Elena Conti

Elena Conti, Prof. Dr.

Professorin

Tel.: +41 (0)44 634 84 24

elena.conti@systbot.uzh.ch

Academic appointments

2011-ongoing Director of the Institute of Systematic Botany, Herbarium, Library and Botanic Garden of the University of Zurich
2012 Full Professor, University of Zurich
2000 Associate Professor, University of Zurich.
1996-99: Assistant Professor, University of Alaska-Fairbanks and Herbarium Curator, University of Alaska Museum
1995-96: Post-doctoral researcher, Harvard University Herbaria
1994-95: Post-doctoral researcher, Washington State University
1991-94: Research Assistant, Department of Botany, University of Wisconsin-Madison
1989-91: Teaching Assistant, Botany Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
1988-89: Research Assistant, Horticulture Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Education

1995-96: Post-doctoral Mercer Fellow, Harvard University Herbaria (Advisor: Prof. David Baum)
1994-95: Post-doctoral Research Associate, Washington State University (Advisor: Prof. Doug Soltis)
1994: Ph.D. in Botany, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Advisor: Prof. Ken Sytsma)
1988: Certification of professional biologist in Italy
1987-88: Doctoral courses in biosystematics: Department of Botany, University of Florence
1986-87: Post-Laurea internship: Department of Botany, University of Bologna
1986: Laurea degree magna cum laude in Botany, University of Bologna

Current and recent research projects

  • The role of geological processes and ecological preferences in explaining plant distributions
  • Origin and evolution of island endemics in the Mediterranean Region: comparisons between oceanic and continental islands
  • Patterns and processes of diversification in the Macaronesian archipelagos: case studies from Ruta and Limonium
  • Phylogeny and biogeography of Mediterranean Boraginaceae, Araceae, Rutaceae
  • Origin and evolution of plant diversity in the Maritime Alps
  • An integrative phylogenetic/niche modeling perspective on the evolution of Alpine plants: case studies from Primula and Saxifraga florulenta
  • Phylogeny and evolution of heterostyly in Primulaceae
  • The role of floral trait variation in speciation of heterostylous groups
  • Development of genomic and transcriptomic resources in Primula veris
  • Hybridization in the heterostylous Primula vulgaris, P. veris, P. elatior complex
  • Biogeography, ploidy levels, and breeding systems in Primula, sect. Aleuritia
  • Developmental variation of breeding systems and mating strategies in homostylous and heterostylous species of Primula (P. halleri, P. scotica, P. farinosa)
  • Phylogenetic relationships and polyploid evolution in Primula marginata (Primula sect. Auricula)

Personnel associated with professorship at the University of Zurich

  • 2000-2010: one 50% lab technician-research assistant (an additional 30% is dedicated to running the molecular lab for the entire Institute)
  • 2008-2010: three 50% Ph.D. positions as teaching assistants
  • 2000-2007: two 50% Ph.D. positions as teaching assistants

(These positions can also be combined to hire post-docs)

List of current and past teaching experience

Current courses taught at the University of Zurich:

  • Bio222 “Molecular Evolution and Phylogenetics” (Fall semester; 6 credits). Course coordinator. Teaching contribution: 80%. Elective, specialized block course for 3rd and 4th year students. Course structure: 3.5 weeks, 4 days/week, lectures in the morning, labs in the afternoon. Fall 2010: 15 students
  • Bio221 “Plant-Insect Interactions” (Fall semester; 6 credits). Teaching contribution: 50%. Elective, specialized block course for 3rd and 4th year students. Course structure: 3.5 weeks, 4 days/week, lectures in the morning, labs in the afternoon. Fall 2010: 18 students
  • Bio113 “Evolution” (Fall semester; 3 credits). Teaching contribution: two 2-hour lectures and coordination of the corresponding labs. Mandatory, introductory course for 1st semester students. Fall 2010: ca. 150 students
  • “Challenges in Plant Sciences” (Fall semester; 2 credits). Teaching contribution: one introductory lecture to plant evolutionary studies. Course for MS and Ph.D. students of the Plant Science Center. Fall 2010: 36 students
  • “Survey course: Topics in Evolutionary Biology” (Spring semester; 1 credit). Teaching contribution: one 2-hr. lecture on research in biogeography. Course for Ph.D. students in the graduate program of Evolutionary Biology. Spring 2010: 22 students
  • Bio761 “Research Internship in Systematic Botany”. Currently three undergraduate students doing short research internships in my lab.
  • Bio511 “Masterarbeit in Systematik and Evolution”
  • Lab meetings: regular meetings with my research group to discuss research progress and current literature

Previous courses taught at the University of Zurich:

  • “Diversity of Angiosperms” (Spring 2009). Teaching contribution: one 2-hr lecture. Survey of angiosperm systematics for undergraduate and graduate students at the Institute of Systematic Botany.
  • “Speciation and phylogeny: Evolution at the micro- and macro-level” (once per year: 2000-2006; 6 credits). Course coordinator. Teaching contribution: 50%. Elective, specialized block course for 3rd and 4th year students.
  • “Workshop on Phylogenetic Analysis for High School Science Teachers” (December 2008): Two-hour lecture on phylogenetic methods; coordinated by the Life Science Center.
  • “Introduction to Phylogenetics” (once per year: 2004-2006; 2 credits). Course coordinator. Teaching contribution: 100%. Elective, specialized course for Ph.D. students at the Plant Science Center. Course structure: 3 full-days with lectures and computer labs.
  • Bio131 “Biological Systematics” (once per year: 2004-2006; 3 credits). Teaching contribution: two 2-hr. lectures. Mandatory, introductory course for 1st yr. students.
  • “Spectrum in Plant Sciences”. Teaching contribution: Introductory lecture to current research in plant evolution. Ph.D. students of the Plant Science Center.
  • Research journal club: meetings with graduate students of the Institute of Systematic Botany to discuss current literature and research progress.

Courses at other Universities:

  • “Frontiers in Speciation” (September 2010). Teaching contribution: 2 hour lecture on the role of floral traits in plant evolution. Summer school for Ph.D. students funded by the European Science Foundation. Coordinator: Ole Seehausen. Eawag, Kastanienbaum (Switzerland).
  • “Workshop on Phylogenetic Analysis” (Spring 2004): 3-day intensive workshop on phylogenetic methods for the Italian Ph.D. program in Plant Systematics and Evolution. University of Cosenza, Italy.
  • “Systematic Botany” (once per year, 1996-1999). Course coordinator; teaching contribution: 100%. Full semester course, 3 hrs. of lectures per week, coordination and development of lab practicals. University of Alaska-Fairbanks.
  • Training of graduate and undergraduate students, visiting scientists, and high school teachers in molecular systematics methods at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.
  • “General Botany” (every semester: 1989-1991). Teaching contribution: responsible for lab practicals and discussion sessions as Ph.D. teaching assistant. Large introductory course for undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • General Botany for majors and non-majors