Academy Research Fellow & Associate Professor
I am interested in eco-evolutionary dynamics and biodiversity in microbial communities. The majority of my research utilizes model organisms, such as bacteria, phages and protozoa, for testing ecological and evolutionary theory in simple microcosm environments. The common theme in this line of work is to test the role of rapid contemporary evolution on community dynamics. I am also interested in more applied questions such as how phage parasites alter harmful cyanobacterial blooms or how antibiotic resistance evolves in diverse microbial communities.
My interests lie at the interface of marine microbial ecosystems, microbial evolution, and global biogeochemistry. I use "omics" techniques and tools from microbial genetics and physiology to elucidate patterns of differentiation in microbial genomes with the ultimate goal of connecting these patterns to ecological and biogeochemical gradients. Consequently, I am interested in how microbial processes scale to influence biogeochemical cycles and the impacts of microbial ecology and evolution on wider ecosystem structure and function. I am currently exploring the role of rapid microbial evolution on the demographic fluctuations and ecological interactions within microbial communities.
As a microbiologist I contribute to a better understanding of the evolution and spread of antibiotic resistance. A more comprehensive knowledge of the respective mechanisms is urgently required if we do not want to be left with untreatable bacterial infections in the near future. My PhD thesis was mainly focused on the dissemination of antibiotic resistant bacteria and resistance genes in sewage and the receiving water bodies (monitoring). More recently, I turned to hypothesis driven lab experiments. During my two-year stay at University of Helsinki (funded by the German Research Foundation) I want to investigate the impact of low (environmental) antibiotic concentrations on the spread of antibiotic resistance in complex bacterial communities.
I focus on the effects of low antibiotic concentrations on bacteria embedded in microbial communities, manipulating biotic and abiotic environmental complexity. I am also interested in the emergent effects of antibiotic stress on key ecological and evolutionary factors in microbial communities, such as evolutionary patterns under multivariate selection, trophic interactions, and the stability, diversity, resistance and resilience of microbial communities.
I am studying how ecological interactions (species interactions and environmental variation) in the outside-host environment affect host-pathogen interactions. Microbial ecology, different microbial communities and environmental issues interest me. My PhD work focuses on testing eco-evolutionary dynamics and the role of opportunistic pathogens in microbial communities. As a model system I use the nematode C. elegans (host / predator) and bacteria.
My backround is in microbiology. I'm interested in microbial ecology and the many interactions at the microbial level. I find the huge diversity of bacteria and their interplay with so many other organisms fascinating. The focus of my master's thesis is on how co-evolution alters community dynamics in ciliate-bacterium microcosms. In my thesis I studied evolved communities from the group's long-term predator selection experiment. I am pursuing a PhD in co-operation with this group.
Recent lab Alumni
PhD in Microbiology
My background studies include marine biology, limnology and microbiology. Disentangling plankton community dynamics and food web interactions in aquatic ecosystems have been the focus of my interest as a researcher. I have studied these interactions through an experimental approach by exploring the ecological and evolutionary effects of phages on cyanobacterial community dynamics and experimental food webs.
During my postdoc I investigated the connections between genetic and species diversity.