Document Actions

You are here: Home Newsroom People Parasites and Plastics

Parasites and Plastics

The biologist Oliver Niehuis and the physicist Tanja Schilling have begun their professorships at the University of Freiburg

Freiburg, Apr 03, 2017

Parasites and Plastics

Oliver Niehuis and Tanja Schilling. Photos: Marina Grosse, private.

As of January 1, 2017 Prof. Dr. Oliver Niehuis has become chair for ecology, evolutionary biology and biodiversity in the Department of Biology at the University of Freiburg. His research focuses on the host-parasite relationship in species-rich insect groups. In particular, he studies brood parasitic wasps and bees. These parasites are typically very host-specific, but are also capable of switching hosts. Niehuis is interested in the evolutionary causes as well as the genetic and molecular foundations that allow brood parasites to successfully switch hosts. Key characteristics that he currently studies include the ability to imitate and perceive chemical cues as well as the ability to alter the digestive enzyme repertoire to cope with a new diet. Niehuis utilizes a broad repertoire of methods in his research that ranges from comparative genomic and chemical analysis to field and laboratory experiments.

Niehuis studied in Darmstadt, Marburg, Bochum, and Bonn. In 2005, he completed his doctoral studies in biology at the University of Bonn. As a post-doctoral researcher, he worked several years in the United States. In 2014, he habilitated in zoology at the University of Bonn with a thesis about the establishment of the wasp genus Nasonia as a model organism in evolutionary biology. From 2010 to 2016 he was a researcher at the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig in Bonn. Starting in 2014, he was a private lecturer at the University of Bonn. Since 2011 he has been a select member of the coordination group for the international research initiative „5.000 Insect Genomes" (i5K), in which context he coordinates the analysis of multiple insect genomes and cooperates with more than 60 researchers worldwide.

Prof. Dr. Tanja Schilling started her professorship in theoretical physics in the Department of Mathematics and Physics on April 1, 2017. She conducts basic theoretical research in statistical physics. Her research concentrates on soft matter such as fluids, emulsions and plastics. Together with researchers from the field of chemical engineering, she has developed a kind of plastic that has a very high permittivity. Such materials are of interest in highly integrated circuitry made up of many elements such as microprocessors or memory chips. Schilling also develops computer simulation programs that predict the materials properties. Schilling will also focus on liquid crystals made of cellulose at the University of Freiburg. They are based on renewable raw materials such as bamboo or cotton and are processed in mobile phone and computer monitors.

Schilling studied physics at the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main. In 2001 she completed her doctoral degree at the University of Cologne. Between 2001 and 2004 she was a post-doctoral student at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and later ran the Emmy-Noether-Group at the University of Mainz. From 2010 until 2017 she was a professor at the University of Luxemburg. There she developed and ran the master's program in physics.

Prof. Dr. Oliver Niehuis
Department of Biology
University of Freiburg
Tel.: 0761/203-2506

Prof. Dr. Tanja Schilling
Department of Mathematics and Physics
University of Freiburg