Hi! My name is Waldir Berbel-Filho (dont worry, I dont expect you to pronounce my name correctly!) and thanks for visiting my website. I have a broad interest in evolutionary biology, and in science in general. Therefore, I usually struggle to describe myself according to my scientific interests. I am mostly curiosity-driven and an active advocate of the power of the scientific method and basic research (knowledge for the sake of knowing, inspired by Carl Sagan views: "there is no such a thing as a stupid question").
I am particularly fascinated by the evolutionary processes generating biodiversity, from the molecular causes to the phenotypic consequences (and everything in between!).
Outside academia, I am big fan of books, but also enjoy outdoors actIvites, mainly aquatic sports, such as swimming and snorkelling, but also football (hate to reinforce the Brazilian stereotype, but I do like a good football game!) and table tennis (nowadays more as a frustrated ex-player!).
Currently, I am a PhD student at Swansea University under the supervision of Professor Sofia Consuegra, and co-supervised by Carlos Garcia de Leaniz and Sergio Lima. My project aims to understand how genetic and epigenetic variation are interconnected among individuals/species with different mating systems (and consequently different levels of genetic diversity) under several environmental pressures (i. e. parasites; environmental complexity). Especifically, we focus on how individuals with depleted genetic variation cope with environmental variability and the potential role of epigenetic variation may have on adaptation. For answering questions within this context, we decided to focus killifish species from the genus Kryptolebias, which exhibits a range of mating system strategies (from dioecious to self-fertilising hermaphroditism).
I have been focused on developing skills on integrative topics and methods which allow me to understand individuals and populations diversification. During my career, I have gained experience in a range of topics within evolutionary biology, such as genomics and epigenomics, bioinformatics, phylogeography, phenotypic plasticity, evolution of mating systems and so on (with still much more to learn!). As you will probably see, I tend to work with fishes as model organisms, but I am not restricted to them!
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I usually get myself thinking on how organisms detect and react to the slightest environmental changes. The integrative view that environments change organisms and organisms react to the environment, require physyological, cellular and molecular changes which are only starting to be understood.
My interest in microevolution is mainly focused on how phenotypic plasticity may represent a potential source of phenotypic diversification. I am interested to understand the role of plasticity in shaping evolutionary change, which mechanisms are involved and whether they may represent preliminary steps on species/population diversification.
This is a old passion that have grown since I was an undergraduate student. I have always been fascinated by the fact we can look back into the history of organisms through the signatures left in their DNA. Particularly, while accessing the genetic structure of organisms which dispersal is highly regulated by the spatial structure of their habitats (e. g. rivers for strictly freshwater organisms), is possible to reconstruct the historical connections of particular regions, and test hypothesis about the climatic and geomorphological events may have contributed to connection and/or isolation of natural populations.