Dr Irem Sepil awarded Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship

Many congratulations to Dr Irem Sepil, who has been awarded the prestigious Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship for 2021.

The Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship scheme offers a recognized first step into an independent research career for outstanding post-doctoral scientists who require a flexible working pattern due to personal circumstances such as parenting and caring responsibilities or health-related reasons. It is designed to help successful early career candidates progress to the next chosen career stage such as permanent academic positions across the UK.  

Studying the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, Dr Sepil will explore how the condition and environment of fathers can affect their ejaculate and, as a result, the quality of their offspring. This will involve combining large-scale fitness experiments with cutting-edge transcriptomic and proteomic methods to tackle all aspects of paternal effects.

The fruit fly is already a major model system for studies of ageing, diet and neurobiology. It has a short lifespan; it is relatively simple and genetically well characterized. These make the fruit fly ideal for experimental study and the study of both evolutionary (why) and mechanistic (how) questions. With the fruit fly, Dr Sepil will tackle three of the major open questions in the study of paternal effects: 1) Why do they occur? 2) How do they impact offspring? and finally 3) What causes them?

Dr Sepil says, "I am very excited and grateful for receiving a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship. This award will allow me to tackle crucial questions regarding the biology of paternal effects, the non-allelic contribution of fathers to their offsprings' health. I would like to understand how and why a fathers age or diet can influence the lifespan, neurodevelopment, and reproductive capacity of his own offspring. By combining approaches from different disciplines, I will try to elucidate the evolutionary significance and molecular underpinnings of paternal effects.

"I also feel specifically passionate about being awarded a fellowship that is designed to accommodate researchers who require flexible working hours. The past year and a half has been difficult for all but especially for carers and people with underlying health issues. Schemes such as the Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship help to retain those who have been most affected by the pandemic in academia and is an important effort to increase diversity in STEM subjects."