Doctoral Researchers

Doctoral Researchers

February 01, 2023

Currently, about 60 IMPRS EvolBio doctoral researchers are working on their project at CAU, the MPI and the Geomar.

Mayuresh Ambekar
I did my undergrad in chemistry and worked on different research projects during semester breaks. One of which led me to spend about 8 months in the Himalayas (living the nomad life in a tent), where I discovered my love for nature and biology. I then moved to London to pursue my MSc in wildlife research & conservation. For my master's thesis, I worked on 'Identifying reference genes in Anurida maritima', a collembolan that displays a circatidal rhythm. Currently, I’m a PhD student with Dr. Tobias Kaiser at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, where I work on understanding the role of the clock gene, period, in circadian and circalunar timing in the marine midge, Clunio marinus.

I usually spend my weekends exploring, hiking, playing tennis or just relaxing with good food and movies or documentaries (especially crime)! 

Contact: more
Karen Bascon Cardozo
I am from La Paz, Bolivia where I completed my undergrad studies in Biology and Zoology at the Universidad Mayor de San Andres. There, I studied birds and their behavioural response towards urban acoustic barriers for my thesis. I made an exchange semester in Sweden at Linköping University and participated in an internship at Dresden University where I worked on mammalian genome stability. During those years, I boosted my research interests in behavioural genomics, population genetics, epigenetics, and conservation. Afterwards, I got a scholarship from DAAD and started the PhD in the MPI. In Miriam Liedvogel's research group, we study the genetics behind the fascinating migratory behaviour in the Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla). During my PhD, I characterise the recombination landscape of this species and assess how recombination rates variation associates with genomic features and methylation patterns.
I enjoy travelling, painting, concerts, dancing, trekking, exploring nature, bird watching, and cooking.

Contact: more
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: more
Ana Elizabet Bergues Pupo
I am from Cuba, where I obtained a Biology bachelor at the University of Oriente in 2016 and a master's degree in Biodiversity Conservation at the Central University of Las Villas in 2020. Broadly, I am interested in fungal-plant interactions from an ecological and evolutionary perspective. My master project was related to the distribution of morphological traits in wood-inhabiting macrofungi as predictive value for forest conservation. Currently, I am at the Kiel lab of the Environmental Genomics Group led by Eva Stukenbrock, working on molecular mechanisms of virulence in the fungal pathogen Zymoseptoria tritici upon wheat infection. 
During my spare time, I mostly enjoy reading, listening to music, and cooking.

Contact: more
Christopher Böhmker
I was born in Hamburg and did my bachelor (Biology) and master (Molecular Biology and Evolution) at the Kiel University. In January 2020, I joined the Max Planck Institute in Plön to do an internship and my master's thesis on the genetic evolution of phages and bacteria. In 2021, I started as a PhD student in the department Microbial Population Biology, working with Prof. Dr. Paul Rainey and Dr. Frederic Bertels on small genomic elements (REPINs), whose function and interaction with the transposase RAYT is poorly understood. I always enjoy being inspired by exciting new topics and looking forward to my time at the institute.
In my spare time I like to cook and bake, watch movies (especially Science fiction), read books and do sports.

Alejandro Bonive Boscan
I was born in Mérida, a city in the mountains of Venezuela, where I obtained my diploma as a Licentiate in Biology from the Universidad de Los Andes (ULA). During my career, I was interested in several aspects of biology, and my thesis was about the metabolic changes in the malaria-causing parasite Plamsodium falciparum, in the presence of Artemisinin, the most widely used drug to treat this disease. Currently, I am investigating the role of many proteins in the sporulation of Bacillus subtilis. I am part of the Evolutionary Cell Biology research group (ECB), and my supervisor is Dr. Javier Lopez Garrido. I started my Ph.D. at the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Biology on September 2022
I like to spend my free time playing guitar, drawing, and walking in the forest.

Contact: more
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: more
Pauline Buffard
I was born and raised in France. I studied biology at the Université Grenoble Alpes (UGA) during my bachelor. During this time, I had the great opportunity to take part into the ERASMUS+ program and spend my third year at the University of York, UK. From there started to grow my passion for traveling, discovering new places and cultures. I returned to Grenoble to pursue with an international master starting with a general first year in Molecular and Cellular Biology and followed by a second year during which I specialized in Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. For my master’s thesis, I worked on screening for biofilm dispersal effectors in V. cholerae with Prof Dr. Knut Drescher at the MPI for terrestrial microbiology in Marburg, Germany. Sometime after graduating, I felt the need to place my microbiology knowledge into a more meaningful eco-evolutionary context. I am currently working as a PhD student under the supervision of Prof Dr. Paul B Rainey at the MPI for Evolutionary Biology. My project focuses on the role of horizontal gene transfer in the establishment of a functional microbiome for C. elegans. I have also a great affinity with everything involving science communication.
Outside of science, I like going outdoor for hikes or cycling tours, discovering and getting acquainted with my surroundings. Among others, I enjoy reading and spending quality times with my friends and family.

Contact: more
Aleksa Cepic
Before coming to the MPI I completed my undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology and Physiology at the University of Belgrade, Serbia. For my master’s thesis I’ve joined the group for Molecular Microbiology at the Institute of Molecular Genetics and Genetic Engineering in Belgrade, where I studied the effects of early life antibiotics treatment on the development and progression of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis in rats. Now I am a student at the Department of Evolutionary Genetics in the Baines lab (Guest group Evolutionary Medicine) where I work on the role of B4gant2 gene in shaping the outcome of antibiotic treatment.

Contact: more
Amor Damatac II
I was born and raised in the Philippines, and I obtained both my Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Biology from the University of the Philippines. During my master's, I majored in genetics and my thesis focused on obtaining the mitochondrial genome sequences of endemic land snails and the phylogeny of stylommatophoran land snails based on their mitochondrial genomes. I joined the Craniofacial Biology Group at the Max Planck Institute, where I am exploring a completely new field of research under the supervision of Dr. Marketa Kaucka-Petersen. My project aims to trace the evolutionary history of skeletal cell types using phylotranscriptomic approaches.  
In my free time, I enjoy eating, reading manga, watching tv series, and traveling to new places.

Contact: more
Fragkiskos Darmis
I hold a M.Sc. in Human Evolution and Behaviour from University College London. There, I investigated the effect of the social environment on the sexual receptivity of female chacma baboons.
At the MPI I am part of the Behavioural Ecology of Individual Differences research group under the supervision of Dr. Anja Guenther. I am interested in understanding the proximate and ultimate mechanisms of animal personality and behaviour, especially why some behaviours are favoured by sexual selection. Currently, I am studying the causes and consequences of individual differences in cognition using mice as a model.

Contact:  more
Artemis Efstratiou
I was born in Athens, Greece and earned my B.Sc. in Biology from the University of Athens in 2015. Afterward I moved to Hokkaido, Japan where in 2018 I completed my master’s in Animal and Food Hygiene at the National Research Center for Protozoan Diseases. My thesis aimed at elucidating the immune mechanisms conferring heterologous protection against murine malaria. In 2019, I joined the MPI as a Ph.D. student within the IMPRS, under the supervision of Dr. Tobias Lenz of the Evolutionary Immunogenomics group. My research focuses on the dynamics of the adaptive immune response of a small fish species, the three-spined stickleback, during parasitic infection. Specifically, my goal is to better understand the natural variation in the T cell repertoire response within a population, and to examine the effect that genetic diversity in key immune loci (particularly the MHC) may have on said variation.
In my spare time, I like to keep up with current global affairs, and enjoy karaoke as well as playing board games with friends.

Contact: more
Elio Escamilla Vega

Elio Escamilla Vega

I am originally from Sevilla (Spain), where I graduated in Basic and Experimental Biomedicine at Universidad de Sevilla. During my Bachelor I was able to spend some time in the UK as an intern and developed my scientific skills at Cardiff University (Wales) and University of Cambridge(England). After that, I did my Master’s in Biomolecules and Cell Dynamics at Universidad Autonoma de Madrid (Spain). At the Max Planck Institute I have joined Marketa Kaucka Petersen’s research group where I will be doing my thesis in Craniofacial Development, investigating the genetic and molecular mechanisms of face formation across several vertebrate species with the aim of better understanding inter and intra-species facial variability.
When I am not working in the lab, I enjoy reading sci-fi and historical books, cooking and listening to the average commercial pop songs. I am also an animal lover and love getting lost in museums and old libraries.

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: more
Małgorzata (Gosia) Fic
I was born and raised in a small village in the northern part of Poland. I graduated from the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree (EMJMD) QEM - Models and Methods of Quantitative Economics. Besides my background in Social Sciences, I’ve always been most interested in mathematical modelling and evolutionary dynamics, with the main focus on Evolutionary Game Theory. Especially during my Master’s studies at Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, I’ve been studying different optimization techniques and their application to Game Theory. In my Master Thesis, I researched the evolution of cooperation in multiplayer, multiple games on multilayer networks, and I will continue to work on those topics during my PhD. In the MPI I joined the research group for Theoretical Models of Eco-evolutionary Dynamics, working under the supervision of Dr. Chaitanya Gokhale.
In my free time I enjoy going to the theatre, dancing and baking.

Contact: more
Enea Franceschini
I'm from Italy. There, I studied Biotechnology and then Molecular Biology for my master's in Sweden. Right now I'm persuing my PhD in Professor Paul Rainey’s department Microbial Population Biology at the Max Planck Institute.
I like reading, videogames, and to travel.

Contact: more
Rahul Govindan Unni
I was born and grew up in Kerala, India. I completed an MSc. in biotechnology in 2016 from the Vellore Institute of Technology, India. For my master’s thesis, I studied the chemical communication and fertility signals in a social insect, the Indian paper wasp, at the Indian Institute of Science, India. I then worked for a year as an Editor in a science communication company. In 2017, I enrolled in another MS course, this time in molecular biology and evolution (MAMBE) at the CAU Kiel, Germany, studying wild yeast populations and their interactions with a symbiotic virus. I joined the group of Prof. Daniel Unterweger in 2019. Here, I am studying bacterial adaptation to the mouse gut during chronic inflammation, as well as bacteria-bacteria interactions in the mouse gut.
In my free time, I enjoy reading, writing, and discussing (fantasy) fiction and history.

Contact: more
Antonia Habich
I grew up in a small village near Hannover, Germany. After completing my B.Sc. in Biomedicine at the University of Würzburg, I moved to Kiel and joined the Medical Life Sciences master’s program. There, I got introduced to evolution and was captivated by the different angle on biology that evolution offers. During my masters, I joined Prof. Daniel Unterweger’s group, where got drawn into the fascinating world of the bacterial type VI secretion system (T6SS). During my PhD, I will continue working on the evolution of the T6SS in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Other than doing science, I like to read, enjoy time outside, and recently rediscovered my love for baking.

Contact: more
Jun Ishigohoka
I am from Tokyo, Japan, and I moved to Sapporo for my bachelor at Hokkaido University. Interested in diversity of animal behaviour, I worked on neural basis of species-specificity and intra-species variation in learned vocal communication using song learning of songbirds as a model for my bachelor project (2017). More interested in looking at behavioural diversity from evolutionary-genomic perspectives (and taking a selfie with a well-dressed Neanderthal), I moved to Germany and did my master at Kiel University. For my master project (2019), I worked on incipient speciation and demography of a migratory songbird species applying population genomics. Now, I work with Dr Miriam Liedvogel at the MPI in Plön. My current research focus is to understand the genomic basis of seasonal migration using blackcaps as a model. My long-term dream as a biologist is to combine evolutionary genomics and molecular neuroethology to gain a holistic understanding of behavioural evolution, of which Niko Tinbergen proposed the importance more than half a century ago.
My hobbies include playing the piano, which I taught myself, and to go to concerts of my favourite pianist, who happens to be from Germany.

Contact: more
Alexander Jacobsen
I am a PhD student from the United States with a bachelors in Biology and a masters in Bioinformatics. I am interested in population genomics and molecular evolution, especially for marine and intertidal organisms. I work in the Biological Clocks group, focusing on the demographic history and population divergence of Clunio marinus in Europe, with an emphasis on understanding the molecular mechanisms that have allowed Clunio populations to adapt to various tidal regimes.
Outside of research, I enjoy hiking, biking, scuba diving, and just appreciating nature in general.

Contact: more
Iqra Kasu
I was born in Mumbai, India, where I obtained my Bachelors in Microbiology from the University of Mumbai. Further I completed my Masters from SASTRA University, India, during which I did my master’s thesis at the University of Osnabrück, Germany as a part of the semester abroad programme. For my thesis, I studied the role of cell lysis in metabolic cross-feeding interactions in bacteria. Currently, I am pursuing my doctoral studies in the Evolutionary Cell Biology group at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology. For my PhD project, I intent to gain insights about the biosynthetic activities and metabolic processes that are important for the process of spore revival.
In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, listening to music and exploring places.

Contact: more
Jovan Komluski
I was born in Zrenjanin, Serbia and I have obtained my Bachelor degree in Phytomedicine in 2014 at the Agricultural Faculty in Belgrade. After getting scholarship from US Department of State, I have spent the fourth year of my Bachelor studies in the USA, at North Dakota State University in Fargo, where I was introduced with genomics for the first time. This experience has motivated me to pursue Master degree in AgriGenomics at Kiel University, for which I was funded by DAAD. I am currently doing my PhD in the Environmental Genomics group led by Prof. Eva Stukenbrock. My research focuses on functional analysis of meiotic drive of female-inherited accessory chromosomes in fungal pathogen Zymoseptoria tritici.
In my free time I like to do gardening, repair old furniture and play basketball.

Contact: more
Sungbin Lim
I'm from South Korea and I did my bachelor's and master's degree in Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology. At the MPI, under the supervision of Jenna Gallie, I will study evolution of tRNA and PRF (Programmed ribosomal frameshifting) sequence of P. fluorescens in an experimental way. My main interest is evolution of microbes, asking how bacteria gets so diverse and how they invent their own characteristics. 
I enjoy listening to music, walking along the lake and watching movies when I have my free time.

Contact:  more
Karem Stephanie López Hervas
I was born in Ecuador, that has one of the greatest biodiversity in the world. During my BSc thesis, I studied poison frogs, specifically the genus Epipedobates that shows a case of low genetic diversity and large phenotypic variation. In 2016, I performed a project to understand the phylogenetic relationships in the Epipedobates group in collaboration with Dr. Rebecca Tarvin and Prof. David Cannatella in the University of Texas at Austin and Prof. Santiago Ron from QCAZ Museum of the PUCE in Ecuador. In my MSc thesis, I became more aware of the role that phenotypic plasticity has on the adaptive evolution process in changing environments. In this project, I used RNAseq to identify genes that are involved in background matching, a strategy that tadpoles of Pelobates cultripes use as antipredator mechanism. I was supervised by Prof. Dr. Ivan Gomez Mestre and Dr. Christoph Liedtke in the CSIC in Seville, Spain. Currently, I am doing my PhD in the Behavioral Ecology of Individual Differences research group, under the supervision of Dr. Anja Guenther. My project focuses on the importance of plasticity for adaptation in changing environments, using wild mice as model organism. Besides, I am interested in joining equal opportunity collectives and standing up to inequality and racism. In my free time I enjoy outdoor sports and drinking coffee with friends.

Contact: more
Stella Marco Kyomen
I am from Brazil and I received my bachelor degree in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Sao Paulo. Over the years I’ve been studying morphological diversity of tetrapod limbs. In 2018 was a visiting researcher at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of California where I aimed to study phalangeal variation among salamander species and its relations with ecology. In 2021, I completed my Master’s thesis in Comparative Biology that focused on investigating developmental and functional modules present in lizard autopodia (hands and feet). Completing this work made me very curious about the underpinning genetics supporting phenotypic integration and morphological variation in vertebrates. Currently, I am a PhD student in the Craniofacial Biology group under the supervision of Dr Marketa Kaucka Petersen. My project focuses on the effect of non-coding sequences in morphology, especially with the regard to the limbs and skull’s osteology. Besides science, I am a huge fan of classical literature and my favorite book is Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. I am also love painting, in particular scientific illustration where I can express my admiration for biology. 

Contact: more
Angela M. Marulanda
I obtained my B.Sc. degree in general biology from Javeriana University (Cali – Colombia) in 2010. My bachelor’s project focused on the competition for space between excavating sponges and corals in a Caribbean reef. After graduating, I worked for a short time as a research assistant in the Benthos Division of the National Marine and Coastal Research Institute (INVEMAR). Then, I collaborated in a sclerochronology project, in which we studied coral growth rates and its relation with environmental parameters. In 2017, I left my country searching for graduate opportunities. I enrolled the M.Sc. in Freshwater and Marine Biology program at the University of Amsterdam. During this time, I continued studying coral reef organisms and ecological processes. Currently, I am a Ph.D. student in the group of Prof. Dr. Ute Hentschel Humeida, under the supervision of Dr. Lucia Pita Galán, at GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel. The general aim of my project is to study the role of the immune system in sponge-microbe interactions by characterizing cellular and molecular responses in the Baltic sponge Halichondria panicea.
In my free time, I enjoy walking outdoors, diving, music and food.

Contact: more
Judith Müller
I was born and grew up in the east of Germany. After having studied to become and having worked as a biology teacher for a few years, I did a M. Sc. course in Biochemistry at the University of Jena (Germany). During that time, I became particularly interested in epigenetics, which I now further pursue in my PhD project in Eva Stukenbrock’s Environmental Genomics group at Kiel University. More precisely, my project focusses on the role of epigenetic modifications in the evolutionary maintenance of accessory chromosomes in the economically important wheat pathogen Zymoseptoria tritici and closely related species within the same genus. I investigate the impact of these modifications both on the loss of accessory chromosomes during asexual reproduction and on a previously observed chromosome drive mechanism during sexual reproduction of Zymoseptoria spp. to elucidate how these selfish genetic elements maintained their survival during the evolution of the genus.
During my leisure time, I enjoy reading, travelling, long distance hiking and climbing (only indoor so far).

Contact: more
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: more
Christin Nyhoegen
I grew up in the Grafschaft Bentheim in Germany. For my studies I moved to Lübeck, where I studied Computational Life Science in my Bachelor’s and Master’s. During my Master’s, I got interested in the modelling of biological processes, specifically the stochastic modelling, as well as the dynamics of those processes. Currently, I am doing my PhD in the research group ‘Stochastic Evolutionary Dynamics’ supervised by Dr. Hildegard Uecker. My work is focused on mathematical models for the with-host evolution of antibiotic resistance during treatment.
In my leisure time I enjoy reading, baking, crafting and doing sports, especially rugby.

Contact: more
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.

Contact: more
Saptarshi Pal
Broadly, I am interested in studying mathematical models of cooperation and coordination. To this end, I use the theory of evolutionary games, see In one project I develop a model that shows how different facets of reciprocity, like direct, and generalized, interact with one another. When cooperation evolves, which reciprocity mechanism do individuals predominantly use in a population? In another project I study a model of plausible deniability: why is it hard for punishers to coordinate their punishment when information about the crime is imperfect?
For my doctoral project I am working in the Research Group Dynamics of Social Behaviour, led by Dr. Christian Hilbe at the MPI Plön. Outside work I enjoy playing chess, bouldering, listening to music and drinking coffee.

Contact: more
Lavisha Parab
I was born in Mumbai, India. I studied at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur, India for my bachelor in biotechnology and biochemical engineering. Dr. Amrita Hazra’s passion for science and the fun I had working with her at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Pune spurred me on the scientific path. After short internships with Prof. Christian Baron at Université de Montréal (inhibition of type IV secretion systems) and Dr. Frederic Bertels at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology (experimental evolution of bacteriophage PhiX174), I worked with Dr. Riddhiman Dhar (IIT Kharagpur) for my master’s thesis. The focus was on the source of gene expression noise in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
My PhD project, supervised by Dr. Frederic Bertels, aims to understand whether we can predict the evolutionary dynamics of a complex system like phage-bacteria coevolution from its individual components. I will be employing a combination of mathematical modelling and experimental approaches to study the coevolution of Escherichia coli C and bacteriophage PhiX174.
When it's sunny, I read books by the Big Plön Lake in my free time and when it's not sunny, I dance!

Contact: more
Carolina Peralta
I am from Lisbon, Portugal and completed my undergraduate studies in the same city, at the University of Lisbon.
I earned my BSc degree in Biology, with a specialization in Molecular Biology and Genetics. My fascination for phenotypic variation and understanding its genetic basis drove me to a MSc degree in Evolutionary and Developmental Biology. I have developed my MSc thesis at Gulbenkian Institute of Science with Dr. Patrícia Beldade and addressed the genetic basis of adaptation using butterfly wing patterns as a model. To follow up on my MSc thesis findings I established CRISPR/CAS9 system in the same lab, that allowed to link causality between genetic and phenotypic changes in the butterfly Bicyclus anynana. In January 2019, I joined the MPI Plön as a PhD student under the supervision of Dr. Tobias Kaiser. My project aims to address the genomic architecture and evolution underlying variation in the period of a lunar rhythm. I am specifically interested in understanding the role of chromosomal inversions in maintaining adaptive timing phenotypes in the midge Clunio marinus.
In my free time, I enjoy birdwatching, photography and discovering new places.

Contact: more
Kartikeyan Premrajka

Kartikeyan Premrajka

I am working with Prof. Marc Bramkamp (and group) in CAU Kiel. My main area of focus is the dynamics of the DNA segregation system in Archaea and using that as a model for evolution of chromosomal segregation systems.
In general I enjoy history podcasts, board games, assorted sports and the occasional trip to the coast. 

Nataša Puzović
I grew up in Belgrade, Serbia, where I completed my Bachelor studies in Molecular Biology at the University of Belgrade. Afterwards I movd to Germany and completed my Master studies in Molecular Biology and Evolution in Kiel. I am interested in how biological systems of hundreds of interacting components, such as biological pathways in cells, function at all and evolve over time. During my PhD I am investigating the evolution of gene expression noise in the context of gene networks in the Molecular Systems Evolution Research Group, supervised by Dr. Julien Dutheil.
Otherwise, I like reading, discussions over coffee, video games and eating (and making) food from all around the world.

Contact: more
Dharanish Rajendra
Having joined the IMPRS in September 2022, I will be working in Chaitanya Gokhale group at the MPI, broadly on the topic of the evolution of learning and innovation in organisms. I will be studying how such behaviors can arise and how extended evolutionary synthesis effects can affect it.
In my free time, I like to spend time outside, go hiking, trekking and cycling. I like listen to and learn music. I also like playing video games, watching movies, and reading manga.

Contact: more
Octavio Reyes-Matte
I come from Chile where I studied a bachelor’s in Marine Biology, specializing mainly in molecular biology and biostatistics. Looking for a place to strengthen my theoretical and computational skills, I studied a Master’s in biophysics Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. For my thesis project, I analysed the spatial distribution of the morphogens Smad2 and Smad3 in stem cells. That gave me the opportunity to focus intensely in microscopy, image analysis and computational approaches to biology. Nowadays, I combine these skills with wet-lab techniques to explore the selective role of cell shape and size in the Evolutionary Cell Biology group at the MPI, tinkering with the model bacterium Bacillus subtilis.
In my free time I like cooking, reading and discovering new music groups.

Contact: more
Gisela Rodriguez Sánchez
I am from Venezuela and got my Licenciatura/Licence degree in the University of Los Andes, Mérida where I worked on the effect of an altitudinal gradient on the local variability of a plant-pollinator system with Prof. Dr. Roxibell Pelayo. Then I worked in the Glaciers team with Prof. Dr. Alejandra Melfo and Dr. Bárbara Huber on the Last Venezuelan Glacier Project studying and preserving the microbiota that currently lives on the glacier. For my PhD I will work with Paul Rainey and team in the Department of Microbial Population. My project focuses on the endogenization of collective-level Darwinian properties using a bacterial model for the evolution of multicellularity. In my free time I enjoy trekking, cyclingand bird watching as well as salsa, cine and good food.

Contact: more
Jordan Romeyer Dherbey
I was born and raised in France where I obtained two MSc degrees, one in “Genetics and Human Anthropology” and the second in “Biogeosciences and Anthropology”, at Paul Sabatier University of Toulouse and the University of Bordeaux, respectively. Before being a Ph.D. student, I investigated evolutionary mechanisms and selective forces involved in the epidemic success of the Koch bacilli at the Natural History Museum in Paris, resorting to an integrated approach combining mathematical modelling and genomics data. I started my Ph.D. in the research group of Frederic Bertels at the MPI early 2019. My doctoral work focuses on exploring the possibility of preventing the emergence of phage resistance, using adapted strains of the coliphage ΦX174 to a range of resistant Escherichia coli C.
In my spare time, I like practicing sports, reading comic books, playing video games, and drinking a good beer with my friends.

Contact: more
Charlotte Rossetti
I joined the IMPRS in 2020 as a member of the newly established Max Planck Research Group in Dynamics of Social Behaviour lead by Dr. Christian Hilbe. As the experimentalist of the group, I am investigating cooperative behaviour by running economic games with human participants and relate the results to evolutionary models and simulations of behaviour, which is what I came here to learn.
I am originally from Geneva, Switzerland, but I studied in the UK where I read Psychology and got a master in Behavioural and Economics Science. This is where I developed a strong fascination for Game Theory and its multi-disciplinary applications in researching social and strategic behaviour in human and non-human animals.
In my spare time I am a great outdoor enthusiast. I hike, cycle, explore new places, go swimming when the weather is good and take any opportunity to practice my favourite sport, Archery.

Contact: more
Abdulgawaad (Goda) Saboukh
I was born and raised in a small town by the Mediterranean in northern Egypt. In my Bachelor studies at Alexandria University, Egypt, I gravitated toward molecular biology and genetics, which introduced me to the essential biological processes of life at the cellular level. After I finished my compulsory military service in 2017, I started my master’s degree in the Medical Life Sciences program at Kiel University, with the focus area Evolutionary Medicine. I was particularly interested in gaining insight into how molecular processes go awry in disease within the context of evolution. For my master’s thesis I characterized the mitochondrial sirtuin expression and gut microbiota dynamics during diurnal rhythms in Drosophila.
My PhD research is supervised by Prof. Dr. John Baines of the Evolutionary Genomics group at Kiel University. I will focus on characterizing host genes-microbiome interactions in the mammalian lung.
In my spare time I enjoy listening to music and watching football and tennis (also playing whenever possible). I also like travelling, meeting new people, and learning about different cultures.

Contact: more
Corinna Schwarz
I started my scientific journey at Nuremberg Tech, where I did my bachelor in applied chemistry. For my masters in biochemistry I moved to TU Munich, where I discovered the beauty of evolution. In 2020, I started my PhD thesis in evolutionary biology at the group of Javier Lopez Garrido. For my thesis, I’m exploring the evolution of sporulation in B. subtilis, by combining evolutionary biology with genetics and cell biology.
In my sparetime, I like to travel and to enjoy nature.

Contact: more
Nikhil Sharma
I grew up in a small village of Himachal Pradesh, India. For my undergrad, I moved to Delhi, where I studied physics at St. Stephen's College. The statistical mechanics course, then offered by Abhinav Gupta, inspired me in many ways. To learn more about the subject, I went to the University of Cologne, Germany. My master's thesis was in statistical field theory, aiming to look at the criticality in rapid but periodically driven systems.
During my time in Cologne, I also started gaining interest in evolutionary biology. The courses and classroom discussions with Joachim Krug and Michael Lässig ultimately made me shift gears from theoretical physics to a more interdisciplinary ride. Currently, I am working as a doctoral student under the supervision of Arne Traulsen. I am investigating different aspects of evolutionary dynamics on spatially structured populations using a network-based approach.
Like many Paharis, I enjoy outdoor team sports. Given the opportunity, I also like assembling furniture!

Contact: more
Manuela Spagnuolo
I was born and raised in a small village in southern Germany. For my studies, I moved to Konstanz where I did my Bachelor and Master degrees in Biological Sciences at the University of Konstanz. During my Masters I worked on the concept of trade-offs in aquatic viruses. I was particularly interested in the effect of artificial selection on viral life-history traits.
I am currently doing my doctorate in the group of Dr. Frederic Bertels at the MPI. I work on phage-bacteria interactions using the model system of the coliphage phiX174 and its host E. coli C. For my project, I want to use artificial selection experiments to look at the adaptation of phiX174 to different environmental conditions.
I enjoy cooking, sewing, and reading books in my free time. 

Contact: more
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: more
Demetris Taliadoros
I was born and raised in Aglantzia, Cyprus. I obtained a BSc in Agricultural sciences, Biotechnology and Food Science from the Cyprus University of Technology in 2016. The same year, I moved to Wageningen, the Netherlands, to pursue master's degrees in Forest and Nature Conservation as well as in Biodiversity and Evolution. In February 2020, I joined the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön as a doctoral student under the supervision of Prof. Eva Stukenbrock. My project aims to shed light on the genomic background of plant pathogen evolution on domesticated and wild hosts.
In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, reading, going to the theatre, biking, hiking, playing video games, and visiting museums.

Contact: more
Ivan Tsers
I was born and raised in Akhtubinsk, a town in the arid steppe of Southern Russia. The interest to biology, chemistry, and science in general led me far away to the north-east, to Kazan. There I got my bachelor's and master's degrees in biology (Kazan Federal University) and made my first steps as a researcher at the Kazan Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics. For three years, my research focused on transcriptomics and comparative genomics applied to plant pathology and plant-microbe interactions in the context of ecology and evolution. This work necessitated a significant amount of computation as well as automated data processing pipelines built from scratch. Thus, my interests gradually shifted from data-driven research to the development of bioinformatics software that could be used universally. So I made one more far-away journey to the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary biology in Plön to work here as a doctoral researcher. The Institute enables me to concentrate on biology-related programming while also applying it to an interesting field of evolutionary biology. Here in the Dr. Haubold's research group for bioinformatics, I will be working mostly on the improvement of ways to develop diagnostic markers from whole genome sequences.
Outside of research, I enjoy walking, reading, playing video games, and spending time with loved ones.

Contact: more
Beatriz Vieira Mourato
Born in Portugal, I first studied Biology in Évora and then did a MSc. at the University of Zürich. I am quite fascinated by the amount of biodiversity that exists and this led me to learn more about evolutionary processes.
Now, I embark on this research adventure as a PhD in Prof. Dr. Bernhard Haubold’s Bioinformatics Research Group so I can learn more about the world with the data we currently have.
In my time off I like to read, cook and visit small towns and localities.

Contact: more
Kim-Sara Wagner
I was born in Berlin, grew up in Bonn and spent some years overseas in Canada and Vietnam. In 2017, I completed my B.Sc. in Molecular Ecosystem Sciences at the University of Göttingen. Driven by my fascination for the ocean, I then moved to Kiel for my M.Sc. degree in Biological Oceanography at GEOMAR/University of Kiel which I finished in 2019. During my masters, I worked on the three-way interaction of fish, bacteria and phages through which my interest in both, metaorganisms and evolutionary biology grew. For my master’s thesis, I cultivated and characterized the microbiota of the sex-role reversed pipefish Syngnathus typhle. My PhD project follows up on this research by investigating the function of maternal and paternal microbiota in pipefish male pregnancy. The work is done under the supervision of Dr. Olivia Roth and based in the research group Parental Investment and Immune Dynamics (Pipefish Group) at GEOMAR.
When I am not in the aquarium or the lab, I like to travel, teach and practice martial arts, do all kinds of fitness workouts or bike around Kiel.

Contact: more
Janna Wülbern
I grew up in Augsburg (Bavaria) and obtained both my B. Sc. And M. Sc. Degree in Biology at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich. Currently, I am doing my PhD at the CAU Kiel in the Research group Evolutionary Ecology and Genetics under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Hinrich Schulenburg. My research aims to understand how the small predatory bacterium Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus might affect host fitness and microbial community dynamics in vivo, using the nematode C. elegans as the host organism.
I am a great outdoor and bird enthusiast, so I take any opportunity to go hiking, cycling, and birding in my spare time.

Contact: more
Qianci Yang
I come from a small city called Tai'an in eastern China, but I did my Bachelor and Master in Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom. Since September 2022 I am working with Arne Traulsen and Philipp Altrock in the MPI Theory Department, a main theme of my research would be theoretical and data-driven mathematical modelling of cancer immunotherapy and other interesting topics.
In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, reading, sports, playing the piano and Kpop.

Contact: more
Yansong Zhao
I was born and raised in Shandong Province in eastern China, but I did my integrated bachelors (First Class) and masters (Distinction) degree at University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, where I studied Mathematics and Statistics at St Catherine’s College. I have done several research projects, including the mathematical modelling of circadian rhythm and cancer chronotherapy, and the field experiment verifying a tree coexistence mechanism called Janzen-Connell hypothesis in a sub-tropical forest. For my PhD, I am working with Prof. Dr. Paul Rainey at the MPI in the Department of Microbial Population Biology, exploring the eco-evolutionary dynamics of microbes that determine microbial community function (e.g. cellulose degradation), with a particular emphasis on the role of horizontal gene transfer. Apart from working in the lab and on my laptop, I am a railway enthusiast and enjoy building LEGO blocks.

Contact: more

Go to Editor View