Sara Varela, graduated in biology from the University of Vigo, joins the Marine Research Center of the University of Vigo after almost 20 years of work in different countries of Europe and America, with a Starting Grant from the European Council of Research (ERC). The budget of this aid, of 1.5 million €, will allow her to develop the MAPAS Lab project for five years, a new line of research very ambitious and innovative within the CIM’s Animal Ecology Group.

Through the MAPAS Lab project, Varela will delve into the processes of evolution and extinction in the last 540 million years, studying how climate, geography and life interact, with the aim of creating a model to predict in the space where species appear and disappear over time. The researcher acknowledges that it is a “very ambitious” challenge, but the Starting Grant calls “are intended for projects on the frontier of knowledge, so the objectives of this type of aid are always risky, as they try to explore new paths”. With this project, the researcher will open a new line of work at the CIM, which will combine biogeography with evolutionary biology and paleontology.

Her work team will collaborate with the Potsdam Climate Institute in Germany, as well as with different researchers from the United Kingdom, Brazil and Belgium. The researcher hopes that within a year her team, which already works in the Olimpia Valencia Building, will expand from five members to seven to ten researchers.

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