People

Principal Investigator

Prof. Ken Wilson
Professor
My research involves using epidemiological principles and life-history theory to explore the evolutionary interactions between parasites and their hosts, focussing particular attention on Lepidopteran larvae and their viral and fungal pathogens, especially in Africa; and the St. Kildan population of Soay sheep and their nematode parasites. We tackle these objectives via an inter-disciplinary approach and by applying a combination of methods, including: statistical and simulation modelling, comparative analyses, quantitative genetics methods, field experiments, and physiological assays.

See my Publications on Google Scholar

See my OrcidID

Post Doc Fellows

Dr. Yutao Xiao
Newton Fellowship
I mainly focus on the environmental adaptation mechanism of important agricultural pests from the perspective of population genetics. For example, the biotype differentiation and genetic variation mechanism of resistance of fall amyworm, and the genetic variation mechanism of cold resistance, diapause and drug resistance of cotton bollworm. Through extensive population genome resequencing, I have identified and further analyzed a series of genes associated with the environmental adaptation of the FAW and CBW. My work is supervised by Prof. Ken Wilson at Lancaster University, and I am a Newton scholar.

PHD Students

Amy Withers (2017)
PhD Student
My research focuses on the interactions between disease and flight in the fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda). I use a combination of behavioural experiments and molecular work to determine how viral challenge affects fall armyworm flight and immunity. I also use field samples to determine how microbial natural enemies could impact wild populations in Africa, and how this could influence fall armyworm movements across the continent. My PhD is supervised by Prof. Ken Wilson at Lancaster University, Dr Chris Jones at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and Dr Aislinn Pearson at Rothamsted Research. My PhD is funded by Envision DTP. Outside work, I’m most likely to be found hiking, baking or doing embroidery.
Ruth Carter (2019)
PhD Student
My PhD aims to investigate if there is competition between an invasive and endemic species of armyworm in Africa. My PhD is funded by Envision and is supervised by Prof Ken Wilson and Dr John Caulfield at Rothamsted Research. Previously, I completed my BSc in Biology at Royal Holloway University of London. After doing my MSc in Entomology at Harper Adams University, I worked for 3 years as a Research Assistant at The Pirbright Institute. Outside of work, I like gardening.
Lucy Crowther (2019)
PhD Student
I am currently working on my PhD, supervised by Prof Ken Wilson and Dr Andy Wilby, in association with Waitrose CTP and Barfoots, a global farming and food company. The project is focuses on biological pest control of invertebrate pests associated with Brassica crops. We plan to integrate land management techniques, specifically floral field margins, and off-the-shelf biological control agents to understand the effectiveness of both methods and identify any relationships between the two approaches when used in conjunction.
Irene Gómez (2019)
PhD Student
Armyworms are important crop pests whose larvae exhibit phase transitions from solitaria to gregaria. My research focuses on studying this transition, as it affects the larvae's behaviour, morphology and physiology; and to understand which molecular mechanisms and environmental cues may be triggering it. Otherwise, in my spare time, I like to do macrame decorations and I am learning to play the ukelele!
Tabitha Sleap (2021)
PhD Student
My research is in the field of nutritional ecology and works towards understanding better how nutrition shapes and influences the attributes, behaviours and interactions observed in ecological systems. Specifically, my current project work is focused on building a better understanding of the effects of macronutrients on bacterial performance, such that any nutritional framework constructed from these findings can be applied to relevant industrial processes. The project is running in conjunction with ABS Limited, sponsored under the Eco-I North West project as part of the Centre of Global Eco-Innovation, and will make progress towards a reduction in the carbon footprint of businesses operating in the North West of England.

Research Technicians

Phil Nott
Research Technician
I am currently working as a Technician within the Insect and Parasite Ecology Group, assisting with the general running of Prof Ken Wilson's Lab. This is for three days a week, my other time is spent on other Plant Sciences based projects within L.E.C including undergraduate projects, mainly plant - insect interactions. My duties within the group include maintenance of Spodoptera exempta and littoralis cultures and Callosobruchus spp. cultures. I also help with the Small Mammal trapping projects among others. I am currently studying for a BSc (hons) in Natural Sciences with the Open University, hopefully finishing within a year or two!
Annabel Rice
Research Technician
I am working as a Research Technician on Agri-Tech Catalyst project with Prof Ken Wilson. We are looking at trying to formulate baculovirus biopesticides in a new way so that they persist longer on the crop and have a longer shelf life. My work involves lots of insect culturing and virus bioassays. After doing my PhD at Lancaster University with Rosa Menendez, I worked for 3 years as a research technician at Liverpool University before returning to Lancaster in 2016.

Main Collaborators

Dr Sheena Cotter – University of Lincoln, UK

Prof Stephen Simpson – University of Sydney, Australia

Dr. David Grzywacz – University of Greenwich, UK

Dr Robert Graham – SRUC, Aberdeen

Wilfred Mushobozi – Crop Bioscience Solutions Ltd., Tanzania

Dr Esmat Hegazi – University of Alexandria, Egypt

Prof Jenny Cory – Simon Fraser University, Canada

Dr Brian Preston  – Liverpool John Moores University, UK

Dr Ian Stevenson – Sunadal Data Solutions

Dr Chris Jones – Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Dr Aislinn Pearson – Rothamsted Research

Dr John Caulfield – Rothamsted Research

Dr Andy Wilby – Lancaster University

Dr Pengjun Xu – Tabacco Research Institute, Qingdao, China

Dr Tong Li – Henan Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Zhengzhou, China

Dr Bobby Holdbrook – Active Bacterial Solutions Ltd.

Prof Kongming Wu – Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing, China

Dr Yutao Xaio – Agricultural Genomics Institute at Shenzhen, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Shenzhen, China 

Group Alumni

Dr Ian Stevenson: PDRA, now runs Sunadal Data Solutions – an ecological database development company

Dr Brian Preston: PhD student (1997-2001), now lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University, UK

Dr Sheena Cotter: PhD student (1998-2002), post-doc (2005-2007), now senior lecturer University of Lincoln, UK

Dr Sarah Moore: PhD student (1999-2003), now Ecologist and Director FDM Ecology Ltd.

Dr Louisa Tempest: PhD student (2001-2006), 'works for the Government'

Dr Libby Redman: PhD student based at CEH-Oxford (2001-2006), now a researcher at University of Calgary

Dr Susan Williamson: PhD student (2003-2007), now works as a statistician

Dr Sonia Povey: PhD student (2004-2008), physiotherapist

Dr Kwang Pum Lee: post-doc (2004-2005), now a lecturer in South Korea

Andrew Slaughter: research technician (2006), now a researcher in South Africa

Dr Julia Myatt: research technician (2005), now a senior lecturer at the University of Birmingham, UK

Dr Clare Benskin: research technician (2004), PhD (2005-2009), now employed as a core technician at Lancaster University

Shaihla Khan: research technician (2010), now enrolled on a doctoral programme in the USA

Anja Carlsson: PhD student (2008-2012), now an academic in Sweden

Dr Rachel Hope: PhD student (2009-2013), lecturer at University of York

Dr Philip Donkersley: PhD student (2010-2014), PDRA (2018-2020)

Dr Emily Adams: PhD student (2010-2014), Director of Elsner Research and Consulting

Dr Robert Graham: PDRA (2008-2011), Marie Curie Fellow (2011-2014), now Head of Department of Rural Land Use, SRUC

Dr Karen Harper: research technician (2017-2018), now working at University of Liverpool

Dr Bobby Holdbrook: PhD student (2014-2018), now working for  ABS Ltd.

Yamini Tummala: research technician (2008-2014), now Process Development Scientist at Agilent Technologies