After completing my PhD in 2007 at Otago University (New Zealand) I did a post-doctoral fellowship examining the evolution of an early developmental pathway found in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and became enamoured with invertebrate biology, in particular reproduction and development. As a research fellow I continued working in these areas and was also successful in obtaining my own funding to work in the area of phenotypic plasticity. All animals respond to their environment, but some have the ability to change their physiology, biochemistry, behaviour and reproduction in response to an environmental cue; a phenomenon known as phenotypic plasticity.
Using insect models including the honeybee and the pea aphid I have been working to understand how the environment interacts with the genome of animals these animals to give rise to phenotypic plasticity. In October 2015 I moved to the University of Leeds as a Lecturer to establish my own laboratory focussed on phenotypic plasticity and the evolution of eusociality.
My research is focused in four broad areas:
a) understanding the evolution of eusociality
b) understanding the mechanistic basis of phenotypic plasticity in invertebrates
c) understanding how developmental pathway evolve
d) genome architecture and evolution.