Research interests


I am an ecologist and a veterinarian with a particular interest in understanding the evolutionary determinants and the epidemiological consequences of the variation in immunity in wild animal populations.

I am currently based in the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge (UK) where I am an AXA Research Fund Junior Fellow.

Research interests

Dynamics of antibodies and epidemiology of bat viruses

This is my main current project and the center of my AXA fellowship. I aim at quantifying the seasonal dynamics of the humoral immunity of captive Straw-coloured fruit bats exposed to henipaviruses. This will help identify periods of heightened transmission, and of potentially higher risk of spillover to humans. I conduct this work in collaboration with  Olivier Restif and James Wood (Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, UK) and Andrew Cunningham (Zoological Society of London, UK)

 

Dynamics of maternal immunity: evolutionary determinants and epidemiological consequences

In vertebrates, newborns usually lack a fully functional immune system and their anti-parasite defenses rely on passive immunity that mothers can transfer pre- and/or post-natally. How maternal antibodies persist is likely to influence the epidemiology and evolution of immune responses as a whole, but may also be used in the wild to protect newborns of colonial species. This is particularly the case if antibodies may have a longer half-life in some species, such as Procellariiform seabirds as I have found during my PhD. I am involved in studies evaluating the role of transgenerational immunity from both an empirical and a theoretical perspective, in collaboration with Thierry Boulinier (CEFE-CNRS, Montpellier, France) and Sylvain Gandon (CEFE-CNRS, Montpellier, France).

 

Nutritional costs of immunity

Mounting an immune response entails physiological costs, which may be exacerbated in wild animals by seasonal variations in access to nutritional resources. This may in turn drive the dynamics of some wild populations. I have been working in the Soay sheep population of St Kilda (Scotland) to estimate the costs and benefits of nutrition and immunity, and how these relate to overwinter survival. This work is conducted in collaboration with Andrea Graham (Princeton University, USA).