Venomous snakes are among the organisms provoking the strongest emotions in humans, ranging from intense fascination to visceral revulsion. Some represent serious public health problems, and yet their venoms offer the prospect of developing new drugs against common medical conditions. All are scientifically fascinating, providing opportunities to study the evolution of a chemical weapon system, its role in the biology of the animal and its interactions with other occupants of the snake’s habitat. At the same time, we know surprisingly little about the biodiversity of venomous snakes, and new species are still being discovered on a regular basis.
My research interests focus on the causes of variation in venom composition within species and between closely related species, the origin and evolution of venom and venom toxin families, the biodiversity of venomous snakes, the wider impact of venom on the interactions between snakes and other biota, and the biogeographical history of different groups.