Dr Luke Dunning

NERC Independent Research Fellow

I am an evolutionary biologist whose research aims to understand the molecular mechanisms underpinning adaptation to novel environments. I have worked across a range of systems, including investigating the adaptation of stick insects to low-temperature alpine habitats in New Zealand, palm trees to different soil types on remote oceanic islands, and grasses that have rapidly expanded their niche. My fellowship is focused on pan-genome variation and local adaptation in grasses.

The University of Sheffield staff profile.

Dr Lara Pereira

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Previously I worked on quantitative genetics/genomics in tomato and melon, with the main goal of understanding the genetic architecture of fruit quality traits. Currently, I am part of the lateral gene transfer project in grasses.

Dr Will Brightly

NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology (PRFB) 

My current research focuses on the evolution of seed dispersal strategy in grasses and how it relates to species' habitat/climate preferences. In addition to my current work, I have some background in a paleobotany and I am interested in how a range of approaches can help inform our understanding of the evolution of grasses and grassland ecosystems.

Dr Emily Bailes

Research Technician

During my previous research I have worked on plant-pollinator interactions, investigating questions such as is it possible to optimise broad bean flowers to improve their pollination?, and how do viruses spread between bees and flowers?.  I also love teaching, and spent lots of time teaching lab techniques and lecturing in ecology and conservation. Currently, I am part of the lateral gene transfer project in grasses, growing plants and carrying out molecular work to assist ongoing projects in the lab.

Ahmed Alenazi

PhD student

My PhD project investigates the anatomical, ecological and genetic drivers of variation in C4 photosynthesis within the grass Alloteropsis semialata.

Cat Collins

PhD student 

My PhD project focuses on the genomics of rapid adaptation in plants. This includes testing the impact on lateral gene transfer (LGT) and extrachromosomal circular DNA (eccDNA) on generating adaptive gene content variation. 

George Hirons-Alecrim 

PhD Student

My current research project is focused on finding out the genomic drivers underpinning the evolution of obligate dependence using ant/plant mutualisms as model systems. Specifically, I use the Hydnophytinae (Rubiaceae), a clade of epiphytic plants that form symbioses with ants as model system.

Noah Bourne

PhD Student

My PhD project focuses on the evolutionary genomics of mutualisms using ant/plant symbioses as a model system. 

Abdullah Alshehri 

PhD student 

Convergent adaptation to stressful environments in grasses

Kanyanat Kasetsuntorn 

PhD student (Primary supervisor Colin Osborne)

My current research is focused on cold adaptation in the C4 grasses. In my study, I am going to elucidate the mechanisms among C4 grass lineages by focusing on three different biological levels; physiological, gene expression, and leaf structural changes due to low temperatures.

Violette Pepper 

PhD student (Primary supervisor Benjamin Lichman)

My project focusses on specialised terpenes, the chemicals that plants deploy in defence against biological enemies such as herbivores. In particular, I’ll be diving into the timing behind their production, and whether this corresponds with key life-history events within the grass family.

Ghadah Fhaid 

PhD student (Primary supervisor Penny Watt)

Monitoring European eel populations using enviromental DNA (eDNA).

Emily Baker

MBiolSci student

My project is focussing on completing the population genomics of European beach grasses to reconstruct their biogeographical history and test for local adaptation to their environment


Postdoctoral Research Associates 

Dr Barbara Dobrin [2021 - 2022] - now works for US Department of Agriculture (USDA)

PhD Students

Dr Samuel Hibdige [2018-2022] - now a Postdoc Cranfield University

MRes/MBiolSci Students

Cat Collins [2022] - now a PhD Student at Sheffield

Ben Alston [2023] - now a PhD Student at Sheffield