Current PhD students

Current PhD students

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

Mayuresh Ambekar

I am from India and I read Chemistry for my bachelor's at St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai and went on to complete my master’s in Biodiversity, Evolution & Conservation from Middlesex University in London. For my master's thesis, I worked on 'Identifying reference genes in Anurida maritima', a collembolan that displays a circatidal rhythm. At the Max Planck Institute, I have joint Dr. Tobias Kaiser’s group Biological Clocks as a doctoral student. I will be working on understanding the role of the period gene in circadian and circalunar timing in the marine midge, Clunio marinus, for my doctoral project.
In my spare time, I enjoy photography, hiking, birding and herping. I also am enthusiastic about exploring new places. Contact:

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Aleksa Cepic

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.


Amor Damatac II

I was born and raised in the Philippines where I also obtained both my Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Biology from the University of the Philippines. During master's, I majored in genetics and my thesis focused on mitochondrial genomes and phylogenetics of snails. At the Max Planck Institute, I will be working on the genetic and developmental basis of craniofacial variability under the supervision of Dr. Marketa Kaucka Petersen of the Craniofacial Biology Group.
In my free time, I enjoy eating, reading manga/manhwa, watching different tv series, and travelling to new places.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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:

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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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:

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:

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.


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.


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.


Saptarshi Pal

I am originally from India but I came to Germany from Canada where I pursued my master‘s degree in applied mathematics under Dr. Chris Bauch at the University of Waterloo. During my master‘s, I primarily worked with mathematical models of ecology (sustainable consumption and agriculture). As doctoral student under the supervision of Dr. Christian Hilbe, I will focus on evolutionary game theory and in particular, the evolution of co-operation through multiple social interaction mechanisms between humans. Contact:

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! Also always up for conversations! Contact:

Jamie Parker

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.


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

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.


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.


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:

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.


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:

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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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:

Si Tang

Leif Tüffers

I was born in Berlin, Germany, and studied medicine in Marburg and Kiel. I achieved my medical doctorate in clinical pharmacology, examining cell cycle regulation and cellular stress responses in neuronal cells. Being interested in the more laboratory and scientific innovation oriented aspects of medicine, I went on to complete my Master’s degree in Medical Life Sciences at the University of Kiel. I joined the group of Prof. Hinrich Schulenburg for my Master’s thesis, where I analyzed the short-term evolutionary adaptation of bacterial pathogens during patient treatment, and continued this research focus into my PhD thesis. My PhD work revolves both around rapid bacterial evolution in response to therapy, and evolution-based strategies to mitigate this adaptation.
In my free time, I enjoy reading, photography, mountain biking and scuba diving.



I was born in a small town in Haryana, India, and grew up in New Delhi. I did an integrated bachelor’s and master’s degree in natural sciences, majoring in biology at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Mohali, India. For my master’s thesis, I worked in Dr. N G Prasad’s lab on a long-term experimental evolution project, selecting some Drosophila melanogaster populations for an elevated immune response and investigating the mechanism for it. Finishing my master’s in 2018, I joined as a PhD student in Prof. Dr. Thomas Roeder's group at the University of Kiel. Here I work on understanding the resource allocation changes in an animal on manipulating its diet. Using the fruit fly as a model, I measure different somatic and reproductive traits on reducing dietary protein, with a special focus on the immune response.
In my free time, I like to read, watch movies, and cook. Contact:

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:

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.


Lei Yu

I was born and grew up in Qingdao, China. In 2014, I got a Bachelor's degree in marine biological resources and environment from Ocean University of China. The same year, I started my Master's project. In 2017, I got a Master's degree in Marine Ecology from the Institute of Oceanology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Afterwards, I moved to Kiel to pursue a PhD, under the supervison of Prof. Dr. Thorsten Reusch at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research. I am interested in evolutionary biology of seagrasses.
Apart from science, I like playing basketball.


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.

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