Sebastian Novak

Postgraduate Researcher


+43 (0)2243 9000 4711

Research Interests

I am interested in evolution in spatially and temporally fluctuating environments, and in the role of population size dynamics that is bound to vary due to environmental fluctuations.

  • Selection on a haploid population is generally unable to maintain diversity. It is unclear if a temporally fluctuating environment is capable of sustaining variability. With additional mechanisms, e.g., the storage effect, the answer is positive. However, can diversity be maintained even without such effects?
  • Stress-induced mutator pathways increase mutation rates in organisms under stress to improve their chances to obtain beneficial mutations. Such pathways potentially increase in frequency due to linkage to those mutations. How often must stress occur such that a stress-induced mutator pathway is maintained in the population?
  • There is recent evidence that many populations show heritable variation in their dispersal characteristics (genotype-dependent dispersal). This has two consequences: First, dispersal itself may evolve due to natural selection, and gene flow may interact in complex ways with other evolutionary phenomena. I am interested in what factors influence dispersal evolution and how the presence of multiple dispersal strategies changes our conclusions from evolutionary models.

Apart from that, I did some work in evolutionary game theory, and in disease and host-pathogen dynamics.



S. Novak and N.H. Barton (2017). When does frequency-independent selection maintain genetic variation?, Genetics 207(2), 653-668

M. Lukacisinova, S. Novak and T. Paixao (2017). Stress-induced Mutagenesis: Stress Diversity Facilitates the Persistence of Mutator Genes, PLoS Computational Biology 13(7): e1005609

R. Kollar and S. Novak (2017). Existence of traveling waves for the generalized F-KPP equation, Bull. Math. Biol. 75(3), 525-559

S. Novak and R. Kollar (2017). Spatial gene frequency waves under genotype-dependent dispersal, Genetics 205, 367-374

B. Trubenova, S. Novak, R. Hager (2015). Indirect genetic effects and the dynamics of social interactions, PLoS ONE 10(5), e0126907

S. Novak, S. Cremer (2015). Fungal disease dynamics in insect societies: optimal killing rates and the ambivalent effect of high social interaction rates, Journal of Theoretical Biology 372, 54-64

S. Novak (2014). Habitat heterogeneities versus spatial type frequency variances as driving forces of dispersal evolution, Ecology and Evolution 4(24):4589-4597

S. Novak, K. Chatterjee, M.A. Nowak (2013). Density games, Journal of Theoretical Biology 334, 26-34

S. Novak (2011). The number of equilibria in the diallelic Levene model with multiple demes, Theoretical Population Biology 79(3), 97-101

Reviews & Commentaries

N.H. Barton, S. Novak, and T. Paixao (2014). Diverse forms of selection in evolution and computer science, PNAS 111(29): 10398-10399

Curriculum Vitae

08/2016 - 01/2017: Postgraduate researcher at IST Austria

09/2011 - 07/2016: PhD student at IST Austria, Barton Group

05/2011 - 09/2011: Student intern at IST Austria

10/2010 - 04/2011: Researcher at the University of Vienna

10/2004 - 07/2010: Mag.rer.nat., University of Vienna, Mathematics

10/2004 - 06/2009: BA, Konservatorium Wien Privatuniversität, Accordion