I'm a microbiologist who has studied evolution in bacteria, parasites, and viruses. Current research uses experimental, genomics, and modelling approaches to investigate how ecology and evolution shape, and are shaped by, horizontal gene transfer in bacterial communities. Subjects of interest include (i) conflicts and collaborations between mobile genetic elements, (ii) how these elements interact and (co-)evolve with the bacteria that harbour them, (iii) the transmission of mobile genetic elements through bacterial communities, (iv) the effects of those elements on interactions between different bacterial species, and (v) interactions between bacteria, mobile genetic elements, and their associated animals and plants. I'm particularly interested in using experimental evolution — replicate populations cultured under different treatments — to unpick the drivers of microbial evolution in complex environments.
My PhD at the University of Glasgow investigated African trypanosome antigenic variation: how pseudogenes are harnessed to generate vast combinatorial variability in a model diversity phenotype. My postdoctoral work in the lab of Mike Brockhurst at the universities of York and Sheffield investigated the evolutionary ecology of plasmid-mediated horizontal gene transfer. I joined the Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Behaviour in 2018 as a Tenure Track Fellow.