Throughout my research, I have had a keen interest in exploring the molecular, genetic and functional mechanisms underlying a diversity of adaptations that animals have acquired to infer environmental or conspecific sensory stimuli, perform ecologically relevant behaviours and occupy specialized ecological niches.
After a wonderful and diverse postdoctoral experience in the US, I have joined the Lund Vision Group in July 2019 with support from the Wallenberg foundation. My current research projects focus on unravelling the molecular basis of visual adaptations and the evolution of long-wavelength rhodopsins, which I study in diurnal and nocturnal lepidopteran insects. Specifically, I am interested in understanding how the diversification of opsin genes and how the function they encode has shaped insect colour vision for instance under different light environments and in response to conspecific colouration. I also investigate opsin structure-function relationships and the effect of mutations on spectral tuning in an evolutionary framework. The methods employed range from histology, optophysiology, molecular and phylogenetic analyses, molecular profiling via in situ, to cell-based heterologous expression and protein purification assays. Exploring natural biological systems with unique ecological traits can further reveal novel proteins and molecular mechanisms relevant for engineering and optimization of light-sensing proteins for applications in optogenetics.
Outside the lab, I enjoy teaching and opportunities to communicate about research. Bringing the lab to the classroom in fun ways through sharing educational resources, show-and-tell or hands-on activities with students, their teachers and the general public provides opportunities to raise enthusiasm about evolution and biodiversity, and the role of fundamental science in developing real life applications.
I completed my PhD research on the Evolution of mate signaling in Moths at Lund University with Christer Löfstedt. By establishing assays to study the function of pheromone biosynthetic enzymes in night-active female moths, I could connect how changes at the molecular and functional levels contribute to the evolution of species-specific communication channels and reproductive isolation. In 2012, I joined Daniel Hartl at Harvard University as an EMBO and VR post-doctoral fellow to study the genetic basis and molecular evolution of reproductive isolation and their functional and ecological consequences in Drosophila. I used molecular empirical research and germline transformation techniques in the non-model fruitflies, D. simulans and D. mauritiana to identify autosomal male incompatibility loci that contribute to hybrid dysfunction and post-zygotic isolation. After reinforcing my pedagogical skills and enthusiasm for teaching during one year with the Life Sciences Harvard Undergraduate program, I was awarded a Wallenberg Postdoctoral Fellowship to continue my training at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard with Naomi Pierce (Harvard) and Feng Zhang (Broad Institute). There I was fortunate to develop new research axes and methods to implement HEK293 expression tools and characterize new types of light and heat sensitive insect membrane receptor proteins.
Recent research outputs
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article
Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceeding › Book chapter