Meet the Dellinger lab members!

Agnes S. Dellinger (PI, ORCID)

PhD, University of Vienna, Austria, 2019
MSc, University of Lund, Sweden/University of Vienna, Austria, 2013
BSc, University of Vienna, Austria, 2010

Agnes is an enthusiastic evolutionary ecologist and fell in love with buzz-pollination and Melastomataceae during her undergrad on a field course in Costa Rica. She has since worked on understanding patterns of flower evolution, flower trait functioning and environmental triggers of pollinator shifts (or lacks thereof!) in Melastomataceae. Agnes has spent more than a year working in the rainforests of Ecuador, Costa Rica, Colombia and Peru, and recently completed her postdoc project (as PI on T-1186) in the lab of Stacey Smith at CU Boulder, USA. Agnes has also participated in several projects on her native Alpine flora, with the most fun projects for her being high-elevation vegetation relevés that require long hikes and scrambles to get to. CV

Constantin Kopper (PhD Candidate)

MSc, University of Vienna, Austria, 2021
BSc, University of Vienna, Austria, 2018

Constantin did his BSc in zoology and switched to botany for his MSc, where he worked on pollination syndromes in four Neotropical Melastomataceae tribes which have shifted pollinators, combining fieldwork in Colombia and Costa Rica with comparative morphological analyses. In 2021, he started his PhD working on pantropical pollination syndromes in Melastomataceae on a family wide scale including macroevolutionary and biogeographic questions. When he is not working on Melastomataceae, Constantin likes to go hiking and backcountry snowboarding, gardening, and he also produces sausages and bacon. Constantin is co-advised by Jürg Schönenberger.

Ben Lazarus (PhD student)

PhD Materials Science, UC San Diego, USA, 2022
MS Materials Science, UC San Diego, USA
BSc, College of William and Mary, Wiliamsburg, USA, 2019

Ben is a doctoral student in the Dellinger lab studying the diversification of buzz pollinated Melastomataceae. Prior to joining the lab in 2023, he completed an M.S. and Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering under Professor Marc Meyers at the University of California San Diego where he studied structure-property relationships in biological materials like jackfruit, horse hooves, and arapaima scales with a focus on their dynamic mechanical behavior. Ben aims to combine the techniques he learned in his previous research with fieldwork and phylogenetic comparative methods to better understand the radiation of floral morphologies through evolutionary time. 

Johan Esteban Urrea Cardenas (PhD student)

MSc, Pontifica Universidad Javeriana, Colombia, 2023

Johan’s research focuses on the evolution and diversity of the Neotropical tribe Pyxidantheae (Melastomataceae), alongside the systematics and taxonomy of the tribe. Johan is interested in exploring the relationship between reproductive structures (flowers and fruits) and their interactions with pollinators, dispersers, and environmental variables from both macro- and microevolutionary perspectives. His goal is to understand how the mosaics of pollinators and dispersers have shaped the diversity of the tribe across its geographical distribution.

Katharina Kagerl (MSc student)

Katharina started working with Agnes in spring 2020 to investigate the pollination biology of the pollination-generalist Phyteuma orbiculare (Campanulaceae). Specifically, she explores how pollinator communities in P. orbiculare change along an elevational gradient in the Eastern Alps close to Vienna. Katharina is co-advised by Jürg Schönenberger and currently also works for the GLORIA project at BOKU.

Paula Huber (MSc student)

Paula started working with Agnes in fall 2020 to study pollination syndromes in the Ranunculaceae genus Clematis. She focuses on the four Austrian Clematis species, comparing pollinator compositions of each of the three species with more restricted ranges (C. alpina, C. integrifolia, C. recta) co-occurring with the very widespread C. vitalba.

Fabian Polz (MSc student and Research assistant)

Fabian is really interested in the interconnectedness of biological systems. He wrote his bachelor thesis on pollen release patterns of buzz-pollinated flowers with different architectures with Agnes, and is currently working in the lab as a research assistant helping with µCT scanning and analyses of 3D flower models. Also, he is working on his master’s thesis about pesticides and their effects on algae at the Team Phycology Vienna. Besides science, Fabian is very passionate about dancing (waacking) and training for dancing competitions.

Ash Kerber (BSc student at CU Boulder with Stacey Smith; co-advised)

Ash is excited about bugs and is working in the entomological collections of the Natural History Museum at CU Boulder while doing her undergrad there. She joined Agnes to do fieldwork in Florida in July 2022 to work on buzz-pollination of the Melastomataceae genus Rhexia, and decided to continue working on this system for her Honors thesis in summer 2023! Ash also loves to climb, and drinking coffee 😉

Viktoria Wieser (MSc student and Research assistant)

Viki did her BSc at University of Vienna in Biology with the specialisation Botany and is now doing her Masters also in Botany. She is helping the lab counting pollen, both from stamens and on stigmas of Melastomataceae, to assess how much pollen is in a stamen, how much pollen do bees extract by buzzing and how much pollen gets transferred to stigmas. She is particularly interested in plant-animal interactions since doing internships in agricultural research. Prior to working in our lab Viki had worked at AGES (Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety) with plant parasitic nematodes, fruit flies and other plant pathogens, furthering her interest in herbivory. Her Bachelor thesis was on the topic of specialised metabolites that could protect plants from generalist herbivores such as Spodoptera littoralis. She is doing her Master thesis with Agnes on domatia in Pyxidantheae, a tribe of Melastomataceae, and their mite inhabitants.
In her free time Viki likes to do creative things like paint and sew and on the days she needs to let go of pent-up energy she plays icehockey, goes bouldering or inlineskating.

Former lab members

Karen Pérez (BSc student at UNAM, México, internship)

Karen did an internship with Agnes in fall 2023 to analyse her own field data on pollinator dependence along an elevational gradient in Mexico, and to explore pollinator dependence and efficiency in the genus Rhexia via pollen counting.

Karolina Gwardiak (MSc, Erasmus internship)

After graduating with a degree in environmental protection from the University of Warsaw, Karolina looked for inspiration and new challenges in the science world. She started her internship in Agnes’ lab in October 2023.  She is helping with ongoing projects in the lab, but mostly her work focuses on pollinator sharing of co-flowering Rhexia species. She’s exploring how co-flowering affects pollination performance, visitation rate, and pollinator diversity in Rhexia mariana.