People

Our lab hosts a diverse group of enthusiastic scientists, with a broad expertise and knowledge. The different backgrounds, including field ecologists, theoreticians, and molecular ecologists, are a strength of our lab and provide a productive working atmosphere.

 

Prof. Dr. Florian Altermatt

Prof. Dr. Florian Altermatt

Associate Professor of Aquatic Ecology

I’m interested in linking community ecology processes, such as species-interactions and dispersal, with biodiversity and ecosystem functioning at larger, regional scales. Much of my interest is on metacommunity and meta-ecosystem dynamics in dendritic, river-like networks. Learn more about my research and teaching.

Besides my interest in conceptual community ecology, I’m also a keen naturalist. My pleasures are–as Vladimir Nabokov said once–the most intense known to man: writing and butterfly hunting (with the camera).  Read more about my passion for Lepidoptera.

Dr. Roman Alther

Dr. Roman Alther

Senior Research Assistant

As a research assistant in the Altermatt lab, my goal is to establish well-founded knowledge about the distribution and diversity of native and non-native amphipod species in Switzerland. I want to gain a deeper insight into processes forming biodiversity patterns over time and space. Dendritic aquatic systems represent a suitable study system wherein different ecological and evolutionary mechanics, such as dispersal, invasion and speciation, can be studied.

Dr. Rosetta C. Blackman

Dr. Rosetta C. Blackman

Postdoc

I am fascinated by rivers: understanding the processes within then, the connection to the landscape around them and how this shapes biodiversity. Having used traditional morphological techniques to assess plant, algae and macroinvertebrate biodiversity for many years, my aim now is to utilise rapidly developing molecular tools, such as environmental DNA (eDNA), to detect all levels of biodiversity at a catchment scale. eDNA offers an unprecedented opportunity for ecologists to gain an insight into all levels of biodiversity and it with this technique that I want to develop a holistic approach to river ecosystem assessment in order to conserve and protect freshwater habitats. 

Nicole Bongni

Nicole Bongni

MSc student

I am studying Environmental Science at the University of Zürich. My fascination for biodiversity and community establishment in springs and for water habitats in general accompanied me through my whole studies and have brought me to the Altermatt Lab. For my thesis I investigate groundwater amphipods. I want to know more about their diversity in Switzerland and which factors shape their distribution. With my research I wish to contribute to advance the knowledge about groundwater habitats and functions.

Raphaël Bossart

Raphaël Bossart

Lab Technician

I am a research technician at the department of Aquatic Ecology (Eco) at Eawag, where I work for different research groups. Being interested in natural sciences, I am happy to be part of a department that studies aquatic ecology from different perspectives. In the Altermatt lab, I am mainly involved in molecular biology assays and laboratory work.

Jeanine Brantschen

Jeanine Brantschen

PhD student

As I have always been affiliated with water bodies and the underwater world, my studies revolve around aquatic ecosystems. Generally, I’m interested in how biodiversity is distributed in riverine networks. My research aims to use environmental DNA as a tool to characterize aquatic communities and analyse their composition and function in the context of whole river ecosystems. In this era of -omics technologies, I see environmental DNA as a promising molecular technique and I want to relate it to classical methods applied in biomonitoring. Beyond the general interest to better understand the distribution of biodiversity, I aim to further understand the link between genes and ecosystems, for example, how genetic diversity contributes to the functioning of ecosystems and how functions are encoded genetically.

Dr. Luca Carraro

Dr. Luca Carraro

Postdoc

Owing to my engineering background, I am keen on using as-simple-as-possible mathematical formulations in a bid to describe the complexity of environmental phenomena. Specifically, my research interests lie at the interface between hydrology and riverine ecology. I am currently focusing on elaborating models of transport and decay of environmental DNA in river networks aimed at reconstructing the upstream spatial distribution of rare or invasive species. Other projects I have worked on were dealing with spatially-explicit epidemiological models of waterborne diseases of fish, and models of stream temperature suited to ecohydrological applications.

Eva Cereghetti

Eva Cereghetti

PhD student

As a PhD student in ecology, I am keenly interested in how interactions within and between species and their surrounding environment affect ecosystems at different scales. My work in the Altermatt Lab will focus on amphipods meta-communities and their key function as leaf litter decomposers. The aim of my research is to investigate colonization and movement patterns of amphipods in Swiss streams – whose dendritic structure offers a great potential for spatial analyses – and to shed light on how the interaction between native and invasive species is shaping amphipods’ biodiversity and ecological function.

Dr. Luis J. Gilarranz

Dr. Luis J. Gilarranz

co-hosted Eawag Postdoc

My global aim is to understand the factors that shape biodiversity in space. Species interactions, dispersal, and perturbations rule community dynamics. Those factors determine the health of the system at each location. Specifically, I am interested in the role of dispersal networks for population persistence and perturbation buffering. By not considering only one species, but communities as a whole, I explore the biogeography of interactions. My goal is to determine how dispersal routes influence the spatial distribution of ecological networks. The existence of several interaction networks scattered across the landscape also allow me to study the effect of anthropogenic stressors on the stability of ecological networks. This research line is very much related with information flow and risk assessment in complex systems. This is why using tools developed for studying ecological phenomena, my collaborators and I have been able to provide insight on socioeconomic systems.

Dr. Isabelle Gounand

Dr. Isabelle Gounand

Postdoc

I am a theoretical ecologist. My general research theme explores the functioning of complex ecosystems by linking community, ecosystem and spatial ecology. My main interest is to understand the feedbacks between biotic and abiotic environments and their interactions with diversity via modeling tools and microcosm experiments. In particular, I am using the metaecosystem framework to study spatial dynamics between communities and material flows. In my current project, I will apply the metaecosystem framework to rivers to better understand biodiversity dynamics in dendritic networks and the underlying role of aquatic-terrestrial coupling.

Dr. Lynn Govaert

Dr. Lynn Govaert

Postdoc

My main research interest involves the dynamical interplay between ecological and evolutionary processes and how these processes shape population, community and ecosystem properties. I am strongly interested in developing methods and models that can assess the contributions of ecology and evolution to trait dynamics at the population, community and ecosystem level, and how these theoretical developments can be integrated with experimental approaches. In my current project I will mainly focus on how individual level variation can influence community structure and ecosystem functioning, together with the influence of spatial structure.

Samuel Hürlemann

Samuel Hürlemann

Lab technician

I am a biology lab technician with a broad experience in molecular biology and cell culturing techniques. I am interested in environmental sciences and lab methods used therein. My main responsibilities are running the microbiology and protist lab, support molecular and field work and being involved in planning and running experiments.

Dr. Claire Jacquet

Dr. Claire Jacquet

Postdoc

I’m broadly interested in the general mechanisms leading to the emergence and persistence of biodiversity at the ecological and macro-ecological scale. My research aims at predicting ecosystem resilience to perturbations in spatially structured systems to improve environmental decision-making. I combine theoretical modelling, data analysis and microcosm experiments to achieve this goal. In my current project, I study the effect of spatial network structure on metacommunity composition and stability. I focus on the functional traits related to species mobility in order to link species coexistence mechanisms acting at the community and metacommunity scale.

Silvana Kaeser

Silvana Kaeser

Lab technician

I am a research technician at the department of Aquatic Ecology (Eco) at Eawag, where I work for different research groups. I have a strong interest in the taxonomy of aquatic invertebrates as well as algae and in their use as biological indicators in aquatic ecosystems. My other focus lies on understanding the impacts of invasive species on local ecosystems. In the Altermatt lab, I am in charge of the amphipod collection, the protist collection and the flow through systems (e.g. used for keeping amphipods). Furthermore, I am involved in experimental studies (amphipods, protists), field work and other projects with aquatic invertebrates.

Géraldine Keat

Géraldine Keat

Intern

I am currently a MSc candidate in the Environmental Science program at the University of Zurich and an intern in the Altermatt Lab. I have always had a strong interest in aquatic ecology, especially in regards to biodiversity and species interactions observed within these environments. In my intern project, I am focusing on amphipod species and their occurrence and diversity in Lake Constance’s tributary streams. I will look at population distribution patterns and investigate how invasive species influence their ecological function.

Andrin Krähenbühl

Andrin Krähenbühl

Research Assistant

My interests are mainly focused on aquatic ecology and evolution. Seeing species communities as structured and highly interactive networks enables me to investigate a wide range of organisms often times finding similar underlying mechanisms shaping intra- and interspecific ecological and evolutionary patterns. As a scientific assistant at the Altermatt Lab my goal is to test and establish experimental laboratory facilities and standardized methods suitable for successfully keeping and hopefully also rearing various populations of amphipods. Besides my scientific interests I’m a passionate fisherman enjoying nature and fishing for amphipod feeding fish.

Elvira Mächler

Elvira Mächler

PhD student

I am a PhD student working on environmental DNA (eDNA). Environmental DNA is a molecular, non-invasive method to detect species due the DNA that individuals shed into the environment. Detection of species through eDNA has a high potential to be used in applied fields. I am interested to develop tools and protocols on how to use eDNA in the context of biodiversity monitoring in riverine ecosystems. During my PhD I aim to study transport and fate of eDNA and its possible use for understanding community composition and dispersal of organisms within riverine networks.

Gioia Matheson

Gioia Matheson

Administrative Assistant for all matters related to Eawag

My love for water in every form has brought me to the department of Aquatic Ecology at Eawag. Here I take care of people and finances. I like the multi-cultural and scientific environment and enjoy working with so many young and talented people. With my work I want to contribute my share to a more sustainable world. 

 

Felix Moerman

Felix Moerman

PhD student, co-supervised by Prof. F. Altermatt, Prof. A. Wagner & Dr. E.A. Fronhofer

My main area of interest is the study of eco-evolutionary dynamics of species during range expansion and invasions. I’ve been strongly interested in the way ecological changes can quickly feedback in evolutionary responses and during my master thesis I studied phenotypic changes in spider mites during experimental range expansion. Over the course of my PhD, I will further investigate evolutionary responses during range expansions and invasions using the protist Tetrahymena thermophila as a model species. By combining microcosm experiments, extensive genomic analyses and numerical analyses, I aim to gain further understanding of both the genomic basis of evolutionary adaptations in moving populations, as well as how these changes feed back in population dynamics and performance.

Teddy Nakato

Teddy Nakato

MSc student (Co-supervised by Dr. Christian Stamm)

My MSc project is focusing on pesticide input into Swiss surface waters via hydraulic shortcuts in vineyards. The goal is to assess the relevance of hydraulic shortcuts to pesticide inputs to Swiss surface waters. The focus of the Master thesis lies on analysing hydraulic shortcuts for vineyards. We will specifically assess vineyard structures, technical infrastructures of hydraulic shortcuts and compare regionally the climate, pesticide application and contamination levels.

Eilísh Richards

Eilísh Richards

MSc student (co-supervised by Prof. Dr. Loïc Pellisier)

Stemming from my passion for marine life, I am interested in the conservation of threatened marine species. For my master thesis in Environmental Science, I will be working on a project that aims to identify marine areas that may need more management and conservation. My goal is to identify species in these biodiversity hotspots through the eDNA metabarcoding approach using the 12s mitochondrial genetic marker. I will be working specifically with samples from around the Malpelo Island, off the coast of Colombia. With more efficiency, I will be able to sequence samples from other tropical locations as well. This project will contribute to the knowledge of the composition of species in these locations and hopefully lead to more detection and identification of threatened and elusive species.

Isabel Schöchli

Isabel Schöchli

Administrative Assistant for all matters related to University of Zurich

My special topics in administration are personnel and finances, especially solving complex cases – since they have a strong tendency to come my way and find me, wherever I am. While dealing with such complex cases, I like to be a part of a network within different departments of University of Zurich. I very much like to work and be together with international scientists and learn more about their research as well as their culture. This not only broadens my mind but also gives me more good arguments when it comes to my being an interpreter between the scientists and the non-scientist world.

Remo Wüthrich

Remo Wüthrich

Research Assistant

As diving professional I became fascinated by aquatic ecosystems and the species communities living therein. My current work focuses on freshwater ecosystems. Placing emphasis on aquatic invertebrates that live on the bottom of the body of water (macroinvertebrates), I’m interested in studying natural and manmade processes that form diversity patterns and shape species’ distribution and dispersal. My current project aims to synthesize the on-going national monitoring projects in Swiss lotic water systems and to develop visionary strategies how BAFU can improve them.

Heng Zhang

Heng Zhang

Scientific Assistant

With interdisciplinary backgrounds in geosciences, ecology and biology, mathematical modeling, and programming, I am now in the Altermatt lab as a research assistant discovering the link between environmental DNA and remote sensing. Our goal is to build interpretable models that may shed light on understanding the relations between biodiversity and functional diversity in ecosystems. Besides, with a lasting interest in image processing, I hope to turn mathematical training into reality by developing more sophisticated methods in monitoring aquatic animals.

 

Lab Alumni already dispersed (in order of leaving the group)

  • Tianna Peller (visiting PhD student) – June and July 2019 – PhD student at McGill University
  • Dr. Chelsea J. Little (PhD student) – November 2014 to June 2019 – now Killam Postdoctoral Fellow at UBC
  • Angela Jenny (MSc student) – July 2018 to June 2019
  • Dr. Kristy Deiner (Research Associate) – June 2018 to February 2019 – now ERC Starting Grant holder at ETH Zurich
  • Manja Schleich (Student Assistant) – November 2018 to December 2018 – now doing a MSc project at University of Zurich
  • Dr. Rubén del Campo Gonzales (visiting Postdoc)  September 2018 to November 2018 – Postdoc at IGB, Berlin
  • Xing Xing (Research Assistant) – November 2017 to November 2018
  • Kathrin Holenstein (MSc student/Scientific Assistant) – January 2017 to September 2018 – now PhD student at CEFE in Montpellier, France
  • Julian Stauffer (Research Internship) – June 2018 to September 2018 – now doing a MSc at University of Zurich
  • Olaf Rodrigues (Semester Student) – May 2018 to July 2018 – now doing a MSc at University of Zurich
  • Prof. Dr. Mary O’Connor (Sabbatical Guest) – August 2017 to July 2018 – Professor at University of British Columbia
  • Simon Benateau (Research Associate) – September 2017 to May 2018 – LinkedIn
  • Dr. Emanuel A. Fronhofer (Postdoc) – April 2013 to December 2017 – now CNRS researcher at Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution de Montpellier, France
  • Dr. Eric Harvey (Postdoc) – February 2015 to August 2017 – now NSERC postdoc at University of Toronto
  • Lynn Govaert (visting PhD student) – May 2017 to July 2017 – University of Leuven – now back in the Altermatt lab as a postdoc
  • Martina Ramel (MSc student) – November 2015 to December 2016
  • Dr. Cene Fišer (visting scientist) – September to December 2016 – University of Ljubljana
  • Dr. Andrea Giometto (PhD student, Postdoc) – October 2011 to September 2016 – now Postdoc at Harvard
  • Sereina Gut (Technician) – October 2015 to August 2016 – now MSc student (Biomedicince) at UZH
  • Dr. Maslin Osathanunkul (visiting scientist) – May to June 2016 – lecturer at Chiangmai University
  • Fabienne Santschi (MSc student) – September 2015 to May 2016 – now working at Canton of Zurich
  • Simon Flückiger (Zivi) – September 2015 to May 2016 – now MSc student at ZHAW
  • Vid Svara (visiting scientist) – October 2015 to January 2016 – now PhD student at Helmholtz Leipzig
  • Katharina Kaelin (MSc student) – September 2014 to December 2015 – now working at the Statistical Office of the Canton of Zurich
  • Pravin Ganesanandamoorthy (lab technician) – September 2013 to July 2015 – now student at ZHAW
  • Dr. Kristy Deiner (Postdoc) – October 2012 to June 2015 – thereafter postdoc at Cornell University (website)
  • Nicolai Nitsche (MSc Student) – May 2014 to October 2014 – now in pharmaceutical research (Abbvie)
  • Dr. Mathew Seymour (PhD student) – May 2011 to October 2014 – now postdoc at Bangor University, Bangor.
  • Dr. Jan Klecka (SCIEX Postdoc) – August 2013 to August 2014 – now junior group leader at Biology Centre of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
  • Dr. Francesco Carrara (PhD student) – January 2011 to December 2013 – now postdoc at MIT and ETH with Roman Stocker
  • Lea Caduff (biology apprentice) – March 2013 to August 2013 – now a technician at Eawag, Switzerland
  • Roman Alther (M.Sc. project student) – March 2012 to May 2012 – back again in the Altermatt lab for PhD and now as Senior Research Assistant (website)
  • Marta Reyes (research technician) – January 2012 to May 2012 – now a technician at Eawag, Switzerland