Dr. Hildegard Uecker

Research group leader
"Stochastic evolutionary dynamics"
MPI for Evolutionary Biology
Department of Evolutionary Theory
August-Thienemann-Str. 2
24306 Plön, Germany

Phone: + 49 4522 763-536
Email: uecker@nullevolbio.mpg.de


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).

For more information, see the website of the research group "Stochastic evolutionary dynamics".

© Alex Cagan


I enjoy scientific outreach. I am a collaborator on the correspondence seminar "Selected topics in Evolutionary Biology" (STEB), which introduces high school students in Slovakia and Austria to various topics in evolutionary biology in five series per school year. The seminar is organised by my former colleagues Barborá Trubenová and Himani Sachdeva (both IST Austria) and by Krístina Hudáková (high school teacher in Bratislava).

I contributed a series about the evolution of antibiotic resistance , a series about human viruses, and a series about phages (= viruses of bacteria) :

Evolution, Antibiotics, and Us by H. Uecker, H. Sachdeva, K. Hudáková (pdf).

Abstract: Antibiotics are an integral part of modern medicine, so widely used that healthcare without them has become inconceivable. But have you ever wondered what antibiotics look like from the perspective of bacteria? How antibiotic treatment changes their environment? How bacteria adapt to this dramatic change? And what happens to the "good" bacteria in our body during treatment? In this issue, we will make an excursion into the fascinating world of bacteria and take a closer look at the evolution of antibiotic resistance.

A glimpse into the world of human viruses by H. Uecker and B. Trubenová (pdf).

Abstract: Viruses are tiny biological agents that possess a genome but cannot replicate on their own. In order to replicate, they need to infect host cells and hijack the host's machinery. Therefore, one can argue that they are not really living organisms. Alive or not, viruses are very successful at tricking and hijacking cells. There are an estimated 1031 viruses on this planet, which infect all forms of life. They play an important role in many ecosystems and shape life on earth. In this issue, we will have a look at viruses that infect humans. But don't forget -- no form of life is safe.

Viruses in the world of bacteria by H. Uecker and B. Trubenová (pdf).

Abstract: When you think of viruses, you probably think of diseases that affect you and other people: influenza, measles, rubella and many more. However, humans are not the only victims of viruses. In fact, the first virus ever discovered did not cause a disease in humans but in tobacco plants. Today, we know that viruses are ubiquitous and infect all formsof life -- humans, birds, plants, insects, etc. There is no living species that is not affected by viruses; not even bacteria are safe from them! Some viruses kill bacteria, others bring benefits to their bacterial hosts. Let’s take a closer look at this minia-ture world of attack and defense!

For the Max Planck Day that took place in September 2018, I gave a talk on antibiotic resistance evolution to several classes at the Ernestinen-Schule in Lübeck (slides in German). Afterwards, the students did a little project, simulating evolution with (virtual) dice.

Short CV


For a complete publication list, see here.

(Google Scholar)

PhD thesis:

Fate and fortuity: Branching process models for the establishment and fixation of beneficial alleles (link).

Diploma thesis:

Zur Temperatur und zur Geschwindigkeitsverteilung in granularen Gasen (On the temperature and on the distribution of velocities in granular gases).