2021–Present: PhD Researcher, London NERC DTP, Institute of Zoology and University College London
2020–2021: Medical Laboratory Assistant, Whittington Health
2019–2020: MSc in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Queen Mary University of London
July–September 2019: Publishing Assistant, Nature Research
2014–2019: BSc (Hons) in Biology with Industrial/Professional Experience, University of Manchester
2017–2018: Research Assistant, Manchester Metropolitan University
July–August 2016: Research Assistant, Wildlife Sense, Greece
I have always had a deep interest in understanding how harsh and changing environments drives a species’ adaptation and response. I have previously focused on molecular techniques to answer these questions, with an emphasis on their applications to global conservation issues. Expanding on this, I am currently interested in the use of genomic data that can drive novel conservation strategies, aimed at minimising and preventing species’ decline.
Small populations face elevated extinction risks due to processes such as genetic drift and inbreeding. These processes work to homogenise small populations, reducing their adaptive potential and exposing recessive deleterious alleles. These genetic processes may be exacerbated in cooperatively-breeding species, where the social suppression of reproduction can greatly reduce effective population size (Ne). At the same time, behavioural avoidance of inbreeding can halt reproduction in exceedingly small populations. Understanding these impacts of social behaviour on the genetics and viability of small populations may have great conservation importance. The African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) is a globally endangered cooperatively-breeding canid. Most populations number <10 packs, and most packs include a single breeding pair. In reintroduced populations, genetic diversity is maintained through managed translocations, but such genetic management has never been conducted elsewhere. Drawing on samples from small populations in Senegal and Kenya, and larger populations in southern Africa, this project will quantify genetic structure and loss of genomic diversity following known bottlenecks, assessing the impacts of inbreeding and inbreeding avoidance in populations of varying size and degree of isolation. In so doing, it will help to inform conservation decisions about the genetic management of this highly endangered species.
Prof. Rosie Woodroffe, Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London
Prof. Julia Day, University College London