Master Biology

Here you will find several Master theses. The newest theses are at the top of the list. If you can’t find what you want, you might find it at this site: If you're searching for a PhD or internship, then scroll to the end of this page.


Join the Biodiversity Genomics Team for your internship in subtropical China!


As a Wageningen Biologist (graduated 2005), it is my pleasure to send out this invitation to BVW for internship applications! I am leading the Biodiversity Genomics Team at Guangxi University, hosted at the Plant Ecophysiology and Evolution Group (College of Forestry).


Within the Team we conduct research on some of the largest families of tropical trees which are complex clusters of young, closely related species with often poorly defined morphologies. Our goal is to quantify and assess patterns of genomic diversity, to unravel evolutionary relationships, reconstruct historical biogeography, speciation patterns and describe trends in assembly of the tropical forest biome. To this end, we apply the latest NextGen sequencing techniques, bioinformatics and technological advances (e.g. DoveTail, Nanopore). We don’t concern us with PCR-based single marker approaches but focus explicitly on collecting and sequencing on a large scale, targeting organellar genomes and specific whole genomes in key lineages. Our research involves extensive molecular laboratory work, computer analyses and bioinformatics, and periodical fieldwork in protected areas, botanical gardens and the permanent forest plot system of Guangxi University.

The Team has a growing herbarium collection of tropical tree specimens (BGT herbarium) which is under active construction (data basing/digitizing). A taxonomic angle to your internship is certainly possible, in combination with a molecular/genomic component.


During your internship, you will be exposed to all the aspects of the work we do, from fieldwork to the lab to learning how to write scripts and analyze data using genomic software. For us as a Team, our goal is to get you to leave at the end of your internship with one submitted article. So far, all Team members have succeeded in publishing in their first year, and given the amount of data available, this is a feasible target!

In principle, multiple positions are available, for periods of 3-6 months. Exact topics can be discussed via email. Housing is available through Guangxi University on our large Nanning City campus. Unfortunately, travel funding to cover your flight is not available. I recommend approaching funding bodies like the Wageningen University Fund, to apply for a travel grant. I was fortunate to obtain this when studying in Wageningen for a Philippines-based MSc.


Nanning is a large city (~5 million) and the new subway makes getting around easy. It is nicknamed “the Green City” and has a subtropical climate, with warm-hot summers and mild winters. The new international airport gets you to almost every regional Asian capital. By road, you can get to Hanoi or the coast in about 3-4 hours. Hong Kong is about 2 hours by plane.


Guangxi University is based on a very large and green campus, with about 20,000 students. Almost everyone lives on the campus and everything you need for daily life is available on site or near one of the campus gates (restaurants, fast food and coffee). Life in Nanning is not expensive – a meal at one of the 15! canteens on campus will set you back 1-3 euro.


The Team currently consists of 4 postdocs, 2 MSc and one PhD student. The College of Forestry is unique in Guangxi University for the cluster of foreign professors leading research teams staring in 2014. Since then, six teams have emerged with different backgrounds, and now we have a stable population of 35-40 (Chinese and foreign) faculty, postdocs, PhD and MSc students. In my team I have people from France, Spain, the US, Serbia, Ecuador, India and China. Other groups have members of Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Colombia, Madagascar, Malaysia and Cyprus, making our community highly diverse and dynamic. Daily language within the teams is English.


A picture impression of life on campus and some facilities is available here:

If you’d like to learn more about coming to China and joining the Team for your internship, please send an email to , and let’s see what we can do! We look forward to hearing from you.


Joeri Sergej Strijk

Associate Professor

Biodiversity Genomics Team


Guangxi University, Nanning, China



Soil ecology in organic agriculture: how soil microbes and nematodes affect ecosystem functions

Group:                 Netherlands institute of Ecology – department of Terrestrial Ecology

Project type:      thesis or internship

Credits:               24-36

Supervisor:         Sophie van Rijssel

Examiner:           Prof. dr. Wim van der Putten

Begin date:         2018/07/01 – 2018/09/01

Description:       Soil communities are involved in important ecosystem processes such as nutrient cycling, soil organic matter dynamics, and disease suppression.              

In the Vital Soils project we try to understand how soil communities are affected by management types and how they affect ecosystem processes; how management is indirectly affecting ecosystem functions by changing the soil biota.

You will be carrying out fieldwork to collect soil samples from farmers which have different management regimes. With these soils you can design your own experiment depending on your research interest (e.g. sterilize and cross-inoculate with different soils; study how different crops affect microbial activity; Split the soil communities into different groups and study their effects on an ecosystem process).


Type of work:

-fieldwork: sampling soil in agricultural fields.

-pot experiments in climate chambers or greenhouse

-Data analysis, interpretation and writing



- strong interest in soil ecology or plant-soil interaction and ecosystem functioning agriculture

- dutch driving licence regarding the fieldwork

- dutch speaking skills in order to communicate with the farmers


For more information, contact:



Counter-adaptions of butterflies to egg-killing plant traits

Introduction. Eggs of Pieris butterflies are known to elicit HR- like necrosis on leaves of Brassicaceae plants which can kill of single eggs (Shapiro & DeVay, 1987, Oecologia; Fatouros et al. 2014 Proceedings of the Royal Society, London B; Griese et al. 2017 Scientific Reports). Both, egg clutches of Pieris brassicae as well as singyly laid eggs of P. rapae and P. napi induce necrotic lesions however only survival of singly laid eggs is affected.


Methodology. You will use several butterfly species from the Pieridae and one Nymphalid species as an outgroup to construct a phylogenetic tree based on 3 genetic markers (EF-1α, COI and 28S) according to Braby et al. (2006, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society). You will extract and amplify DNA from butterfly samples and use the sequences to construct a phylogenetic tree. This tree will later be used to plot the trait of eliciting HR on it, and it will be used to test a coevolutionary arms race between Pierid butterflies and Brassicaceae. Depending on the available time testing the induction of HR- like necrosis phenotype on several Brassicaceae plants by butterflies can be tested as well by the student. For this experiment butterflies from different species are made to lay eggs onto the plant species chosen beforehand. After three to four days the phenotype of HR- like necrosis will be scored.


Societal relevance.  Egg-killing traits used by plants are so far hardly explored but promising alternatives to chemical control in crop protection. Understanding factors involved in the origin and evolution might help to direct plant breeding to develop plants capable of killing herbivore eggs.


Supervisors: Eddie Griese, Nina Fatouros, Setareh Mohammadin

Examiners: Eric Schranz (BIS), Nina Fatouros (BIS)

For more information contact: or



Population genetics of Nasonia vitripennis in the Hoge Veluwe

Our research aims at unravelling the genetic and physiological mechanisms underlying life-history traits in parasitoids wasps, insects that develop inside other insects and often kill their host. To understand the evolution of life-history traits in the wild, it is crucial to have insight into the population genetics of parasitoids. In this project is aimed at investigating the population genetic structure of Nasonia vitripennis parasitoid wasps in the Hoge Veluwe in the Netherlands. N. vitripennis is the only parasitoid wasp which has a fully sequenced genome and is a model systems for evolutionary and developmental research. N. vitripennis occurs in forested areas, where the wasps parasitize blow fly pupae that occur in nests of cavity-breeding birds, or on carrion (dead animals). Previous research has suggested that N. vitripennis might occur as two ecotypes: those that parasitize the hosts in birds’ nests and those that parasitize hosts in carrion. Besides differences in ecology, the ecotypes also appear to show differences in morphology and phenology.


In this research project, we will collect N. vitripennis wasps from both niches (birds’ nests and carrion) from the Hoge Veluwe during the field season. Laboratory lines will be established to analyse morphological and life-history differences between ecotypes, and population genetics will be analysed using a panel of microsatellites. The combination of this information will provide more insight on the occurrence of different ecotypes in the Hoge Veluwe.


Used skills:                Field work: collection of wasps from the Hoge Veluwe in early Summer 2018 (e.g. from period 6 onwards). Experimental work: insect collection and rearing, behavioural, morphological and physiological measurements; molecular laboratory techniques: DNA extraction, PCR and microsatellite analysis; data analysis. 

Required skills:         Basic knowledge of genetics, ecology, evolutionary and molecular biology. For example obtained through: Molecular and Evolutionary Ecology (GEN20306).


Contact: Dr. Bart Pannebakker – Laboratory of Genetics – – 0317- 485330



Racing pigeons 

Racing (or homing) pigeons are a sort of animal athletes. The flight performance of these birds depends on both their orientation abilities and their speed. Many aspects of a bird's life (e.g., age, experience, health status) and environment (weather, landscape features) can influence either or both elements of flight performance. In this study, you will work with racing pigeon enthusiasts who are affiliated with the Nederlandse Postduivenhouders Organisatie (NPO) and the Werkgroep Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek Welzijn Duiven (WOWD). Pigeons wearing GPS recorders will be flown repeatedly over different trajectories and/or under different conditions.  For more info, contact or 



Population viability of an endangered tree species in tropical China

Parashorea chinensis is a red-listed, endangered tropical forest tree, occurring in Southern China (Yunnan province) and Northern Vietnam. To assist in the conservation of this emergent tree species (which reaches up to 80 m in height), it would be helpful to know the viability of remaining populations. One of these remaining populations is located in Xishuangbanna region, Yunnan. In this area, a research institute (Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden) of the Chinese Academy of Science has established a 20-ha plot (400 × 500 m). The forest is dominated by Parashorea chinensis and all trees of 1 cm and bigger in diameter at breast height (dbh) in the 20-ha plot were tagged and measured. Repeated measurements have been conducted to estimate rates of growth, surival and recruitment. In this project you will answer the following questions: (1) what are estimated ages for this endangered species? (2) is the population in the 20-ha plot projected to increase or decrease over the coming decades? (3) what are the most important stages and vital rates in for the population? You will perform some field work to evaluate tree reproduction, spend time at the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden institute and perform matrix modelling analyses at Wageningen University. For more information, see 



Wildlife, ticks and cattle in South Africa

Both cattle and wildlife are affected by ticks and tick-borne disease. Several environmental factor are important that drive tick infestation risk, such as grass cover and microclimatic conditions. Yet, it is unclear whether wildlife accelerates tick risk for cattle or vice versa. Moreover, we still do not fully understand why tick densities are relatively low on areas with a high grazing pressure. We are therefore starting a new research project in conservation areas in South Africa to investigate these patterns in spring and summer 2018. Interested? Contact:



Forest Ecology and Forest Management (FEM)


Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation Group

Are you interested in plant ecology, but also plant pathology?  This project combines the best of these fields! In nature there is a huge diversity of plants in grasslands (up to 89 species per m2!), but how is this maintained? Belowground pathogens are thought to be drivers of these diversity patterns, but we have yet to zoom in on the actual mechanisms. If we can better understand how this is regulated, we can also apply this knowledge to improve agricultural practices, where typically plant diversity is very low (monocultures) and disease pressure is high!


You will investigate potential belowground mechanisms of fungal root pathogens driving plant diversity. Depending on your own interests there are various options to design, perform, and analyse your own experiments with plants and fungi in climate chambers.


For more information, contact and/or see:



Molecular ecology and live-bearing fish – several projects

Relevant research questions:

o Does multiple paternity occur in placental fish species? And in other live-bearing fish species?

o Is multiple paternity facilitated by superfetation (i.e. multiple broods in different developmental stages)?

o How do environmental pressures (e.g. water visibility, predator regime) influence polyandry in placental fish?


For more info see:




PhD and Internships

 MSD Internships 

Merck Animal Health is one of the world's leading companies in the field of veterinary medicines. MSD Animal Health develops and manufactures vaccines and drugs for farm animals, pets and fish. We have offices in over 50 countries and sell our products in more than 140 markets in which we operate in a network of production and R & D sites around the world.

MSD is characterized by an open culture with lots of room for initiative. Your development is central in this internship, but we also want to learn from you!


There are a couple of internships available at the moment:

Intern virus discovery / vaccine development
MSD stage Ad de Groof.docx
Microsoft Word document 43.3 KB
Intern Molecular Virology
MSD stage Martijn Langereis.doc
Microsoft Word document 77.5 KB
Intern Poultry Research and Development Department
MSD stage Mateusz Walczak.doc
Microsoft Word document 80.5 KB
Intern Department Discovery & Technology-Analysis
MSD stage Urs Bruderer.doc
Microsoft Word document 87.0 KB

Information & Application:

Are you interested in this internship, email your cover letter and resume to


For more information about the internships, please contact at the above e-mail or by phone: 0485- 587 5087.



Stage verstoring grote stern en visdief, Bureau Waardenburg

Als onderdeel van de uitbreiding van de Haven van Rotterdam is in 2009 de Tweede Maasvlakte gebouwd. Dit heeft effecten op diverse soorten vogels waaronder grote sterns en visdieven. Om deze effecten te compenseren zijn diverse maatregelen getroffen, waaronder het instellen van rustgebieden. Ecologisch Adviesbureau Bureau Waardenburg voert sinds 2009 onderzoek uit naar de effectiviteit van deze maatregelen.


In het voorjaar van 2018 gaan wij kijken naar het gebruik van de rustgebieden (stranden en zandplaten uit de kust) door grote sterns en visdieven, en gaan we proberen om verstoringsafstanden te meten. Hiervoor zoeken wij een gemotiveerde student die het leuk vind om een combinatie van veldwerk, literatuurstudie en (ruimtelijke) analyses te gaan doen. Je gaat met een ervaren team de zee op, op zoek naar rustende sterns en zult daarnaast (lange) dagen van observaties gaan uitvoeren op verschillende stranden. Een goede conditie is dus een vereiste. En verder is het van belang dat je een goede kennis van de Nederlandse vogels hebt, en je zelfstandig in staat bent om een visdief van een grote stern te onderscheiden.


Ben je vanaf begin maart beschikbaar? En heb je zin om een stage te lopen in een toegepast wetenschappelijk setting? Stuur dan snel een mail naar!



Stagemogelijkheden bij de Vlinderstichting

Er zijn weer vele nieuwe stages en afstudeervakken beschikbaar bij de Vlinderstichting.  Wil jij weten welke stages dit zijn? Kijk dan in de onderwijsbrochure 2017-2018 voor de lijst. Deze lijst is te vinden op Studenten kunnen ook een voorstel doen voor een eigen project, als dit binnen het werkgebied van De Vlinderstichting valt.



Ecosystem service assessment of polluted waterways: Towards theoretically well-embedded practical tools for water managers

Level: Master

Project duration: 6 months

Project form: Literature review / Data analysis

Supervision: Leonie Lautz, Jan Hendriks

Mail addresses:,


The INTERREG project “Sullied sediments” seeks to asses and improve polluted waterways in the North Sea region (UK, D, B, NL) by developing monitoring and remediation techniques ( In addition to several “standard” indicators for water and sediment quality, current and future status should be expressed in monetary units to weigh ecological against other (e.g., hydrological) benefits and remediation costs. While ecosystems services in wetlands are known to be high (e.g., Costanza et al. 1997), most assessments of waterways have been limited to eutrophication, physical reconstruction and related issues (Koopman et al. submitted). Expression of ecological benefits (or ecosystem services in a stricter sense) due to remediation of contaminated waterways in financial terms is rare (e.g., Backhaus et al. 2012). Yet, preliminary monetarization methods are becoming available (Brouwer 2004, Brouwer et al. 2008, Oosterhuis and Brouwer 2015).


So far, this has not yielded theoretically well-embedded and practically frequently used tool to assess waterway pollution. Hence, the aim of the present project is to derive a methodology to estimate ecosystem services as a function of changes in chemical concentrations and biological indicators (such as species richness and ecosystems functions). The number and kind of ecosystems services (fish and wood production, water purification, system stability etc.) to be included depends on the reliability of the methods used as well as on the input required.


To this end, you will first review literature to derive approaches that are frequently applied and theoretically well-embedded. Second, you will select a few promising approaches requiring input that is available to water managers. Third, you will apply the approaches to a few actual cases of sediment pollution and subsequent remediation in Western-Europe. Fourth, if allowed by time, you will compare the estimated benefits to the costs as well as to other (e.g., navigation, hydraulic) benefits.


The preferred outcome would be a set of rules, equations or numbers that allow a water manager to express reduction of chemical concentrations and/or improvements observed in toxicological assay and ecological field surveys in terms of financial benefits.