Richard Merrill (Principal Investigator) Richard is an Emmy Noether Fellow at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich. He grew up in rural England, before moving to the bright lights of London for his B.Sc. at UCL. Sandwiched between field jobs – working with birds in South Africa and Australia – he completed his M.Sc. at Oxford, conducting studies of speciation in Neotropical birds and elevation shifts associated with climate change in a Spanish butterfly. In 2007, he started a Ph.D. with Prof. Chris Jiggins at the University of Cambridge, but spent most of his time at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. During this time, he started his work on the genetics of behavioural isolation in Heliconius butterflies. After graduating he continued with this research, splitting his time between Cambridge, Panama and Sweden, and funded by a Junior Research Fellowship at King’s College, Cambridge. In 2017, he moved to Germany to start his own research group at LMU, funded by the DFG. Contact:

Chi-Yun Kuo (Postdoctoral associate) Chi is an evolutionary and behavioral ecologist with a particular interest in understanding how ecology drives adaptive phenotypic variation. His research so far has incorporated controlled laboratory experiments, theoretical modeling, and field data to offer mechanistic insights into the ecology of adaptation. Chi received his BA and MS from National Taiwan University. He then completed a PhD at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he worked with Duncan Irschick and examined how ecology drove adaptive variation in a costly defense trait (the voluntary shedding of the tail in lizards). Before joining the group, Chi spent two years as a postdoc at Duke University working with Sheila Patek studying the biomechanics of ultrafast mandible strikes in trap-jaw ants. He is currently based at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, investigating ecological and genetic aspects of visual mate preference in Heliconius. Chi’s website. Contact:

Matteo Rossi (PhD Student) Matteo received his BSc in Biology from the University of Padua (Italy) and his MSc in Evolutionary Biology from Uppsala University (Sweden) and LMU (as part of the MEME program). During his MSc studies, he did a research project in Hans Ellegren’s lab, studying the determinants of the rate of protein evolution in the flycatcher lineage. He then conducted his thesis in Nicolas Gompel’s lab, working on the genetics of pigmentation pattern evolution in Drosophila. Matteo’s research interests lie in the genetic basis of behavioral evolution. For his PhD, he is using a combination of genomic, transcriptomic and functional approaches to try to identify the genetic changes that underlie differences in male visual preference behavior between Heliconius species. Contact:

Alexander E. Hausmann (PhD Student) Alexander received his B.Sc. in Biology from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) in 2015. In his thesis he studied the behaviour of great tits in the lab of Niels Dingemanse. During his Master’s in Evolution, Ecology and Systematics, also at LMU, he became interested in programming and computer simulations as applied to evolution. For his thesis in the Jochen Wolf’s lab, he simulated adaptation at the genetic level in asexual organisms. After a short internship in the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, Alexander started a Ph.D. in the group in March 2018. He is currently based in La Vega, Colombia, studying the genetic basis of behavioural isolation in hybrid speciation, applying his knowledge on behaviour, evolution and programming. Contact:

Marilia Freire (Master’s student) Originally from Portugal, Marilia received her B.Sc. in Evolutionary and Developmental Biology from the University of Lisbon. As an undergrad she worked in the Champalimaud Foundation for Neuroscience in Lisbon, studying the influence of sex hormones on the behaviour of female mice. After graduation she continued at the University of Lisbon where she completed a Specialization Course in Statistics Applied to Biology and Health Sciences. Looking for a change of scenery she moved to Munich where she is pursuing her masters in Ecology, Evolution and Systematics in LMU University. Currently, she is working in La Vega, Colombia studying sexual conflict and the diversity of wing colour patterns in Heliconius butterflies. Contact:

Diana Abondano Almeida (Research intern, based in Panama)

Felipe Rodriguez Vera (Master’s student)


Past members:

Arka Pal (Master’s student).


It has also been a great pleasure to work with a number of fantastic research assistants/interns over the years:

Maria-Clara Melo, currently a postdoc at IST Vienna, having completed her PhD with Daniel Ortiz-Barrientos in Brisbane, Australia; Bas Garcia, recently finished his Ph.D. with Ricardo Papa, University of Porto Rico; Tim Thurman, about to finish his Ph.D. with Rowan Barret at McGill University, Canada; Rachel Crisp, working on her Master’s degree at the University of Exeter, and still returning to Gamboa to collect data on bats; Sara Neggazi, currently working at the University of Helsinki; Sylvia Garza, currently collecting data for her Master’s degree at the University of Konstanz with Alex Jordan; Janet Scott, currently somewhere in the UK, hopefully happy; Jo Dessmann, presumably being awesome in Australia.