I am an evolutionary biologist with broad interest in the molecular systematics, ecology, biodiversity and evolution of insects. I am particularly interested in using comparative transcriptomics / genomics to address various evolutionary questions. With my research I want to make a contribution in our understanding of insect evolution as this could provide essential insights into the evolution of global biodiversity, evolutionary processes and key innovations.
My current research addresses the evolution of the insects in a multidisciplinary approach: from bioinformatics, genomics to EvoDevo research. I am using comparative transcriptomics to evaluate mechanistic problems relevant to phylogenetic reconstruction and seek to identify a stable core set of genes with mostly congruent historical signal present in most or all taxa under investigation. Therefore, I am collaborating closely with international scientists in the 1KITE project (http://www.1kite.org/) to infer a robust phylogenetic backbone tree of insects using more than 1,000 newly generated insect transcriptomes. I further approach questions concerning i) the evolution of early insect development by studying the transcriptional signatures and dynamics of developmental processes using RNA-seq data (PhD project Nida Ali); and ii) the evolution of insect pest species and factors that contribute to their success (PhD project Thijmen Breeschoten).
I am a member of the Wageningen Young Academy (https://www.wur.nl/en/Value-Creation-Cooperation/Wageningen-Young-Academy-3.htm) and Section speaker Systematics, Biogeography und Diversity of the German Zoological Society (DZG) (https://www.dzg-ev.de/fachgruppen/systematik/).