Heidi Kuehne (Research Assistant)

I am broadly interested in the evolution of natural microbial populations and specifically interested in the interplay of migration, mating system, and selection as forces that shape microbial population structure. My background is rooted in population genetics and experimental evolution. My PhD work (University of Pennsylvania) uncovered the sympatric population genetic structures of the closely-related yeasts Saccharomyces cerevisiae and S. paradoxus sampled in oak woodlands in North America and Eurasia. My postdoctoral work (University of Montana) explored chromosomal evolution in novel hybrid yeast species evolved in chemostats under strong glucose limitation. My work in the Collins lab has included analysing genetic and phenotypic patterns in photosynthetic microbes sampled at naturally-occurring high-CO2 springs in Slovenia and Italy. I am currently carrying out a long-term selection experiment to reveal the genetic components of the carbon-concentrating mechanism used by green plants. As the Collins lab Research Assistant, I am responsible for most laboratory logistics. That is, I run the show.

I am casually fascinated by the evolution of spider silk and spider web architecture; although I am afraid of spiders, I try to keep up with the literature about them. I enjoy thinking about the amazing mating systems and spore release and dispersal mechanisms peculiar to many fungi. I am also a casual botanist and travel with my prized Hastings triplet 10x hand lens and ink drawing supplies.

My photo shows me sampling olives during the annual harvest of olive trees that dot my mother and stepfather's grounds in South France (Languedoc). Although olives are not microbial, sampling them in their natural habitat is nevertheless acceptable.