Vienna Graduate School of Population Genetics

Link to all students of the FWF DK PhD program 1

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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.


Tejashwini Hegde


My interest in Evolution has been a constant in my life ever since I learned about it. Due to this interest, I got selected for the KVPY scholarship using which I enrolled for my undergraduate studies at IISER Mohali, India. During the five years of my studies, I was exposed to the major basic sciences through theoretical and practical courses. My MS thesis project focused on the dynamics of coinfection of pathogens in baseline D. melanogaster population. I graduated with an integrated BS/MS degree with a major in Biology.  

My enthusiasm for Evolution and Genetics only increased through these years, encouraging me to pursue a PhD in the same. At Prof. Schlötterer’s lab, I will be studying adaptation to density-dependant selection using experimental evolution in D. simulans populations. By conducting evolve and re-sequence, and DNA and RNA sequencing on these evolved populations, we hope to identify the loci which are adapting due to this selection pressure, and also their molecular and biological functions, thus helping to identify their phenotypic targets.

The interdisciplinary research conducted at the Vienna Graduate School of Population Genetics provides the perfect foundation for me to acquire new skills and gain more knowledge.


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.


Dagny Runarsdottir


Before and during my graduate studies at the University of Iceland I became exceptionally fascinated by intra and inter specific biodiversity, and the genetic, developmental and evolutionary processes that generate this diversity. I carried out a research project during my graduate studies where I investigated tissue-specific gene expression in a wild fruit fly population and the expressional responses to an artificially selection against a phenotype caused by an experimentally introgressed mutation. Interested in the genetic origin of gene regulatory difference, I analysed the genomes of these strains in continuation of my Master’s research after graduation. In parallel, I studied the role of miRNAs in the context of speciation as I am also interested in the whole picture of gene regulation. My interest in evolution, diversity, and the genotype-to-phenotype map led me to work as a technician on another project, studying the link between plasticity and divergence in more and less specialized ecotypes.

These interests urged me to pursue a Ph.D. in evolutionary genetics, where I seek to become a contributing and independent scientist in the field. I believe the program at the Vienna Graduate School of Population Genetics provides an excellent opportunity for me to achieve my goals. During my Ph.D. at the Schlötterer lab, I aim to assess the causes of different selection responses. Previous studies (Barghi et al., 2019; Mallard et al., 2018) demonstrated population specific selection responses to high temperature between two D. simulans populations, despite similar phenotypic selection response. The main aim is to better understand what determines a few parallel pronounced selection targets in one population and redundant multiple less pronounced selection targets in the other. This study will improve our understanding and prediction about if and how populations may adapt to changing environments, and be applied in climate change.


Xiaomeng Tian


I was awarded both my bachelor and master degree by College of Animal Science and Technology at Northwest A&F university in China. During my undergraduate study, I started a research project investigating the genetic variation of pigs worldwide by using multiple-omics methods. In the end, I received a postgraduate recommendation opportunity and continued working on this project for my master thesis. During my master's period, I have been working on a pan-genome project, utilizing comparative genomics to resolve the composition of core and variable genomes within pigs and other organisms. I found a large number of population-specific and functional sequences that are absent in the pig reference genome and these novel sequences could contribute to local individual adaptations.

Previous scientific experiences have inspired me with larger interests and thoughts about biological evolution. Therefore, I am grateful for the opportunity to do my PhD at the Vienna Graduate School of Population Genetics. During my PhD project, I will be using a combination of state-of-the-art metagenomics and targeted analysis of individual strains of ancestral and evolved microbiomes from Drosophila. This work will provide a detailed insight into microbiome variability in Drosophila and lead us to understand the co-evolution mechanisms between microorganisms and hosts.



Schlötterer Lab
Institute of Population Genetics

1210 Vienna, Veterinärplatz 1

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

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Building HA, 4th floor 5