What determines the distribution of tropical biodiversity in deep time and across space?
As a PhD student at the Institute of Systematic Botany, University of Zurich, I work on macro-evolutionary dynamics of tropical plants. My work is supervised by Dr. Colin Hughes and is part of the SNSF-funded project entitled “Global Legume Diversity Patterns: Macroevolutionary and Ecological Processes Shaping Biodiversity”. A strong emphasis in my work is placed on phylogenetics using genome-scale data: I am involved in building a new phylogeny for the legume family (Leguminosae or Fabaceae) based on complete chloroplast encoded gene complements to attempt to robustly resolve deeper nodes and I am using hybrid-capture techniques to create a dataset of hundreds of nuclear encoded genes for phylogenetic and functional molecular evolution studies in subfamily Mimosoideae. This is part of the development of the mimosoid legumes as a model clade for studying macro-evolutionary diversification. Other activities related to this project that I am involved with are taxonomic studies on legumes (with a focus on Mimosoideae, especially the genus Albizia), and the creation of a species checklist and geographical occurrence database of mimosoids (MimoBase). I also participate in the Legume Phylogeny Working Group and have contributed to several publications of this research collective. During my MSc studies at Wageningen University I did taxonomic and phylogenetic studies on the Mahogany family (Meliaceae), and also used this clade as a model for biogeographic and macro-evolutionary studies on tropical rainforest hyperdiversity.