I work on the evolutionary ecology of microbes by primarily studying evolution in real-time in controlled lab experiments (experimental evolution) with various strains of bacteria, viruses (bacteriophages (phages)), nematode worms (Caenorhabditis elegans) and fruit flies (Drosophila spp.). My research focuses on social evolution and virulence in parasites. The big question that motivates my research is why do some parasites such as Bacillus cereus cause humans mild nausea and diarrhoea for 24-48 hours, when others such as B. anthracis (anthrax) kill 90-100% of people often within 48 hours?

My main interests include: 

  • How does multiplicity of infection affect virulence?
  • How should virulence evolve in response to the spatial structure of parasites?
  • How do various life history and demographic parameters correlate with parasite virulence?
  • How does within-host and between host parasite competition interplay and effect parasite virulence?
  • If and how do bacteria and viruses interact with components of the gut microbiota? 

Research

  • Oct. 2014-Present: Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 Research Fellow - University of Cambridge (with Frank Jiggins),
  • Sep. 2013-Sep. 2014: ERC Post-doctoral research assistant - University of Oxford (with Stu West)

Education

  • Oct. 2009- Sep. 2013: University of Oxford, DPhil in social evolution and virulence in parasites with Stu West and Angus Buckling
  • Jun. 2011-May 2013: University of Exeter (Cornwall Campus), two years of my DPhil were completed here in the Biosciences Department
  • Oct. 2005-Oct. 2009: University of Sheffield, MBiolSci in Biological Sciences with Mike Boots

Awards

  • Feb.2013: Thomas Henry Huxley Award and Marsh Prize awarded by the Zoological Society of London for the best PhD thesis in the UK
  • Oct. 2009: Thomas Woodcock Prize awarded by the University of Sheffield for the best final year research student across Biomedical Science, Plant Sciences and Zoology 


Outreach

  • I am passionate about science and education and do as much science outreach and public engagement as I can, ranging from invitations to Buckingham Palace and primary schools, TV and radio interviews. Please get in touch if you are interested in me visiting your event/school/palace..