Microbiomes, such as the symbiotic community of bacteria and other microorganisms in the human gut, play an important role in metabolic processes, for example, but also in resisting pathogens. Understanding how microorganisms develop and are changed by mutation is therefore one of the crucial preconditions for developing applications based on these insights. At the intersection of biophysics, mathematics and medicine, Oskar Hallatschek produces pathbreaking insights into evolutionary dynamics using both mathematical and theoretical models as well as experiments. His work, which utilises methods originating from physics, explains how populations partly develop as a result of just a few, randomly widespread mutations and how new genetic characteristics can quickly assert themselves, bypassing lengthy evolutionary selection processes. The objective is to elaborate reliable prognoses about changes, particularly in fast-growing populations. His current research on the genetic impacts of spread on organisms during epidemics is highly relevant to the Corona pandemic.
At the University of Leipzig, Hallatschek is set to drive development in the interdisciplinary research hub for quantitative eco-evolutionary research and complement it with his expertise in the biological physics of soft materials.
Oskar Hallatschek has been selected for the Humboldt Professorship and will now embark on appointment negotiations with the German university that nominated him. If the negotiations succeed, the award will be conferred in 2021.
Nominating University: University of Leipzig
Prof. Dr. Oskar Hallatschek
was born in Germany. After finishing university in Heidelberg and Zurich and taking his doctorate in Berlin, he worked as a postdoc in Berlin, Leipzig and Harvard, United States. He subsequently became head of the Max Planck Research Group on “Biological physics and evolutionary dynamics” in Göttingen. Since 2013 he has been working in the Department of Physics at the University of California in Berkeley, United States, initially as an assistant professor and later as an associate professor. The honours he has received include an NSF Career Award; he is a member of both the American and German Physical Societies as well as the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.