Michael Kalyuzhny 2015-2016

Institution of PhD:
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Academic Discipline of PhD:
Ecology, Evolution and Behavior
PhD Advisor/s:
Prof. Ronen Kadmon and Prof. Nadav Shnerb
Dissertation Topic:
A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis of Factors Affecting the Dynamics and Structure of Ecological Communities
Present Institution:
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Present Academic Position:
PhD Student

Michael Kalyuzhny was born in Novosibirsk, Russia, and immigrated to Israel with his parents during his childhood. He grew up in Haifa on Mount Carmel, where the surrounding forests evoked his passion for nature and the outdoors. As the son, grandson and nephew of scientists, he was a keen reader of science books and attended science camps from an early age. He decided to study biology at The Hebrew University, where he quickly began a modeling project in the laboratory of Prof. Kadmon, investigating the effect of environmental heterogeneity on species diversity. This study, published in PNAS, questioned one of ecology’s most fundamental concepts: that a heterogeneous environment always promotes species coexistence.

Both Michael’s MSc (summa cum laude) and his PhD address the dynamic aspects of biodiversity theories. The phenomenon of multiple species coexisting at small spatial scales attracts the attention of every naturalist since it appears to contradict the notion of “survival of the fittest.” Many mechanistic theories have been proposed to explain the phenomenon, but they’ve been scrutinized primarily in terms of their ability to explain “snapshots” of ecological communities. Michael’s PhD research will develop methods to examine how well these theories can explain the changes and the dynamics that are observed in several long-term monitored communities. His preliminary results, published in several research papers, indicate that many such communities are much less stable than was previously recognized, and this must be taken into consideration in conservation and management programs.

Michael represented Israel at the Complex Systems Summer School 2014 at the Santa Fe Institute. As a university teaching assistant and a high school lecturer, his goal is to “infect” others with his passions.