Vienna Graduate School of Population Genetics

Link to all students of the FWF DK PhD program 1

Link to BINGO 2


Bilal Başdağ


My current Ph.D. research field is Experimental Evolution. In my Ph.D. project, I try to demonstrate polygenic adaptation from newly emerged (de novo) beneficial mutations in an experimental fruit fly population using a combination of next-generation sequencing and genome-engineering technology. After finding candidate beneficial mutations, they will be functionally tested by introducing these mutations to the wild-type genome.

My academic background is Molecular Biology. I have been awarded both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics undergraduate program by Istanbul Technical University (ITU) and the graduate program by Boğaziçi University in Turkey. In my bachelor’s I worked on longevity in yeast populations using an evolutionary engineering approach. During my master’s project, I studied cell differentiation in the developing Drosophila (fruit fly) eye using molecular methods.

My curiosity about evolutionary mechanisms and interest in computational biology drove me to an interdisciplinary place such as the Vienna Graduate School of Population Genetics!


Claire Burny


In December 2014 I got a diploma in Bioinformatics engineering from the National Institute of Applied Sciences in Lyon (France), which I complemented with a Master degree in Biostatistics at the University of Lyon. During my Master thesis I developed a model-based classification method of longitudinal data to identify groups of typical biomarker trajectories. I worked then as research assistant in the quantitative genetics research group at the Ecole Normale Superieure of Lyon, headed by Dr. Gaël Yvert, which studies the ability of a phenotypic traits to vary and to adapt. I have been involved in a diverse set of research projects, one of them focused on small-effect genetic factors on complex traits at the single cell level taking advantage of the accessibility of flow-cytometry measurements in S. cerevisiae yeast.

I am happy to join the Vienna Graduate School of Population Genetics to dive into the field of Population Genetics. During my PhD, I will study adaptive QTLs, with particular focus on the inference of selection signatures from time series SNP allele frequency data (e.g. Barghi et al., 2018). The goal of my PhD is to develop methods to identify and characterize targets of selection, using state of the art statistical methods including machine learning.


Rodrigo Costa


Having a great passion for the study of life and evolution, I embarked in a Bachelor`s degree in Biology and a Master`s degree in Evolutionary and Developmental Biology, both from the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon (FCUL). My Master`s thesis involved the study of hybridization between domestic cats (Felis catus) and wildcats (Felis silvestris), with the specific objective of finding a panel of diagnostic single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that would allow for accurate identification of hybrids and parental specimens between the two species.

For my PhD, I decided to join the Vienna Graduate School of Population Genetics to improve my skills and knowledge in studying evolution. My main goal in this PhD is to study the repeatability in evolutionary dynamics during polygenic adaptation in Drosophila simulans, specifically what influences and changes the genetic architecture of traits during adaptation.


Sheng-Kai Hsu


I was awarded both my bachelor and master degree by the department of Agronomy at National Taiwan University (NTU). During my undergraduate study, I started a research project investigating the genetic architecture of anaerobic germination in rice and I continued working on this project for my master thesis. Using approaches in both genomics and transcriptomics, we associated natural variation during the anaerobic germination trait to the variation in genomic haplotypes and crucial gene expression. After that, I spent a year as a research assistant, involved in several research projects including a study on the diversity of the mitochondrial genome in rice as well as a population genetic study on the plumage coloration of bulbuls, a native Taiwanese bird species.

My research experience motivated me in pursuing further knowledge in the field of genetics. Therefore, I joined the Vienna Graduate School of Population Genetics and jumped into the world of population genetics of Drosophila. I’m sure that I can broaden my view in this field during my PhD, studying the sexually antagonistic evolution in experimentally evolved populations. Due to their different roles in reproduction, males and females could have opposing trait optima for a given phenotype, leading to sexual conflict in selection and resulting in sexual dimorphism at both transcriptomic and phenotypic levels. Evidence of this sexual dimorphism was widely observed in a  number of organisms. However, the resolving mechanisms of the sexual conflict remain obscured. The main goal of my PhD project is to unveil this mystery, taking advantage of a special design in experimental evolution. By investigating the evolution of the transcriptomes of both sexes in experimentally evolved populations, we are able to acquire direct evidence on how evolution works in the population and we aim to obtain novel insights into how sexual conflict is resolved during  evolution.


Wei-Yun Lai


I received my bachelor's degree from the department of Agronomy at Nation Chung Hsing University (NCHU) and my master's degree from the department of Agronomy at National Taiwan University. During undergraduate study, I worked on the identification of alternative splicing events caused by Ds transposon family during abiotic stresses in maize. This study was focusing effort into the detailed influence of Ds transposition on the transcriptomic flexibility in response to abiotic stresses in maize. As a research assistant in the Institute of Information Science at Academia Sinica, I developed an analytical pipeline aiming to identify potential trait- associated regulators over multiple traits in yeast. 

During my PhD the Vienna Graduate School of Population Genetics, I’m going to study the evolution of gene expression variance in Drosophila simulans. The major aim of my project is to identify the genes showing significant changes in their expression variance during the evolution, and we anticipate to unveil the underlying evolutionary forces and fitness benefits.


Anna Langmüller


I completed my bachelor's degree in Ecology and Biodiversity at the University of Salzburg. For my master's degree I decided to shift toward bioinformatics and graduated in March 2015. In my master thesis I detected and investigated copy number variations in low coverage sequencing data of the human genome using a newly developed algorithm cn.MOPS.

During my master studies I developed an interest in population genetics. Therefore, I am grateful for the opportunity to do my PhD at the Vienna Graduate School of Population Genetics. The main goal of my PhD project is to explore and understand the genomic response of Drosophila simulans populations evolving in a hot fluctuating environment. Because of the special experimental design and possible comparisons to populations developing under different environmental conditions, I am optimistic that I can demystify some dynamics of adaption.


Sonja Lečić


I graduated from the University of Belgrade (Serbia) with the Bachelor's degree in Biology. My fascination for insects resulted in a Master's thesis in insect chemical ecology where I was looking into the chemical composition of defensive secretion in beetles. After taking several courses in population genetics and discovering this fascinating research field I got the opportunity to work with the Drosophila model system and to investigate seasonal changes in frequency of inversion polymorphism in Drosophila subsobscura.

For my PhD at the Vienna Graduate School of Population Genetics I will be focusing on haplotype phasing of Drosophila simulansevolved populations. The main idea is to identify alleles that are co-located on the same chromosome using low coverage sequence data of individual flies.


Manolis Lirakis


I have been interested in insects since my Bachelor studies. For my Bachelor thesis, I studied insect communities in rivers. For my Master thesis, I shifted towards bioinformatics and -omics, studying insecticide resistance in mosquitoes, in a genomic and transcriptomic context. All my previous studies were conducted at the Biology Department, University of Crete, Greece.

Currently, I am a Ph.D. student of the BINGO 3 (Breeding Invertebrates for Next Generation BioControl) Innovative Training Network. I am hosted by the Vienna Graduate School of Population Genetics, where I study diapause in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Diapause is an important adaptation that allows many insects to overwinter and can occur at any developmental stage, depending on the species. D. melanogaster enters an ovarian reproductive diapause, where adult females have immature ovaries and previtellogenic oocytes. The genetic basis of this ecologically extremely important trait is not yet understood. During this project, I will map the genetic variants contributing to diapause in natural D. melanogaster populations. My goal will be accomplished by using a population genetic approach, which incorporates Experimental Evolution and Pool-GWAS and takes advantage of Next Generation Sequencing.


Thapasya Vijayan


From my schooling period, I have always liked doing experiments to investigate scientific questions. My interest in basic science motivated me to join the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISERM), Mohali. The active scientific community in IISERM helped me to find out that my research interest lies in Evolutionary Biology. I did an Integrated Bachelors-Masters dual degree in Biology there and graduated in May 2016. I worked in Evolutionary Genetics studying endosymbionts in Trichogramma wasps for my Master’s thesis. My experience from short internships and my Master’s thesis period motivated me to continue on the path of research in Evolution and Genetics. I joined the Vienna Graduate School of Population Genetics for my Ph.D. in September 2017.

For my Ph.D., I will study the selective forces acting on the adaptation of natural populations to their environment. How organisms evolve to adapt to environmental pressures has always been an intriguing question to me. I will combine experimental evolution and next-generation sequencing to study the evolution of gene expression in two different genotypes of Drosophila melanogaster. I will analyze the gene expression differences in these genotypes in a high-temperature environment.



Gruppe C. Schlötterer
Institut für Populationsgenetik

1210 Wien, Veterinärplatz 1

T +43 1 25077-4301
F +43 1 25077-4390

Anreise Flughafen 4
Anreise PKW, Bahn 5

Gebäude HA, 4. Stock 6