I'm interested in the behavioural and genomic adaptations of animals (primarily freshwater fishes). Primarily this is because these adaptations can lead to the formation of new species, and understanding how species evolve is of fundamental importance to biodiversity and conservation. I use haplochromine cichlid fishes to study this. I'm also interested in the role that anthropogenic pressures can exert which may lead to evolutionary change in populations over time, and this includes research on Atlantic salmon.
We’re looking to recruit three PhD students to join our “Happy Chemical Cluster” and work with us on Animal Behaviour and/or Molecular Biology.
There is a possible role for serotonin in the sand-castle building behaviour of cichlid fishes, behaviour carried out by males to attract females. We seek to experimentally test how inhibiting the serotonin pathway with drugs could impact the skill of males, and the mating preference of the females. As well as showing how pollution could affect mating behaviour under different climate change scenarios, this could also demonstrate a mechanism by which the serotonin pathway generates reproductive isolation and leads to the formation of new species, a completely novel mechanism for generating biodiversity.
The primary focus of one of the PhD projects is cichlid fish behaviour, but there is the possibility to develop the project according to your interests, and to include molecular genetics, CRISPR/cas9 gene editing, and bioinformatics. We are looking for a student who can demonstrate academic excellence in Biology (or similar degree), including animal behaviour, and experimental design and analysis.