Ana Marija Jakšić, PhD

Group leader

I started my studies at University of Zagreb, studying Animal Sciences, and Animal Genetics and Breeding. Being mentored by Prof. Ino Curik, I fell in love with quantitative and population genetics, and evolutionary biology. I soon realized that uncovering mysteries of evolution is what I want to do. I went on to earn my PhD in Prof. Christian Schlötterer's lab at the Institute for Population Genetics (Vienna Graduate School of Population Genetics, VetmedUni Vienna, Austria) where I studied plasticity and evolution of the Drosophila transcriptome within the framework of experimental evolution. The results of my PhD work, namely the discovery of thermal dependence of evolution of neuronal dopamine signaling provided a natural segue to the field of neurobiology. Since then my mission has been to map the natural and adaptive genetic variation of brain function, especially cognitive processes and dopamine signaling. During my postdoc with Prof. Andy Clark at the Clark Lab (Cornell University) I investigated natural genetic variation of dopamine signaling and dopaminergic excitotoxicity. Becoming an ELISIR scholar opened a unique possibility to "boldly go where no one has gone before" and start my dream project: merging experimental evolutionary biology and neuroscience to experimentally evolve cognition and the brain in the lab. 
I have multiple interests outside the lab and believe healthy work-life balance is essential to being a good scientist. I love traveling, social gatherings, I'm a twitter & coffee addict, unicorn & Star Trek aficionado, and a proud co-parent with my partner to our two standard poodles.


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