Professor of Evolutionary Genetics, University of Cambridge

I joined the Department of Zoology in 1996 from the Department of Genetics, Cambridge, where I had been joint head of the Molecular Ecology Research Group with Josephine Pemberton.

Research Interests

I am interested in many aspects of evolutionary genetics. My early work focused on using techniques such as DNA fingerprinting to investigate breeding behaviour and population structure in marine mammals, particularly the long-finned pilot whale and the grey seal. Although this work continues, I have picked up and developed a number of other themes, illustrated by the publications below. These include: (a) research into how molecular markers, in particular microsatellites, evolve; (b) human population genetics; (c) the development of new statistical approaches to infer historical population structure; (d) a current vogue, trying to find out why it is so common to find a positive relationship between genetic heterozygosity and fitness; (e) a long-standing interest involves exploring an idea I had more than a decade ago that mutation rate is influenced by heterozygosity, with heterozygous sites being more mutable than equivalent homozygous sites – the evidence is accumulating (see my recommended publications below)! More recently I have started looking for genetic factors associated with susceptibility to bovine tuberculosis in cattle. Along the way, I have often written my own bits of software to solve particular problems. These usually exist as Visual Basic Macros (see links below) for use in Microsoft Excel, and anyone is welcome to use them, with the standard proviso that I can accept no responsibility for problems arising from their use. I have done my best to eliminate bugs, but this does not mean that none exist! I very much welcome feedback on how the programs work and suggestions for improvements / changes.

Experience

  • –present
    Professor of Evolutionary Genetics, University of Cambridge