Welcome!

I am a Senior Lecturer and DECRA fellow at the University of Melbourne in the School of BioSciences, focusing mostly on the evolution and genetics of sex, sociality and communication (see the word cloud of my papers!). My research uses empirical work on insects such as ants, beetles, and bees, theoretical models, and lately some transcriptomics.

Before Feb 2016, I worked for 4.5 years as postdoc/fellow at Australian National University in Canberra, in the Division of Evolution, Ecology and Genetics.

Before coming to Australia I was based at the University of Copenhagen for 3.5 years, where I worked on ant queen pheromones. Before that, I did a PhD on sperm competition in fruit flies at the University of Sheffield, UK. Here's a list of my publications.

If you'd like to do a project, PhD, or postdoc with me, let me know!




News

Nov 2016: More big news! I was awarded an ARC Discovery Project grant to look at a hot topic in social insect biology: DNA methylation (with Sasha Mikheyev). Postdoc salary included, so I'll hopefully be hiring soon!

Sept 2016: New paper accepted to Evolution, about how sexual selection affects pesticide resistance evolution. Congrats to Frances Jacomb - her first lead-author paper of many!

April 2016: Published a critique of a recent paper on bumblebee queen pheromones as a PeerJ PrePrint

April 2016: Visited Sasha Mikheyev and colleagues at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, and published a reply paper on the evolution of deer antlers (Am Nat).

March 2016: A new paper I co-authored with colleagues at the University of Regensburg (lead by Jan Oettler) was accepted to PLoS Genetics! It presents evidence that the sex differentiation cascade has been co-opted to control development into queens and workers, in addition to its normal function making boys and girls, in ants.

Feb 2016: Started my new job at U Melbourne! Exciting times ahead.

Jan 2016: A massively multi-author paper, in which I played a small part, was accepted to TREE. It's a really nice overview of meiotic drive ('super-selfish genes'), and Anna Lindholm, Tom Price et al. did a fantastic job.

Jan 2016: A collaborative paper with Jocelyn Millar was accepted to Behav Ecol Sociobiol - we found that Lasius ants are actually pretty picky about their queen pheromone, with respect to hydrocarbon chain length.

December 2015: With Kalle Trontti and Heikki Helanterä, I found evidence that queen pheromones affect DNA methylation in bees and ants - published here in Biology Letters.

November 2015:  A simulation/meta-analysis that I wrote about bet hedging and polyandry was accepted to Evolution! Thanks to the many authors who generously sent me their raw data. Here's the 'Online early' version.

October 2015: I'm looking to hire one or more PhD students, for projects on sexual selection or social insects. The deadline is this month, but as always please contact me any time if you're interested in joining the lab. Link to advertisement

August 2015: Massive news! I have been offered a lectureship at the University of Melbourne in the School of BioSciences. I will move there in February 2016, and I am very excited for the next step in my career. I'll be sad to leave ANU, but the future is bright! I expect to begin taking Masters and PhD students, and I am very keen to hear from people interested in post-doctoral work. I will advertise further when I have more details, but if you're interested in working with me please get in touch. 

June 2015: I had a second 'Perspective' accepted to PLoS Biology, together with the J-labbers and Rob Lanfear. This one documents the frequency of blind data recording across the life sciences, and provides evidence that non-blind research contains larger effect sizes and small p-values. It's high time to insist on blind experiments wherever possible!

10 Apr 2015: Published a commentary paper (replying to this really neat experiment) about bet hedging in Proceedings B, with fellow Kokkonut Jono Henshaw.

19 Mar 2015: Exciting news: the SECOND paper from Dan Power's honours thesis was accepted to J Evol Biol! Way to go Dan. We tested whether sexual selection is able to clear mutations induced by radiation in seed beetles.

Dec 2014: Couple of papers accepted: one at Evolution about selfish genetic elements (with
Tom Price, Nina Wedell and Hanna Kokko), and one at PLoS Biology about "p-hacking" (i.e. dodgy statistical practices) with Megan Head et al.

20 Oct 2014: Paper I co-authored is out in Animal Behaviour - it's about synchronous waving behaviour in fiddler crabs, and uses the waving crab robots again!

25 Sept 2014: Got a letter to TREE accepted! Tom Price and I wracked our brains to think of some more possible functions of RNA inside sperm cells. It has cows!

10 Sept 2014: Had a paper on bumblebee queen pheromone accepted to PeerJ (here). The pheromone really does inhibit reproduction in worker bees, and moreover it works on big and small bees, even at tiny doses.

1 July 2014: A paper on honey bees I co-authored with CIBER at U Western Australia was accepted to Insectes Sociaux. Congrats to Oscar winner Boris Baer and co!

18 June 2014: Got a manuscript accepted to Journal of Evolutionary Biology, which derives from the honours thesis of my student Dan Power! Way to go Dan!! It has the symmetrically alliterative title "Polyandrous females found fitter populations".

May and June 2014: I visited the biology departments of Monash (Aus) and Leeds (UK) Universities to give seminars, and had a wonderful time at both!

13 May 2014: Got a manuscript accepted to Behavioral Ecology, explaining why I think information on one's fitness (and that of one's relatives) was important in the evolution of eusociality. Naturally, such info could come from queen pheromones! It's online here (pdf)

April 2014: I went to Tahiti with Nik Tatarnic to study the sex lives of Coridromius insects. Read about our travels here.

4 Jan 2014: A paper I co-wrote with Andrew Kahn and Pat Backwell just came out in Behavioral Ecology. It's about fiddler crabs!

27 Nov 2013: A manuscript I co-wrote was accepted to Science! It details the discoveries of the first wasp and bumblebee queen pheromones, and uses comparative analysis to show to that queen pheromones are ancient and evolutionarily conserved.

8 Nov 2013: Two pieces of massive news! I was awarded a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) by the ARC, giving 3 years' funding to study sexual selection and population fitness. Also, my student Dan Power aced his honours exam and produced a stellar thesis. Now to get cracking on the paper(s)!

23 Sept 2013: Had a manuscript on genetic kin recognition accepted to BMC Evolutionary Biology (now online). Thanks to my co-authors Jelle van Zweden, Tim Linksvayer and
Patrizia d'Ettorre!

30 July 2013: A couple of manuscripts were accepted - one to Am Nat on the evolutionary genetics of reproductive skew, and one to Biol Rev on the evolution of genomic imprinting.

25 July 2013: Completed a 1-month sabbatical at the Cornwall campus of the University of Exeter. Thanks to the many people who made it such a productive and fun trip.

5 June 2013: Our recent JEB paper was recommended on Faculty of 1000.

13 May 2013: Our paper on the evolution of queen pheromones across the ant genus Lasius is now online at J Evol Biol. Co-authored with Rob Lanfear and Patrizia d'Ettorre.

5 April 2013: I gave a talk to the Zoology Department at the University of Otago in New Zealand. Thanks to all for a lovely visit!

5 Feb 2013: I have a research group! I'm very happy to begin working with honours student Dan Power on polyandry and population fitness.

22 Jan 2013: A review I co-wrote with
Hanna Kokko was published in "The Polyandry Revolution" theme issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. See here.

29-30 Dec 2012: I visited CIBER and the Centre for Evolutionary Biology at the University of Western Australia, and gave a couple of seminars. Thanks to my hosts for a fantastic visit!

29th Oct 2012: A manuscript I co-authored with colleagues at the University of Helsinki was accepted to Journal of Chemical Ecology. Stay tuned to hear about chemical signalling in winged ants! Update: the paper is now online here.

30th Sept 2012: Visited the University of New South Wales, and gave a seminar. Thanks to my hosts!

19 Sept 2012: Our manuscript testing the effects of queen pheromones on queens themselves was accepted to Behavioral Ecology. Turns out ant queens aren't immune to queen pheromone, paralleling the situation in termites. Update: the paper is now online here.

30 Aug 2012: I visited Yale University and gave a seminar. Thanks to my hosts for a great day!

12-17
Aug 2012: I attended the excellent ISBE congress in Lund, and gave a presentation on my ant research.

2
Aug 2012: The website is live! I've added my publications and a bit of info about my research. More to come!

28 July 2012: Our manuscript on genetic constraints on signals and caste dimorphism was accepted to The American Naturalist. I'm very happy about this one: it was my first foray into quantitative genetics, and I plan to follow it up. Update: the paper is now online here.