June 22nd 2015 – Tuomas Aivelo, University of Helsinki

Tuomas AiveloI am a PhD student in Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki. Nevertheless, I consider myself foremost as evolutionary biology and my scientific work in mainly in parasitology and biology education.

For my PhD, I have been studying rufous mouse lemurs (Microcebus rufus) and their intestinal parasite dynamics. The nematodes are the most prevalent helminths they have, so I have been concentrating my efforts to identifying groups of nematodes and how they occur in mouse lemurs. Hopefully I can defend the thesis before the end of this year.

We have over a hundred microchipped mouse lemurs which we have been following for years in the wild in Ranomafana National Park, South-Eastern Madagascar.  As mouse lemurs are small, long-living and more or less territorial, we can follow the same individuals for many years. Thus, when we get fecal samples, we can follow the succession in intestinal nematode communities. This is not easy, though, put we have been using metabarcoding as our method of choice. In recent year, I have also expanded to microbiome studies.

I’m a qualified biology and philosophy teacher and also feel quite strongly about teaching. As a side project, I have been running a project on how Finnish upper secondary school students understand genetics. I have been analyzing textbooks and how done some surveys, but now I’m about to start interviewing teachers and students on how they understand gene and gene function.

For my twitter week, I plan to discuss all these themes and any other current issues coming up. I’ll also might dip into other interesting research going around at our research group, which is mostly about evo-devo and teeth.

For Finnish-speaking audience, I keep blog in Finnish popular science magazine Tiede: http://www.tiede.fi/alue/kaiken_takana_on_loinen
You can follow me in twitter @aivelo: https://twitter.com/aivelo
and can find me in Google Scholar http://scholar.google.ca/citations?user=KpjWh_0AAAAJ&hl=en
and ResearchGate  https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Tuomas_Aivelo

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