Aura Raulo
DPhil


aura.raulo@utu.fi




ORCID identifier: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4860-7840





Areas of expertise
ecology; evolution; microbiome; social networks; phylogenetic trees; epidemiology; Bayesian statistics;

Biography

I studied ecology and evolutionary biology in the University of Helsinki, graduating as MSc in 2016
On the side, I completed minor studies in western literature (In Helsinki University) and in environmental art (in Aalto University).

I then did my PhD (DPhil) in Zoology in the university of Oxford, graudating in 2021.

Since 2022, I have worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the department of Computing, University of Turku as well as in the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford.

Since 2021, I am also a Junior Research Fellow at the Kellogg College, University of Oxford.



Research

I am a biologist studying the ecology and evolution of symbiotic microbes living inside mammals. My experimental research circles around tracing the spread of gut microbes in the social contact networks of wild mice (Apodemus sylvaticus). My background is in island ecology and this has led me in trying to study wild animals as if they are moving islands, carrying a mini-ecosystem of bacteria inside of them: When ever two animals touch, microbes may spread between them. Consequently, we can treat the social networks of host animals as the road map (or bridge map) for microbiome transmission, shaping the influential microbiomes living inside these animals. The contact networks of animals serve as landscapes for bacteria to interact and even evolve: In the span of evolution, we can even see how the trees of descendance of microbes follow the branching of trees of descendance of their host species.

In addition to good old rubberboots-and-lab-biology, my research focuses on developing new mathematical tools and metaphors for understanding patterns of evolutionary change in nature and society. Comparing dynamics of ecosystems, languages, industries, cities and music genres, we can learn a lot about the basic evolutionary forces that make systems rise, decline, change and disappear. Sometimes these patterns can be difficult to grasp – this is why my work includes working as and with contemporary artists to create new language to describe complex patters of connectedness of things in space and time, such as networks, phylogenetic trees and waves.

I combine applications from network modeling and metacommunity ecology to understand how patterns of social transmission, interactions with host physiology and microbial community dynamics shape the cocktail of gut microbiome in wild mammls and how these microbes in turn affect their host's behaviour and survival. My toolkit includes rubber boots, next-generation sequencing techniques, RFID tracking technology, social network analysis and all kinds of statistical tricks to deal with complex autocorrelation structures of dyadic data. Ideas of networks and connectedness haunt me in all fields of life: When not submerged science, I run a metaphor club and work as an installation artist illustrating network processes of life.




Teaching

I have many years of experience in teaching biology undergraduate hands-on courses (field ecology, anatomy, taxonomy etc.)

Since 2020, I have also taught courses on various statistical modeling -related methods in R.

I have also supervised 7 Bachelor's projects, and 3 Master's theses in biology



Publications


Last updated on 2022-02-10 at 02:16