Florian Schwarz


After I received my bachelor’s degree in 2015 I continued my studies at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) in my hometown Munich with the master program ‘Evolution, Ecology and Systematics’. There, I focused on studies of evolutionary biology and population genetics and their applications in bioinformatics. During my master's thesis I got familiar with the effect of meiotic drive, a process that can lead to a conflict of selection on different levels (‘selfish’ chromosome vs the host organism carrying it), which further deepened my pre-existing interest about the various evolutionary forces shaping DNA and their impact on the respective organism.

For my PhD I will work on the evolution of Transposable Element (TE) activity in Drosophila. TEs can be grouped in different classes and are repetitive parts of the genome able to ‘selfishly reproduce’ (transpose) and reinsert themselves at different positions, independent from the ‘functional’ genome. These elements can have all kinds of evolutionary implications on their host genome, including adaptive advantages as well as deleterious effects, ranging between e.g. only slightly raised metabolic costs to induction of sterility for offspring in certain crosses (hybrid dysgenesis).

I will first contribute to establish a reliable lab protocol for the extraction and the sequencing of long-read DNA sequence data with the MinION sequencing technology. Afterwards, I will
establish a bioinformatic pipeline to identify and categorize the different classes and families of Transposons. Ultimately, by applying this method to certain strains of Drosophila melanogaster, I hope to obtain datasets and analysis tools with which I can contribute to unravel more details about TE evolution and TE-induced evolutionary phenomena like hybrid dysgenesis.


Divya Selvaraju


As I was constantly motivated and driven by scientific discoveries, I always wanted to stay in science. I completed my Bachelor's in Information Technology where I learned how the technological improvement in computing power is dramatically changing the world of science. Later, during my Master's in Bioinformatics and Biotechnology, I trained in data analysis as a part of my coursework which expanded my knowledge how to mine omics data and bring out hidden information from it.

Invention of new sequencing technologies created a whole new dimension to how we study a particular biological question. I developed an interest in genome evolution and always wondered about the manipulation of the four bases (A, T, G, C) which generated diverse live forms on earth. One of the key players contributing to genome evolution are transposable elements, also known as selfish DNA, that occupy large parts of the genome in higher eukaryotes. They play a significant role in shaping the genome size and they are involved in many disease conditions by disrupting genes and regulatory regions. So, shedding light on the long-term trends of transposable elements would give a better understanding of their propagation in the genome. For my PhD project I will combine experimental evolution, molecular biological methods and a bioinformatic analysis approach to unravel the evolutionary dynamics of transposable elements in Drosophila species.  


Christos Vlachos


My interest in sciences and specifically in biology dates back to my years in high school, and this what led into doing my Bachelor’s in a related discipline. I graduated as a molecular biologist and geneticist from the Democritus University of Thrace in Greece in July 2015. My interest in bioinformatics led me to do my Master’s in Bioinformatics and Theoretical Systems Biology at Imperial College London in 2016. For my Master’s thesis project  I got involved in a research that aimed to reveal the relationship between the expression levels of small non-coding RNAs (sncRNAs) and mRNAs in patients diagnosed with paediatric Tuberculosis.

During my Ph.D. project, I will be mainly focused on optimizing novel approaches, such as E&R and Pool-GWAS, for dissecting the genetic basis of complex traits and elucidating the genotype-phenotype spanning. Understanding and unraveling the genetic basis of such complex traits is one of the most challenging fields of modern biology in the 21st century and probably the key to ameliorating the quality of our everyday life improving, for example, crop yield and expanding the horizons of personalized therapy.


Filip Wierzbicki


I obtained the master’s degree in Molecular Biotechnology at the University of Applied Sciences “FH Campus Wien”. The study program covers a wide range of life sciences and provides a good basis for research in modern biology. My strong interest in evolution and my passion for the tiniest components of life led me to population genetics. In my opinion, taking advantage of mathematics, informatics and technology in biology is the best way to describe living systems. So I joined the group of Robert Kofler at the Institute of Population Genetics to write my master thesis. I investigated the evolution of the small RNA composition in Drosophila and focused on the control of transposable elements (TE) by small RNAs. During this time I developed a strong interest in the co-evolution between TEs and their hosts.

For my Ph.D., I continue to work in the field of TE biology. I will study TE invasions and track the co-evolution between hosts and parasites over generations. To investigate the dynamics of TE invasions, I will employ techniques of molecular biology and bioinformatics. The project aims to shed light on factors that lead to the establishment of TE control.



Gruppe R. Kofler
Institut für Populationsgenetik

1210 Wien, Veterinärplatz 1

T +43 1 25077-4334
F +43 1 25077-4390

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