University of Jyväskylä

A new post as Academy Research Fellow to Sara Calhim

Postdoctoral Researcher Sara Calhim from the Department of Biological and Environmental Science received Academy Research Fellow funding from the Academy of Finland’s Research Council for Biosciences and Environment. Academy Research Fellow post is for a term of five years starting on 1st of September 2017. The grant for the project “Sperm evolution across reproductive and fertilization modes” is 434 485 euros.

Sara Calhim is researching reproductive evolution in water bears. Water bears (Tardigrada) are tiny eight-legged animals, best known for surviving extreme conditions, even outer Space. Their spermatozoa are equally strange and they have incredibly diverse reproductive biology: hermaphroditic, bisexual species and internal and external insemination. They also show incredible variation in both sperm size and shape. The project will investigate sperm form and function evolution across a wide range of selective forces. The project also brings tardigrade research into Finland, providing a source of new and charismatic creatures to inspire the next generation of scientists.

Spermatozoa are the most diverse cell type, a fact that has intrigued evolutionary biologists for centuries. However, research in this topic has been mostly conducted on animal groups that show variation in sperm size but not in sperm design.. Consequently, this key question remains largely unanswered.”, says Calhim. 

A picture of Sara's study species (Pseudobiotus megalonyx).

The Research Council’s total funding for the research posts amounts to some 5.2 million euros. The most important selection criteria were the scientific quality of the research plan and the researcher’s independent status and positive career development.

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