As a consequence of my successful application to the Volkswagen Foundation, I am pleased to announce that I was selected as one of the few people across all scientific disciplines to be awarded a prestigious Freigeist fellowship. The funding included in this fellowship enables me to become a junior research group leader by starting my own workgroup at Bielefeld University. This makes it possible for us to conduct a six-year interdisciplinary research project called “Plasticity-led evolution in the phenotype of a freshwater snail: from the epigenome to genetic change”. With this research project, we will be tackling the unconventional idea that phenotypic plasticity may lead evolution by inducing non-random genetic change. The results of this project may allow future scientists to better predict evolution and everybody to prepare accordingly. A more detailed description of the project can be found in the German press release from Bielefeld University.
Here you can find a short video by the Volkswagen Foundation that explains what a “Freigeist” is.