Eco Evo Lab bio photo

Eco Evo Lab

Better living through sequencing chemistry

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Members of the Ecology and Evolution Unit

The Ecology and Evolution research group is part of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University.

Lab members, in their own words

Staff (in order of tenure)

Alexander Mikheyev (aka Sasha), principal investigator

Sasha I have broad interests in evolutionary biology, focusing mainly on leveraging the power of next-generation tools for answering long-standing basic questions. As a result, I like to explore new techniques, be they laboratory, computational, or involving new sequencing technologies. Although I started my career in the laboratory and in the field, presently I am more of a bioinformatician. Over the past couple of years, I became increasingly interested in applying short-read sequencing to degraded DNA, such as that found in museum, archaeological or other poorly preserved specimens. Having developed a range of tools for high-throughput processing of degraded insects, are harnessing these tools for projects ranging from ecosystem phylogenetics and phylogeography, to studying evolutionary processes using museum samples. Additionally, I maintain an interest in social insect systems, which I worked on during my graduate studies, and also nurture a more recently acquired research program using snake venoms to understand adaptation. In my spare time, I enjoy long runs, and playing the violin.

Miquel Grau-Lopez, research technician

Miquel I obtained my degree in Computer Systems Engineering from the Universitat Jaume I at Castello (Spain) where I developed, for my final degree project, a web application for the main hospital. After that, I worked for several years designing tools to facilitate researchers’ work related with photovoltaic and optoelectronic devices for Physics Department at the University. I arrived to Ecology and Evolution Unit on 2013 where I am working with several projects, testing apps and building pipeline tools. My interest in this field grows up as I read and learn more. We have focused in the genome study of several species like ants, birds or snakes and it is very exciting.

On a personal level, I love travelling and discovering new cultures. I really like reading/writing and spend time with friends, music, games and cinema. Of course, I like soba!

Jo Tan, research technician

Jo Konnichiwa! I’m a lab technician in the Mikheyev Unit which is under the Ecology and Evolution umbrella at OIST. At this stage, I am fortunate enough to be involved in a unique project collaborating with Evan Economo and his colleagues in which we will be extracting, sequencing and correlating DNA from Fijian Ants museum samples. I’ve have previously graduated from the University of Auckland, and more recently been involved with Stemcell Technologies in Sydney Australia. As you can probably tell, we are a progressive and dynamic lab, from all around the world, with different cultures and background. We work hard and play hard, and have fun as a team and I’m grateful to be a part of this awesome group.

Lijun-Qiu, research technician

Qiu I have a long-time interest in molecular biology and genetics. Before joining the lab, I spent 5 years working on molecular genetics of castor bean. Now I am working as a research technician on ancient DNA, including ancient DNA extraction, sequencing and so on. So I have the chance to work with different precious samples such as museum samples; it is work requiring special care. In the meantime, I also help Misato with a project on the reproductive system of the ant Vollenhovia emeryi, which is really a new world for me. As a Chinese person, I enjoy the peaceful life and beautiful landscape here.

Yoann Portugal, research technician

Yoann Hey! I am a technician in Mikheyev Unit here at OIST. My role in the group is to take care of the bee colonies we study and to make sure we have the optimum setup and facility to observe them. I also get involved in anything where engineering support is needed. Before joining the lab, I was working in China for about 8 years where I was building and starting chemical production factories. I graduated from the Hogeschool Zeeland University of Applied Science, my background is in engineering and project management and I basically like getting my hands dirty and build things.

I’m glad to have this opportunity of being in Okinawa and working on super interesting subjects with a great team.

Maeva Techer, postdoc

Maeva My primary research interests are mainly directed towards understanding how the evolutionary and ecological processes drive and maintain genetic diversity in populations, particularly in islands systems. I completed my PhD at the University of La Réunion on the genetic diversity and phylogeography of the honey bee Apis mellifera in the Indian Ocean hotspot of biodiversity. I really enjoyed using population genetics tool to understand patterns of colonization and how islands can shape divergence and diversification within an archipelago.

Now as a postdoc in the Mikheyev unit, I will continue to study evolutionary and biogeographical patterns but this time at a global scale. Here my research will focus on honey bees Varroa mites Varroa destructor and V. jacobsoni which quite recently switch host and in several independent events. Using whole genome sequencing, we aimed to better understand the genetic basis that drove the successful host-switch from A. cerana to A. mellifera. Finally, we want to reconstruct V. destructor’s global spread by building a world mites collection and using Bayesian demographic analysis.

I really love the life in Okinawa and can’t imagine getting tired of the beautiful forests! I am really happy to be part of such great team with so many nationalities and culture. In my spare time, I can’t resist to “japanisation” with videos game and mangas but I still like to go to the gym and spend time with friends. Another of my interest is to collect insects and more particularly stick insects (my real life Pokémon)!

Research Gate profile

Mariana Velasque Borges, postdoc

Mariana Hi there!! I am a biologist with a Masters in Ecology from Federal University of Uberlandia (Brazil). My main research interests lie in ecology and behaviour, specifically in the behavioural ecology of individual variation in behaviour. I completed my PhD at Plymouth University, UK, where I investigated the relationship between consistent individual variation in behaviour (animal personality) and its relationship with other life history traits and decision-making in hermit crabs. In OIST, I hope to expand my knowledge, incorporating genetics into the study of individual and group behaviour in honey bees.

In my free time, I enjoy discovering new things (from cooking to playing sports), long runs and books.

Vienna Kowallik, postdoc

Vienna I would describe myself as a microbial-ecologist by heart, I am continuously getting excited about this field. Therefore, so far, my scientific work has focused on understanding the role of interspecific interactions in this field. I studied biology at the Christian-Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany continued doing my Ph.D. working on the natural ecology of Saccharomyces yeasts at the Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, Germany, followed by a year working on eco-evo dynamics in an algae-virus system. I generally enjoy combining different approaches like field work, metagenomics, lab experiments etc. to gain deeper insight into a study system. Here at OIST I want to study the microbiome of honey bees to see which diversity we find, which differences we might see under specific settings and finally which functions the core symbionts have on their host. The honey bee system is perfect to study host-microbiota related questions as it is experimentally tractable, the microbiome is relatively simple and all core bacterial symbionts are cultivable. Lastly, and importantly, it is hard to treat what we do not understand. Therefore, understanding potential benefits which naturally associated symbionts provide to their host can help in the future to systematically improve the health of our worldwide declining honey bee.

Coming from Northern Germany I am amazed by the nature surrounding OIST. The ocean, the forests, the biodiversity….great! In my free time, I enjoy hiking and snorkeling. I love Heavy Metal music and my mood cannot be bad enough that listening to a good, loud song would not make me feel better somehow. Festivals and concerts are clearly great events for me.

Ivan Koludarov, postdoc

Ivan My primary research interest lies in evolution of venom across the taxa. Not only it is one of the best models to study evolution of complex functional traits for it is relatively easy to connect the change in toxin with the change in function, but the interplay of selection forces between tagret organism and venomous animal create a complex yet accessible feedback structure that is extremely interesting to unravel.

My background is relatively diverse. I did my bachelor degree in St. Petersburg State University, where I worked on modifying Pichia pastoris genome to produce a truncated version of human interferon. For my masters thesis I switched to enzymology and physics, using Brillouin light scattering to study changes that occur in lysozyme molecule during denaturation. After graduating, I spent several years doing various internships at different molecular biology labs both in Russia and abroad, until I settled on doing a PhD project on venom evolution in varanid lizards in the lab of Dr. Bryan Fry in University of Queensland. During my years at UQ I participated in numerous venom related projects that helped me to realise that evolution of venom is not only an interesting thing to study, it also allows me to utilise all my skills to its fullest.

At Prof. Mikheyev’s lab I am using genomic and bioinformatic tools to elucidate the mechanisms and selection forces that underlie the transformation of physiological genes into venom genes.



Collaborators

Kasia, postdoc at OIST, Biological Physics Theory Unit

Kasia I am interested in applying computational methods to tacking life sciences questions. My background is in computer sciences and during my PhD I became interested in computational biology. I realized how with the current explosion of technologies producing large scale measurements in biology it has became a field of research where one can develop interesting computational strategies and make discoveries without ever working in the real, wet lab. My interests span from HIV drug resistance and evolution, through emergence of human cognition to genomics and behavior of honey bees that we are working on currently at OIST. I used to hate biology at school while right now I’m amazed by how advances in biological technologies together with developments in computing methods and hardware are transforming the way we look at this field research.

Claire Morandin, postdoc at the University of Helsinki, Centre of Excellence in Biological Interactions

Claire I am a Postdoc at the Centre of Excellence in Biological interactions at Helsinki University in Finland. In September 2015, I successfully defended my PhD thesis, with Dr Mikheyev as my co-supervisor. During my PhD I studied the evolution and maintenance of social insect female castes (queen and worker), focusing on the evolution of caste-biased gene expression in ants. I took advantage of the power of genomic methodologies and technologies to provide new insights into mechanisms of social evolution, and the evolution of plastic gene expression. During my postdoc, and again in collaboration with Dr Mikheyev, I will expand my previous work to investigate in more details the transcriptional architecture associated with reproductive division of labor in ants. I use genomics tools such as RNA sequencing, evolutionary analysis, gene co-expression networks and methylation to answer these questions. I have had the chance to visit OIST and beautiful Okinawa five times already, and I absolutely love it, I always come back!



Ph.D. Students

Valentin Churavy, PhD student

Valentin I am a PhD student at OIST in the Ecology and Evolution Lab. I came to Okinawa because of the interdisciplinary atmosphere and the fantastic research environment.

I did my undergraduate studies in Cognitive Science at the University of Osnabrück (Germany) on social robotics and neurodynamics. My primary focus was on biologically inspired artificial systems – evolutionary robotics, artificial life and artificial neural networks. For my PhD I am shifting from artificial systems to living systems. I plan to model large scale social behaviour in social insects, particularly interest to me are the social dynamics in honeybee colonies. Here at OIST I am in the lucky position of applying my knowledge and passion for programming and machine learning to develop new approaches to research topics in biology.

I enjoy long-distance hiking, bouldering and discovering/cooking new food. I am also involved in open-source software development and in my free time I read books and play the basson.

Rob Campbell, PhD student

Rob I am interested in the intersection of materials science and evolutionary ecology – how species take advantage of material properties for evolutionary advantage, and how biomaterial structures are influenced by their evolutionary and ecological context. In short – spider silk! A polymer material with incredible properties and a finely controlled fabrication process essential to organism survival. My thesis looks at spider silk comparatively, bringing together tools from materials science, physics, chemistry, taxonomy, and bioinformatics to contextualize variation in silk production across spider species.

My first project in the lab was as a rotation student, using x-ray microtomography (micro-CT) to visualize parasitoid fly larvae inside their fire ant hosts. Before OIST I did my bachelor’s in physics and international affairs at Skidmore College (United States) and worked in sustainable development, international policy, and communications (United States; China). Then and now, my free time is all about food, foreign languages, and cultural exchange!

Christine Guzman, Rotation student

Tin I am interested in studying the molecular mechanisms underlying the adaptation and resilience of marine organisms to changing ocean conditions. I am also fascinated by early animal evolution and the concept of ‘human-assisted’ evolution in corals. In my previous work, I have built and characterized the transcriptomes of several sponge and coral species. Now, the goal of my rotation project in the Ecology and Evolution Unit at OIST, is to understand the molecular basis of host use associated behaviors in the checkerspot butterfly species, Euphydryas editha populations. I love how Okinawa, with its weather and beautiful beaches, looks pretty much the same with my home country, the Philippines.

Carmen Emborski, special research

Carmen I have had a really unique opportunity to complete my studies at Texas Tech University in the U.S.A. and pursue my dissertation research here at OIST. My educational background is in biology with a focus in environmental toxicology and human health. For my research, I am studying if and how exposure to extreme diets (i.e. starvation and diets very high in sugar) within a single-generation can lead to the inheritance of metabolic syndrome (i.e. diabetes and obesity) across several generations using Drosophila melanogaster as my model organism. I am also interested in the interplay between metabolism and fitness, and more specifically how extreme diets can transgenerationally alter fitness.

While here in Okinawa, and particularly while here at OIST, I have enjoyed getting to know people from many different disciplines and cultures, including the really awesome people that make up our lab. In my free time, I enjoy scuba diving, exploring the island, trying new restaurants, making new friends, and enjoying the company of friends already made. If you have any questions about OIST, this lab, or about Okinawa, feel free to email me and I’ll be happy to share my perspective and experiences.



Research intern

Andrea Pozzi, research intern

Andrea I have a long standing passion for science, in fact since high school I have been practicing in chemistry and biology labs. I then obtained my Bsc in Biotechnology and Msc in Biodiversity and Evolution, during which I discovered a new kind of small non coding RNA that I named smithRNA. I am well aware, however, that science is not all about experiments; in fact talking with other scientists is one of the keys to progress. That is why I love traveling to meet new researchers and to discover new things. Now I am at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology to study the regulation of venom expression in snakes. Here, under the guidance of Prof. Mikheyev, I am trying to unearth how closely related snakes have such different phenotypes in venom expression. My interests span from molecular zoology to anthropology to forensics sciences to computer science, paleontology, and much more.

In my spare time I like watching movies, playing games and exploring new places.

Agneesh Barua, research intern

Agneesh Evolution is a process at the background of all biological phenomenon, and is one that has given shape to our world as we know it. I have been interested in evolutionary biology ever since I first read about Lamarck and Darwin at school, since then I have always wondered why, and how, life decided to take the trajectory it did and produce us intelligent beings. In biology , the ‘what’, ‘how’, and ‘when’ can be fairly well answered, but it is the ‘why’ that is riddled in deep mystery and speculation, and I feel evolutionary biology is the field that will provide us valuable insights to solving these mysteries. I did my undergrads in Zoology from Delhi University where I got a taste for what higher studies in biology meant , and it was my masters, in Genetics, which I did from Calcutta University, that helped me attain the mind-set I would need to become a researcher . Here at OIST I work on snake venom genes and try to understand how they might have evolved. Snake venom genes are interesting wherein, in spite of being absolutely essential for the survival of the animal, they show a level of diversity that is similar to that of non essential regions, how this form of diversity still manages to maintain a functional relevance is still unknown. By using bioinformatic tools I am aligning and annotating the entire snake genome to locate the genes that encode the proteins of the venom, following which I will perform phylogenetic analysis on these genes to shed some light on the evolutionary forces that might have caused the venom genes to acquire their unique traits.

Apart from working in the lab, I enjoy reading books, listening to music, doing yoga, and exploring the joyful and vibrant island that is Okinawa.


Alumni

Quoc Viet, research technician

Viet I am an engineer in Aeronautics, with a double degree from Supaero (France), and a MSc from Cranfield University (UK) in Computational Fluid Dynamics. After a career of 15 years in the Professional Services with a focus on Open Source software, I have acquired a strong competency in hunting for Research grants from European entities such as the EUREKA/ITEA, the FP6-IST, or the french RNTL, for which I also acted as a project reviewer. I have submitted and won 12 collaborative research projects, with a recurring ouput of 900 k€ per year in research grants. I have climbed the hierarchy, from support engineer to head of Research & Innovation for two SMEs, until I felt the need to apply my abilities to more rewarding objects. I now enjoy a peaceful and quiet life on the small and beautiful Okinawa island as a technician, applying my dual competencies in HPC and in Science, to various subjects, ranging from Evolution to Genomics, with some incursions into Fluid Dynamics.

In my spare time, I am a referee on local karate tournaments, and a member of the 小林流小林館協会. I also enjoy playing Chopin on my piano, especially during the typhoons.

Michael Holmes, postdoc

Michael Primarily, I am a behavioural ecologist with interests in the evolution of social behaviour. Recently, I completed my PhD at the University of Sydney, Australia, where I studied reproductive conflict in honeybees. Honeybee workers are incapable of mating, but can reproduce asexually at a cost to the colony. My major interest was understanding these multiple levels of selection - how selfish individuals within a honeybee colony can exist despite being detrimental to the collective, and how this conflict is resolved. I worked on this in various honeybee species in South Africa, Thailand and China, as well as in Australia. Here in the Mikheyev unit, I will continue to work on honeybees, but this time aiming to understand the genetic basis of the suite of complex behavioural traits that exist within honeybee societies. I can’t imagine a better place to carry out my first postdoc! In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, reading, spending time with friends and hopefully making new ones!

Lauren Dembek, postdoc, 2014-2015

Lauren I am fascinated by the immense diversity and peculiarity of life on Earth. In order to understand how complex traits evolve, potentially resulting in richer biodiversity, we must identify the genetic variants that underlie variation in those traits. I am currently studying behavioral and genetic variation in the honey bee. In addition to my research, I am a writer for the Association for Women in Science and a member of the Genetics Society of America’s Mentoring and Professional Development Committee.

During my Ph.D., I researched the genetic architecture of natural variation in body pigmentation and cuticular hydrocarbon composition in the Drosophila melanogaster Genetic Reference Panel with Prof. Trudy Mackay at North Carolina State University and W. M. Keck Center for Behavioral Biology. I also studied mimicry, mate choice, and the speciation continuum in Heliconius butterflies with Dr. W. Owen McMillan at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. I graduated with a B.S. in Biology and B.A. in Foreign Languages from West Virginia University. While there, I worked with Dr. David A. Ray using accumulated genetic variation in retrotransposons to reconstruct the phylogenetic relationships of crocodiles, alligators, and gharials. I was fortunate to continue this research as a McNair Scholar through the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program at WVU.

Natively, I come from Wallace, WV. During my youth, I trained to be a skilled outdoorswoman, fishing, catching crawdads and salamanders, climbing trees, shooting inanimate objects, driving vehicles through large mud holes, and rescuing kittens. These days, I enjoy exploring nature and meeting new organisms, yoga, knitting, photography, and cuddling with my feline companions Dennis and Merriam.

Mandy Tin, research technician 2012-2015

Mandy I mainly work on projects involve research and development of innovative ways to retrieve valuable genomic information from archival museum specimens while preserving their morphology for taxonomic purpose. Our very first version of library preparation method has been published recently. The method is under active development, and we are extending the technology to ancient human DNA research. Lab automation is a big part of my interest as well. We have successfully automated some of the routine library preparation procedures. Robots allow us to increase throughput with high reproducibility. I also deal with general molecular work in the lab. As I have seen a lot of degraded DNA, now I am always amazed when I see good quality RNA and DNA.

I started working on non-model organisms in this lab and have learnt a lot of fascinating stories about them. For example, Wasmannia auropunctata, the little fire ant, has clonal reproductive system for queens and males but sexual reproduction for workers. Some ant species have evolved strategies to exploit resources of other ant species without being discovered (social parasitism). I hope you find evolution interesting too!

Carolina Diaz, postdoc, 2014-2015

Carolina I am a researcher in molecular evolution, my research interests has revolved around the role of mutations as a source of phenotypic diversity or genetic deterioration. I worked on the molecular origins of life using bottleneck population sizes of ribozymes evolved continuously to test the effect of the accumulation of mutations in the survival of the populations, and the potential routes that they can explore to escape extinction. I also worked on a project to measure the effect of mutations recently acquired depending on their interactions with other genes, epistasis, using natural isolates of E. coli. During my career I have had several teaching and mentoring opportunities, including teaching science classes for fourth, fifth and sixth graders in Colombia, planning and doing science projects, teaching general chemistry laboratory for first and second year college students. I have also volunteered mentoring science projects at a charter school in Houston. In addition to my career in science, I have painted in fabric with acrylics, gouache, oils, and on paper with water colors, black color, pastels, and ink.

Misato Okamoto Miyakawa, postdoc 2012-2014

Misato I am interested in the evolution of conflict in organisms. Conflicts can be detected at various levels, e.g. between selfish genes and resistant genes, parasite and host species, males and females. In social insects, conflicts among colony members often arise over optimal reproductive strategies. Given this, I am particularly interested in the genetics and behavioral ecology involved in conflicts that positively affect the evolution of sociality in insects. In my postdoc, I have focused on ants that have an unique reproductive strategy, Wasmannia auropunctata and Vollenhovia emeryi, which seem to have conflict between sexes. Using sequencing technology and bioinfomatic tools, I seek to understand the evolutionary advantage of this reproductive strategy. I’m really happy to work at OIST for my first postdoc, particularly because of my great lab members, the beautiful working environment, and the almost infinite budget for research. The Ecology and Evolution unit is a great place to improve molecular experimental techniques and increase your mental powers!




Marie Uemura, intern, 2016

Marie I have interests in ecosystem and ecological interaction. Especially I’m interested in relationship with forest and river ecology. At OIST in this Ecology and Evolution unit, I have researched about phylogenetic tree of insects using genomic data. During my research, I also study about computing method and how to use genetic information. Because I wanted to study about another field from mine, it was a great opportunity to studying about new thing and acquire skills or knowledge. I’m junior in Hokkaido University now, and going to start my senior year in this spring. I want to make use of this experience at OIST in my research. Actually, I’m going to research about microorganisms that relates to denitrification and quality of water in rivers. And how they are affected by adjacent forest form, e.g. artificial forest, conifer forest.

I enjoy the relax lifestyle in Okinawa and beautiful scenery of blue ocean. In my free time, I love watching musical show, playing with dogs and traveling.

Jigyasa Arora, intern spring 2015

Jigyasa I am from New Delhi, India. I am a research intern in The Ecology and Evolution Unit at OIST. I am working on snake venomics to understand venom evolution and adaptation in response to prey population. I am really enjoying learning molecular biology techniques required for this project. I have a masters in Molecular Medicine from University of Essex, U.K. In my spare time, I love dancing and basketball.


Dorothy J. Immaculate, intern, spring 2015

Dorothy The Biological questions that I am interested in lie broadly in Evolution. Tracing the signatures of an organism’s adaptation to changing environmental conditions is an exciting research to undertake. I am currently enrolled in Bachelor of Technology, Genetic Engineering at SRM University, India. I am taking the Research Internship opportunity here at OIST to complete my undergraduate thesis. I love my stay here at the Mikheyev Unit. The work environment is great with plenty of resources and encouraging lab mates. My work involves the study of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance of metabolism in the model organism Drosophila melanogaster. This study aims to understand how prenatal nutritional environment affects the metabolism of an organism and if it can be epigenetically inherited and sustained through generations. Significant benefits can be obtained from this study if translated to the human model. Apart from my interest in Biology, I am an avid reader and enjoy travelling.

Maggi Mars Brisbin, rotation student, fall 2014

Maggi I am a first year PhD student at OIST and am completing my first laboratory rotation in the Ecology and Evolution Unit. My rotation project involves investigating transgenerational effects of diet using Drosophila as a model organism. I am looking at whether gut microbiota might play a role either by being directly inherited or by causing an epigenetic modification that is inherited. I completed my M.S. in marine and atmospheric science at Stony Brook University in New York and studied immunology and disease in the American Lobster for my thesis research. In my spare time, I enjoy distance running, yoga, and crossfit. I try to spend free time in or near the ocean, and I have been enjoying the beautiful diving in Okinawa.

Jatin Arora, research intern, 2014

Jatin It fascinates me that four nucleotides with different permutations and combinations, which I also think as the algorithm of the nature, code for all diverse forms of life. On the other side, advancements in computer science are enabling us to carry out unprecedented tasks. Being motivated by this synergetic relationship, I studied Bioinformatics and Modelling at University Pierre and Marie Curie in Paris. I have profound interest in evolution. I believe that understanding the evolution is the key to understand the functional complexities of organisms. I have worked on a range of evolutionary topics like retention of ohnolog genes from whole genome duplication, natural selection in honey bees etc. I am also very interested in the implications of genetic variation in molecular traits and diseases in human. Additionally, I have developed special interest in immunogenomics. Evolution has not been an easy path as organisms have to cope with a vast spectrum of pathogens besides environmental changes. I am interested in how organism evolve and develop their defence mechanisms against invading pathogens with different genetic backgrounds. Besides scientific interest, I am deeply fond of learning languages, music and dance especially punjabi, and kick-boxing.

Shikha Aggarwal, research intern, January-May 2014

Shikha I am from Delhi, the capital city of India. Born and brought up in the second most crowded metropolis city in India, I always yearned to be close to nature. I have a background in biological sciences (bachelors) and Biodiversity and conservation (Masters). I am interested in ecology and appreciated its role in corroborating the many theories and principles in evolutionary biology. My broad area of interest is population genetics, molecular phylogeny and wildlife forensics. My internship project involved the proteomic analysis of venom characterization from a local snake (Protobothrops flavoviridis : Okinawa habu), an invasive snake (Protobothrops elegans :Sakishima habu) and their naturally produced hybrid. I learned designing of several protein cleavage protocols, cDNA sequencing combined with MS profiling. This definitely helped to enhance my knowledge and working skills. This internship project proved out to be the best dissertation thesis report of my masters in my college and helped me to score very well. During my stay in OIST, I also learned to photograph and digitize landmarks on pinned bee specimens from museum, using a sophisticated imaging setup. OIST is a great place to work at because of friendly and beautiful environment, great lab members belonging to different cultures and origin, best mentor and well equipped labs. I wish to adopt challenging profession in wildlife research, with opportunity for advancement and would like to explore my innovative skills, where I can put forth my efforts for the conservation of wildlife. In my free time, I love photography, dancing, music and painting.

Leonidas Georgiou, rotation student, fall 2014

Leonidas Origin: Cyprus Background: Neuroscience Aspiration: Combine my background with mathematics and the physical sciences to understand how life works systematically. Interest: Biological thermodynamics. How life “captures” order. How is life related to energy and information? Current work: Error detection and repair of ancient mitochondrial DNA using computational methods Future work: Hopefully my interest and aspiration (see above).


Yafei Mao, rotation student, fall 2014

Yafei I am a first year PhD student at OIST and choose the Ecology and Evolution Unit for my first rotation. In my rotation project, I am working on estimating the effective population size for ant fauna in Cocos Island using temporal samples collected at different times. I graduated form Nanjing University in Life sciences. I have some experience on molecular biology and protein purification, but I want to come into contact with different areas of life sciences, especially for ecology and evolution. In my spare time, I enjoy swimming and traveling.