Plenary speakers

We will have five plenary speakers during the ESEB2015 conference as well as the winners of the John Maynard Smith 2014 (Laurie Stevison) and 2015 (Matthew Hartfield) awards.

You can have a look at their research profile by clicking on the different tabs on this page.


Kevin Foster


Kevin Foster

Kevin Foster’s career has focused on the question of why cooperation evolves in nature. This has involved work on a variety of systems including humans and social insects, and most recently the microorganisms. It has become clear that most of what microbes do, they do in densely interacting communities that affect every aspect of biology. However, microbiology has been late to realise the importance of evolutionary and ecological principles for understanding microbes and their impacts. Kevin’s lab combines theory, molecular microbiology, and evolutionary experiments to determine the rules of microbial interaction.

Visit Kevin Foster’s web site.

See his talk at ESEB2015


Matthew Hartfield


Matthew Hartfield

Matthew Hartfield

Matthew Hartfield is the 2015 winner of the John Maynard Smith prize. His research utilises a variety of theoretical methods to investigate different evolutionary invasions. In particular, he is interested in the evolution of sex and mating systems; adaptation and its costs; and the emergence of infectious diseases. One of his main research themes focusses on the interplay between beneficial and deleterious mutations, and how breaking them apart promotes the evolution of recombination and outcrossing. Currently, he is working on extending coalescent theory to consider rare rates of sex, with the aim of applying these models to the genome sequences of facultatively sexual species.

Matthew’s prize will be celebrated at the XV ESEB Congress in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he will give the John Maynard Smith Prize 2015 Lecture.

Visit Matthew Hartfield’s web site.


Hopi Hoekstra


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Hopi Hoekstra

Hopi Hoekstra’s research focuses on understanding how variation is generated and maintained in natural populations. She is interested in the molecular, genetic and developmental mechanisms as well as the timing, strength and agents of selection that cause evolutionary change. She uses an interdisciplinary approach that combines molecular techniques, population-genetic tests, classical genetic crosses, lab-based behavioural assays, and field-based experiments to identify and characterize the molecular changes responsible for traits that affect fitness of organisms in the wild. She focuses primarily on natural populations of mammals in which ecological, developmental and genomic information can be combined to address questions about the evolution of morphological, behavioural and reproductive diversity.

Visit Hopi Hoekstra’s web site.


Judith Mank


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Judith Mank

Judith Mank’s research is focused on understanding how selection produces phenotypic diversity. She integrates an array of molecular and population genetic approaches to study evolutionary constraints and conflicts in order to identify how selection navigates the restrictions imposed by genomic architecture over a range of evolutionary time scales. She works on a variety of animals of evolutionary and ecological relevance, and takes advantage of convergence and artificial selection to identify the ways that sexual selection and conflict influence genome evolution to produce phenotypic sexual dimorphism.

Visit Judith Mank’s web site.

See her talk at ESEB2015


Jane Reid


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Jane Reid

Jane Reid is an evolutionary ecologist and diehard field biologist with the ambition of understanding population and evolutionary dynamics in wild populations. Specifically, she aims to understand how variation in individual life-histories arises as a function of ecological, environmental and genetic variation and selection, and to understand the consequences of such life-history variation for population structure and dynamics. She is particularly interested in the evolutionary ecology of inbreeding and inbreeding avoidance, and in the evolutionary ecology of multiple mating. She uses long-term data from individual-based studies of wild bird populations, coupled with quantitative genetic analyses and simulation modelling, to understand phenotypic variation and direct and indirect selection acting on mating systems in the wild.

Visit Jane Reid’s web site.

See her talk at ESEB2015


Laurie Stevison


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Laurie Stevison

Laurie Stevison is the 2014 winner of the John Maynard Smith Prize. Her research is focused on which evolutionary forces drive species formation and what consequences speciation has on population genetic variation. Because variation in within-species recombination rate plays a large role in mediating the extent of genetic exchange between species, her research is primarily interested in the interplay between hybridization and recombination in affecting the outcome of speciation. Her current work attempts to estimate variation in recombination and hybridization in a comparative genomics context and identify parts of the genome where hybridization is restricted between species. She has addressed these areas of research using both experimental and computational approaches as well as various model systems including Drosophila, macaques, and humans.

Laurie’s prize will be celebrated at the XV ESEB Congress in Lausanne, Switzerland, where she will give the John Maynard Smith Prize 2014 Lecture.

Visit Laurie Stevison’s web site.


Dan Tawfik


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Dan Tawfik

The research of Dan Tawfik’s group provides key insights into how enzymes work and how they evolve. It integrates a wide range of scientific areas from both chemistry and biology. His research unravels the molecular mechanisms that underline the divergence of new enzymatic functions. He discovered the unique evolutionary features of enzyme promiscuity and provided insights regarding the effects of mutations on protein stability and how these relate to the emergence of new enzymatic functions. He developed a novel technology that has become applicable in cancer genetics, digital PCR and high-throughput DNA sequencing. He has also described the first combined implementation of computational design with directed evolution to obtain de novo engineered enzymes for unnatural reactions.

Visit Dan Tawfik’s web site.