which led me to the IMPRS and to Tal Dagan’s lab at CAU, where, since the start of 2019, I’m studying plasmid evolution from the plasmid perspective, focusing on the segregation of the plasmid copies during cell division.
Apart from science, I enjoy shopping, travelling and hiking.

Contact: agarona@ifam.uni-kiel.de

Maxime Godfroid

Henry Göhlich

My hometown Rothenburg/Oberlausitz is situated in the far east of Germany and close to the polish border. I did my Master in Marine Biology at the University of Rostock. Afterwards, I worked as field assistant for several research institutes. My PhD project is based in the pipefish group of Dr. Olivia Roth at the Geomar and supervised by Dr. Carolin Wendling. It focuses on rapid evolutionary adaptation in response to anthropogenic stressors in a three-way host-parasite interaction. The model system consists of pipefish Syngnathus typhle as final host, bacteria of the genus Vibrio, and their associated temperate phages. I like to spend my free time outside playing beach volleyball, diving or exploring nature.

Contact: hgoehlich@geomar.de

Muhammad Bilal Haider

Muhammad Bilal Haider

I was born in Lahore, Pakistan. I received my undergraduate degree in Plant Pathology from University of the Punjab (2013) and afterwards completed my masters (2015) in Biotechnology from National Institute for Biotechnology & Genetic Engineering (NIBGE). My research project during my Masters was focused on the diversity of plant viruses (Geminiviridae) and the development of resistance against cotton leaf curl virus in model plant (Nicotiana benthamiana). Plant pathogen interaction in disease development was the turning point where I started focusing on studying evolutionary biology. After my Masters, I joined Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) in 2016, where I explored the role of zkt gene in Arabidopsis thaliana, PDZ domain containing proteins in plants and also part of mango ripening in the post genomic era project. Currently, I am working with Dr. Julien Dutheil in department of evolutionary genetics at the MPI. In my PhD project, I will develop new methods for the inference of selection in protein sequences and study co-evolution at amino acid level considering biochemical constraints. Based on our prediction, we are looking for the candidates genes in E. coli to be evaluated in the laboratory.
Outside of my scientific world, I would like to enjoy music, visit culturally rich places and road trips.

Contact: haider@evolbio.mpg.de
Danielle Harris

Danielle Harris

She is from the East Coast of Canada, where she completed both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology at the University of New Brunswick.
From these studies, her interest in host-microbe interactions grew and this is how she has found herself studying the evolution of the microbiota-gut-brain axis within the IMPRS for Evolutionary Biology. Her work was done under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Thomas Bosch at the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel.

Danielle graduated in summer 2020 and has returned 
to Canada.

Mohsen M. Hegab

Mohsen M. Hegab

I was born in Cairo (Egypt) and studied Biology/Biochemistry at Ain Shams University in Egypt, where I received my M.Sc. degree in 2009. In 2010, I assigned to the National Research Centre (NRC) of Egypt as an Assistant Researcher. I am currently doing my PhD within the IMPRS for Evolutionary Biology in the Department of Molecular Physiology at the Christian Albrechts University in Kiel, supervised by Prof. Dr. Thomas Roeder. I am working on the Drosophila model for human inflammatory bowel disease.
In my free time, I like doing voluntary work, and practicing sports.

Contact: mohsenhegab@daad-alumni.de

Alina Hartmann
She comes from Hamburg, Germany and studied Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in both Kiel and Berlin. For her master thesis she worked at the MPI in Plön in the Community Dynamics group of the Evolutionary Ecology Department. She has started her PhD project with Dr. Linda Odenthal-Hesse of the Evolutionary Genetics Department, working on meiotic recombination in canids.

Alina defended her thesis in summer 
2020 and has now a position as a postdoc at UKSH Kiel.
Ahmad Samer Kadib Alban

I was born and grow up in Aleppo, Syria. I graduated from Aleppo University in 2010 as a biotechnology engineer. I received my master’s degree in AgriGenomics in 2015 from Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel (CAU), Germany. Currently, I am a PhD candidate at the IMPRS for Evolutionary Biology, working within the genomic microbiology group at Kiel University under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Tal Dagan. My main research focus is to study lateral gene transfer using networking and computational approaches. In my free time I go to the gym, play Xbox, ride bicycle and climb.

Contact: kadibalban@evolbio.mpg.de

Kohar Annie Kissoyan

Kohar Annie Kissoyan

I started off my scientific journey by majoring in Biology at Haigazian University, in Beirut, Lebanon, in 2006. After which I pursued my Masters degree in Microbiology and Immunology, at the American University of Beirut. I defended my Master’s thesis on Anti- Aspergillus fumigatus IgY antibodies and their protective efficacy in cyclosporine A treated BALB/c mice, in 2013. Immediately thereafter, I proceeded to work as a research assistant, at the American University of Beirut Medical Center, in the department of experimental pathology, microbiology and immunology, where I was involved in various projects focused on antimicrobial resistance and the potential therapeutic options. From August 2016 onwards, I started my PhD studies in Kiel, in the group of Hinrich Schulenburg, supervised by Katja Dierking, where I study the tripartite interactions: microbiota-pathogen-host, and I dissect the protective efficacy of the natural microbiota members against pathogenic infections in the C. elegans host. I enjoy spending my spare time with furry animals, playing the piano and traveling around.

Contact: kkissoyan@zoologie.uni-kiel.de

Juan Sebastian Lugo Ramos
I was born in Bogotá, Colombia. I received my BSc and Masters in Biology from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, where I studied the evolution of immune systems in primates. Currently, I am doing my PhD at the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, working on epigenetics and gene expression of different migration patterns of birds, in the Behavioral Genomics research group under the supervision of Dr. Miriam Liedvogel. We will use high throughput sequencing approaches to unravel the molecular mechanisms controlling different traits in the migratory behaviour using blackcaps (Sylvia atricapilla) as our model organism. I like to dedicate my leisure time to read, play clarinet and synthesizers or go to galleries and museums.

Contact: lugor@evolbio.mpg.de
Niels Mahrt

Niels Mahrt

Born and raised in Northern Germany, he graduated from the University of Kiel in 2015 with a master’s degree in Evolutionary Biology & Ecology. In his master thesis he investigated the collateral effects of antibiotic resistance in bacteria isolated from cystic fibrosis patients and compared it to those found in in-vitro evolved strains. Being inspired by evolutionary research on antibiotic resistance, he decided to return to the University of Kiel to pursue his PhD on the influence of periodic bottlenecks on experimental antibiotic resistance evolution under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Hinrich Schulenburg.

Niels graduated in spring 2020 and is now continuing 
his project with the Schulenburg group as postdoc.

Ana Filipa Moutinho

Ana Filipa Moutinho

She is from Portugal and and started her PhD in the Evolutionary Genetics department, under the supervision of Dr. Julien Dutheil in 2017.
She is a biologist from the University of Porto in Portugal, and she got her M.Sc. degree from CIBIO, Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, University of Porto. For her Master thesis project she studied the Evolutionary History of a desert specialist, Jaculus jaculus, by applying a multi-locus approach to infer species phylogenetic signal of differentiation and potential processes driving speciation.  For her PhD project, she researched the impact of the structure of biomolecules on sequence evolution by applying a population genetics approach.

Filipa graduated in spring 2020. She is 
currently working as a postdoc at University of Sussex, Brighton.
Jule Neumann

Jule Neumann

I grew up in a small town in the East of Germany and obtained my B.Sc. and M.Sc. degree in Biology at the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel (CAU). Currently, I am doing my PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology (Plön) in the Research Group “Biological Clocks” led by Dr. Tobias Kaiser. I am particularly interested in how the circalunar clock evolved in the marine insect Clunio. My project aims to shed light on the question: Is the circalunar clock derived from a photoperiodic response (diapause)? Generally, I am fascinated by the odd complexity of life found in the oceans and all aspects of time. Furthermore, I try to make my way through the academic world by emitting as few as possible CO2e. Other than that, I like to travel, hike and learn new languages.

Contact: neumann@evolbio.mpg.de

Nancy Obeng

Nancy Obeng

My research career began with studying Biology at the Free University Berlin. Inspired by social interactions in bacteria, I focused on Evolutionary Biology and completed my Masters at the University of Groningen.
I am currently working on the evolution of interactions C. elegans and bacterial members of its microbiota in the group of Prof. Dr. Hinrich Schulenburg. Here I am particularly interested to understand how bacteria change when they adopt a host-associated life style.

Contact: nobeng@zoologie.uni-kiel.de
Onur Özer

Onur Özer

I am from Izmir, Turkey. I received both my B.Sc. and M. Sc. degrees in Molecular Biology and Genetics at the Middle East Technical University, Turkey. During my masters, I studied the initial phases of sheep domestication by using ancient DNA. However, readings on ancient epidemics drew my attention to the area of host-pathogen coevolution and I have decided to change my focus area. Currently I am doing my PhD under the supervision of Dr. Tobias Lenz. My research focus is on the selective forces responsible for the maintenance of MHC diversity in natural populations.
I spend my free time on both outdoor activities like hiking and nature photography and indoor activities like board games.

Jamie Parker

Carolina Peralta

Lizel Potgieter

Lizel Potgieter

I was born in Sasolburg, South Africa. I grew up in Johannesburg and studied in Pretoria. I completed my B.Sc. in Biotechnology at the University of Pretoria (UP) at the end of 2013. I continued with my B.Sc. (Hons) in Genetics in 2014 and was assigned a mycology project in the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) at UP. I continued with the project for my M.Sc. but opted for a purely bioinformatic approach to characterise and compare a pectinase within and between species in the Agaricales. This sealed the fate of my ongoing interest in fungi.
Here I study in the Environmental Genomics group led by Prof. Dr. Eva Stukenbrock. I am working on Cercospora beticola and have moved from the land of pectinases to genomics. Using genomics we aim to answer questions regarding the differences between populations of C. beticola.
In my spare time I enjoy traveling, watching live music, geocaching, playing games with friends, and watching movies.

Nataša Puzović

<strong>Reshmi Raveendran</strong>

Reshmi Raveendran

I was born in India and studied at the Madurai Kamaraj University, India, where I received my Masters Degree in Biotechnology. I am currently a PhD student within the IMPRS for Evolutionary Biology working on the role of FoxO in tissue homeostasis in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, at the Department of Zoophysiology II at the Christian Albrechts University in Kiel, supervised by Prof. Dr. Thomas Roeder.
I like reading, travelling and I enjoy cooking.

Contact: rraveendran@zoologie.uni-kiel.de

Devani Romero Picazo

Mario Santer

Mario Santer

I was born in Kiel, Germany, where I studied theoretical physics at the Christian-Albrechts-University. I received my M.Sc. in 2018. During an internship with Dr. Arne Traulsen in 2017, Evolutionary Theory started to fascinate me. Currently, I am a PhD student at the Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön. I am part of the research group Stochastic Evolutionary Dynamics a.k.a. the “Rescue Team” led by Hildegard Uecker. The unofficial name stems from the fact that we develop models of evolutionary rescue. My work is about the role of plasmids in antibiotic resistance. What I enjoy most is the interdisciplinary work in the field of evolutionary biology.
I like sports, hiking, and making music.

Contact: santer@evolbio.mpg.de
<strong>Arunraj Saranya Prakashrao</strong>

Arunraj Saranya Prakashrao

I was born in India and studied at the Bharathidasan University, India, where I received my Masters Degree in Bioinformatics in 2010. I am currently a PhD student within the IMPRS for Evolutionary Biology working on the evolution of homospermidine synthases in convolvulaceae in the group for Biochemical Ecology and Molecular Evolution with Prof. Dr. Dietrich Ober at the Botanical Institute of the Christian Albrechts University in Kiel.
In my free time I like to read, travel, playing guitar and cycling.

Contact: arunraj@bot.uni-kiel.de

Lara Schmittmann

Lara Schmittmann

I studied Biology in my hometown Münster (Germany) and moved to Kiel for a master course in Biological Oceanography. I finished in 2017, after working on the adaptation of different marine invertebrates to the environmental conditions in the Baltic Sea.
Currently, I am a PhD student at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel in the working group of Prof. Ute Hentschel. I am investigating the interaction of the Baltic sponge Halichondria panicea with its associated symbionts.
In my free time, I enjoy nature, cycling and yoga.

Contact: lschmittmann@geomar.de

Ryszard Soluch

Joanna Summers

Joanna Summers

I was born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand. Here I completed my Bachelor's degree (2016) in genetics and molecular biology, at Massey University. This was followed by my Master's (2018), my thesis research supervised from a distance by Prof. Paul Rainey. I found the project to be both fascinating and intellectually stimulating, thus I decided to continue the work on for my PhD, and joined the newly established Rainey Lab at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön in 2018. More broadly, my research is interested in evolution, transitions in individuality, and the origins of complex life. Specifically, we use a bacterial model system to investigate the early steps in the transition from unicellular to multicellularity. My project has focused on the redesign of an experiment that recreates a simple multicellular life cycle, transitioning between a collective phase ('somatic body'), and an individual motile cell phase ('germline'). Personally, I enjoy art museums, travelling, eating, indie music, and collecting sea shells.

Contact: summers@evolbio.mpg.de

Si Tang

Leif Tüffers

Vaibhvi

Tanita Wein

Lei Yu

<h4>Román Ulises Zapién Campos</h4>

Román Ulises Zapién Campos

I was born and raised in Guanajuato, Mexico. There, I got a BSc in Biotechnological Engineering from the National Polytechnic Institute after a dissertation on modeling microbial antagonism. Afterwards, I got an MRes in Biosciences from University College London after a dissertation on modeling de-novo design of mutualisms.
On January 2018, I started my PhD in the Department of Evolutionary Theory at the MPI for Evolutionary Biology, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Arne Traulsen and Dr. Michael Sieber. Here, we are studying the eco-evolutionary dynamics of the holobiont (host + microbiota) using multiple theoretical approaches.
Apart from Science, I enjoy cinema, doing DIY electronics projects, and traveling.

Contact: zapien@evolbio.mpg.de
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