I am broadly interested in the interaction between evolution, (epi)genetics, ecotoxicology, and ecology. For instance, I find it fascinating to understand what shapes genetic and phenotypic diversity in natural populations and how organisms adapt to their environment. Although my research interest is broad and diverse, I focus my current research around the molecular response of organisms to environmental contamination.
During my PhD I focus on the multigenerational effects of engineered nanomaterials (NMs) in Folsomia candida, a key test invertebrate in ecotoxicology. During this project I will investigate the multi-generational response of future generations of Folsomia candida from an F0 exposure to several NMs. We will perform long-term experiments including repeated exposures over multiple generations on Folsomia candida. Engineered NMs may in two scenarios cause changes over multiple generations (1) genome integrity damage through enhanced mutation (genotixicity), (2) transcriptional plasticity changed over multiple generations without affecting DNA structure, e.g. via shifts in methylation status. This study will be used to develop tools to quantify hazard at the epigenetic level.
The fascinating part about my project is that I get to combine the two emerging fields of nano-ecotoxicology and epigenetics.