Curriculum Vitae

since 2020

Director Institute of Avian Research “Vogelwarte Helgoland"

since 2020

W3 Professor in Ornithology, Oldenburg University


Habilitation at Christian-Albrechts-University, Kiel
Bird migration – an evolutionary genomics approach. Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences

2014 - 2021

MPI Evolutionary Biology, Plön, DE Leader of the Max Planck Research Group Behavioural Genomics
Identification and characterisation of genetic variation and detection of differences in gene expression patterns between migratory bird populations with different migratory behaviour.


Freiburg University, DE Feodor Lynen Reintegration Fellowship
Genome-wide association of polymorphisms to identify candidate markers for migratory traits.

2009 - 2012

Lund University, SE Feodor Lynen Fellowship
Alexander v Humboldt Foundation Identification and characterisation of candidate markers for migratory traits in the Willow Warbler.

2007 - 2009

Oxford University, UK Marie-Curie Intra-European Fellowship (FP6)
Identification of within-population consequences of genetic variation at molecular clock genes in wild bird populations combining genotype-phenotype characterisation with quantitative genetics.

2002 - 2006

PhD studies in the group Animal Navigation, Oldenburg University, DE in collaboration with Duke University, NC, USA
Magnetic orientation in migratory birds: perception and neuronal integration.

Grants and Honors

As a PI I received funding by the Max Planck Society, DFG, Swedish Research Council, Wenner-Gren Foundation, FORMAS, Nilsson-Ehle-Foundation, German Scholars Organisation e.V., Royal Physiographic Society (total grant income > 4 Mio €).

I was awarded prestigious postdoctoral fellowships from the European Commission and the Alexander von the Humboldt Foundation, as a student I held competitive scholarships from DAAD and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.


Sonderauslosung Honig, Deutsche Ornithologen-Gesellschaft (with Sandra Bouwhuis)


2.5 year extension Max Planck Research Group Grant


Finalist Norddeutscher Wissenschaftspreis 2018 (with Sandra Bouwhuis and Britta Meyer)


Member of AcademiaNet (Robert Bosch Stiftung, Swiss National Science Foundation), nominated by the Max Planck Society


Max Planck Research Group


Awarded FRIN, Fellowship of the Royal Institute of Navigation (RIN)


Feodor Lynen Reintegration Grant, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation


Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation


Best paper on animal navigation, awarded by the RIN


Marie Curie Research Grant (EC, FP7)


DAAD Student Fellowship


Friedrich Ebert Foundation Student Fellowship


 Invited Presentations (selection since 2016)


Talk: Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution seminar series in Zoology, Cambridge University, UK

Talk: COSB Colloquium, Vienna University, AT

Talk: Gordon Research Conference: Behaviour, Evolution and Neurobiology, West Dover, VT, US

Keynote talk: RIN International Navigation Conference 2019, Edinburgh, UK

Talk: Symposium Frontiers in Behavioural Research, MPIO Seewiesen, DE

Talk: Position, Navigation and Time Symposium 2019, Standford University, CA, US

Talk: European Ornithology Union Conference 2019, Cluj-Napoca, RO

Talk: JEB 2018 Symposium: Linking brain and behaviour in animal navigation, Plaka Litochora, Greece

Plenary: 151st Annual Convention German Ornithologists‘ Society (DO-G), Heidelberg, DE

Keynote talk: Sensory Systems in Health and Disease, Verona, IT

Plenary: Ten Years with CAnMove, Lund University, Sweden

Institute Seminar: Biological Colloquium, Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel, DE

Institute Seminar: The Edward Grey Institute, University of Oxford, UK

Institute Seminar: KLIVV Institute for Comparative Behaviour, Vienna, AT


EMBO∣EMBL symposium: New model systems for linking evolution and ecology.

LeadNet, Network of research leaders in the Max Planck Society, Berlin, DE

Institute Seminar: KLIVV Institute for Comparative Behaviour, Vienna, AT

Scientific Community Services

I am Director and elected chair of the Animal Navigation Group, a special interest group within the Royal Institute of Navigation (RIN), UK. Throughout my career I have independently organised and conveyed international conferences, workshops and symposia on topics spanning Migration Genetics, Molecular Ecology, Transgenerational Inheritance and Animal Behaviour, as well as soft skill courses on science communication and outreach.

Outreach and Media Coverage

Besides regularly talking at both national and international scientific conferences, I find it important and enjoyable to communicate science to children and the general public, via popular scientific articles and through lectures, excursions or workshops tailored to various settings. I was recently invited to write and illustrate a book about Wadden Sea ecology and bird migration for elementary school children, am frequently asked to write popular science articles, regularly teach at local high schools, and host elementary and high school children at the MPI Evolutionary Biology during Boys’ and Girls’ Days.

My research frequently receives publicity and media coverage, (i) on television: ZDF “Abenteuer Wissen”; Bayerischer Rundfunk “Faszination Wissen”; ARTE is featuring my group’s work on Blackcaps in a 45-minute episode; (ii) on the radio: SWR2 Wissen, Radio Bremen; and (iii) in reports on published articles in New Scientist, Science and various international newspapers.