Aquatic Ecology & Evolution

Ecosystem context of adaptive radiation

About Me

I am a PhD student in Ole Seehausen’s group working on cichlid fish fossils and ancient DNA from Lake Victoria’s sediment cores. My main interest is to reconstruct the history of the Lake Victoria ecosystem from its origins 15’000 years ago to present. I studied Zoology at the University of Limpopo, and then graduated an MSc degree in Biotechnology (plant genomics) from the University of Pretoria. I am currently based at at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (EAWAG).

 

Research

I am investigating the evolution of the explosive and highly diverse haplochromine cichlid family in Lake Victoria through time using fossils and ancient DNA. I want to understand how the ecological and phenotypic diversity changed through time, how genetic variation arose and got assembled into new species in the course of the adaptive radiation. Lake Victoria basin is estimated to be ~400 000 years old with a history of drying and refilling, with evidence of complete desiccation in the Pleistocene and refilling ~15 000 years ago. The lake’s history has been so dynamic and affected by enormous environmental changes offering a unique system to study effects of biodiversity on the environment and vice versa. My aim is to build an unprecedented chronological sequence of both ecosystem and biodiversity change at a very fine temporal resolution.

Education
2019-present
Ph.D. in Evolutionary Biology
University of Bern – Switzerland
Research Topic: The evolutionary diversification of cichlid fish reconstructed from fossils and ancient DNA
2012-2014
M.Sc. in Biotechnology
University of Pretoria – South Africa
Research topic: “Genotyping-by-Sequencing of sweet-stem and grain sorghum for linkage mapping”
2003-2006
B.Sc. in Physiology and Zoology
University of Limpopo – South Africa
Research topic: “Ecology of small mammals”
Experiences
2021
(April 13-23)
Research Practical in Aquatic Evolutionary Ecology
Supervised a project on: Genealogical sorting of Lake Victoria haplochromine ecomorphs
University Of Bern, Switzerland
2020
(31 March-03 May 2020)
Research Practical in Aquatic Evolutionary Ecology
Supervised a project on: Testing for eco-morphological diversification in adaptive radiation with fossil and modern data
University Of Bern, Switzerland
2015 Project Officer for the Public Understanding of Biotechnology
South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement
Pretoria, South Africa
2010-2011 Herbarium Technician (Intern)
South African National Biodiversity Institute(SANBI)
Pretoria, South Africa
2008-2009 Volunteer (Environmental Education Officer)
Giyani Science Centre
Giyani, South Africa
2007 Laboratory Assistant
University of Limpopo (Turfloop Campus)
Polokwane, South Africa