Tuomas Aivelo

Link to Research Group page (Prof. Dr. Barbara Tschirren)

Research Interests

My main interests lie in disease ecology and evolution. I have recently worked mainly with within-host communities, where I aim to expand the traditional approach to pathogens and parasites to two directions: observing longitudinal variation within the lifetime of host and taking into account not only pathogens, but also other symbionts. The advances in sequencing technology have made both of these approaches much more feasible.

I explored the longitudinal approach during my PhD studies by metabarcoding nematode communities within individual mouse lemurs. Now I am working with ticks and tick symbionts: I aim to characterize tick symbiont communities, including pathogens and commensal bacteria and do a observational study on how tick communities vary along environmental gradients.

In addition, I have been interested in biology education, especially use of conceptual models and making scientific models more concrete by games and simulations. I am doing a project on interviewing biology teachers and their students on how they understand genes and gene function. I have also written biology textbooks for Finnish upper secondary school students and I am involved in International Biology Olympiad as Finnish jury member. I blog regularly in Finnish and try to be active in Twitter too.


Education and Professional Positions

2016 - present Postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Switzerland, in Barbara Tschirren’s research group funded by Finnish Cultural Foundation
2010 - 2015 Ph.D. student in Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, Finland (supervisors: Jukka Jernvall and Juha Laakkonen) (Thesis: Longitudinal monitoring of parasites in individual wild primates [https://helda.helsinki.fi/handle/10138/156601])
2012 Master of Science in Education (Biology Didactics), University of Helsinki, Finland (supervisor: Anna Uitto)
2003 - 2009 Bachelor and Master of Science in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Helsinki, Finland

Selected Publications

  • Aivelo T., Uitto A. (2016) Digital gaming for evolutionary biology learning: the case study of Parasite Race, an augmented reality location-based game. LUMAT 4(1),1-25. Link: luma.fi/lumat-en/4542
  • Aivelo T., Laakkonen J., Jernvall J. (2016) Population and individual level dynamics of intestinal microbiota of a small primate. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 82(12).3537-3545. DOI: 10.1128/AEM.00559-16
  • Aivelo T., Uitto A. 2015 Genetic determinism in the Finnish upper secondary school biology textbooks. NorDiNa - Nordic Studies in Science Education, 11(2):139-152. Link: journals.uio.no/index.php/nordina/article/view/2042
  • Aivelo T., Medlar A., Löytynoja A., Laakkonen J., Jernvall J. (2015) Tracking year-to-year changes in intestinal nematode communities of rufous mouse lemurs (Microcebus rufus). Parasitology 142(8):1095-1107. DOI: 10.1017/S0031182015000438

The raw data used in my publications can be found in Figshare.