People

The BEAP Lab, October, 2023

Daniel J. Richter

Principal Investigator

Daniel began his scientific career as a computer programmer at the Whitehead Institute Center for Genome Research (now the Broad Institute). His PhD research, jointly supervised by Nicole King and Michael Eisen at the University of California, Berkeley, focused on culturing and sequencing new species of choanoflagellates, the closest relatives of animals, in order to reconstruct the evolution of gene content in the lineage leading to animals. His postdoctoral research, beginning at the Roscoff Marine Station, and continuing at the Institute for Evolutionary Biology, investigated the global-scale biogeography and gene expression of marine protists. Daniel loves to spend time outdoors, especially if it involves bouldering.


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Cristiana Sigona

Lab Manager

Cristiana completed her Master's and PhD degrees at the University of Pisa, Italy, where her research focused on the biology and ecology of ciliates and their bacterial endosymbionts, and included research stays at the University of Yamaguchi, Japan and Saint Petersburg State University, Russia. In her spare time, Cristiana enjoys practicing Japanese archery (which is also a great way to train for the concentration necessary to perform single-cell isolation techniques).

Margarita Skamnelou

PhD Student

As an undergraduate, Margarita studied biology at the University of Patras (Greece). She pursued her Master’s degree in biomedicine at the same university, specializing in regenerative medicine and stem cells. Her research focused on elucidating the mechanisms responsible for multiciliated cell differentiation. Aiming to follow her passion for evolutionary biology, she joined the BEAP Lab on our scientific journey to reveal the unknown biology of the most abundant marine microbial eukaryotes. In her free time, she enjoys feeding giraffes and drinking cold coffee or "Freddo" (as a traditional Greek person should!).

Àlex Gàlvez i Morante

PhD Student

Àlex carried out his bachelor's degree in Biotechnology at the University of Barcelona. He obtained his Master’s degree in Genetics and Genomics at the same university, and became a member of the BEAP Lab during his Master's thesis, where he focused his research on testing methods for ancestral gene content reconstruction. At the moment, he is taking part in our project to reveal the unknown biology of the most abundant marine microbial eukaryotes. Outside of the scientific world, Àlex enjoys spending time surrounded by friends and practicing sports.

Daryna Zavadska

PhD Student

Daryna finished her bachelor's degree at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv in Ukraine. There she worked in the Phycology lab on the evolution of meiotic genes in green algae. During her studies she did internships in research groups at the University of Konstanz, WWU Munster and in the BIOCEV Center, investigating various aspects of protist biology and evolution. She received a Master's degree in Omics Data Analysis from the University of Vic. Her passions are protist biodiversity, endosymbioses and eukaryogenesis. Daryna likes rock music and sci-fi.

Maria Carlos Oliveira

Lab Technician

Maria studied Biochemistry at the University of Aveiro and specialized in Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials during her Master's thesis at the MERLN Institute, in The Netherlands. She later worked in Politecnico di Milano producing organ-on-chips to mimic heart disease. At the moment, she is our Lab Technician aiming to help the lab in revealing the unknown biology of the most abundant marine microbial eukaryotes. Outside the lab, Maria is also interested in science visualization to help scientists communicate better their results (visit her web site here!). She is also always ready to play board games with friends or hiking while taking photos.

Adrià Auladell

Postdoctoral Researcher

Adrià received a microbiology degree from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, followed by a bioinformatics Master’s at Pompeu Fabra University. Afterwards, he pursued a PhD focused in the seasonality of marine prokaryotes through omics approaches at the Marine Sciences Institute (ICM), also in Barcelona. At the moment, he is creating a pipeline to study how the expression of relevant biogeochemical genes changes using metatranscriptomics. Outside the academic world, he enjoys climbing, having a drink with friends and reading books.


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Miguel Méndez Sandín

Beatriu de Pinós Postdoctoral Fellow

Miguel's curiosity for protists started during his PhD thesis at the Biological Station of Roscoff (France). Under the supervision of Fabrice Not, he explored the molecular diversity and evolution of Radiolaria. Then, he carried out a postdoctoral project at Uppsala University (Sweden) with Fabien Burki where he explored the main biotic interactions during the early life of eukaryotes. Here at the IBE, he will explore the vast undescribed diversity of microbial eukaryotes that are only known from their short environmental DNA sequences, and unveil their role in eukaryotic evolution and ecology. Miguel enjoys rock climbing and other outdoors activities such as surfing and skiing.


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Xènia Maya

Lab Technician, IBE Microbe Hub

Xènia studied biology at the University of Barcelona, where she specialized in molecular, cellular and systems biology. During her final degree project, she worked on the transdifferentiation of human muscle cells into fibroblasts in 3D cultures at the IBEC (Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia). She later did her Master’s thesis at IBE, where she studied the role of insulin receptors in crockaches. She now works as a technician in the IBE Microbe Hub (a consortium of the BEAP, Multicellgenome and del Campo labs) as part of AGAUR's INVESTIGO 2023 program. In her spare time, she likes to do gymnastics, karate and jiu-jitsu.

Viktoriya Petlovana

Visiting Scientist


Viktoriya received her master's degree in virology from Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv (Ukraine). There, she defended her doctoral dissertation on the interaction between soil algae and viruses of higher plants. She completed internships at the University of California, San Diego (USA), focusing on expression of human therapeutic proteins and industrial enzymes using the green algae Chlamydomonas reinhardii as the production platform and biotechnological approaches to the cultivation of microalgae for the production of biofuels, as well as at the University of Innsbruck (Austria), where she researched chloroviruses of endosymbiotic green algae isolated from various ciliates.

Currently, Viktoriya is working on the study of unknown, abundant dinoflagellates and their role in the global ocean ecology. In her free time, Viktoriya enjoys traveling, playing bowling, visiting museums and art galleries, or simply taking leisurely walks around the city.


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Helena Mostazo Zapata

Undergraduate thesis student

Helena is currently in the last year of her bachelor’s degree in Biology at the University of Barcelona. Following her passion for evolution and microbial ecology, she decided to join the BEAP Lab in order to carry out her final degree project, which focuses on the isolation, sequencing and characterization of a Telonema species from Blanes, Spain. In her free time, she likes traveling, reading books and cats.

Natalia Morales

Master's student


Natalia studied Biology at the University of La Laguna, including a year stay at the Adam Mickiewicz University. For the development of her bachelors degree final project she collaborated with SABE (Gran Canaria) in the detection of marine biotoxins in fish from the Canary Islands.

She is currently studying for a Master's degree in Oceanography and Marine Environmental Management at the University of Barcelona and is working on her thesis at IBE, focusing on environmental DNA sequencing combined with oceanographic simulations. The aim is to understand how plankton communities are transported in the sea, their behavior during transport, and whether ocean simulations are an accurate methodology to study their origin and movement.

In her spare time she likes scuba diving, hanging out with friends and going to concerts.

Miguel Ángel Fernández Alcón

Master's student

Miguel did his bachelor's degree in Biotechnology at the Valencia Polytechnic University. During these years, he did several internships at the Food Microbiology Advanced Centre and the University Clinical Hospital of Valencia. In his last year, he completed his bachelor's thesis at the University of Chemistry and Technology (Prague), where he was able to analyse undescribed bacterial species in permafrost samples. Right now, he's performing his Master's degree at the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST), where he did his major project in the Comparative Genomics group at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB). Miguel came to the BEAP Lab to perform his second Master's internship, where he is characterizing some of our abundant protists with different microscopy techniques. Besides this, Miguel likes playing the guitar and contact juggling.

Join the Lab

Master's students: we are happy to host Master's students from local universities, including Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) and the University of Barcelona (UB, for example, the Master's in Genetics and Genomics or Oceanography), the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST), and others. Please contact Daniel if you are enrolled in a local Master's program and would be interested in conducting a research stay with us!

PhD students: please contact Daniel if you would like to discuss the possibility of applying for a Doctoral INPhINIT Fellowship from "la Caixa" Foundation, an FPU (Spain) or FI (Catalunya), or another fellowship.

Postdocs: please contact Daniel if you would like to discuss the possibility of applying for a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship, a Beatriu de Pinós fellowship, a "la Caixa" Junior Leader fellowship, an HFSP Postdoctoral Fellowship, a Juan de la Cierva fellowship from CSIC, or another fellowship.

For a more complete list of opportunities to join us at any career stage, please see this Google Document.

We are strongly committed to promoting equity for groups that have been historically excluded from academia. Daniel also helps to co-coordinate the Diversity Committee of IBE.

Previous Lab Members

Tanasije Rakić

Master's Student, 2022

Tanasije finished his Bachelor's degree at the University of Belgrade in Serbia. He studied Molecular Biology and Physiology at the Faculty of Biology where he had the opportunity to familiarize himself with a very broad range of biology related subjects and methods. He decided to continue his studies by pursuing the Genetics and Genomics Master’s degree at the University of Barcelona. For his Master’s thesis Tanasije has decided to join the BEAP lab and expand his knowledge of protists as well attempt to make a contribution to better understanding of the complex global marine plankton ecology. Outside of the lab Tanasije loves to spend time in the company of friends or to relax by watching TV shows, browsing various articles on the internet or playing video games.

Amàlia Morató i Piñol

Master's Student, 2022

Amàlia received her Bachelor's degree in Biotechnology from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB). During this time she performed a research stay at the Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics, studying the genomics of transposon evolution, and also developed an interest in marine biotechnology. She is currently in the Master's program in Oceanography at the Universitat de Barcelona (UB). Amàlia enjoys learning about photography, reading books and going to concerts and music festivals.