Key Research Interests

My research uses a combination of DNA sequencing, experimental evolution and natural population sampling to understand complex evolutionary and ecological phenomena. I am currently involved in three, broad projects:

1. ‘Evolve and resequence’ experiments in beetle pests
I have recently been awarded a BBSRC Future Leader Fellowship to use experimental evolution and whole-genome sequencing to understand the genetic basis of thermal adaptation in red flour beetles. This work, in collaboration with Matt Gage at UEA, involves exposing beetle populations to different thermal regimes in the lab over many generations. Then, using whole-genome sequencing and archived samples, we aim to identify key genetic regions involved in adaptation to temperature, and observe how the genome evolves in response to natural selection, in real time.

2. Ecological genomics in wild bird populations
In collaboration with Jon Slate (Sheffield), Ben Sheldon (Oxford), Mirte Bosse and Marcel Visser (Wageningen) and others, I am using genomic approaches to understand evolutionary history and ecological adaptation in great tits (part of the ‘Great Tit HapMap project‘). Using thousands of samples, all genotyped at ~500K SNP markers, we are quantifying population structure, reconstructing evolutionary history, and identifying regions of the genome under selection in one of the most widely studied vertebrates in the world.

3. Candidate gene studies in island birds
With David Richardson and Claire Armstrong (UEA) and Juan Carlos Illera (Oviedo), I have been using neutral markers and candidate gene approaches to understand population history and adaptation in island bird species (Berthelot’s pipit, Seychelles warbler). We have largely focussed on key genes of the immune system (e.g. MHC, TLRs), but are now using genomic methods (exon capture) to understand adaptation at many functional gene classes. We aim to use information gained from genetic data to inform conservation.

 

Opportunities

Specific post-doc and PhD opportunities will be posted on my website. I am keen to discuss opportunities for hosting post-docs and fellows interested in evolutionary biology and population genetics. Please get in touch if you wish to discuss ideas. I am also happy to chat about PhD opportunities, and can help with funding applications. 

 

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