I am an evolutionary biologist working mainly in the area of quantitative genetics; the study of inheritance, selection and evolution of complex traits. I use a combination of theory, statistical inference and experimentation in order to address questions regarding the form of natural selection and the nature of heritable variation. Most of my empirical work is carried out on wild populations of bird, but my theoretical and statistical work covers a broader taxonomic range.
Empirical Work: In 2008 I set up a nest box population of blue tits in broad-leaved and mixed woodland on the Dalmeny Estate, Edinburgh. Each year 100-175 occupied nests are used to conduct a series of manipulations in order to understand the genetics basis of family interactions and the consequences these interactions have for natural and kin selection. A key part of this project is a long running experiment whereby unrelated individuals raised in separate nests interact with competitors from the same family, thus allowing us to explore the genetic basis of sib-competition. This long-term experiment is complemented by a series of smaller short-term experiments for testing different aspects of kin interaction and its consequences.
Statistical/Theoretical Work: Quantitative genetics is a statistical theory of inheritance that aims to understand the passage of genes through a pedigree and how these genes determine an individual’s phenotype. In order to study inheritance in this framework it is often necessary to know the pedigree of phenotyped individuals and to this end I work on methods for recovering pedigrees using genetic and phenotypic data. In an attempt to bring models of selection and inheritance together I have more recently developed statistical methods for quantitative genetic analysis of non-Gaussian phenotypes such as survival and fecundity. In the tradition of quantitative genetics, where the distinction between theory and statistics is blurred, I often employ theoretical models to motivate the development of statistical models.
|2013-present||University of Edinburgh||Royal Society University Research Fellowship|
|2012-2013||University of Oxford||Royal Society University Research Fellowship|
|2008-2011||University of Edinburgh||NERC Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship|
|2007-2008||University of Edinburgh||Leverhulme Post-Doc with Loeske Kruuk|
|2005-2006||University of Sheffield||NERC Post-Doc with Terry Burke|
|2001-2005||Imperial College London||NERC PhD with Ian Owens|
|1993-1996||University of Leeds||BSc Zoology|