Group Members

Current group members

Pedro Vale 

Lecturer in Evolutionary Ecology

Email Pedro

I am broadly interested in the ecology and evolution of infection, immunity and behaviour. You can read more about my interests and career here.





Katy Monteith

Research Assistant
Email Katy

Katy is the de facto lab manager for the Ashworth fly groups, and the essential cog without which we will all collapse. Katy received a BSc (Hons) in Zoology and an MSc in Animal Behaviour and Welfare from the University of Edinburgh. Katy plays an important role in managing every aspect of the lab, and also finds time to run her own experiments on behavioural responses to infection.  



Megan Kutzer 

Leverhulme Trust Postdoctoral fellow

Mitochondrial effects on innate immunity in Drosophila







Phoebe Thornhill

2021 Wellcome Trust PhD programme in Hosts, Pathogens and Global Health - 

"Innate immune regulation of pathogen avoidance in Drosophila"





Julia Casanova Pagola

2022 Immunology Hons Project student -

Following her Hons project, Julia stayed o in the lab as a Research Assistant. I am an Immunology Honours student undergoing my research project on testing the genetic basis of fecundity tolerance during bacterial infections. This research project has sparked my interest in tolerance mechanisms as defence strategies to maintain fitness upon infection. More broadly speaking, I am also interested in studying the mechanisms of diseases,  and how we may employ this knowledge to develop novel therapeutics. 



Maya Vale

Visiting research assistant







Former lab members (from the most recent)

Olga Zawistowska

2022 Genetics Hons Project student -

I'm interested in molecular genetics and my current project makes me very interested in mitochondria and mitochondrial immunity. I'm also broadly interested in new genetics based technologies that are supposed to replace antibiotics in the future. I absolutely love laboratory work and would love to keep doing it after I graduate. In my spare time, I love to read. 




Michael Jamieson

2022 Evolutionary Biology Hons Project student -

I have a keen interest in evolutionary biology and also now particularly interested in mitochondrial variation and the effect of immune response deployment on life history traits such as activity and sleep. In my spare time I like to go to the gym and play football a lot.



Arun Prakash

2018-2021 - Darwin Trust PhD student

Arun's PhD was on the innate immune regulation of disease tolerance, with a particular focus on how negative immune regulators contribute to the phenotype we describe as disease tolerance. He also carried out some cool work on immune priming and its immune regulation. He is now a postdoc in Ann Tate's lab in Nashville, USA.



Emily Robertshaw

2019-2020 Research Assistant

 Emily did her Hons project in the lab and has continued as an RA working on the role of gut damage repair mechanisms on bacterial shedding and spreading. She is currently doing a Masters in Infection Biology at the University of Glasgow.





Hannah Miller

2021 Genetics Hons Project student 

"Genetic variation and co-variation in the response to pathogens"






Lauren Ramage

2021 Immunology Hons Project student - 

"Separating host and pathogen drivers of sickness behaivours"






Amy Lussiana

2021 Zoology Hons Project student 

"Experimental epidemiology: do fruit flies modify their social interactions to avoid infected conspecifics?"




Ryan Fullarton

2021 Ecology Hons Project student - 

"Proximate and ultimate links between aggression and susceptibility to pathogens"



Beth Cornish

2020 Genetics Hons Project student - Mitochondrial effects on the cost of immunity in Drosophila





Sammy McKinlay

2020 Evolutionary Biology Hons Project student - What is the fitness cost of specific components of the immune response?





Rachael Bathgate 

2020 Evolutionary Biology Hons Project student - Dissentagling host and pathogen driven sickness behaviours





Florence Fenner 

2020 Immunology Hons Project student - Immune priming in Drosophila





Tiina Salminen

2017 - 2019 -  Branco Weiss and then Leverhulme Trust Postdoctoral fellow 

Email Tiina

Tiina was a postdoc in our lab for two years and has a background in ecological genetics, mitochondrial biology, and immunity of Drosophila. Her work uses cybrid lines to explore the the role of mitochondrial genome variation on fly immunty to bacterial, viral and parasitoid infection. She is now a group leader and a Finnish Academy of Sciences Fellow, and leads the Mitochondrial Immunometabolism group at the University of Tampere.


Vincent Doublet

2017-2019 - Marie Curie Postdoctoral fellow

Email Vincent

Vincent's Marie Curie EU-funded fellowship explored how pathogens evolve when hosts vary in their ability to tolerate infection. Along the way he also worked on natural genetic variation in the propensity to orally acquire and expel bacterial pathogens. He is now an Assistant Professor at Ulm University in Germany. 


Jonathon Siva-Jothy

2015-2019 - NERC E3 DTP PhD Student

Jonti defended his PhD successfully in July 2019. His PhD addressed the genetic, physiological, and behavioural causes of individual variation in pathogen transmission and how they scale up to population disease dynamics. He is now inspiring the next generation of biologists.



Mickael Bonnet

2019 - MSc student - Visiting from Université Clermont-Auvergne

Mickael did Master's research project investigating the role of Jak-Stat mediated reponses to infeciton on the ability to flies to tolerate bacterial ifnections. 




Zach Bailey

2019 Erasmus MEME Master Student (with Luke McNally

Zach worked in our lab on host determinants of AMR evolution. He is now a PhD student in Alex Hall's team at ETH Zurich. 



Gavin Lockie

2019 Evolutionary Biology Hons Project student - Is agression immune-spressing or immune-enhancing in Drosophila?





Lucy Anderson

2019 Genetics Hons Project student - mtDNA mutation effects on activity and sleep in Drosophila. 





Ali Hudson

2018 Evolutionary Biology Honours student

Ali did a fantastic Hons project on Terminal investment strategies following infection are dependent on diet






Ryan Lucas

2018 MSc student in Biomedical Science

Ryan did his MSc research project in our group on mitochondrial effects on humoral and cellular innate immune responses in Drosophila.






Kyriaki Neophytou

2017 Wellcome Trust PhD program in Hosts, Pathogens and Global Health

Kyriaki dod a short rotation in our group as part of her HPGH PhD program, exploring the mechanistic basis of infection tolerance.






Ruth Larsen

2017 MolBiol Hons. Student

"Within- and between-generational effects of temperature on gut microbiota and disease susceptibility"




Joe Boyle

2017 Evolutionary Biology Hons. Student

"Genetic variation in social aggregation and pathogen transmission"





Renat Oosthuizen

2017 Zoology Hons. Student

"The link between immunty and aggression in Drosophila"



Vanika Gupta

2015-2017 Postdoctoral fellow

Vanika was a postdoc in the lab between 2015-2017, having previously done an impressive PhD in the Prasad Lab at IISER Mohali on experiemental evolution of resistance and tolerance in Drosophila. During her time in our group, Vanika's work focused on better ways to measure disease tolerance, and on genetic variation in mortality and sterility tolerance of a viral infection in D. melanogaster. Vanika is currently a postdoc with Brian Lazzaro at Cornell.





Helen Borthwick

2015-2016 Research Technician

Helen brought over 20 years of lab experience to our group and took care of all aspects of lab maintenance, media preparation, H&S paperwork, fly husbandry, and even found time for the odd experiment. Her charm and wit are missed. Helen is currently enjoying a much-deserved retirement.




Emili Ziem

2015-2016 Research assistant

Emili was broadly interested in biomedical science and public health. Her work in the group addressed the consequences of anti-disease therapies on the epidemiology of infectious disease. Emili carried out a systematic search of published scientific literature to assess the effect of NSAID/antipyretic use on the potential for disease transmission. She has recently finished her BSc degree in Microbiology and is currently a medical lab tech at Q2 Solutions.





Joaquim Contradanças

2015 Visiting Summer student from Universidade de Lisboa

Joaquim spent 8 weeks in our lab, and developed an interest for behavioural assays. During his stay, Joaquim tested how viral infection affected male-male aggression in D. melanogaster.  After a period as a Master's student at the Arendt Lab at the EMBL in Heidelberg, Joaquim is currently a PhD Candidate in the International Neuroscience Doctoral Program at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown.



Charlotte Stewart  

2015 Zoology Honours student

Charlotte did her undergraduate project research in our lab. She investigated the physiological and behavioural effects of low, sub-lethal levels of viral gut infection in D. melanogaster. Her work showed that even infections that do not kill flies can make them sick by moving less, changing their reproduction and affecting their ability to excrete. Charlotte went on to do an MSc in Conservation at U. Exeter (Cornwall), and is now doing Citizen Science in the middle of the Atlantic on the Açores islands.



Michael Jardine

2014 Undergraduate summer student

Michael was one our first students, and did some great work testing how viral infection affects fly locomotion and sleep. He also tested the ability of flies to avoid infectious feeding sites when foraging, and found that previously exposed female flies showed lower motivation to pick a food source when presented with a risk of encountering virus. Michael went on to do an MSc in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation at Imperial College, and will soon start a PhD in the NERC London DTP. In the meantime he enjoys shooting birds.






Vasantha Krishnan

2014 Postdoctoral Research Assistant

Vasantha is a microbiologist and during his time in our group he worked on oral baterial infection in D. melanogaster. He found that the route of infection determines whether the endosymbiont Wolbachia can protect flies from infection. Vasantha is currently a postdoc at the CNRS Insitute of Genetics and Develepment in Rennes. 



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