I’m an evolutionary behavioural ecologist - which is quite a mouthful, but reflects my interests in how the evolutionary and ecological processes shape different behaviours. I’m particularly interested in the reproductive and social behaviours, and I have been working primarily on birds.
I’m currently doing my PhD at the University of Edinburgh working on the superb fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) under the supervision of Prof Loeske Kruuk, Prof Andrew Cockburn (both based at the Australian National University) and Dr Craig Walling. The main focus of my project is to explore the dynamics of inbreeding and infidelity, investigating context-dependent mate choice and the effects of the social environment in this cooperative breeder. Most of my time is spent working with a long-term dataset and modeling in R, however I also carry out fieldwork investigating the interactions between fairy-wren mothers and their sons in the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra.
Before my PhD I did an Animal Behaviour MBiolSci (BSc + integrated masters year) at the University of Sheffield, graduating with 1st-Class Honours. In my masters year I undertook an extended research project under the supervision of Prof Tim Birkhead and Dr Nicola Hemmings, focusing on the mechanisms of sperm storage in avian female reproductive tract, using zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) and quail (Coturnix japonica) as study organisms.
During my undergraduate degree I secured independent funding from the British Ecological Society and the Genetics Society to conduct two summer research projects: one on the phenotypic plasticity and chitin allocation in Daphnia in Dr Andrew Beckerman’s lab, where I developed protocols for Daphnia head and gut isolation, embedding, sectioning and staining; and the other on the genetic basis of Seychelles warbler (Acrocephalus sechellensis) personalities (with Dr Hannah Dugdale), where I investigated the associations between SNPs in two candidate genes (DRD4 and SERT) and the bold and exploratory behaviours in the warblers. The latter project has resulted in a publication which I’m first co-author on, you can find it here.
In the final year of my BSc I also carried out a project on foraging decisions in free-living mallards (with Prof Ben Hatchwell) and did my dissertation on the consequences of animal personalities (under Dr Fiona Hunter).
Interested in my research? Have a look at the Research tab.
Questions? Get in touch!
I love discussing my research, if you have any questions or observations, don’t hesitate to email me. You can also connect with me on Twitter.