Rebecca Chen

Rebecca Chen

My fundamental motivation for conducting research in ecology and evolution is my drive to contribute to conserving the planet and its fascinating biodiversity. Over the course of my education, my research interests have ranged from (applied) ethology, cognitive biology, and primatology to evolutionary ecology, behavioural genetics, and bioinformatics.

For my PhD project at the Hoffman lab, I will use various state-of-the-art sequencing techniques to unravel the genetic architecture of multiple sexually selected traits using the lekking black grouse (Lyrurus tetrix) as a model species. Moreover, I will explore the effects of inbreeding depression on sexual trait expression, and the role of DNA methylation as a link between the two. This interdisciplinary project in collaboration with Carl Soulsbury and Kees van Oers provides us with an exceptional opportunity to combine a detailed long-term dataset with pioneering molecular techniques to address classic questions concerning sexual selection that biologists have been debating ever since The Origin.

Previous Research and Other Interests

During my BSc degree in Animal Behaviour, I studied a free-ranging population of tamarin monkeys in the Peruvian Amazon with Field Projects International, after which I wrote my BSc thesis on the relationship between breeding status and feeding behaviour in these New-World monkeys. In the following field season, I managed the Sensory Ecology team on various projects that investigated the role of olfactory communication in dispersal.

Since working with the unique population of feral chickens on Kauai, Hawaii, with the Wright lab for my MSc thesis, my interests in genomic-based approaches to address questions on evolutionary biology has exponentially grown. Whereas my thesis focused on the behavioural changes as a consequence of feralization, working within a behavioural genetics lab inspired me to learn more about the proximate mechanisms that are responsible for phenotypic variation.

After assisting genome wide association studies at the Wright Lab to understand inter- and intra-individual behavioural variation of the feral chickens, I developed my interests in genomics, epigenetics and bioinformatics during my Recent Graduate Erasmus internship at the Netherlands Institute for Ecology. Here, I worked on the intergenerational effects on DNA methylation in the great tit (Parus major).

I enjoy staying active, especially in nature such as hiking or camping, or you can find me in the gym or at the football field.


Prof. Dr. Joe Hoffman, University of Bielefeld
Dr. Carl Soulsbury, University of Lincoln
Prof. Dr. Kees van Oers, Netherlands Institute of Ecology

Curriculum Vitae
  • 2021–Present: PhD Student – University of Bielefeld, Germany
  • 2021: Intern – Netherlands Institute of Ecology, the Netherlands
  • 2018–2020: MSc Applied Ethology and Animal Biology – Linköping University, Sweden
  • 2017–2018: Research Assistant / Field Manager – Field Projects International
  • 2014–2018: BSc Animal Behaviour – University of Aberdeen, Scotland

Contact Details

Department of Animal Behaviour
Bielefeld University
Postfach 100131
33501 Bielefeld

e-mail: rebecca.chen[at]
research Gate: Rebecca Chen
LinkedIn: Rebecca Chen

twitter: @rebeccas_chen