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 Blackmann

Dr. Rosetta Blackmann

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. 

Jeanine Brantschen

Jeanine Brantschen

MSc student

As I have always been intrigued by the diversity and beauty of life forms in my surroundings, I specialized in evolution & ecology for my master’s studies. As a passionate diver, I am particularly affiliated to water and aquatic ecosystems. My work deals with the characterization of aquatic communities in a pond experiment under different nutrient regimes. I will apply molecular methods (eDNA) to foster the understanding of functional diversity and ecosystem resilience in natural aquatic ecosystems.

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.

Dr. Kristy Deiner

Dr. Kristy Deiner

Research Associate

I am fascinated and humbled by biodiversity.  I want to understand how it is generated and how to maintain it.  Biodiversity spans genes to ecosystems and this requires interdisciplinary research that utilizes universal tools.  For this reason I have focused on developing and utilizing genetic tools (environmental DNA, population genetics, molecular systematics) and field methods (natural experiments and observational studies) to understand population dynamics, structure and diversity.  My work has carried me to mountain top lakes and rivers, to coastal streams and tropical lakes and islands.  I am keenly interested with how interactions among species and the environment shape the distribution of biodiversity and find this research paramount in today’s increasingly human dominated world.

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.

Angela Jenny

Angela Jenny

MSc student

I did a BSc in general Geography, and I am now doing a MSc in physical Geography at University of Zurich. Here, my interests are especially related to hydrology and ecohydrology. The goal of my master’s project is to study the dependency of ecological processes and patterns in aquatic systems on hydrological dynamics. Specifically, I study the dispersal and recolonization patterns of amphipods in a network of small, intermittent streams. I track the occurrence of amphipods at a high spatio-temporal resolution and link the organisms’ recolonization dynamics to the hydrological dynamics.

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.

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.

Chelsea J. Little

Chelsea J. Little

PhD student

My research revolves around what drives biodiversity and species distributions at local and regional scales. I’m also particularly interested in the impacts of global change and other anthropogenic factors and how we can best predict future changes in species occurrences. In my PhD I’m examining aquatic-terrestrial linkages using a meta-ecosystems framework, working primarily with amphipods. Dendritic network provide an excellent opportunity to study these issues due to their spatial organization and the delineation between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, which allow us to easily identify the origin and movement of materials and organisms between the two settings.

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.

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.

 

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

  • 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 student at UZH
  • Dr. Maslin Osathanunkul (visiting scientist) – May to June 2016 – lecturer at Chiangmai University
  • Fabienne Santschi (MSc student) – September 2015 to May 2016
  • Simon Flückiger (Zivi) – September 2015 to May 2016 – now 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 WSL (website)
  • 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