Contacts Centre for Environmental Biology



CBA research group(s):

Experimental Evolution

Personal webpage

Team webpage

Filipa Vala

Main Research Interests

I'm a PhD in Ecology and Evolution (University of Amsterdam, 2001). As a researcher I studied the evolution of host-parasite interactions, particularly, interactions with the maternally-transmitted bacteria Wolbachia. This line of research has implications for a few major evolutionary topics: major transitions in evolution and multilevel selection theory, evolution of virulence, evolution of sex, speciation processes. Around 2006, I made a career move to science communication. This was motivated by a training period at the daily newspaper, Público. I've worked for television and documentary, exhibitions, education programs, and have single or co-authored a few books. Presently, I am the coordinator of the Evolutionary Studies Program EvoS at the University of Lisbon, and assist the Centre for Environmental Biology (CBA) with their media relations and science communication outreach. Within the context of EvoS, I am planning to develop a research project that uses multilevel selection theory to explain rationality (or the lack there of) in human economic behavior. Perhaps I've made a full circle?


Academic Qualifications

- 2001 PhD (Universiteit van Amsterdam, UvA)

- 1997 M.Sc. (Universiteit van Amsterdam)

- 1995 5-year college graduation (Faculty of Science, University of Lisbon)

Relevant Publications:

Matos M., Simões P., Santos M.A., Seabra S.G., Faria G.S., Vala F., Santos J. & Fragata I. 2015. History, chance and selection during phenotypic and genomic experimental evolution: replaying the tape of life at different levels. Front. Gene. 6:71. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2015.00071​

Vala F. & Matos M. 2014. Pensar a nossa espécie à luz da teoria evolutiva: passado e presente. In:Professor Carlos Almaça (1934-2010) - Estado da Arte em Áreas Científicas do Seu Interesse. MJ Alves, A Cartaxana, AM Correia, LF Lopes (eds), Museu Nacional de História Natural e da Ciência, Lisboa, pp. 197-237. ​

Vala F. 2009. Darwin em Cabo Verde (Darwin in Cape Verde). Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisboa.

Vala F., Breeuwer J.A.J. & Sabelis M. W. 2004. Endosymbiont associated assortative mating in a spider mite. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 17:692-700.

Egas M., Sabelis M.W., Vala F.& Lesna I. 2003. Adaptive speciation in agricultural pests. In Adaptive Speciation. U. Dieckmann, J.A.J. Metz, M. Doebeli & D. Tautz (eds.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Vala F., Breeuwer J. A. J. & Sabelis M. W. 2003. Sorting out the effects of Wolbachia, genotype and inbreeding on life history traits in a spider-mite. Experimental and Applied Acarology 29(3-4):253-264.

Vala F., Breeuwer J. A. J. & Sabelis M.W. 2003. No variation for Wolbachia-induced hybrid breakdown in two populations of a spider mite. Experimental and Applied Acarology 29(1-2):1-12.

Vala F., Van Opijnen T., Breeuwer J.A.J. & Sabelis M.W. 2003. Genetic conflicts over sex ratio: mite - endosymbiont interactions. The American Naturalist 36:254-267.

Egas M., Vala F. & Breeuwer J.A.J. 2002. On the evolution of cytoplasmic incompatibility in haplodiploids. Evolution 56:1101-1109.

Agrawal A.A., Vala F. & Sabelis M. W. 2002. Induction of preference and performance after acclimation to novel hosts in a phytophagous spider mite. The American Naturalist 159:553-565.

Vala F., Weeks A., Claessen D.,  Breeuwer J.A.J. & Sabelis M. W. 2002. Within- and between-population variation for Wolbachia induced reproductive incompatibility in a haplodiploid mite. Evolution 56:1331-1339.

Vala F., Breeuwer J.A.J. & Sabelis M.W. 2000. Wolbachia-induced ‘hybrid breakdown’ in the two-spotted spider mite Tetranychus urticae Koch. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 267:1931-1937.


Ongoing Projects:

The Evolutionary Studies Program (EvoS) hosted by CBA: The program will be launched  in the academic year of 2010-11 at the University of Lisbon (UL). EvoS acknowledges that evolutionary theory provides a framework for understanding all living processes including humanity, and aims at turning evolutionary theory into a common language to all areas that pertain to the natural world and human affairs. EvoS is a program originally created by the Professor and Biologist, David Sloan Wilson at Binghamton University. Since then,  EvoS programs have been created at other campuses in the United States and Canada. EvoS at the University of Lisbon is the first EvoS program to be launched in Europe. EvoS courses will be made available to graduate and post graduate students from any Faculty and to High School teachers. In a later phase, other professionals will also be accepted. In addition to EvoS, a series of initiatives aiming at communicating to the general public knowledge and progress in evolutionary studies relevant to the natural world and  human affairs will be developed. Finally,  a set of initiatives will be developed to introduce the EvoS framework in developing portuguese-speaking countries.