I’m an evolutionary ecologist who is broadly interested in the interactions between microbes and their insect hosts and how this interaction shapes the evolution of the insect immune system and other traits, such as life history. My ongoing work explores 1) how complex patterns in host susceptibility to parasites can emerge from apparently simple insect immune systems 2) understanding the nature of immune memory in invertebrates when they lack the adaptive immune system found in vertebrates and 3) using comparative genomics to understand the evolution of the immune system in the context of sociality. I work on insects that are both evolutionarily and ecologically interesting, but are also of economic importance as both pests (aphids and phylloxera) and pollinators (bumblebees). My research spans evolutionary biology; ecology, in particular disease ecology; genetics; and genomics.
I received my BSc and PhD from the University of Canterbury (New Zealand) in zoology and then worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Emory University (USA) and the ETH Zürich (Switzerland) followed by a junior fellowship at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (Germany). I then took an assistant professorship at East Carolina University (USA) before joining the Institute of Integrative Biology at the University of Liverpool in 2016.