The Stelkens lab is looking for a Master’s student who is interested in the effect of temperature on the fitness of increasingly outcrossed populations, using Saccharomyces yeast as the model system. Depending on individual preferences, the student can work purely experimentally (making yeast crosses of increasing genetic distance and testing population fitness along a temperature gradient) and/or learn to use different sequencing techniques and bioinformatics tools. There is also the possibility to feed the empirical data compiled in this project into a fitness landscape model that is currently under development in the lab. The student will be a part of a vibrant and international team of researchers with diverse scientific backgrounds.

The Stelkens lab uses the powerful microbial model system Baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). Yeast has been used for millennia for making delicious fermentation and baking products. But yeast has also become an efficient and useful tool for answering questions in evolutionary biology. Evolutionary processes often take a long time and are difficult to catch in the act but using yeast, we can observe evolution within a few days or weeks time in the lab. Yeast has many other advantages. too. It has short generation times, large population size, and can be easily manipulated under controlled experimental conditions. Also, we can freeze yeast populations and bring them back to life, providing a frozen yet living fossil record of the experiment. Finally, yeast has a small genome, so sequencing is affordable and (relatively) straightforward.

In the Stelkens lab we combine experimental evolution with the newest sequencing technologies to investigate questions that are relevant for population and quantitative genetics, but also for more applied fields like conservation genetics and climate change research. Examples of ongoing projects in the lab are:

  • The effects of outcrossing and hybridization between species on adaptation
  • Adaptation to environmental stress and habitat degradation
  • The dynamics of adaptation from standing genetic variation versus de novo mutations
  • The construction of empirical fitness landscapes
  • Structural genomic rearrangements (e.g. inversions and aneuploidy) and their relevance for adaptation

For more information please visit our homepage and drop me an email if you are interested in working with us: