Research

I study biology through mathematical models, primarily stochastically induced phenomena like extinction or invasion of genetic traits or species.

My fields of interest are Biochemical Systems (gene regulatory networks), Ecology, Evolution and Epidemiology. Most of my models are built on individual-based dynamics and their large population approximations.

Evolutionary Ecology
One of the most interesting concepts (in my opinion) is the connection of ecological processes and evolutionary dynamics. Studying fixation probabilities of traits in these scenarios poses a great challenge due to the increased complexity as opposed to “classical” evolutionary models. More precisely, I try to answer the following question: how does demographic or environmental stochasticity, spatial structure or the interaction of different species affect the evolutionary dynamics?

Evolution & Sexual reproduction
Stable coexistence of traits within a population is a fascinating phenomenon. Typically some sort of balancing selection is underlying the evolutionary dynamics preventing the extinction of rare types. I am interested in all sorts of balancing selection and within this context I try to understand and quantify how stable (in terms of extinction times) these coexistence states are. Self-incompatibility, as observed in plants or fungi, and sexual antagonism are two forms of balancing selection that naturally result in polymorphisms at the respective loci.

Gene regulatory networks
The explicit quantification of noise (variance) in gene regulatory systems is accessible through probabilistic techniques related to the central limit theorem. Applying these to shed more light on gene regulation is part of what I studied during my PhD.

SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19
I have redirected parts of my research to study COVID-19 during the initial phase of the pandemic in 2020. I was involved in projects concerning the viral spread within and between hosts.