Welcome Meike Wittmann - New SESubmitted by editor on 10 February 2021.
We are very excited to have Meike Wittmann join our team at Oikos as a Subject Editor. She is a Junior Professor at Bielefeld University in Germany and specializes in evolutionary and theoretical ecology. She has kindly told us a bit more about herself and her research in the interview below. Take a look!
1. What's your main research focus at the moment?
I am broadly interested in theoretical ecology and evolutionary biology. Currently, I have two major research topics. First, I explore the causes and consequences of diversity. For example, I am interested in mechanisms for the maintenance of genetic variation and trait variation within species, but also in the consequences of such intraspecific variation for higher-level processes such as species interactions. Second, I am interested in the biology of small populations. For example, I study how ecological processes and genetic processes (e.g. inbreeding depression and loss of genetic variation) interact to determine whether a small population persists or goes extinct.
2. Can you describe your research career? Where, what, when?
I studied Biology at the LMU Munich, Germany, and also spent an academic year at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. During this time, I started getting first research experience in mathematical modelling. After that, I completed my Master in Ecology, Evolution and Systematics at the LMU Munich. For my PhD, which I also did in Munich, I used mathematical models to explore how ecology, population genetics, and chance effects play together to determine the fate of an introduced species. After my PhD, I went to do two postdocs, first at Stanford University, USA, and then at the University of Vienna, Austria. Since 2017, I am junior professor at Bielefeld University. Together with my group, I am using mathematical models and computer simulations to address various questions at the interface of ecology and evolution. Throughout my career so far, I have been very fortunate to work with so many generous and inspiring advisors, collaborators, and students.
3. How come that you became a scientist in ecology?
Since childhood, I have been interested in biology, especially ecology and the conservation of biological diversity. But I also really liked math and solving puzzles. In my second semester at university, I found out that math and biology can also be productively combined. Since then, I have been hooked and started learning as much as I can about the field of mathematical and theoretical biology. And this is what I am still doing.
4. What do you do when you're not working?
In my free time, I enjoy spending time outdoors and playing table tennis. I also like to read and learn new languages.
Keywords: theoretical biology, mathematical modelling, evolutionary ecology, diversity, conservation biology, small populations