Stochastic Evolutionary Dynamics

Current lab members

Dr. Hildegard Uecker
Research group leader

Phone: + 49 4522 763-536

Twitter: @HildegardUecker

My research focuses on adaptation in populations that are severely challenged either by environmental change (natural populations) or by exposure to drug treatment (pathogen populations). I hope that insights from my research can contribute to improving conservation efforts and assist in decelerating the emergence of drug resistance. As a mathematician, I am mainly interested in stochastic modeling (in particular in the application of branching process theory to problems in biology).


Dr. Ernesto Berríos-Caro
Postdoc (co-supervised with Hinrich Schulenburg)


Topic: Models for the evolution of antibiotic resistance

I was born and raised in Santiago, Chile, where I graduated from the University of Chile with a Master degree in nonlinear physics. During my PhD in statistical physics at The University of Manchester (under the supervision of Dr Tobias Galla), I started to focus on the stochastic modelling of evolutionary biological processes, with a special emphasis on antibiotic resistance evolution and fluctuating environments. My research aims at developing stochastic mathematical models that give a better insight into the combined effects of bottlenecks and relevant biological factors, such as competition or antibiotic selection, on the emergence of resistance. I also seek to understand the role of bottlenecks on pathogen populations under extreme environmental conditions. I hope my research will contribute to developing strategies that mitigate the emergence of resistance and to understanding the adaptation of pathogens to new hosts.

Ian Dewan, MSc
PhD student

Phone: + 49 4522 763-541

Topic: Multicopy plasmids and heterozygosity

I work on models of the evolution of multiple drug resistance on plasmids. Multiple drug resistance is an increasingly important problem in clinical settings, as bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics are difficult to treat. Bacterial plasmids exist in multiple copies in the cell, providing increased opportunity for the development of multiple drug resistance, and they are involved in processes like conjugation and fusion. I apply branching process models of evolutionary rescue to model the contribution of these kinds of processes to resistance evolution.


Jannika Elfert, MSc
PhD student

Phone: + 49 4522 763-541

Topic: The dynamics of evolutionary rescue and extinction

I work on evolutionary rescue following the questions: How can populations save themselves? How can they adapt to biotic and abiotic stress? What influences the emergence and spread of mutants? Is the type of mutation important? Using mathematical models I want to analyze these questions. More in detail, I currently look at models in which two species interact with each other. I try to understand the underlying dynamics of successful adaptation or extinction.


Christin Nyhoegen, MSc
PhD student

then: Postdoc in the group of Charlotte Kloft at FU Berlin

Topic: Models for the within-host evolution of antibiotic resistance during treatment

Mario Santer, MSc
PhD student

then: Postdoc in the group of Tal Dagan at the University of Kiel

Topic: The influence of the plasmid copy number on bacterial adaptation

Dr. Félix Geoffroy

then: Researcher at Nalyze

Topic: Plasmid-mediated horizontal gene transfer of resistance genes within and between bacterial species

Puneeth Deraje
Master's student

then: PhD student in the group of Matt Osmond at the University of Toronto

Topic: Evolutionary rescue: The influence of mate finding, selfing, and hybridization