Eyal Privman, group leader

Studied bioinformatics at Tel Aviv University from B.Sc. to Ph.D. with Tal Pupko on computational methods for molecular evolution: sequence alignment and alignment filtering, phylogeny reconstruction, and positive selection inference. Applied research of homing endonucleases for the purposes of gene therapy with Adi Barzel and Martin Kupiec. Development of a pipeline to QA the LEADS transcriptome modeling platform in Compugen Ltd.  Postdoc with Laurent Keller at the University of Lausanne on evolutionary genomics of fire ants, evolution of ant sex determination with Yannick Wurm, population genomics of fire ants with DeWayne Shoemaker, fire ant olfactory gene expression with John Wang, trophallaxis JH esterases with Adria LeBoeuf, genomic basis of cuticular hydrocarbons with Abraham Hefetz, ant genomic mapping with Abraham Korol, ant genome evolution with Jessica Purcell and Alan Brelsford, genomic basis of collective behavior with Deborah Gordon, evolution of odorant receptors with Juergen Liebig and Mickey Kosloff, and more…


Zeev Frenkel, research associate

Studied mathematics (M.Sc. at St. Petersburg State University) and computational biology (Ph.D. at University of Haifa). Worked in labs of Abraham Korol, Tzion Fahima, and Sagi Snir. Studied mathematical models of evolution of sex and recombination, speciation, QTL mapping, genetic mapping, physical mapping, phylogeny, GWAS, etc. Developed the LTC algorithm and software package for construction of long reliable physical scaffolds (~10 Mbp). In particular, LTC was used for proofing of long genomic sequence scaffolds in wheat, which was impossible by other methods. Contributed also to the MultiPoint genetic mapping MultiPoint software. Taught mathematics and statistics at the University of Ariel, and supervised software engineering projects in Ort Braude College. Currently working on improving the reference genome sequence for Cataglyphis niger.

Aparna Lajmi, postdoc

B.Sc. Life sciences, Mumbai University; M.Sc. Neurobiology, Mumbai University; Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution, Indian Institute of Science. Aparna is investigating the genomic underpinnings of social polymorphism in Cataglyphis niger. She is also working on understanding the links between genomic rearrangements and the evolution of complex social traits in a comparative framework together with Alex.

Yoann Pellen, Ph.D. student

Studied at the Toulouse III Paul Sabatier university in France, B.Sc. in cell biology and physiology, M.Sc. in anthropobiology and population genetics. Studied the demographic history of the brown lemur Eulemur fulvus mayotensis. Received IT training and spent one year as a software developer. Now studying adaptive evolution of odorant receptor (OR) genes in Camponotus floridanus, where we are looking for the molecular evolutionary mechanisms of OR specificity towards cuticluar hydrocarbons (CHCs) in a collaboration with the lab of Juergen Liebig (ASU).

Felix Glinka, Ph.D. student

Studied biology (BSc at Ruhr Universitity Bochum) and bioinformatics (MSc at Eberhards Karl University Tübingen). Interested in evolution, population genetics, entomology and bioinformatics. Studied population genomics of African honeybees in his MSc with Martin Hasselmann and Daniel Huson. Now studies the genomic basis (using genomic mapping approaches) of the evolution of collective behavior in the desert harvester ant Pogonomyrmex barbatus, focusing on foraging behavior in variable climate conditions, in a collaboration with the lab of Deborah Gordon (Stanford).

Max Zion, Ph.D. student

Studied biology at Moscow State University, (BSc in evolutionary biology) and engineering at Bauman Moscow State Technical University, (MSc in land systems and robots engineering). Studied the metagenome of black garden ants. Worked as an engineer and software developer. Currently studying the influence of microbiome on the behavior of the black desert ant.

Alex Tzipin, M.Sc. student

Alex is working on linkage map construction for multiple species for the joint BSF project on ant genome evolution in collaboration with Jessica Purcell and Alan Brelsford, and in association with the GAGA consortium.

Besan Saied, M.Sc. student

B.Sc. in computer science and biology from the University of Haifa. During her undergrad work Besan constructed a linkage map for the genome of Cataglyphis niger, and mapped the genes underlying variation in cuticular hydrocarbons (QTL mapping). In her M.Sc. she is studying ant microbiomes.


   Past members

Rana Willy-Saad, M.Sc. student

Studied biology and mathematics at the University of Haifa. Rana studied in the evolution of olfactory receptors in ants and its role in adaptive evolution of social behavior. She also combined the evolutionary analysis with structural analysis of the receptor proteins.

Amir Cohanim, research associate

B.Sc. Biotechnology Engineering, Technion. Ph.D. in computational biology, under the Interdisciplinary Program for Biotechnology, Technion. Postdoc in a biophysics lab specialized in DNA-structure and DNA-Protein interactions, Technion. Postdoc in an epigenetics lab specialized in inheritance of complex traits, École Normale Supérieure, Paris. Amir is investigating the molecular evolution of chemical communication in fire ants and several other projects involving molecular evolution, transcriptomics, and epigenomics (including collaboration with the Keller group in Lausanne, Adria LeBoeuf in Fribourg, and John Wang in Taipei).

Tal Yahav, M.Sc. student – now in the Bioinformatics Unit of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, U. Haifa

Studied biology at the University of Haifa, Oranim. Tal sequenced and assembled the first draft sequence for the genome of the desert ant Cataglyphis niger, and developed a de novo sequencing approached specifically tailored to haplodiploid species.

Etya Amsalem, postdoc – now a group leader in Penn State University

B.Sc. Medical and life Science program, Tel Aviv University; M.Sc. Zoology, Tel Aviv University; Ph.D. Zoology, Tel Aviv University. BARD fellowship in the Entomology Department, Pennsylvania State University. Etya is studying the evolutionary development of complex social behaviors in social insects using an integrative approach encompassing genomic, chemical and physiological tools. In our lab, she studied fire ants’ olfactory receptors, which are candidate genes for the regulation of colony social organization.

Daphna Gottlieb, postdoc – now a group leader in Volcani Center

B.Sc. Biology, Hebrew University. M.Sc. Evolution, Systematics and Ecology, Hebrew University. Ph.D. in Evolution and Behavioral Ecology, Ben Gurion University. Marie curie fellowship in Behavioral Ecology, Bristol University, England. Daphna conducted a large-scale study of the molecular genetics of recruitment behavior in social foraging ants.

Shani Inbar, postdoc – now a lecturer in the Open University of Israel

B.Sc. biology, Tel Aviv University; M.Sc. zoology, Tel Aviv University; Ph.D. philosophy of science, Tel Aviv University. Shani is studying the genomic basis of nestmate recognition in the desert ant Cataglyphis niger using reduced representation genomic sequencing, whole-genome sequencing, and chemical analysis. These data are combined in a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to map the genes underlying variation in cuticular hydrocarbons (together with Pnina and Besan). She’s also working with Deborah Gordon on the genomics of the Pogonomrymrex barbatus population that is used in a long-term study of the evolution of collective behavior.

Pnina Cohen, Ph.D. student – now a postdoc in Tel Aviv University

Studied computer science at the Technion. Pnina is interested in the population genomics of Solenopsis fire ants, their demographic history, and genome-wide signatures of recent positive selection in invasive populations. She is also working with Shani on a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to map the genes underlying variation in cuticular hydrocarbons in Cataglyphis niger, and also on the social polymorphism in this species. Lately shifted to a slightly different focus on ancient DNA of byzantine grapes (too many projects…)

Chih-Chi Lee (Volans), postdoc – now a postdoc in Agricultural Biotechnology Research Center, Academia Sinica

B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Entomology, National Taiwan University; Ph.D. in Applied Biosciences, Kyoto University. Studied invasion biology, genome evolution, population genomics, and host-microorganism co-evolution in invasive ants. Volans is studying on genome architectures underlying social traits evolution, and microbial-host interaction in Cataglyphis desert ants, looking from the focal species Cataglyphis niger and outward to the rest of the genus. He is also searching for polymorphic genomic regions maintained by balancing selection in invasive ants.