Awards and grants to extend research

Gabriele Sgarlata, member of the Population and Conservation Genetics (PCG) group, lead by Lounes Chikhi, just received two important awards: the Godfrey Hewitt Mobility Award and a FLAD grant.

Italian, born in Palermo and graduated by the University of Padova and the University of Paris, Gabriele has a master degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics. Arrived at IGC in January 2016 to start his PhD and integrated Lounes Chikhi lab. Since then, Gabriele has been studying population genetics.

Gabriele has been investigating the consequences of habitat loss and fragmentation on the genetic diversity of species, both with theoretical and empirical approaches. In his work, uses tools of theoretical population genetics, such as simulation and numerical models, to understand how habitat loss can be damaging for genetic diversity, and propose a framework to test and predict the negative effect of habitat loss on species genetic diversity.

Gabriele Sgarlata

In addition, Gabriele has developed a numerical model which consider the joint effect of space (movement of individuals) and time (recent history of habitat changes) on genetic pattern generated during past environmental events (e.g., deforestation). Such events leave a signature in the DNA of species and he is looking to decipher such information and provide a better understanding of the recent natural history of species. He works on endemic primate (lemurs) and rodent species of Madagascar

Obtaining the Godfrey Hewitt Mobility Award will definitely “support me in a short period of research at the Coop lab (University of California, Davis), aiming at developing a statistical framework which makes use of genetic data to reconstruct the recent history of species that suffered from habitat destruction. This framework may help understanding the extent on which human activities or natural climate change have impacted currently fragmented habitats.”

But the questions for scientist are many and an enormous amount of work it is not done yet. The FLAD Grant, Research Grants for PhD students at Portuguese institutions to conduct research internships in the USA, will give Gabriele an opportunity to explore and extend questions that he already started to address in his PhD.

“The FLAD grant will help me to broad my knowledge on theoretical population genetics and find new statistical ways of recovering insights on the natural history of species from the information coded in their DNA. The research internship at UC Davis will also give me the opportunity to interact with world-leading scientist in evolutionary biology and open my views towards various disciplines at the core of evolutionary biology.”