Dr Alexander Blanke

DFG Research Fellow

Faculty of Science and Engineering


01482 466760

Dr Alexander Blanke's interests lie in the skull biomechanics of insects, arguably the most successful animal group in terms of diversity, biomass and impact on humans.

The ultimate goal of his research is to understand the evolution of their mouthparts and head capsules, and the particular contribution of these structures to their overall evolutionary success.

Consequently, he has a strong background in insect systematics, evolution and morphology. Mechanical research on insect skulls is still in its infancy.


Research Interests

  • The relationships of the first lineages of winged insects (Pterygota): dragonflies (Odonata), mayflies (Ephemeroptera), and all other winged insects (Neoptera)


Blanke, A., Schmitz, H., Dutel, H., Patera, A., Fagan, M., 'Form function relationships in dragonfly mandibles under an evolutionary perspective', Journal of The Royal Society Interface (2017 - in review)

Suring, W., Meusemann, K., Blanke, A., Marien, J., Schol, T., Agamennone, V., Faddeeva-Vakhrusheva, A., Berg, M. P., Brouwer, B., 1KITE Basal Hexapod consortium, van Straalen, N. M., Roelofs, D., 'Evolutionary ecology of beta-lactam gene clusters in animals', Molecular Ecology (2017 - in review)

Blanke, A., 'Modularity, morphological integration and the evolution of dragonfly wing venation', Evolution (2017 - in review)

Blanke, A., Watson, P.J., Holbrey, R., Fagan, M.J., 'Computational biomechanics changes our view on insect head evolution', Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 284: 20162412 (2017)

David S., Funken J., Potthast W., Blanke A., 'Musculoskeletal modeling of the dragonfly mandible system as an aid to understanding the role of single muscles in an evolutionary context', Journal of Experimental Biology, doi: 10.1242/jeb.132399 (2016)

Professional highlights

Academic qualifications

  • PhD in Biology, University of Bonn, Germany, supervisors: Prof. Bernhard Misof and Prof. Dr. Rolf G. Beutel (2013)

  • Diploma in Biology. University of Bonn, Germany (2007)

  • Study of economics at the University of Bonn, Germany (2006-2008)

Awards and accolades

  • 2016 Invitation of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) for a short term fellowship

  • 2015 Horst-Wiehe dissertation prize of the German Zoological Society (DZG)

  • 2015-2017 DFG funding within the "Research Fellowship" program

  • 2015-2017 DAAD fellowship declined due to successful DFG fellowship

  • 2014 Bernhard-Rensch dissertation prize of the Society for Biological Systematics (GfBS)

  • 2014-2016 Super Photon ring-8GeV (SPring-8), Japan: funding by SPring-8 for experiments at beamline BL47XU

  • 2014-2015 JSPS funding within the program: Postdoctoral Fellowships for Research Abroad“

  • 2014-2015 DAAD fellowship within the joint research program of the DAAD and the University of Tsukuba

  • 2011 Alexander Koenig Gesellschaft (AKG), Bonn, Germany. Travel funding.

  • 2010-2014 European Union funding for experiments at the beamline TOMCAT of the Swiss Light Source (SLS)

  • 2009-2015 DESY (Deutsches Elektronen Synchrotron) funding for experiments at beamline DORIS III / BW2 and beamline PETRA III / IBL P05 of the HASYLAB facilities

  • 2009 Alexander Koenig Stiftung (AKS), Bonn, Germany. Travel funding.

  • 2008 Alexander Koenig Gesellschaft (AKG), Bonn, Germany. Travel funding.