Monday, May 25, 2009

A new postdoctoral co-worker: Welcome Machteld Verzijden!

I am pleased to announce that our laboratory will get another postdoc from 2010: Machteld Verzijden was awarded a postdoctoral grant from The Swedish Research Council (VR) this spring. Her research interests are focussed on animal behaviour, in particular animal communication systems and the role of learned mate preferences in sexual selection and speciation.

Machteld has previous research experience from birds (zebra finches) and fish (African mouthbrooding cichlids). It is a very talented young scientist that will soon join our laboratory, with some recent interesting and impressive publications in journals like Current Biology and Evolution. In Lund, Mactheld will study the mechanisms of mate preference learning in Calopteryx- damselflies, which will fit well in to our past and ongoing studies about the interplay between gene flow, sexual isolation and plasticity in mate preferences in these insects.

Machteld received her Ph.D. from Leiden University under the supervision of Prof. Carel Ten Cate. During her Ph.D., she did experimental work on the role of social learning in adult mate preferences in cichlid fish, as well as population genetic modelling work together with Prof. Maria Servedio, a leading theoretical evolutionary biologist. Currently, she is on her first postdoctoral stay in Texas, working on sexual selection and communication in fish in the laboratory of Prof. Gill Rosenthal. Machteld will thus bring some new insights and perspectives from her background in ethology and animal psychology, which will nicely complement the general ecological and population genetic focus of our current research.

As an aside, I note that I have been lucky to have been able to recruit so many good co-workers that have been so succesful in obtaining postdoctoral grants from VR: apart from Machteld, also Maren Wellenreuther, Thomas Gosden and Jessica Abbott have been succesful in obtaining these highly attractive and competitive postdoctoral grants. Although I cannot take much credit for Mactheld and Marens past achievements in any respect, given that their Ph.D.:s were obtained in other laboratories than mine, I sincerely hope that we will be equally succesful in the future. I also find it interesting that Machteld is my second "fish-postdoc" (the first one was Maren). I have yet to publish my first fish paper (if it will ever happen), and it is nice with people who are brave to switch study organisms. It is also, most likely, a good career move.

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