I am interested in molecular biology, especially in evolutionary and developmental biology. For my Master’s thesis I contributed to the CaBOL (Caucasus Barcode of Life) project. In this study, I focused on fungus gnats (lower Diptera) and classified more than 22,000 specimens to class, family, and species levels and described many new species recorded for the first time in the Caucasus, Georgia.

My PhD project aims to identify the genetic factors related to molluscan shell coiling. Most shelled molluscs coil and pigment their shells in ways that have enthralled both scientists and the lay person for centuries. A recently identified open coil (or “banana”) shell phenotype, induced by exposure to the endocrine disruptor ‘dutasteride’ (an inhibitor of the steroidogenic enzyme 5α-reductase), provides us with a novel opportunity to study the genetic and developmental mechanisms associated with molluscan shell coiling. I will focus on identifying and characterizing the genetic mechanisms of how dutasteride affects shell coiling in the freshwater pulmonate snail Lymnaea stagnalis using transcriptomics and spatial gene expression approaches. Any insights we gain will also be relevant to the use of Lymnaea as an OECD bio-sentinel species.