Meet the team
The IEB team members share a passion for exploring the underpinnings of phenotypic diversity.

The research that we conduct in the IEB lab spans several disciplines including genomics, developmental and cell biology as well as evolutionary biology and takes advantage of their respective cutting-edge technologies.

In the pursuit of our scientific goals, our objective is to co-create a respectful, collaborative, and supportive environment. We are fully committed to purposefully foster inclusion and an inclusive lab and teaching environment that takes strength from the diversity of perspectives, experiences, characters, and identities.

If you want to join us, collaborate with us, or simply want to know more about our research please contact Claudius.

Claudius Kratochwil | Group leader

Claudius is a tenure-track group leader at the Institute for Biotechnology / Helsinki Institute of Life Science (HiLIFE). He has a background in developmental genetics, genomics, and evolutionary biology. The research of him and his team centers around the study of the genetic basis of phenotypic diversification with a strong focus on the evolution of color pattern diversity in tropical fish (particularly cichlid fishes). 

Education and previous positions:
since 2021 | Group Leader, Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, Finland
2013 – 2020 | Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Konstanz, Germany
2008 – 2013 | Ph.D. in Neuroscience, Friedrich Miescher Institute, Basel, Switzerland
2004 – 2008 | Diploma studies in Biology, University of Freiburg, Germany

More information and social media:
UH Research Portal | Google Scholar | Twitter (Personal)  | Twitter (Lab)  | Researchgate

Contact (in English or German):
claudius.kratochwil@helsinki.fi | +358 50 341 2430 | Biocenter 3, Room 2315

Nidal Karagic | Postdoctoral researcher

Nidal is a PostDoc at the 'Integrative Evolutionary Biology' Group in the Institute of Biotechnology, HiLIFE. His background lies in developmental and evolutionary biology. He has studied the link between genotype and phenotype in different traits of cichlid fishes, including color vision, jaw morphology, or hypertrophied lips. Currently, Nidal is studying the dynamics of genome evolution.

Education and previous positions:
since February 2022 | Postdoctoral Fellow, IntEvoBio group, University of Helsinki, Finland
2018-2022 | Ph.D. in Evolutionary Biology, University of Konstanz, Germany
2015-2018 | M. Sc. In Biological Sciences, University of Konstanz, Germany
2012-2015 | B. Sc. In Biological Sciences, University of Konstanz, Germany

More information and social media:
Google Scholar | Twitter | Researchgate | Personal homepage

Contact:
Nidal.karagic@helsinki.fi | Biocenter 3, Room 2314

Muktai Kuwalekar | PhD candidate

Muktai is a Ph. D. candidate at the 'Integrative Evolutionary Biology' Group in the Institute of Biotechnology, HiLIFE. She has a background in bioinformatics, genomics and evolutionary biology. She has previously studied coloration as well as color vision in butterflies. She is interested in studying the evolution of sexually dimorphic color patterns in cichlid fishes.

Education and previous positions:
since June 2021 | Ph.D candidate, IntEvoBio group, University of Helsinki
2019 – 2021 | Research assistant, the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), India
2017 – 2019 | M. Sc. in Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology, Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology, India
2013 – 2016 | B. Sc. in Life Sciences, University of Mumbai, India

More information and social media:
UH Research Portal | Google Scholar | Twitter | Researchgate

Contact:
muktai.kuwalekar@helsinki.fi | Biocenter 3, Room 2314

Jan Häge | PhD candidate

Jan is a future Ph. D. candidate at the 'Integrative Evolutionary Biology' Group in the Institute of Biotechnology, HiLIFE, who is currently finishing his master’s degree in 'fish biology, fisheries and aquaculture' at the Humboldt University of Berlin. He has a background in developmental biology, functional morphology and behavioral ecology. He has previously studied rostral morphology in the billfishes and scale morphology in cichlids. He is currently studying multi-species predation onto pelagic prey schools, with a special emphasis on sea lion attack behavior. He is interested in studying the evolution of rapid color change in cichlid fishes.

Education and previous positions:
since August 2022 | Ph.D. candidate, IntEvoBio group, University of Helsinki
2019 – 2022 | M. Sc. in Fish biology, fisheries and aquaculture, Humboldt University of Berlin
2016 – 2019 | B. Sc. in Biological Sciences, University of Konstanz, Germany

More information and social media:
Google Scholar | Twitter  | Researchgate

Contact:
jan.haege@student.hu-berlin.de | Biocenter 3, Room 2314

Olivia Dreilinger | Masters student

Olivia is a masters student at the 'Integrative Evolutionary Biology' Group in the Institute of Biotechnology, HiLIFE. Her background is in genetics, genomics, and developmental biology. Previously, she has studied the evolutionary maintenance of mutualisms. Olivia is interested in studying the evo-devo of pigmentation and color patterns in cichlids.

Education and previous positions:

Since April 2022 | Master’s student, IntEvoBio group, University of Helsinki
2020 – 2021 | Undergraduate Research Assistant, Simms Lab, University of California, Berkeley
2017 – 2021 | BA in Molecular and Cell Biology with an emphasis in Genetics, Genomics and Development, University of California, Berkeley
2019 | UCEAP student, exchange semester, University of Oslo
2017 | Global Edge student, exchange semester, University of California, Berkeley & UC London Center

Google Scholar | Twitter

Contact:
olivia.dreilinger@helsinki.fi | Biocenter 3, Room 2314

Paolo Bottega | Masters student

Paolo is a Masters student at the 'Integrative Evolutionary Biology' Group in the Institute of Biotechnology, HiLIFE who is currently completing his Master’s Degree in Genetics and Molecular Biosciences at the University of Helsinki. He comes from a background in biochemistry and has previously studied cancer genetics via CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing strategy. 

Education and previous projects:

Since April 2022 | Masters Student, IntEvoBio group, University of Helsinki, Finland
2019–2020 | Research Project, McKay lab, Carleton University, Canada
2016–2020 | B. Sc. In Biochemistry, Carleton University, Canada

 

João Lopes | Intern

João is an intern student. His background consists of developmental and evolutionary biology and scientific illustration. He has previously studied how different environments influence the evolution and adaptation of the nematode C. elegans. He is interested in studying the evolution and heritability of color pattern variation in cichlid fishes.

Education and previous positions:
since February 2022 | Research Intern, IntEvoBio group, University of Helsinki
2019 – 2021 | Illustration freelancer
2017 – 2019 | Post Graduation in Illustration, Autónoma University, Lisbon, Portugal
2013 – 2016 | B. Sc. in Life Sciences, University of Lisbon, Portugal

Contact:
joao.lopes@helsinki.fi | Biocenter 3, Room 2314

 

Charitini Pantagaki | Erasmus student

Charitini is an Erasmus student. This summer, after completing her undergraduate studies in Biology, she is joining the lab. Her diploma thesis is on the molecular phylogenetics and phylogeography of the Greek rock lizard, Hellenolacerta graeca. She is interested in studying the molecular evolution of coloration patterns in cichlid fishes.

Educations and previous projects:
since August 2022 | Erasmus student, IntEvoBio group, University of Helsinki
2017-2022 | B.Sc. In Biology, with specialization in Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology, University of Crete, Greece

 

 

 

 

Thomas Stier | Erasmus student

Thomas is an Erasmus Student. He will join the lab this summer. His background lies in evolutionary biology. He has previously studied how phenotypic plasticity influences visual performance in Midas cichlid.

Education and previous positions:
Since June 2022 | Erasmus Student, IntEvoBio group, University of Helsinki
Since 2021 | M. Sc. In Biological Sciences, University of Konstanz, Germany
2018-2021 | B. Sc. In Biological Sciences, University of Konstanz, Germany
 

This could be you!

We are currently looking for students and researchers at all levels to join our team!

If you are passionate and enthusiastic about coloration, evolution, genomics, development, and/or tropical fish & like to join our young, dynamic team, please contact Claudius:
claudius.kratochwil@helsinki.fi | +358 50 341 2430 | Biocenter 3, Room 2315

For more information about the research in the lab please have a look at previous publications and the detailed description of our research.

Lab Alumni

Alexandra Faur | June 2021 — December 2021 | Master Student, University of Iași, Romania | Thesis title: Genetic Control of Pigment Cell Diversity