Barbara Fischer

Elise Richter Fellow, Researcher, Data Scientist

University of Vienna


I am an evolutionary biologist and data scientist with a background in mathematics and theoretical biology. My research focuses on the evolution of birth in humans. I am an Elise Richter fellow at the Unit of Theoretical Biology, Department of Evolutionary Biology of the University of Vienna, Austria. In addition to my research, I consider teaching and communicating science important parts of my work. I enjoy giving popular science talks as well as writing articles for a general audience and I have authored a textbook for high school biology.


  • Evolutionary Medicine
  • Biostatistics and Data Science
  • Science Communication


  • PhD in Ecology and Evolution, 2010

    Department of Biology, University of Berne, Switzerland

  • MSc in Biomathematics, 2006

    Faculty of Mathematics, University of Vienna

Recent Publications

The outline of the pubic symphyseal surface is sexually dimorphic and changes with age in humans

The bony symphyseal surface is an important trait for age-at-death estimation from human skeletal remains. In this paper, we …

Did population differences in human pelvic form evolve by drift or selection?

Pelvic dimensions differ, on average, among modern human populations. Some recent studies have reported that population differences in …

Darwin’s finches habitually anoint their feathers with leaves of the endemic tree Psidium galapageium during the non-breeding season

Birds host a wide range of ectoparasites and have developed behavioural strategies to combat them, such as preening, dust bathing and …

Sex differences in the pelvis did not evolve de novo in modern humans

It is commonly assumed that the strong sexual dimorphism of the human pelvis evolved for delivering the relatively large human …


Barbara Fischer at KLI

Barbara Fischer at KLI2

Press Coverage

My research has been featured by the international and national press, including many notable publishing outlets. Below is a selection of some articles covering my work.

Recent & Upcoming Talks

  • Why is human childbirth so difficult? Obstetrics and the evolution of labor
    Club EvMed, Triangle Center for Evolutionary Medicine (TriCEM), June 11, 2021

  • [Gender equality in science: Are we there yet? Proceeding with passion, persistence and perspectives] Panel discussion for International Women’s day 2021, University of Vienna, March 9, 2021

  • The evolution of difficult birth in humans
    University of Oslo, Center of Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis, Seminar Talk, January 22, 2021

  • Die Evolution des modernen Menschen: Bestehende und neue Forschungsergebnisse
    Lehrerinnenfortbildung ARGE Biologie, Steyr, November 20, 2020 (cancelled, moved to Nov 2021)

  • Patterns of sex differences in the pelvis did not evolve de novo in modern humans
    Talk at the virtual ESHE conference, September 24, 2020.

  • The evolution of difficult birth in humans
    Virtual Dept. Seminar, Dept. of Evolutionary Biology, June 30, 2020.

  • The influence of demography and evolution on Caesarean section rates
    Colloquium, Konrad-Lorenz-Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research (KLI), October 29, 2019.

  • Sexual dimorphism in Khoe-San
    Female Pelvic Features Workshop, Natural History Museum Vienna, November 28, 2019.

  • Die Evolution des menschlichen Beckens und die Bedeutung für die Geburt
    Festvortrag, Gynäkologie Update Refresher Congress, Aula der Akademie der Wissenschaften Wien, 29. November, 2019.


2020-2021 academic year (2020W):

300357 UE Mathematical Basics for Quantitative Biology

earlier teaching at the University of Vienna


  • b.fischer@univie.ac.at
  • Althanstrasse 14, 1090 Vienna, Austria
  • Spange 4, Ebene 2, Department of Evolutionary Biology, Unit for Theoretical Biology