Dr. Egas studied biology and physical geography at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), The Netherlands. He received a bachelor's degree in physical geography in 1989, a bachelor's degree in biology in 1991, and a master's degree in biology in 1995. The latter included a major in theoretical evolutionary ecology, a major in vegetation dynamics, and a literature study on the evolution of sex. He worked parttime at the UvA in 1995-1996 to stimulate computer-assisted education (CAE) at the Faculty of Biology. His ambition was a PhD-studentship, but no place was available. With two partners, he started the firm BioMedia, for producing CAE products. Mid 1996 a PhD position became available in both Groningen (vegetation dynamics) and Amsterdam (evolutionary ecology). He chose evolutionary ecology in Amsterdam, and started at 1 January 1997 on a project aimed at studying the evolution of specialisation in herbivorous arthropods (i.e. plant-eating insects and like creatures), both theoretically and experimentally. During the project he participated in IIASA's YSSP in 1998, in the Adaptive Dynamics Network project. A second three-months stay at IIASA's ADN project followed in winter 2000, this time financed by the ESF programme on Theoretical Biology of Adaptation. He was awarded the PhD degree in biology with honours by the UvA on 10 January 2002 for the thesis "Foraging behaviour the evolution of specialisation in herbivorous arthropods". Dr. Egas is currently a postdoc of professor Maurice Sabelis in the Department of Population Dynamics at the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystems Dynamics at the UvA.
Currently, his main research interests are the combined study of experimental and theoretical evolutionary ecology and evolutionary game theory, with a keen side-interest in population dynamics and food web dynamics. Also, he is working on the interaction between Wolbachia bacteria and the animal hosts they infect. Wolbachia bacteria exhibit several strategies to manipulate the reproduction of their hosts. Because the bacteria are only transmitted from mother to offspring (eggs become infected while still in the mother), and not through males (the bacteria cannot infect sperm cells), these strategies are aimed at getting rid of these useless males by turning host reproduction into asexual, by feminizing males, by killing sons of infected mothers (to the benefit of their sisters), or by cytoplasmic incompatibility, where the Wolbachia bacteria turn sperm of infected males into kamikaze-sperm that can only be rescued when the fertilised egg contains Wolbachia of the same strain.
Last edited: 22 July 2013
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