Evolutionary Ecology


Prof. Dr. Catherine (Katie) Peichel

Head of the Division Evolutionary Ecology

+41 31 684 30 22
D 313
Postal Address
Institute of Ecology and Evolution
University of Bern
Baltzerstrasse 6
3012 Bern

What are the genetic and genomic changes that underlie phenotypic evolution? How do these changes lead to adaptation to new environments and the formation of new species? Although these questions are of longstanding interest to evolutionary biologists, until recently they have been intractable, particularly in vertebrate species. In order to address these questions, I have helped to develop the threespine stickleback fish (Gasterosteus aculeatus) as a model system for evolutionary genetics and genomics. Work conducted during my postdoctoral fellowship with David Kingsley focused on the genetic basis of morphological variation in sticklebacks. Since starting my own laboratory in 2003, first at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and now at the University of Bern, I have investigated the genetic and genomic mechanisms that underlie morphological, behavioral, and physiological traits that differ between stickleback populations that have adapted to divergent habitats. These studies have provided important insights into the genetic architecture of phenotypic evolution, adaptation and speciation, as well as the evolution of sex chromosomes. My laboratory has also begun to examine the effects of natural selection on these genetic variants in the wild.

My long-term goals are to combine genetic and genomic approaches in the lab with evolutionary and ecological studies in the field to tackle three fundamental questions in evolution: (1) what is the genetic and genomic basis of adaptation and speciation?; (2) what is the genetic and neural basis of behavioral evolution?; and (3) how and why do sex chromosomes evolve?

I am dedicated to teaching and training the next generation of scientists. I welcome motivated students and postdoctoral fellows with interests in bringing creative and interdisciplinary approaches to the study of evolution to join our Division of Evolutionary Ecology!

US National Academy of Sciences
Elected Member
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Elected Member
University of Bern, Institute of Ecology and Evolution
Professor and Head of Division, Evolutionary Ecology
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Affiliate Member, Division of Basic Sciences
University of Washington
Affiliate Professor, Department of Biology
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Member, Divisions of Basic Sciences and Human Biology
University of Basel
Visiting Professor, Zoological Institute
John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation
Guggenheim Fellow
University of Washington
Affiliate Associate Professor, Department of Biology
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Associate Member, Division of Human Biology
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Assistant Member, Division of Human Biology
University of Washington
Affiliate Assistant Professor, Department of Biology
Burroughs Wellcome Fund
Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences
Kathmandu University Medical School, Nepal
Assistant Professor, Biochemistry
Stanford University/Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Developmental Biology
Advisor: David Kingsley, Ph.D.
Research: Genetic Analysis of Morphological Evolution in the Threespine Stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus)
Princeton University
Ph.D. January 1998, Department of Molecular Biology
Advisor: Thomas Vogt, Ph.D.
Thesis: Genetic and Molecular Analysis of the Mouse Ulnaless Locus
University of California, Berkeley
B.A., May 1991, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Emphasis in Genetics