I study how animals evolve to cope with the different pathogens to which they are exposed. This includes everything from the rapid (and recent) evolution associated with the domestication of farm animals, to adaptation associated with penguins living in different climates, through to large-scale remodelling of the immune system over hundreds of millions of years across vertebrates. This work involves a combination of bioinformatics (genomics, selection analyses, phylogenetics, diversity metrics) and lab work to test predictions made bioinformatically.
My current project leverages ancient DNA from domestic animals to understand how the supposed bottleneck associated with selecting animals for desired traits has impacted on immune health, and whether potentially beneficial alleles have been lost in the process. As a sister project, I am studying the pathogens associated with ancient animals and investigating how these organisms have changed in order to exploit more numerous and genetically homogeneous host populations.