The overarching goal of my research is to understand the evolutionary processes underlying the emergence of phenotypic diversity in the face of gene flow and genetic or environmental constraints.
In the course of my undergraduate research at the University of Graz, I investigated the presence/absence of assortative mating in cichlids using microsatellite markers. My Master’s research at the Institute of Plant Sciences in Graz focussed on the influence of cyanobacteria on size and phenotypic change of lichens over evolutionary timescales, applying molecular phylogenetics and morphometrics in a comparative framework. I was also involved in a project resolving the phylogenetic relationships of the lichen-forming fungal group Ostropomycetidae and a project in collaboration with the University of Montana and Uppsala University that led to the discovery of a long-overlooked third symbiotic partner in a large variety of lichens. At the Institute of Zoology in Graz, I worked on the implementation of the homoplasy excess test in R, and evaluated its ability to detect hybridisation in multilocus datasets.
In an ERASMUS+ traineeship at the University of Glasgow, I studied the molecular evolution of salmonids using transcriptome data. My FSBI-funded PhD project in Glasgow, starting in the autumn of 2016, is centred around the question of how populations diverge at the genomic and phenotypic level along environmental gradients. To this end, I will be using the freshwater fish Arctic charr, a highly diverse coloniser of postglacial lakes, as a model system.