Very welcome, Dr Sara Magalhaes, to the Oikos Editorial Board! Get to know Sara by visiting her webpage and read the mini-interview here:
I work mainly with spider mites, which are herbivorous haplodiploid tiny spider-like creatures. Being easy to rear and with a short generation time, spider mites are easily amenable to experimental evolution, a methodology I find very powerful. With these mites, I ask questions within the general fields of host-parasite interactions (in which mites are either the host or the parasite), sex allocation, and mating strategies. I also do collaborative work on fruit flies, again on these topics.
2. Can you describe you research career?
I did my undergraduate education at the University of Lisbon, with an Erasmus in Toulouse, then moved to the University of Amsterdam. There, I ended up doing my PhD thesis, under the supervision of Maurice Sabelis and Arne Janssen, and a lot of help from my colleagues Marta Montserrat, Belen Belliure and Maria Nomikou. The thesis concerned mainly the ecological consequences of antipredator behaviour. By the time I ended the thesis, in 2004, I felt the need to address the evolution of traits as well, so I moved to Montpellier to do a post-doc with Isabelle Olivieri. I took the mites with me and did experimental evolution of mite adaptation to novel host plants. I then decided to go back to Portugal, where I did a brief post-doc at the Gulbenkian Science Institute, again with experimental evolution but with bacteria and nematodes. Finally, in 2008, I came back to the University of Lisbon, where I established my own group with spider mites and several really cool students.
3. How come that you became a scientist in ecology?
I always thought that integrative sciences were more interesting. People that spend their whole lives studying a single molecule still give me the creeps, although I realize that this is also necessary…
4. What do you do when you’re not working?
I used to do lots of different stuff, I was in theatre groups, and danced tango a lot, went to lots of concerts and to the movies, but now that I have small kids my activities have switched to going to playgrounds and kid parties. In the summer, which in Portugal lasts around 6 months, it’s nicer because we go to beach, which everybody loves.