Patrícia Beldade became a group leader at Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência in Oeiras in 2009 and is a CNRS researcher at the University of Toulouse since 2016. Her research is focused on the mechanistic basis of phenotypic variation and diversity. Heritable phenotypic variation is the raw material for natural selection and a universal property of biological systems. Understanding the mechanisms that generate this variation is a key challenge in biological research. What are the gene types, specific genes, and gene regions that contribute to evolutionarily relevant variation? How do they interact with environmental factors to regulate developmental trajectories and outcomes? To dissect out the variation in complex, diversified and ecologically relevant phenotypes the lab is currently using two complementary insect models: Bicyclus anynana butterflies, and Drosophila melanogaster flies.