We are really excited to introduce our amazing plenary speakers

Their research spans a wide variety of topics within evolutionary biology and their study systems encompass cells, plants and animals. We can't wait to welcome them to Scotland!

Renske Onstein

Naturalis Biodiversity Center, the Netherlands

Why do some groups of organisms diversify into many species, while diversification is much slower in other groups, places, or time periods? Ever since I started my PhD (obtained in 2015 from University of Zurich, Switzerland) I have been interested in this question. By focusing on the interchange between ecology and evolution, from micro (local, regional, recent) to macro (global, deep time) scales, I attempt to answer this question. I am currently based at Naturalis Biodiversity Center (Netherlands), but I am also still leading the 'Evolution and Adaptation' research group at the German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle - Jena - Leipzig (Germany).


Jordi van Gestel

European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Germany

I am an evolutionary biologists that is intrigued about the microbial world. Despite their seemingly simple appearance, many microbes are capable of forming intricate collectives, within which cells differentiate, communicate and show spatial patterning. I studied how such collectives emerge and evolve. This work triggered my interests in understanding the ecological factors that shape evolution. Currently, my lab at EMBL therefore studies microbial predation – one of the major ecological drivers of microbial evolution. Combining both CRISPR-based screens and quantitative microscopy, we explore how protozoan predators and bacterial prey coevolve in the dynamical environment of the soil.


Kirsty MacLeod

Bangor University, UK

I am a behavioural ecologist and lecturer at Bangor University. I'm interested in the links between animal behaviour, life history and physiology, and how individuals interact with each other and their environment, primarily (but not exclusively!) in reptiles. These interests cover a broad range of topics, from predator-prey interactions, to anthropogenic noise disturbance, to ecophysiology, and reproductive and breeding system ecology. Currently, my research group is focusing on the intersection of a few major themes: environmental change - particularly winter warming - and how this impacts reptile behaviour, physiology, and population dynamics; the role of stress in wild animals; maternal effects - how a mother's environment influences the phenotype of her offspring; and, the drivers and consequences of social and prosocial behaviour.


Piotr Łukasik

Jagiellonian University, Poland

I am an evolutionary ecologist fascinated by the diversity of organisms and interactions among them. I am particularly interested in the diversity, distribution, evolution, and biological significance of insect-associated microorganisms. My Symbiosis Evolution Group investigates, on the one hand, ancient nutritional endosymbionts of sap-sucking hemipterans, characterized by the smallest known genomes and extreme and unique evolutionary patterns. On the other hand, we survey insect communities for heritable symbionts that can also transmit among species, potentially enabling their near-instantaneous adaptation to biotic and environmental challenges. More broadly, we ask about the symbionts' roles in shaping insect biodiversity and preserving it in the rapidly changing world of the Anthropocene.