Young Scientists

Young Scientists

Dear fellow Senckenbergers,

We are the representatives of BSc, MSc, graduate trainees, PhDs, and post-docs conducting their research at Senckenberg.

We act as an interface between students, supervisors and our administration.

Get involved!

What we do:

  • Network across Senckenberg locations through monthly meetings and a yearly retreat.
  • Advocate for Young Scientists through our role in the Wissenschaftsausschuss (scientific advisory board to the board of directors) and regular meetings with a member of the board of directors.
  • Provide support: bring us your ideas & problems.
  • Inform about training programs and administrative procedures.
  • Exchange with other networks (Leibniz PhD Network, ).

Would you like to be added to our e-mail list or get more involved?

Then please send us an e-mail at youngscientists@senckenberg.de

Your Young Scientists Team

We are looking for interested people from Müncheberg, Tübingen and Weimar!

Events

Young Scientists Retreat

We organize annual Young Scientists Retreats, which started in Wilhelmshaven in 2008 and are held alternately in Frankfurt and at the other Senckenberg locations.

Our Young Scientists Retreat is a great way to network, learn more about Senckenberg, and share your research.

  • See and be seen: Present your current research, thesis, or a (planned) project through science slams, talks and posters.
  • Insights into Senckenberg: Learn more about structures and processes within Senckenberg and discuss with a representative from the board of directors.
  • Benefit from the Senckenberg network: Get to know other scientists, exchange ideas and benefit from new collaborations and our experience. Invited guests give lectures on interesting research going on at Senckenberg or Young Scientist-specific topics, such as mentoring, third-party funding, etc.
  • Travel to new places: Get to know the other Senckenberg locations, their research areas, facilities and staff.
  • Have fun! Every retreat includes an excursion – we have walked through the “Watt” in Wilhelmshaven, looked at geological formations in the Sächsische Schweiz, explored fossil beds at the Grube Messel, and searched for beavers in the Spessart.

Monthly meetings

On the first Monday of each month at 4 pm, all Young Scientists are invited to meet via Skype. Discussions are led by the main and local speakers, who are always looking for feedback and ideas from their fellow Young Scientists. We discuss topics from the different Senckenberg locations, from our working groups (see below), and plan our local speaker meetings and the Young Scientists retreats. Please e-mail us if you would like to join a meeting. We are always excited by new members, even if you just want to sit in and listen and learn what’s going on. Often a group from your location is already participating so by getting in touch with your local speaker you can just add yourself to the meeting. Monthly meetings are also a good way to learn how to get more involved. We always need help and are good at adapting to as little or as much time as you can offer.

Find our work on Twitter! Look for the hashtag #YSatSGN

Our Team

Each year at the annual retreat, we vote for people to fill the positions listed below.

For July 2020 to July 2021, the following people were elected:

 

 

Main Speaker

Mitarbeiterbild Tahir Ali
Dr. Tahir Ali
PostDoc, Member of Research Group “Evolutionary Analyses and Biological Archives”

Research interests

Synthesis of the approaches that investigate historical (geographic and palaeoclimatic changes) and contemporary (i.e., like habitat loss, fragmentation and anthropogenic climate change) processes underlying current patterns of genetic variation is key to reconstruct the evolutionary history of species and implement conservation measures promoting their long-term persistence. Resolving the evolutionary and ecological patterns and processes that underlie speciation and diversification is a central theme of my research. While the focus of my current research is on landscape genomics, plant microbiome and integrated species distribution modelling, however, I have an interdisciplinary research background ranging from plant systematics to population genetics and phylogeography.

Current projects 

I am currently working as a postdoctoral researcher on a project funded by Translation Biodiversity Genomics (TBG), wherein, I am investigating the role of micro-evolutionary processes in determining genetic and phenotypic diversity across a heterogeneous landscape, and doing genome‐wide association studies on the phyllosphere microbiome using Microthlaspi erraticum (claspleaf pennycress) as a model system. Apart from my research work, I am Young Scientist main speaker at Senckenberg, and also working with a small group of volunteers on a project “Translating the Climate Change Science to Human”- aiming to educate and empower communities, particularly children and women on Climate.
 
Google Scholar Profile 

ResearchGate Profile 

ORCID Profile 

Linkedin Profile 

 CV (PDF)

Ali, T., Peterson, A.T., A conceptual framework and toolkit for phylogeography and landscape genomics(submitted in Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences).

Ali, T., Muñoz-Fuentes, V., Çelik, A., Schmuker, A., Buch, A., Dutbayev, A., Runge, F., Khaliq, I., Solovyeva, I., Gabrielyan, I., Maciá-Vicente, J.G., Glynou, K., Nigrelli, L.,Vakhrusheva, L., Kitner, M.,  Ploch, S., Xia, X., Nowak, C., Thines, M., (2019). Out of Transcaucasia: Origin of Western and Central Palearctic populations of Microthlaspi perfoliatum. Flora 253, 127-141.

Brandrud, T.E., Schmidt-Stohn, G., Liimatainen, K., Niskanen, T., Frøslev, T.G., Soop, K., Bojantchev, D., Kytövuori, I., Jeppesen, T.S., Bellù, F., Saar, G., Oertel, B., Ali, T., Thines, M., Dima, B., (2018) Cortinarius sect. Riederi: taxonomy and phylogeny of the new section with European and North American distribution.  17, 1323-1354.

Bandini, D., Oertel, B., Ploch, S., Ali, T., Vauras, J., Schneider, A., Scholler, M., Eberhardt, U., Thines, M., (2018) Revision of some central European species of Inocybe (Fr.: Fr.) Fr. subgenus Inocybe, with the description of five new species. Mycological Progress, 1-48.

Ali, T., Muñoz-Fuentes, V., Çelik, A., Schmuker, A., Buch, A., Dutbayev, A., Runge, F., Khaliq, I., Solovyeva, I., Gabrielyan, I., Maciá-Vicente, J.G., Glynou, K., Nigrelli, L.,Vakhrusheva, L., Kitner, M.,  Ploch, S., Xia, X., Nowak, C., Thines, M., (2017). Genetic patterns reflecting Pleistocene range dynamics in the annual calcicole plant Microthlaspi erraticum across its Eurasian range. Flora, 236-237, 132-142.

Glynou, K., Ali, T., Haghi Kia S., Thines, M., Maciá-Vicente, J.G., (2017). Intraspecific genetic diversity in root-endophytic fungi reflects efficient dispersal and environmental adaptation. Molecular Ecology. 10.1111/mec.14231.

Ali, T., Runge, F., Ayan D., Schmuker, A., Solovyeva, I., Nigrelli, L., Buch, A., Xia, X., Ploch, S., Orren, O., Kummer, V., Ҫelik, A., Vakhrusheva, L., Gabrielyan, I., Thines, M., (2016b). Range-wide complete taxon sampling of Microthlaspi reveals that Microthlaspi erraticum is widespread and ranges from the Alps to the Tien Shan. Flora, 225, 76-81.

Ali, T., Schmuker, A., Runge, F., Solovyeva, I., Nigrelli, L., J, P., Buch, A., Xia, X., Ploch, S., Orren, O., Kummer, V., Linde-Laursen, I., Ørgaard, M., Hauser, T.P., Ҫelik, A., Thines, M., (2016a). Morphology, phylogeny, and taxonomy of Microthlaspi (Brassicaceae, Coluteocarpeae) and related genera. Taxon 65(1):79-98.

Glynou K., Ali T., Buch A., Haghi Kia S., Ploch S., Xia X., Çelik A., Thines M., Maciá-Vicente J.G., (2016) The local environment determines the assembly of root endophytic fungi at a continental scale. Environmental Microbiology doi:10.1111/1462-2920.13112.

Cheikh-Ali Z., Glynou K., Ali T., Ploch S., Kaiser M., Thines M., Bode H.B., Maciá-Vicente J.G., (2015) Diversity of exophillic acid derivatives in strains of an endophytic Exophiala sp. Phytochemistry 118:83–93.

Kitner, M., Lebeda, A., Sharma, R., Runge, F., Dvorák, P., Ali, T., Choi, Y.-J., Sedláková, B., Thines, M., (2015) Coincidence of virulence shifts and population genetic changes of Pseudoperonospora cubensis in the Czech Republic. Plant Pathology 64, 1461–1470.

Schneider, J.V., Bissiengou, P., Amaral Mdo, C., Ali, T., Fay, M.F.,Thines, M., Sosef, M.S., Zizka, G., Chatrou, L.W., (2014) Phylogenetics, ancestral state reconstruction, and a new infrafamilial classification of the pantropical Ochnaceae (Medusagynaceae, Ochnaceae s.str., Quiinaceae) based on five DNA regions. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 78:199–214.

Mitarbeiter Foto
Lukas Dreyling
PhD Student of Research Group 'Molecular Evolutionary Biology'

I am primarily interested in the structure and interactions of communities in different environmental contexts. Especially how different species within a community influence each other and how those relationships are mediated by their environment. In the past I have studied root competition between shrubs from mediterranean type ecosystems in South Africa, identifying how this interaction is shaped by density dependence. Currently I am expanding my skillset and work with microbial communities from various forest substrates, which are assessed by high-throughput metabarcoding. I study community interactions and model how abiotic factors, such as forest management, are changing these micro-communities. Being able to combine fieldwork with laboratory work, statistics and ecological modeling is one of the things making this research field so fascinating and I enjoy being part of the genetically informed future of community ecology.

Leibniz Representatives

Florian Schwarzmueller Sbik-f
Dr. Florian Schwarzmüller
PostDoc, Member of Young Scientist Group 'Impacts-of-the-consumption-of-agricultural-and-forestry-products'
Leibniz PostDoc Network

Research interests

I am an Ecological Modeller working on the effects of global change on the stability and functioning of ecological communities. During my PhD at the University of Göttingen, I worked on the effect of climate change, nutrient enrichment and habitat fragmentation on the stability of trophic interaction systems. I then went on to do a postdoc at the Commonwealth Scientific Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Brisbane, Australia. There, I worked in an interdisciplinary project on the effectiveness and acceptance of Area-wide management strategies in a complex socio-ecological system.
At Senckenberg BiK-F, I am currently working on a project entitled “Consumption Based Accounting of Land-Use Carbon Emissions (CoBALUCE)” which is a joined project between SBiK-F and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna. In this project, we are looking at the effect of land-use change for the production of forestry and agricultural products on ecosystem carbon storage. We aim to attribute these emissions to products that are traded globally, to trace the emissions from the place they are producer to the consumer of the final product. The results can inform consumer decisions or global mitigation policies. I am also interested in effects of land-use change on biodiversity and in developing model scenarios along future socio-ecological pathways.

External links

My Twitter account @FSchwarzmueller

Profile on ResearchGate

List of publications on Google Scholar

Carola Martens
Ph.D. student, Member of Research Group 'Quantitative Biogeography'
Leibniz PhD Network

RESEARCH INTERESTS

My research interests involve the field of climate-vegetation interactions and human influences. This matches well with the BMBF-funded SPACES project EMSAfrica (Ecosystem Management Support for Climate Change in Southern Africa). EMSAfrica focuses on the effects of natural disturbances, such as the impacts of land-use and climate change on the structure and functioning of South African terrestrial ecosystems. It also focuses on the production of information relevant to ecosystem management in the region.  Within the scope of this project I am working with the dynamic vegetation models (DVMs) aDGVM and aDGVM2 with a focus on Southern African vegetation changes. By using DVMs, I would like to detect changes in ecosystems and identify areas that require special attention in ecosystem management. Thus, I can contribute to protecting and maintaining biodiversity in vulnerable ecosystems.

CURRENT PROJECTS

EMSAfrica – Ecosystem Management Support for Climate Change in Southern Africa

CV

PUBLICATIONS

Kumar, D., Pfeiffer, M., Gaillard, C., Langan, L., Martens, C. and Scheiter, S.: Misinterpretation of Asian savannas as degraded forest can mislead management and conservation policy under climate change, Biological Conservation, 241, 108293, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.108293, 2020.

Pfeiffer, M., Langan, L., Linstädter, A., Martens, C., Gaillard, C., Ruppert, J. C., Higgins, S. I., Mudongo, E. and Scheiter, S.: Grazing and aridity reduce perennial grass abundance in semi-arid rangelands – Insights from a trait-based dynamic vegetation model, Ecological Modelling, 395, 11–22, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2018.12.013, 2019.

Scheiter, S., Schulte, J., Pfeiffer, M., Martens, C., Erasmus, B. F. N. and Twine, W. C.: How Does Climate Change Influence the Economic Value of Ecosystem Services in Savanna Rangelands?, Ecological Economics, 157, 342–356, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2018.11.015, 2019.

Gaillard, C., Langan, L., Pfeiffer, M., Kumar, D., Martens, C., Higgins, S. I., and Scheiter, S.: African shrub distribution emerges via a trade-off between height and sapwood conductivity, Journal of Biogeography, 45, 1–12, https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.13447, 2018.

Scheiter, S., Gaillard, C., Martens, C., Erasmus, B. F. N., and Pfeiffer, M.: How vulnerable are ecosystems in the Limpopo province to climate change?, South African Journal of Botany, 116, 86–95, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sajb.2018.02.394, 2018.

 

Theresa Stratmann
Ph.D. Student, Member of Research Group 'Movement Ecology' and Research Group 'Quantative Biogeography'
Leibniz PhD Network

RESEARCH INTERESTS

My research interest is in conservation biology and how we can use math and modeling to make better decisions regarding conservation. While studying my master’s degree I used bog turtles (Glyptemys muhlenbergii) as a case study for how we can resource-efficiently locate and survey rare and elusive species. This work combined species distribution modeling and intensive field work in close collaboration with state wildlife agencies in the United States to give me first-hand experience into what it means to conserve species at ground-level. For my Ph. D. I am changing my focus to examine how movement affects population dynamics in highly mobile animals. My study system is the Eastern Steppe of Mongolia and the nomadic Mongolian Gazelles (Procapra gutturosa). I will simulate this system by programming an herbivore-vegetation model. To do this I am combining expertise from the two working groups I am involved in. I am a part of Thomas Müller’s group, whose focus is on movement ecology and conservation, and Thomas Hickler’s group, whose focus is on vegetation modeling and effects of climate change. We hope this modeling approach will help us better understand how important mobility is to long-term population persistence of animals living in unpredictable and dynamic landscapes.

Past Projects:

B.S. Ecology, Minor Mathematics, summa cum laude, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA, (Lab of Dr. John Maerz: click here)

M.S. Wildlife and Fisheries Biology, Clemson University, Clemson, SC, USA, (Lab of Dr. Kyle Barrett: click here)

CURRENT PROJECTS

My work is part of the BMBF project MoreStep which brings together social and ecological sciences to identify societal drivers that can lead to an ecological tipping point of the Mongolian steppe ecosystem. Our role is to use the herbivore-vegetation model to examine the importance of movement in maintaining sustainable numbers of wild and domestic herbivores. The model will also be used to disentangle the effects of climate and grazing on vegetation.

CV

Researchgate

Stratmann, T. S. M., T. Floyd, and K. Barrett (2020): Habitat and History Influence Abundance of Bog Turtles. The Journal of Wildlife Management 84(2):331–343. DOI: 10.1002/jwmg.21793

Nandintsetseg, D., C. Bracis, … , T. Stratmann, and T. Mueller. Challenges in the conservation of wide-ranging nomadic species. Journal of Applied Ecology. 56(8): 1916-1926.

Check out the animation I made for the paper here.

Stratmann, T. S. M., T. Floyd, and K. Barrett (2016): Locating suitable habitat for a rare species: evaluation of a species distribution model for Bog Turtles ( Glyptemys muhlenbergii) in the southeastern United States. Herpetological Conservation and Biology. 11(1): 199-213.

Munscher, E., A. Walde, T. S. M. Stratmann, and B. Butterfield (2015): Exceptional Growth Rates Observed in Immature Pseudemys from a Protected Spring System in Florida. Herpetology Notes. 8: 133-140.

Pierson, T., T. S. M. Stratmann, E. White, A. Clause, C. Carter, M. Herr, A. Jenkins, H. Vogel, M. Knoerr, and B. Folt (2014): New County Records of Amphibians and Reptiles Resulting from a Bioblitz Competition in North-Central Georgia, USA. Herpetological Review. 45(2): 296-297.

Floyd, T.M., T.S.M. Stratmann, G.J. Brown, III, and C.S. Pfaff (2013): Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis. Terrestrial Movement. Herpetological Review. 44:651.

Stratmann, T. and S. Pfaff (2011): Geographic Distribution Note for Lampropeltis elapsoides. Herpetological Review. 42(4):572-573.

Website

Mitarbeiter Alexander Neu
Alexander Neu
Ph. D.Student, Member of Senior Scientist Group 'Functional Ecology and Global Change'

Research interests

ProteaNet: Spatiotemporal dynamics of plant-animal interaction networks

ProteaNet is the follow-up project of ProteaBird and investigates Protea communities in South African fynbos. I will extend spatial and short-term analyses of ProteaBird, conducted by Baptiste Schmid and Henning Nottebrock, and will study how plant-based resources determine long-term dynamics of animal communities. I will address fundamental ecological questions about mechanisms that underlie life-history variation, species coexistence, and the structuring of mutualistic and antagonistic plant-animal interaction networks.

I will specifically study the resource allocation for animal-mediated indirect interactions among Protea plants. I will also test how the spatiotemporal dynamics of Protea-based resources (nectar, pollen, seeds) affect the functional and interaction diversity of bird, rodent, and insect pollinators and seed predators. This will enable us to investigate how mutualistic and antagonistic plant-animal interaction networks assemble in space and time and how the spatiotemporal dynamics of these networks affect plant community dynamics.

I am working under the supervision of PD Dr. Matthias Schleuning. The project is conducted together with Prof. Dr. Frank Schurr and the PhD student Huw Cooksley from the University of Hohenheim, in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Karen Esler and with Prof. Dr. Anton C. Pauw at the University of Stellenbosch. The project is funded by the German Research Foundation.

Functional diversity of birds along land-use and elevational gradients on Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

For my Diploma thesis, I worked within the DFG-funded research unit KiLi. The aim was to test whether differences in avian ecomorphological traits depict the functional roles (dietary and foraging preferences) of bird species on Mount Kilimanjaro. I also investigated changes in the functional diversity of the bird communities along an elevational gradient and with land-cover change. This research gives insights into how anthropogenic impacts could modify ecosystem functions of birds.

Keywords
Mutualistic and antagonistic plant-animal interaction Networks, Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, Functional diversity, Pollination by animals, Observational and experimental field studies, Trait-based network Analysis

Press coverage

Citizen Science

Vögel beobachten und mitteilen  [German] SWR, 7 Feb 2017

CV

Treasurers

Mitarbeiter Alexander Neu
Alexander Neu
Ph. D.Student, Member of Senior Scientist Group 'Functional Ecology and Global Change'

Research interests

ProteaNet: Spatiotemporal dynamics of plant-animal interaction networks

ProteaNet is the follow-up project of ProteaBird and investigates Protea communities in South African fynbos. I will extend spatial and short-term analyses of ProteaBird, conducted by Baptiste Schmid and Henning Nottebrock, and will study how plant-based resources determine long-term dynamics of animal communities. I will address fundamental ecological questions about mechanisms that underlie life-history variation, species coexistence, and the structuring of mutualistic and antagonistic plant-animal interaction networks.

I will specifically study the resource allocation for animal-mediated indirect interactions among Protea plants. I will also test how the spatiotemporal dynamics of Protea-based resources (nectar, pollen, seeds) affect the functional and interaction diversity of bird, rodent, and insect pollinators and seed predators. This will enable us to investigate how mutualistic and antagonistic plant-animal interaction networks assemble in space and time and how the spatiotemporal dynamics of these networks affect plant community dynamics.

I am working under the supervision of PD Dr. Matthias Schleuning. The project is conducted together with Prof. Dr. Frank Schurr and the PhD student Huw Cooksley from the University of Hohenheim, in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Karen Esler and with Prof. Dr. Anton C. Pauw at the University of Stellenbosch. The project is funded by the German Research Foundation.

Functional diversity of birds along land-use and elevational gradients on Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

For my Diploma thesis, I worked within the DFG-funded research unit KiLi. The aim was to test whether differences in avian ecomorphological traits depict the functional roles (dietary and foraging preferences) of bird species on Mount Kilimanjaro. I also investigated changes in the functional diversity of the bird communities along an elevational gradient and with land-cover change. This research gives insights into how anthropogenic impacts could modify ecosystem functions of birds.

Keywords
Mutualistic and antagonistic plant-animal interaction Networks, Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, Functional diversity, Pollination by animals, Observational and experimental field studies, Trait-based network Analysis

Press coverage

Citizen Science

Vögel beobachten und mitteilen  [German] SWR, 7 Feb 2017

CV

Katja Uhlenkott
Doctoral student

Research interests

Distribution modelling of meiofauna abundance in the polymetallic nodule belt in the Clarion Clipperton Fracture Zone (CCZ), Pacific

In recent years, there is heightened interest to mine polymetallic nodules (also called manganese nodules) in the Clarion Clipperton Fracture Zone (CCZ). To protect the animals that occur in these areas, it is important to define preservation zones. However, due to the depth of more than 4000 meters and the large extent of the potential mining area, it is difficult to investigate the deep-sea fauna continuously across the area. Especially meiofauna can only be investigated with big effort because of the small size of the animals and their high number within the sediments.

Therefore, we use the machine learning tool “random forest” to compute distribution models for different meiofauna taxa. Together with the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) we test the applicability of these models investigate the distribution of meiofauna, but also to select the most appropriate positions for sampling.

Local Speakers

Jordi de Raad
Ph.D. student, Member of Research Group 'Evolutionary vertebrate genomics' and Young Research Group 'Transposable Elements'
Frankfurt

Research Interests

As a molecular ecologist, I have always been amazed by the rapid-evolving fields of genomics and genetics and its underlying potential. I am mainly interested in applying genomic and genetic methods to elucidate evolutionary uncertainties and to contribute to the conservation of our biodiversity.  During my Msc thesis, I have worked on the genetics of the endangered Eurasian Black Vulture, resulting in a general interest in the (highly conserved) genome of birds. Currently, I am working on evolutionary genomics and geneticsin passerine birds. The aim is to resolve phylogenies, examine evolutionaryhistories and to link this data with varying ecological and morphologicaltraits.

Short CV

2018 – present Ph.D. student at the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (SBiK-F), Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Working group of Prof. Dr. Axel Janke

2015 – 2017 Msc Environmental Biology at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands. Thesis topic: “First insights in the reintroduction of the Eurasian Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus) in Southern-France – evaluating individual contribution, genetic diversity and population genetic structure”. Supervised by dr. Peter Galbusera and Philippe Helsen

2014 – 2015 Student assistant at the department of Biology and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands.

2009 – 2013 Bsc Biology at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Mitarbeiter Foto
Anna Küchler
PhD student, Member of Senior Scientist Group 'Molecular Biodiversity Dynamics'
Frankfurt
Mitarbeiterfoto
M.Sc. Nathan Baker
Doktorand
Gelnhausen
Jana Dietrich
Jana Dietrich
Gelnhausen
Mitarbeiterin Jana Bingemer Görlitz
Wissenschaftliche Volontärin Lisa Janke
Lisa Janke
Scientific trainee
Görlitz