- 2021–Present: PhD Researcher, London NERC DTP, Institute of Zoology and University College London
- 2020–2020: Research Assistant in Applied Proteomics Research Group, Maynooth University
- 2019–2020: MSc in Immunology and Global Health, Maynooth University
- 2015–2019: BSc in Zoology, Trinity College Dublin
My previous research has consisted of:
- Utilising proteomic methods to analyse the immune response of the buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) following fungal infection;
- Using proteomics to investigate aphid-plant interactions;
- Lung morphometrics and allometric scaling in the respiratory system of monitor lizards.
I have always been interested in disease ecology and the threats that infectious diseases pose to biodiversity and ecosystem health. I am also interested in utilising molecular approaches to answer large-scale ecological questions. Currently, I am interested in herpetological conservation and monitoring the threat that invasive species and infectious diseases pose to herpetofauna.
My PhD project utilises population genomics and geographic profiling to assess the invasion history of alpine newts (Ichthyosaura alpestris) and the amphibian pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) in the UK. Global amphibian populations are rapidly declining, with almost one-third of known species threatened with extinction. One of the main drivers of these declines is the amphibian fungal pathogen Bd, the causative agent of chytridiomycosis. A further, primary threat to amphibian populations is the establishment of invasive species, which not only outcompete their native counterparts but can also cause spill over of pathogens to local species, as well as amplifying infection rates of local pathogens.
The UK is home to a greater number of invasive than native amphibian species, with none more so invasive than the alpine newt. Newts have been introduced across the UK from Cornwall to Scotland, and in all populations sampled to date, infection with Bd has been detected. In this project I will use an existing alpine newt database held and maintained by the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) Trust, to develop and implement a sampling strategy to determine both the presence and prevalence of Bd in all known UK alpine newt populations. Furthermore, using Geographic Profiling, I will identify all ‘source’ populations from which the alpine newt distribution arose. To further unravel the detailed invasion history of alpine newts in Britain, I will fully develop a panel of single nucleotide polymorphisms and apply to samples collected at a national scale, for use in population genetics analyses.
Professor Trent Garner, Institute of Zoology
Dr Jim Labisko, University College London
Dr Jinliang Wang, Institute of Zoology