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Dr. Valérie Ducret

During my first year of master degree, I was particulary interested in population dynamics and behavioural ecology. My first research project was to study the effect of population densities on grasshoppers body size that can act on dispersal and thus population interactions.

Because genetics studies and the increase of new techniques in molecular biology allow to understand populations or communities evolution, I beggin to be interested in evolutionary biology.
Also, thanks to a second internship, I got a great experience with molecular ecology. The main focus of my work was to assess both the neutral and adaptive genetic diversity of an endangered population of Atlantic salmon. This internship showed me how essential molecular ecology can be in understanding the evolution of a population.

Currently, I am doing a PhD at the department of ecology and evolution at the university of Lausanne. First of all, the project proposed by A. Roulin caught my attention because of the integrative approach combining physiology, genetic and behaviour. Mix of different research areas and techniques will permit to understand accurately the role of the melanocortin in the barn owl.

Likewise, I am interested to describe and resolve the genetic basis of the melanocortin system because of its implication in the expression of many phenotypic traits that influence individual life history and population dynamics. Roulin’s group recently proposed the hypothesis that some melanocortin-physiological and –behavioural traits are correlated within individuals. Moreover, studies have shown that covariations between melanin-based coloration and other phenotypes are due to the melanocortin system. Thereby, the most important part of my work will be to perform genetic studies using samples of free-living barn owls in order to demonstrate this hypothesis.

Firstly, I will look for polymorphism in the coding sequence of melanocortin system genes. Secondly I will measure their expression levels. All part of this work will be done regarding to environmental factors and other individual traits like circadian rhythm.

Born in 1988, France

PhD – Genetic studies on the melanocortin system in barn owls,
Department of Ecology & Evolution, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Supervisor : Alexandre Roulin

Voluntary internship on natal dispersal determinism in the collared flycatcher
Biometrics and evolutive biology laboratory (CNRS), Lyon, France
Supervisor : Blandine Doligez

Voluntary internship on physiological plasticity of individuals under climate change
Evolutionary & ecological physiology laboratory, University of Sydney, Australia
Supervisor : Frank Seebacher

Master graduation Ecology major, University of Rennes, France

Master’s internship on the genetic diversity (MHC vs microsatellites) of a french endangered Atlantic salmon population
Laboratory of ecology and ecosystem’s health (INRA), Rennes, France
Supervisor : Guillaume Evanno and Sabrina Le Cam

Master’s internship on the effect of population density on body size variation of a grasshopper community
Centre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé (CNRS), Niort, France

Licence graduation, Biology of Organisms major, University of Rennes, France

Baccalaureat in sciences, High School « Fenelon », France

Computer skills

R software, ArcGIS, Stella, Sesame, Genemapper, population genetic softwares (Genepop, Arlequin, Fstat …) Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Windows, Mac.


French: native speaker
English: advanced level
German, Spanish, Chineese: basic knowledge

Personal interest

Sport: diving (level 1 FFESSM), badminton
Music : piano (6 years academy of music)
Association : APECS, LPO, COL

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Member of Roulin group

Biophore - CH-1015 Lausanne
Tel. +41 21 692 41 60
Fax +41 21 692 41 65