Research

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Presenting my PhD research at the International Ornithological Congress in Vancouver (2018)

After graduating in BSc Zoology from Aberystwyth University, I continued on to pursue a PhD at the University of Glasgow. I currently research biological clocks of birds, and particularly how the mechanisms of the avian body clock interact with features of the environment, such as light pollution, and infection with avian malaria parasites.

My research involves use of a nest box system at the Scottish Centre for Ecology and the Natural Environment (SCENE) and a range of field skills from mist-netting and ringing birds (as a BTO trainee) to blood sampling. I also have other previous experience in the field from volunteering on a pine marten conservation project (2014), as an avian ecology research assistant for the Madrid Natural History Museum (2015) and animal husbandry at my local zoo. During my research career, I have gained skills in a number of molecular techniques such as the extraction of DNA and RNA from whole avian blood, subsequent PCR and qPCR reactions as well as culturing human and avian cells in vitro.

Teaching

I have been involved in the supervision of BSc and MRes student projects and also worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant on tutorials covering topics such as animal diversity, anatomy, and environmental biology.

Speaking

  • European Ornithologists’ Union Meeting of Young Ornithologists (27 October 2018, Turin, Italy) “Malaria parasite effects on the circadian physiology of wild birds”
  • 5th Annual TetZooCon Meeting (7 October 2018, London, UK) “How Do Birds Tell The Time?
  • 48th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Host-Vector Parasite Interactions Symposium (10 September 2018, Vienna, Austria) “Investigating malaria parasite effects on the circadian physiology of wild birds”
  • International Ornithological Congress, Avian Clocks & Calendars Symposium (21 August 2018, Vancouver, Canada) “Malaria parasite effects on the circadian physiology of wild birds”
  • Pint of Science Festival, Pub Speaker (May 2018, Glasgow, UK) “Biological Clocks of Animals in a 24/7 World”
  • Aberystwyth University, Invited Seminar Speaker (30 April 2018, Aberystwyth, UK) “Clocks in the Wild: Biological Rhythms of Birds and the Environment”
  • Doctoral Training Partnership Symposium (8 November 2017, Glasgow, UK), “Clocks in the Wild: Biological Rhythms of Birds and the Environment”
  • 11th Conference of the European Ornithologists’ Union, Avian Genomics Symposium (19 August 2017, Turku, Finland), “Genes around the clock: Circadian rhythms of clock and immune gene expression in free-living great tits”

Publications

Helm, B & Womack, R (in press). Timing matters: allochronic contributions to population divergence, In Bird Species: How They Arise, Modify and Vanish, Springer International.

Jacobs, A., Womack, R., Chen, M., Elmer, K., Gharbi, K., (2017), Significant Synteny and Colocalization of Ecologically Relevant Quantitative Trait Loci Within and Across Species of Salmonid Fishes, Genetics, 207(2), 741-754. https://doi.org/10.1534/genetics.117.300093

Non-academic Articles and Blogs

See my “Writing” page.

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