Tobias Andermann awarded by H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf
Tobias Andermann's research on biodiversity continues to be praised. After previously being assigned The Faculty of Science's dissertation prize 2021 he is now also awarded by the Royal Swedish Agricultural Academy
Only a year has passed since Tobias Andermann defended his dissertation at the Department of Biology and Environmental Science. Despite the short time, his dissertation already has had a major impact and received extensive attention - in both research and the media. Now the Royal Swedish Agricultural Academy chooses to praise him with the Academy's reward for outstanding doctoral work, a prize that has never before been awarded to anyone at the University of Gothenburg.
You have won not one but actually two awards for your thesis, what’s your secret to this success?
The things that have helped me so far in academia are (in no particular order): wearing noise-cancelling headphones for deep focus; having role models; maintaining a private life outside of work; having no shame to ask stupid questions. Other than that, being part of an active and motivated research group makes all the difference. And, occasionally, some luck.
For those who doesn’t know, what’s the thesis about?
My thesis is about recent methodological advancements in the field of evolutionary biology, which I have been involved in during my PhD research. All these methods and computational pipelines I have developed aim to better utilize big data for addressing biological questions. My thesis also contains empirical studies where I apply these methods to quantify recent biodiversity losses and predict expected extinctions in the future.
It's the first time in the history of this price that it goes to the University of Gothenburg. That’s quite an honor?
Yes, it is a very big honor, and quite frankly a bit of a surprise. Up until now the price has mostly been awarded to PhD theses coming out of Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet (SLU), often with an applied research focus within Sweden. It is very nice to see also more fundamental and theoretical research with a global focus to be valued by the Royal Academy. This is particularly important as we increasingly realize that many of today's big issues can not be tackled on a national level, but require research and action on a global, international level.
The price will be handed to you in person by H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf, what’s your relation to the Swedish royal family?
I am quite excited to meet the king and it is a great honor for me personally. As an expat from Germany, it is also a very nice feeling of integration into the Swedish society. I hear the king takes a special liking to Germans, so I'm very optimistic about the upcoming encounter.
Awards and royals aside, the research continues – what’s your plan for the future, what will happen next?
My current main research interest lies in the development of standardized methods for the quantification of biodiversity. Such a measure is desperately needed for evaluating the biodiversity impact of industrial products, building projects, or the success of different conservation strategies. I plan to use a combination of big data, such as remote sensing data and environmental DNA, as well as novel machine learning methods to address this challenge.
"The Academy's reward for outstanding doctoral work"
is awarded to a person who during the immediately preceding three-year period has presented a prominent doctoral dissertation at a university or college with relevance to the areal industries or related activities.
”To PhD Tobias Andermann, Stora Höga, for his dissertation Advancing Evolutionary Biology: Genomics, Bayesian Statistics, and Machine Learning (University of Gothenburg). Through creative method development in genomics, Bayesian statistics and machine learning, Tobias Andermann has given research innovative tools for evolutionary biological research, not least regarding studies of animal species' extinctions.
Tobias Andermann thesis Advancing Evolutionary Biology: Genomics, Bayesian Statistics, and Machine Learning consists essentially of method development in genomics, Bayesian statistics and machine learning, with the aim of developing the methods for evolutionary biological research. In genomics, he has, among other things. developed a computer program (SECAPR) for easier and more secure processing of data from analysis of DNA from animals and plants. The program is available in open source and to date has more than 21,000 downloads. Tobias Andermann has also, using methods in Bayesian statistics, developed a program (IUCN-SIM) for simulating extinction of various animal species. Finally, he has investigated and improved existing machine learning algorithms for use in biological problems, for example for the identification of previously unknown virus variants.
Through his dissertation, Tobias Andermann has provided research with new and very exciting tools for evolutionary biological studies, including studies of the unfortunately accelerating extinction of species in our environment. The dissertation has attracted great interest and had a great impact in the research community but also in wider circles, especially with regard to the calculations of the extinction of species. "