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Last updated 27th March 2023

Biography

I studied Biochemistry and Genetics and then gained a PhD in population genetics at the University of Nottingham. My PhD work led to a long-term interest in transposable elements (a diverse group of genetic parasites found in most organisms). My postdoctoral career took me to the Natural History Museum, London, UCL, York and Leeds, during which time I developed an interest in reconstructing the branching of the Eukaryotic Tree of Life. My main interest is in the eukaryotic supergroup Opisthokonta, which contains the animals, fungi and their single-celled relatives. In particular, I study a group of aquatic protists called the choanoflagellates, which I recently showed to be the sister-group of the animals. This work has yielded important findings on how animals evolved from their unicellular ancestors. Through international collaborations I am currently working on various aspects of opisthokont genomics.

During my time at the Universities of York and Leeds I lectured on bioinformatics, phylogenetics and population genetics. I am a member of the Genetics Society and the British Society of Protist Biology (BSPB). Since 2009 I have been a committee member of the BSPB and I am currently the Society Treasurer.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water

Research Expertise and Interests

  • Protist evolution and the origin of animals
  • Genome evolution and the population genetics of transposable elements

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