- 2020–Present: PhD Researcher, London NERC DTP, Institute of Zoology and University College London
- 2019–2020: Technician, Clare Lab, Queen Mary University of London
- 2014–2018: MSci in Biological Sciences (Genetics), University College London
I am interested in how we can use environmental DNA (eDNA) techniques to understand species distributions. My work has included investigations into the eDNA of cichlid fishes in Lake Tanganyika, and the development of a highly sensitive eDNA-based assay for the detection of an invasive insect pest, the Brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys). I am intrigued by the broad potential of eDNA techniques in applications related to ecology, biodiversity and conservation. I hope to develop eDNA techniques which provide novel ways of monitoring species distributions and community assemblages and which can inform effective management of species across a number of taxa and environments. I am more broadly interested in issues relating to equity, diversity and inclusion within academia, and efforts to decolonise science.
My PhD project will involve the application of environmental DNA techniques to the study of disease-causing pathogens affecting amphibians. Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) represent a major threat to amphibian species globally and have caused extensive population declines and extinctions. Declines have been attributed to two types of infectious disease: ranavirosis (caused by viruses in the genus Ranavirus) and chytridiomycosis (caused by infection with chytrid fungi Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans). These pathogens are widespread in the global amphibian trade. The absence of effective pathogen surveillance in this setting contributes to a catastrophic risk of subsequent pathogen incursion into wild populations. Diagnostic tools used in the early detection of EIDs are essential in developing effective strategies to mitigate disease spread. Tools facilitating the detection of pathogens in traded and wild subclinical populations are vital in the early management of diseased populations. I aim to design and develop a diagnostic eDNA toolkit for the surveillance of Bd, Bsal and Ranavirus in traded and wild populations. eDNA metabarcoding techniques will be used to investigate community composition and potential associations between pathogens and reservoir species at field sites.
Using eDNA methods, I hope to:
1) empirically assess the factors affecting the detection of pathogen eDNA;
2) investigate the prevalence of pathogens in traded amphibians in the UK;
3) investigate the potential environmental and host reservoirs of amphibian pathogens in the wild.