Dr A.T. Groot has been appointed professor of Population and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Amsterdam's (UvA) Faculty of Science.
In her research, Astrid Groot focuses on the question of how and when sexual communication signals evolve and how this evolution contributes to the emergence of new species. It is generally assumed that speciation primarily takes place because individuals adapt to changing environments, after which changes in sexual selection can occur. Groot researches whether and to what extent sexual selection can be the driving force in the initial divergence of populations, the first step in speciation. She studies the genetic basis of intraspecies variation in sexual communication, and the environmental factors that contribute to this variation. She concentrates specifically on chemical communication signals, the oldest and most diverse form of communication on earth.
Groot teaches Evolutionary Biology to second-year students of Biology, Psychobiology and Future Planet Studies. She also set up the Master’s course Current Trends in Evolution, and is now involved in the new Master’s track in Future Planet Ecosystem Science.
As a professor, Groot will further develop the research area of evolutionary chemical ecology by integrating behavioural biology, evolutionary genetics, molecular biology and chemistry. Among other things, she will focus on the question of how parasitic infections and new habitats influence the evolution of chemical communication signals in invasive species, specifically in invasive moth pests.
Groot has been a MacGillavry Fellow and associate professor in Evolutionary Chemical Ecology at the UvA since 2011. In addition, she is the head of the Chemical Communications group at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Germany and associate professor at North Carolina State University. Groot has obtained various grants, including from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (ALW Open Programme) and the National Science Foundation. Groot serves on the board of the Royal Dutch Zoological Society and will start as a columnist for Bionieuws in January.