I am an evolutionary biologist interested in the role of biotic forces in evolution and ecology. My 'big question' is: 'how would the world be if animals and plants did not have symbionts?' I also work to exploit our fundamental understanding of host-symbiont interactions to improve bee husbandry, reduce the impact of vector born diseases on livestock. and more widely mitigate the damage from pest insects. I additionally have some small policy-focussed projects on entomophagy and food security, assessing the potential for insects as sustainable food and feed.
The work of the lab group takes many approaches, including experimental analysis in insect hosts in the laboratory, molecular microbiology, comparative and evolutionary genomics, analysis of dynamics in natural populations, and mathematical modelling.
I teach Evolutionary Biology from year 1 through year 4, and welcome BSc, MSc, MRes, PhD students and postdoctoral fellows in the lab to conduct research projects on host-microbe interactions with a focus on insect hosts. Do email me if you are interested in developing a project.
I currently act as Research and Impact Lead for the Institute of Infection, Veterinary and Ecological Sciences, and have a particular interest in Early Career Researcher Development and Enabling collaboration.
Keywords: Symbiosis; Insects; Entomology; Microbiology; Evolution; Ecology; Parasitism; Mutualism; Vectors; microbial systematics; genomics; molecular evolution; entomophagy; molecular entomology; molecular microbiology
Principle Insects studied: Drosophila, Nasonia, Ladybirds, Butterflies, Galleria waxworms, Biting midges, Mosquitoes.
Principle Microbes studied: Spiroplasma, Wolbachia, Rickettsia, Arsenophonus, Cardinium; Symbiopectobacterium
Biomes: Terrestrial tropical; Terrestrial Temperate; Aquatic freshwater