Videos about my work

I made several short video’s about my work. See this album on Vimeo.

Soft sweeps are more likely than you may think

A video about the review paper about selective sweeps that I published with Joachim Hermisson in the spring of 2017.

Evolutionary rescue and soft sweeps

A drawn animation movie! When I was a kid I wanted to work for Disney, so this is a dream come (a little bit) true!

The paper is here.

How HIV treatments affect selective sweeps

This video was made by Alison Feder, who is also the first author on the paper.

Drug resistance and population genetics

This is one of five short videos about drug resistance and population genetics in TB, HIV, Influenza, MRSA and Malaria. The paper is published in Molecular Ecology. You can also download it here: 2015Wilson_et_al-Molecular_Ecology.

Drug compartments and the evolution of multi-drug resistance

The video is an abstract for this paper: Stefany Moreno-Gamez, Alison L Hill, Daniel I.S. Rosenbloom, Dmitri A. Petrov, Martin A Nowak, Pleuni Pennings 2015. Imperfect drug penetration leads to spatial monotherapy and rapid evolution of multi-drug resistance. PNAS.

Selective sweeps in HIV

The video is an abstract for this paper: Pennings PS, Kryazhimskiy S, Wakeley J (2014) Loss and Recovery of Genetic Diversity in Adapting Populations of HIV. PLoS Genet 10(1): e1004000. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004000

Transmitted drug resistance (short!)

How to keep HIV from evolving

A science talk for a Friday-night audience in 6.40 minutes on Youtube. I made this presentation for a San-Franscisco/Amsterdam themed evening at the De Young museum in San Francisco.

Why ants kill

Why do slave ants kill slavemakers? On Vimeo and YouTube, 2013. Winner of NESCent evolution 2013 contest.

The paper is here.

NescentPrize The ant-whiteboard movie was awarded this wonderful Darwicademy award.

Standing genetic variation in HIV

Standing genetic variation and the evolution of drug resistance in HIV on Vimeo and Youtube.

This video is an abstract of my 2012 paper in PLoS Computational Biology. It can be downloaded here.

Watch out for the slavemaker queens!

Raiders from the sky: slavemaker founding queens select for aggressive host colonies on Vimeo and Youtube.

This video tells the story of an experiment that turned out very different from what we expected. It led to a paper in Biology Letters. The paper can be downloaded here.

Evolution of life project


From 2009 till 2012 I was involved in the “Evolution of Life” Film Project. In this project Filmmakers and scientists came together to create short videos (5-10 minutes) for the web on evolution. We created seven such video’s. I was responsible for 4 of the videos (numbers 1 to 4 below), and together with Yannick Mahé, I was responsible for the entire project. The home page of the project (which contains more than just the movies) is

1. Evolution before our eyes

Professor Santiago Elena from Valencia wants to find out what it takes to make a tobacco virus capable of infecting another plant. The movie shows evolution, happening before our eyes!

View the movie in English, German or French.

2. An evolutionary arms race

Did you know that beetles can read ant trails and snails smell like ant pupae?

View the movie in English, German or French, or with Romanian subtitles.

3. The case of the shrinking cod

Why are cod no longer as large as they were 100 years ago? Scientists try to find out whether evolution plays a role.

View the movie in English, German or French.

4. Good Milk / Bad Milk

In some regions of the world, people like to drink milk. Can evolutionary biologists tell us why?

View the movie in EnglishGerman or French

5. Darwin on the evolution trail

Curious by nature, Charles Darwin embarks on a voyage around the world as naturalist aboard the Beagle. Follow in his footsteps…

View the movie in English, German or French, or with Romanian subtitles.

6. O as Origin

Piccolina, the little water molecule, recounts the exciting story of the formation of our planet earth and the emergence of life.

View the movie in English, German or French, or with Romanian subtitles..

7. Mutations – selection: the bacteria resist

A young medical assistant is giving a nice presentation about the principles of evolution: mutations, selection and differential reproduction. Evolution goes on!

View the movie in English, German or French, or with Spanish or Indonesian subtitles.

Teaching materials, funding & prizes

Other parts of the project, such as the teaching materials and the simulations are still being developed. Have a look!

The project is sponsored by a grant of the VolkswagenFoundation.

In April 2010, the movie about Santiago Elena and his experiment with the Tobacco virus (see here) won the prize for best Educational videos for the web at the “Vedere la Scienza Festival 2010”.

The project won the prize for best European collaboration at the MEDEA Awards 2010. The MEDEA Awards competition is all about recognising, encouraging and rewarding excellence and creativity in media in education. The Medea organization made a short documentary  about our project, based on an interview with Yannick. It can be seen on YouTube.

What the judges said about the Evolution-of-life project

… an excellent media application that appeals to almost all age groups or education levels …

… high pedagogic quality, with images, animation, witnesses, real video and graphs all being used in a relevant and appropriate manner, … very good balance between seriousness and lightness …

… very simple and user-friendly navigation …  good use of subtitling and accompanying text materials, … good animation, camerawork and editing …

In general terms, the panel found this to be an excellent entry that is extremely well designed and put together with sound pedagogical design and excellent media quality.

2 Responses to “Film&video”


  1. People behind the Science: Dr. Pleuni Pennings | The Molecular Ecologist - January 21, 2014

    […] of drug resistance in HIV. In addition to her research, Dr. Pennings make’s fantastic science videos, writes on topics other than HIV, and can be found on twitter. In the questions below, Dr. Pennings […]

  2. This new review explains why soft sweeps are the bane — and the baseline — of ecological genetics | - July 18, 2017

    […] closely, but key results are nicely spelled out in the text and illustrated. Pennings, who has done a lot of neat video communication of her scientific work, has also produced a video to accompany the paper, which works out some of the key conclusions in a […]

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