During my PhD I will work on the macro-evolution and biogeography of mimosoid legumes (family Leguminosae or Fabaceae, subfamily Mimosoideae). Species belonging to this clade occur across the world in every major biome, but are especially prominent in the lowland tropics, where they occupy a wide range of ecological niches and are characterised by an accompanying diversity of adaptations and life forms. Using species occurrence data from the (digitized) collections of several major herbaria across the world, as well as a new phylogeny based on an extensive set of nuclear genes and whole plastid genomes, I hope to be able to gain insight in the underlying evolutionary processes that explain the current global distribution and diversity of mimosoid legumes. My work is part of the SNF-funded project Global Legume Diversity: Macroevolutionary and Ecological Processes Shaping Biodiversity, led by Dr. Colin Hughes.
I have always been interested in many different aspects of evolutionary biology, but my main research interests lie in systematics, biogeography, and diversification. A recurring theme in both my MSc and my recently started PhD is attempting to describe and explain patterns of plant biodiversity using the underlying evolutionary processes. For my MSc, at Wageningen University, I studied the influence of pollinator pressure on floral morphology and diversification of South African Pelargonium (Geraniaceae). Other research projects I was involved in during and after my studies involved the symbiosis of fungus-growing termites and their fungi, the co-evolution between fungi and their mitochondria, and the ecology and behaviour of South American tropical rainforest monkeys.
2015 PhD Student, Institute of Systematic Botany, University of Zürich
2014 MSc Biology, specialisation Evolution and Biodiversity, Wageningen University
2011 BSc Biology, specialisation Evolution and Ecology, Wageningen University