Home Team
Isa Blasco Costa

Research leader

I am interested in parasites of wildlife, mainly in relation to aquatic systems. My research goals are to uncover the biodiversity of flatworms and understand the ecological and evolutionary processes that have led to this parasite biodiversity and host-parasite associations. This research generates fundamental knowledge at the intersection between parasite ecology and evolution. Since I arrived to the Natural History Museum of Geneva in Switzerland in 2014, I have also been actively involved in transmitting the value of science and parasites to society. Over the years, I had the chance to meet and work with great researchers and amazing people to whom I feel deeply indebted for all I learnt from them. I am a keen supporter of a culture of scientific exchange and work-life balance in academia.

Eloïse Rochat

PhD student

I am from Switzerland and France, I did a BSc in Organism and Population Biology at the University of Lyon 1 (in France) and an MSc in Biodiversity and Systematics at the University of Geneva (Switzerland). During my studies, I got very interested in fish metazoan parasites and conducted all of my research at the Natural History Museum of Geneva. My MSc thesis focused on the influence of the stream water source and trout migration rate on the parasite community of young non-migratory brown trout. After my master, I worked on a collaboration at the University Canberra, in Australia, where I examined the parasite community of several native freshwater fish. For my PhD, I am now working on the impacts of multiple stressors on fish-parasite interactions at The Arctic University of Norway under the supervision of Rune Knudsen (Arctic University of Norway), Isabel Blasco Costa (Natural History Museum of Geneva and Arctic University of Norway) and Rachel Paterson (Norwegian Institute for Nature Research).

Mar Llaberia-Robledillo

PhD student

I am from Catalonia, Spain. I did a degree in Marine Sciences at the University of Barcelona and a Master’s degree in Biodiversity, Conservation, and Evolution at University of Valencia. Throughout those years, I developed a strong interest in genetics, and eventually, in evolution and the changes in the structure of natural populations. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to conduct research on these topics in my master’s thesis, which focused on changes in the population structure of a host-parasite system in its original distribution area and an invaded area. Now, in my PhD, I am investigating the processes that trigger genomic divergence of hosts and parasites, combining micro- and macroevolutionary approaches. I work mainly with genome-wide data, I perform genome assemblies, analysis of population genetic structure, and assess phylogenetic relationships. I love using bioinformatic tools to explore host-parasite relationships and species evolution. I am doing my PhD under the supervision of Isabel Blasco-Costa (Natural History Museum of Geneva), Juan Antonio Balbuena and Ignasi Lucas-Lledó (University of Valencia).

Charlotte Marconi

MSc student

I’m from Switzerland, where I obtained a BSc degree in biology from the University of Geneva in 2020. I’m currently a MSc student in Biodiversity and Systematics at the Natural History Museum of Geneva. I chose to continue my studies in parasitology because it allows me to combine all the scientific fields that I like. For my master thesis, the goal of my project is to study, with morphological and molecular data, the diversity, life cycles and distribution of trematodes of snails in selected Swiss lakes. At the same time, I would also like to raise awareness of parasitic organisms and their roles in ecosystems, in order to change the current negative perception of parasites.

Leslie McCluckie

MSc student

I’m from Switzerland, I did a BSc degree in Biology at the University of Geneva in 2021, and I’m currently doing a MSc in Biodiversity and Systematics here at the Natural History Museum. The goal of my research project is to explore techniques to visualize live trematodes inside their snail host. I’m interested in using new technologies to observe these organisms that are otherwise challenging to study. Therefore, I’m working on a gastropod anaesthetic protocol and finding some vivo compatible contrast agents to produce Synchrotron µCT images that will later be used to work out the position and volume of infection of different trematode species. These results could help better understand the intra-molluscan stages of parasites that cause diseases to humans and animals.

Axel Gayot

Museum collections assistant

From Haute-Savoie, I moved to England and completed a BSc in Marine Zoology, studying the TBT contamination in the marine snail Nucella lapillus. Living by the coast, I developed a curiosity for aquatic invertebrates, biological invasions, and the use of genomics in conservation. I continued my studies with a Master degree at the Marine Biological Association of Plymouth, where I monitored complex non-indigenous species (Ascidians and Bryozoans) using eDNA and morphological identification for invasive species early detection and management in ports. Over the years, I had the chance to assist scientists working on the Darwin Tree of Life project, which confirmed my enthusiasm for making scientific data accessible for all to use. I have now been working at the Natural History Museum of Geneva since April 2023, digitizing the type specimens of the parasitic Platyhelminthes collection within the frame of a Swiss Collection Network project. This initiative aims to improve the accessibility of natural history collections and facilitate their use for research, education, and society.

Former members

Kristine Drage

Former MSc student (2022-2023). Now working in aquaculture.

Raphael Horvath

Former MSc student (2021-2023)
Now teacher at a high school

Sigurd Slåteng

Former MSc student (2016-2020)
Now research assistant at UiT, Norway

Rodrigo Hutzli

Former MSc student (2018-2021). Now teacher at high school

Jan Brabec

Former Postdoc (2017-2020)
Now Postdoc at the Academy of Science of the Czech Republic

Cristina Llopis-Belenguer

Former Phd student (2016-2020)
Now Postdoc at ETH Zurich and EAWAG

Carlos Mendoz-Palmero

Former Phd student (2010-2014)
Now full-time daddy in the Czech Republic