Institute of Organismic and Molecular Evolution (iomE), University of Mainz, Germany

I am an evolutionary ecologist who defines herself primarily as a theoretician — but one who loves working with empiricists and also hopes to improve communication between these approaches. I am interested in a wide range of topics, from life histories to mating systems. The diversity of approaches is also reflected in the diversity of taxa that I have published on: birds, plants, insects, marine invertebrates… In general, in nature there is a wonderful tension between generalizable rules and specific circumstances, requiring one to think about when to use tailor-made approaches to understand a phenomenon, and when to go for the generalities behind them all. I find it fascinating.

Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research (MPIPZ), Germany

In my research group we focus on population genetics, genomics and evolutionary biology of plants, with the main aim of understanding adaptation to the biotic and abiotic environment. Currently we focus on the perennial, Arctic-alpine plant Arabis alpina, which has several advantages complementary to other model plants and crops. First, the perennial life-history and its developmental and evolutionary consequences have not been studied as systematically as in annuals. Further, A. alpina is found in Arctic-alpine environments across a wide geographic range, which represents a deep history of colonisations across the continents, and provides the potential for local adaptation. Finally, A. alpina accessions show phenotypic variation at ecologically relevant traits related to the variation in mating system and to adaptation to the harsh Arctic-alpine environment. Understanding the past history of adaptation in plants can help us build a framework to predict future responses to climate change, and to understand the stability of natural and agro-ecosystems.

University of East Anglia, UK

Anders’ research is in population genomics, using whole-genome patterns of genetic diversity within and between species to learn about the evolutionary processes that have shaped that diversity. Much of his work has been on the evolutionary history and diversity of our own species, to understand how humans spread out from Africa to almost every corner of the world. He has also worked on the history of dogs and wolves, using ancient DNA to study the oldest domestic relationship between humans and an animal. This has included studying the natural history and adaptations of the wolf species throughout the last Ice Age and up until today, as well as the complexities of the more recent history of domestic dogs and how this relates to our own history.