Want to join us?

We welcome any enquiries from prospective interns, students or postdocs. Below you will find a few potential Master's projects, but feel free to suggest your own project ideas or contact us to discuss possibilities that may not be listed here. You can find funding opportunities both at the University of Zurich and in the Swiss foundations database. Those interested in a postdoc position may also consider the option of a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship.

Potential Master's projects

Condition dependence of male courtship

Males developing under nutritional stress have fewer resources to invest as adults, which can affect their mating success and ultimately their fitness. Using well-studied genetic lines of Drosophila melanogaster, we will test how food stress during larval development affects male wing morphology. Since the wings play a critical role in courtship (including song production), we will further examine how condition-dependent wing morphology influences courtship song characteristics and ultimately male mating success.

Context-dependent female mate choice

Many studies assume that males vary in their genetic quality and that females choose males of the highest quality to gain genetic benefits for their offspring. However, it remains almost entirely unstudied to what extent such decisions are influenced by differences in the quality of the females themselves. Using genetic lines of Drosophila melanogaster, in which males produce glow-in-the-dark sperm, we will study the variation in female preference for males both before and after mating.

Epigenetic transmission of male quality effects

Classic sexual selection models often predict a genetic link between males' sexually selected traits and their underlying genetic quality, rendering such traits honest signals of genetic quality to females. However, more recent models propose that the effects of male condition on offspring quality can also be non-genetic (or epigenetic). This project will follow the genetic and non-genetic effects of male quality across generations and determine their fitness consequences in Drosophila melanogaster.

Sexual selection in a species with extreme sexual dimorphism

This project examines how intra- and intersexual selection may shape the evolution of morphological and behavioural characteristics in Drosophila prolongata, a completely understudied species with extreme sexual dimorphism (including greatly exaggerated forelegs in males), elaborate courtship, and aggressive behaviour among males.