Lori Lawson Handley

Dr Lori Lawson Handley

Senior Lecturer in Ecology and Evolution / Deputy Programme Leader for Biology


01482 462061

Lori Handley has a passion for molecular ecology and evolution, and uses DNA to understand ecological and evolutionary processes, with a focus on invasive species.

She has worked at the Universities of Uppsala, Lausanne and Cambridge, and has been a lecturer at the University of Hull since 2007.

Lori loves teaching in the field and engaging with the public and stakeholders to talk about her research.



Research Interests

  • Using molecular tools to address fundamental ecological and evolutionary questions particularly relating to the monitoring and impact of invasive species

  • The ecology and evolution of invasive species such as harlequin ladybirds (Harmonia axyridis), quagga and zebra mussels (Dreissena spp) and amphipods such as ‘killer shrimps’ (Dikerogammarus spp)

  • Developing environmental DNA (eDNA) based methods for biodiversity monitoring

Research groups

  • Work closely with a number of stakeholder groups such as the Environment Agency, to facilitate understanding and uptake of DNA-based methods

  • Head of the Evolutionary and Environmental Genomics Group, EvoHull, which includes Drs Bernd Haenfling, Dave Lunt, Domino Joyce, Africa Gomez and Kat Valero, and work closely with members of the group and other collaborators in the University such as Dr James Gilbert

  • Privileged to work with a number of external collaborators such as Prof Helen Roy, Prof Ian Winfield and Dr Dan Read from the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology


Gautier M, Yamaguchi J, Foucaud J, Loiseau A, Ausset A, Facon B, Gschloessl B, Lawson Handley L, et al, 'The Genomic Basis of Colour Pattern Polymorphism in the Harlequin Ladybird', Current Biology (2018)

Blackman R C, Haenfling B, Lawson Handley L, 'The Use of Environmental DNA as an Early Warning Tool in the Detection of New Freshwater Invasive Non-Native Species', CAB Reviews, 13, pp 1–15 (2018)

Harper L R, Lawson Handley L, Hahn C, Boonham N, Rees H C, Gough K C, et al, 'Needle in a haystack? A comparison of eDNA metabarcoding and targeted qPCR for detection of the great crested newt (Triturus cristatus)', Ecology and Evolution, 60, 255 (2018)

Hänfling B, Lawson Handley L, Read D S, Hahn C, Li J, Nichols P, et al, 'Environmental DNA metabarcoding of lake fish communities reflects long-term data from established survey methods', Molecular Ecology, 25, pp 3101–3119 (2016)

Lawson Handley L, 'How will the molecular revolution contribute to biological recording?', Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 115(3), pp 750–766 (2015)

Full publications list



Programmes taught on

Modules list

  • Invasion Biology (Level 7) (module leader)

  • Malham Tarn Residential Ecology Field Course (Level 6)

  • Human Evolution and Genomics (Level 6)

  • Structured research projects (Level 6)

  • Conservation Biology (Level 5)

  • Ecology and Evolution (Level 4) (module leader)

  • Skills for Biologists (Level 4)

Research PhDs

Molecular ecology, invasive species, invasion ecology, environmental DNA, metabarcoding, environmental genomics, molecular food webs, evolutionary genomics, ecological networks.

Completed PhDs

  • Jianlong Li, Development of an environmental DNA method for monitoring freshwater communities using metabarcoding, PhD, co-supervisor (submitted Oct 2018)

  • Dr Rosetta Blackman, Environmental DNA: A detection method for monitoring Invasive Non Native species in flowing water, PhD, lead supervisor (2017)

  • Dr Cathleen Thomas, Evolutionary Genetics of the Invasive Harlequin Ladybird, Harmonia axyridis, PhD, lead supervisor (2011)

  • Dr Daniel Jeffries, Genetic and genomic approaches to the conservation of the crucian carp, Carassius carassius (L.): phylogeography, hybridisation and introgression, PhD, co-supervisor (2015)

Current PhD supervisions 

  • Alex Austin October, co-superviser (2016- )

  • Cristina Di Muri, co-superviser (2016- )

  • Marco Benucci, lead supervisor (2015- )

  • Lynsey Harper, co-superviser (2015- )

Professional highlights


Academic qualifications

  • PhD University of East Anglia (2000)

  • BSc (Hons) Genetics, University of Liverpool (1996)