General research interests

Passionate by species evolution and conservation, my interests primarily lie on using genomics to evaluate and infer the demographic and evolutionary histories of biological organisms and subsequently apply this knowledge to the preservation of biodiversity or a general understanding of species evolution.

Education and professional experience

since 04/2024 Post-doctoral fellow in the group of Prof. Dr. Yvonne Willi, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Basel (UNIBAS), Switzerland
2022 – 2023 Post-doctoral fellow in the group of Dr. Mathias Currat, Department of Genetics and Evolution, University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland. During my time at the University of Geneva, I researched inter-lineage introgressive hybridization. Specifically, my work consisted in identifying and describing genomic summary statistics that, when computed on spatially and/or temporally distributed genomes, provide a means to estimate the timing and number of admixture events that have occurred between interbreeding biological entities, as well as to infer the extent of their zone of hybridization on a geographic scale
2016 – 2021 Ph.D. in Environmental and Conservation Sciences, Department of Biological Sciences, North Dakota State University (NDSU), Fargo, ND, United States. Doctoral Dissertation: “Evolutionary and ecological processes in conservation and preservation of plat evolutionary potential”
2014 – 2016 MSc in Behavior, Evolution, and Conservation, Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne (UNIL), Switzerland. Master Thesis: “Is the pool frog Pelophylax lessonae still present in Switzerland? Insights given from extensive sampling”. Pre-master Project: “Investigating bacterial chemoreceptors for toluene”.
2011 – 2014 Bachelor of Sciences, University of Lausanne (UNIL), Switzerland. Independent Project: “Study of the TXNIP protein in metastatic melanoma cells”


Di Santo LN, Quilodran CS, Currat M (2023) Temporal variation in introgressed segments’ length statistics computed from a limited number of ancient genomes sheds light on past admixture pulses. Molecular Biology and Evolution 40(12):msad252,

Di Santo LN, Hoban SM, Parchman TL, Wright JW, Hamilton JA (2022) Reduced representation sequencing to understand the evolutionary history of Torrey pine (Pinus torreyana Parry) with implications for rare species conservation. Molecular Ecology 31(18):4622-4639,

Di Santo LN, Polgar M, Nies S, Hodgkiss P, Canning CA, Wright JW Hamilton JA (2021) Seed morphological traits as a tool to quantify variation maintained in ex situ collections: a case study in Pinus torreyana. AoB Plants 13(5):plab058,

Braasch JE, Di Santo LN, Tarble ZJ, Prasifka JR Hamilton JA (2021) Testing for evolutionary change in restoration: A genomic comparison between ex situ, native, and commercial seed sources of Helianthus maximiliani. Evolutionary Applications 14(9):2206-2220,

Di Santo LN, Hamilton JA (2021) Using environmental and geographic data to optimize ex situ collections and preserve evolutionary potential. Conservation Biology 35(2):733-744,

Dufresnes C, Denoël M, Di Santo LN. Dubey S (2017) Multiple uprising invasions of Pelophylax water frogs, inducing a new hybridogenetic complex. Scientific Reports 7(1):1-10,

Dufresnes C, Di Santo LN, Leuenberger J, Schuerch J, Mazepa G, Grandjean N, Canestrelli D, Perrin N, Dubey S (2017) Cryptic invasion of Italian pool frogs (Pelophylax bergeri) across Western Europe unraveled by multilocus phylogeography. Biological Invasions 19(5):1407-1420,


Dr. Lionel Di Santo

University of Basel
Department of Environmental Sciences
Plant Ecology and Evolution
Schönbeinstrasse 6
4056 Basel