Interested in the diversity of life in the oceans, Christiane Biermann combines laboratory and field observations with molecular genetics to investigate the evolution of marine animals, ranging from variation between individuals to the origin of new species. Her work centers on fertilization barriers and the molecular evolution of a sperm-binding protein in closely related sea urchin species from the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans. Biermann is a postdoctoral investigator at the Friday Harbor Laboratories, University of Washington.
As a Radcliffe Institute fellow, Biermann will take advantage of the sea urchin genome project to determine the DNA sequences of genes that are located on the chromosome close to a known sperm-egg recognition gene. These sequences can contain evidence of natural selection—and thus elucidate the molecular history of genes in speciation. Biermann anticipates discovering novel genes and mechanisms that generate species diversity.
Biermann’s past awards include fellowships from the Fulbright Program, the German Academic Exchange Service, the National Science Foundation Antarctic Program, NATO, and the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories. She earned a PhD in ecology and evolution at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.