Biosystematics, informatics and genomics of the big 4 insect groups: training tomorrow's researchers and entrepreneurs


BLOG POST: One hand is tradition, one hand is innovation – morphological challenges in present times

This post was written by LIU Si-Pei. To adapt to different environments, some of the BIG4 insects - which usually fly well - abandon their flight ability and develop some other specialised structures. With modern morphological techniques such as scanning electron microscope (SEM), computer based 3D-reconstruction and traditional hand drawings, I demonstrated these specialized thoracic structures in detail. The reduced or absent flight rel... show more

BLOG POST: Getting close to the first major phylogenetic analysis of Aleocharinae

This post was written by Igor Orlov. Aleocharinae are one of the biggest monophyletic groups of living organisms on Earth and include about 16,200 described species worldwide. They are a subfamily of Staphylinidae, a mega-diverse insect group, also known as Rove Beetles. Although this group is an important component of the biosphere and several species are used in the biological control of pests in agriculture, the poor knowledge and undevelop... show more

BIG4's fifth and last workshop is taking place in Sofia, Bulgaria

Starting today, 16 April 2018, the last BIG4 workshop will take place over three busy days in Sofia, Bulgaria, where our MSCA fellows will have the chance to present their results and learn from invited professionals in the scientific, business and publishing fields alike. Close to the end of a very successful project where 15 early career researchers had the opportunity to be part of 15 PhD projects, focused on the biosystematics, informatics... show more

BIG4 Fall Workshop in La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain, Oct 29- Nov 3 2017- By Trevor O. Burt

The BIG4 Autumn workshop was held October 29th to the 3rd of November on the idyllic La Palma of the Canary Islands, Spain. A better backdrop could not have been selected for all BIG4 students, supervisors and many other participants to discuss and workshop a number of subjects relating to phylogeography, citizen science, publication and manuscript development, and entrepreneurship. Students were also granted opportunity to outline progress in th... show more

With a lot of legs in the backpack to the 17th International Congress of Myriapodology, Krabi, Thailand - By Anne-Sarah Ganske

Despite being an outlier among the insect-focused BIG4-project, myriapods are a highly interesting group of animals to study and to discuss about. From July 23rd to 26th 2017, myriapodologists from all over the world met in Krabi (Thailand) to present their research on these fascinating creatures during the 17th International Congress of Myriapodology organized by members of the Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. That was a great opportunity for ... show more

UPCOMING EVENT : BIG4 Workshop - Phylogeography OCT/NOV 2017

The planning of the next BIG workshop is currently underway and will be held on La Palma, Canary Islands. The workshop is scheduled to start from the 29th Oct untill 3th Nov 2017. Further updates and information about the workshop will be coming soon. You may also contact the organisers, Niklas Wahlberg, Elsa Call or Hamid Ghavani.

My secondment to Australia - By Josh Jenkins Shaw

Late January saw me switch the Danish winter for Sydney’s warm climate of around 38C. As part of my BIG4 PhD, I spent several months at the Australian Museum for a ‘change of environment’ and my research stay abroad. I was based next to the museums insect collection and supervised by Dr Chris Reid, a research scientist working mostly on leaf beetles (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). The main aim of my stay was to join Chris and the A... show more

BIG4 Spring Workshop in Vienna, 8-13 May 2017 - By Si-Pei Liu

After recent rise and domination of the phylogenomics and bioinformatics, the chance for charming morphology come-back to insect systematics has arrived! During the second week of May in beautiful Vienna, all BIG4 students and supervisors attended the 4th workshop "Morphology of invertebrates: 3D imaging and novel approaches for Biosystematics". Morphological characters are the most visual monitors reflecting the evolutionary chang... show more

COMING SOON! BIG4 Workshop in Vienna, May 8th – 13th 2017 NHMW, Austria

Morphology of invertebrates: 3D imaging and novel approaches for Biosystematics The motto of this project is innovation: how to create and manipulate complex 3D data, approach novel statistical models, master techniques like multifocus imaging, as well as SEM and digital illustration, including software to create and assemble images for publications. Monday 8th will be an open day devoted to inspirational talks on the legacy and prospects of... show more

BIG4 Fall Workshop in Sweden, 10 -19 Oct 2016 - By Janina Lisa Kypke

Between 10-19 October 2016 all BIG4 students, supervisors and a number of outside participants got together again for a workshop on phylogenetics, phylogenomics, citizen science and entrepreneurship, as well as for the mid-term meeting. This time the workshop was organized by Fredrik Ronquist and his ‘three wise men’: the BIG4 PhD fellows Daniel Marquina, Erik Gobbo and Miroslav Valan. They had the outstanding idea to place the worksh... show more

COMING SOON! Stockholm workshop: Tovetorp field station south of Stockholm, 9th Oct- 19th Oct 2016

BIG 4 Fall Workshop 2016 Phylogenetics, phylogenomics, citizen science and entrepreneurship   The BIG4 fall workshop 2016 has two main themes. One theme is focused on phylogenetics, phylogenomics and bioinformatics, and is intended to provide students with an introduction to these topics, focused on skills that will be useful in their PhD research projects. There will be a mixture of lectures and practicals; students are encouraged to... show more

Successful BIG4 field workshop in the Czech Republic, 6-10 June 2016 - By Joshua Max Jenkins Shaw

All students of the BIG4 consortium along with some supervisors and external collaborators convened on the idyllic surroundings of the Podyjí National Park near Havraníky in the South Moravian region on the Czech Republic. The workshop, successfully organized by Martin Fikáček from the National Museum of Prague, was the first opportunity for many students and supervisors to catch up after the kick-off meeting in Copenhag... show more

Entomological expedition to Western Cape region, South Africa- By Emmanuel Arriaga Varela

The southernmost corner of Africa, the Cape Region, is home of one of the most peculiar ensembles of living organisms in the globe. The systematic study of the highly endemic beetle fauna of this area is crucial for the understanding of the evolution and historical biogeography of many taxa. For this reason the members of the Fikáček lab of the National Museum in Prague, and of the Zoological department of the Charles University at Pr... show more

COMING SOON! BIG4 field workshop in the Czech Republic, 6th June-10th June 2016

The aim of the workshop is for all members of the BIG4 consortium to meet and catch-up with each other’s progress, celebrate first achievements, discuss difficulties and problems & to experience a practical field-based exposure to diversity of BIG4 with the focus on the dominating insect families. Location: The workshop will take place in the National Park Podyjí at the Czech-Austrian border, wi... show more

Student Conference on Conservation Science (SCCS)

After the first successful Student Conference on Conservation Science (SCCS) Hungary in 2015, the MTA Centre for Ecological Research announces the second SCCS Hungary to take place from 30 Aug to 2 Sep 2016, in Tihany (Lake Balaton).SCCS Hungary offers young conservationists the opportunity to meet renowned plenary speakers, to attend career-enriching trainings, workshops and field trips and to have fun at the largest lake in Central Europe, Lake... show more

Why I decided to publish my PhD Project Plan, a guest post by Viktor Senderov

According to Was ist Open Science? there are six leading principles of Open Science: open methodology, open source, open data, open access, open peer review, and open educational resources. If I am to have an open thesis, then I have to strive to apply those six principles to my own work. In the spirit of this effort, I and my advisor, Prof. Penev, have decided to publish my PhD project plan as a RIO article.RIO (Research Ideas and Outcomes) is a... show more

FOLLOW-UP from BIG4 Kick-Off in Copenhagen

Talks and images from our network meeting is now available on the BIG4 webpage. Please find them respectively in Agenda & Minutes and Images under RESOURCES.

First Impressions and First Results by Viktor Senderov (@vsenderov,

I recently blogged on my PhD thesis blog about the BIG4 kick-off meeting in Copenhagen. Here, I will revisit this topic and give my first impressions as well as report some first BIG4-relevant results. As I pointed out, the format of the meeting was two days of presentations by students and PI’s about individual projects, then a field-trip day, then two more days of presentations and entomology-related workshops lead by senior lecturers.... show more

SEPTEMBER 14-18, 2015: Successful BIG4 Kick-off in Copenhagen, Denmark

BIG thank you, all participants of the BIG4 Kick-off! We held our first all network meeting, with all students having a chance to meet each other and every BIG4 supervisor. The meeting involved a variety of scientific activities and social events including presentations of each individual BIG4 project, talks about BIG4’s fellow’s rights and obligations, ITN financing rules, and network work packages. Finally, ITN fellows had a wo... show more

UPCOMING EVENT : BIG4 Kick-off in Copenhagen, DENMARK (UPDATES!)

The BIG4 Kick off meeting will be held in Copenhagen from the 14th to 18th of September 2015.It will start off at the International House with talks from the project Coordinator, EU officer, project supervisors and some students. During final days, a collections-related workshop will take place at the Zoological Museum, with talks about entomological collections by speakers from various natural history museums. The scientific program of the ... show more