Key-note speakers

Invited speaker:  Dr Siobhan O'Brien


My research asks broad questions about how microbial communities evolve and function. In particular, I am interested in how intra- and interspecific interactions within these communities can drive evolutionary change, and how evolution can in turn shape community context. To tackle these questions, I experimentally evolve microbes in complex communities, with the goal of bridging the gap between the lab and the field.

I began my PhD in 2011 under the supervision of Angus Buckling at the University of Exeter. Here, I studied the evolution of microbial cooperation in complex environments - such as in a multispecies community or spatially structured soil microcosms. I was fascinated by the approach of using experimental evolution to understand how microbial communities function in a natural environment. In 2015, I secured a two year fellowship with the Centre for Chronic Diseases and Disorders at the University of York. This fellowship allowed me to explore how social interactions within and between species can shape virulence-associated traits in pathogens infecting the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients. In 2017, I moved to ETH Zurich to begin a fellowship with the Adaptation to a Changing Environment initiative at ETH. My current research focuses on understanding the ecology and evolution of social motility in the microbe Myxococus xanthus – particularly how it is shaped by multispecies interactions in its natural habitat.

Invited speaker:  Dr. Susan Johnston


My research interests centre on using genomic information to understand selection and evolution in wild and domesticated populations. Common themes include determining the genetic architecture of traits using genome scans, understanding why genetic variation persists in traits despite strong selection, and most recently, the evolutionary importance of recombination rate variation at different evolutionary timescales. I answer these questions using data from various vertebrate species, including domestic sheep, red deer, Atlantic salmon and house sparrows.

Student invited speaker: TBA (The speaker will be chosen based on the submitted PhD student abstracts)

"Local" invited speaker: TBA