Richard Alan Nichols

Professor of Genetics, Queen Mary University of London

My work combines the collection of genetic data with the development of new analytical methods. I interpret genetic patterns to ask ask how populations have spread or contracted, merged or been fragmented and how they have been shaped by natural selection.

I apply this approach to a wide diversity of organisms:

Trees: with Richard Buggs (Kew) I work on identifying the genetic basis of resistance to invasive diseases affecting British trees (e.g. Ash trees affected by ash dieback).

Viruses: with Trent Garner (Institute of Zoology) I study the spread of wildlife viruses affecting fish, reptiles and amphibians, and ask why they have recently appeared in new locations & species.

Human cancer cells: I work with Trevor Graham (Barts Cancer Institute) using experiments on cancer cell lines to ask if we can identify strategies to retard resistance to chemotherapy, by exploiting evolutionary insights.

Model organisms: conducting experimental evolution, for example on Drosophila fruit flies (with Bill Sherwin in UNSW), I ask if there are flaws or omissions in our current evolutionary models.

Crops: I am a member of a project (with Kew and the Natural Resources Institute) to identify crop varieties that will be resilient to climate change in Ethiopia.


  • 2002–2020
    Professor of Genetics, Queen Mary University of London