Institute News

James Lightfoot becomes EMBO Young Investigator

Our warmest congratulations to James Lightfoot, group leader of our Genetics of Behavior lab, on being selected for the prestigious EMBO (European Molecular Biology Organization) Young Investigators Programme! He is one of the 26 international researchers selected this year.

His lab explores the evolution of complex behaviors, as little is known of the evolutionary events generating behavioral diversity in animals. James Lightfoot and his team use two roundworm species for their studies: Caenorhabditis elegans and Pristionchus pacificus, which have distinct developmental and behavioral traits. “Luckily for us, there is an extensive collection of methods and databases available for nematodes. Therefore, we can combine behavioral studies with molecular and genetic tools to identify the molecular, neuronal and circuit innovations that contribute to behavioral adaptations - across evolutionary timescales.” says James Lightfoot.

EMBO, the organization behind the Young Investigators Programme, is an international organization of life scientists and directs funding from member states towards research fellowships, courses, workshops, conferences, and science policy initiatives. “I am honored to become a part of the EMBO Young Investigators Programme. The additional support offered by the program, including financial assistance and networking opportunities, will greatly benefit our scientific pursuits as well as have a positive impact on all the members of the lab. Furthermore, I am eager to engage with fellow Young Investigators during meetings over the upcoming four years, and I am particularly excited to establish new collaborations and exchanging scientific knowledge.” says James Lightfoot. In addition, he will receive an award of 15,000 euros in the second year of his tenure.

To official press release by EMBO

To Lightfoot Lab Website

To our interview with James Lightfoot


Different feeding behaviors have evolved across the nematode phyla. Left shows the microbivorous nematode species Caenorhabditis elegans feeding on its typical bacterial diet. Right shows the omnivorous Pristionchus pacificus predating on another nematode species.

For further information please contact:

Dr. James Lightfoot
Group Leader