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Samraat Pawar  •  Email  •  CV  •  Website

I am currently a Senior Lecturer (roughly equivalent to an Associate Professor in the United States) in the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London (Silwood Park campus). I am mainly interested in developing (hopefully general) mathematical models using quantitative insights from patterns in nature, especially macro-ecological patterns. I am particularly interested in body size-scaling laws and general biomechanical constraints on individual energetics (physiology), and how these then act, through species interactions, as constraints on the emergent dynamics and function of complex ecological systems (especially, ecosystems and vector-borne disease transmission systems).

Quantitative insights from patterns in nature require meta-analyses of large datasets, and so I am also a compulsive meta-analysis hound!

Bernardo García-Carreras (Postdoc)  •  Email  •  Website

I am interested in applying quantitative approaches to understand how populations respond to anthropogenic environmental changes. My approach combines identifying broad patterns in populations’ responses using simple theoretical and computational models, with analyses of relevant case studies. I am currently working on a NERC funded project on "Can metabolic traits limit species invasions under climate change?". Here, I am developing theoretical and numerical models to understand how the effects of temperature on metabolic traits affect individuals, population dynamics, and interactions. In particular, I focus on how these changes in metabolism and metabolic constraints may affect species invasions in the future, with a particular focus on phytoplankton.

Sofía Sal Bregua (Postdoc)  •  Email  •  Website

I’m broadly interested in the study of the mechanisms driving macroecological patterns such as the latitudinal diversity gradient, in order to understand the effects that climate change might have. I am particularly interested in temperature and how this, through its effect on the metabolism of organisms, have important consequences on the global carbon cycle. Currently, I’m working as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant in Samraat Pawar’s group. Here I am part of the NERC founded project “Can metabolic traits limit species invasions under climate change?”, working on the Ecoinformatics component of the project. My main aim here is to build and analyse a global database of metabolic traits relevant to species invasions through interactions, to address fundamental questions about thermal responses of organismal traits, empirically ground our theory, and inform our experiments.

“Data, data, data everywhere!”

Hsi-Cheng Ho (PhD Student)  •  Email

My academic interest is in animal behaviour and I have a background in doing empirical behavioural studies. This interest has recently been extended from organismal behaviour to its larger-scaled influences, that is, how individual behaviour may affect community-level phenomena. My PhD project in the Pawar lab focuses on the effect of individual-level diet choice behaviour on food-web structure and dynamics. I will address this question mainly through theoretical modelling based on Optimal Foraging Theory coupled with allometric considerations, and real-world data will be included for parameterisation and verification. Comparision among different foraging strategies as well as incorporating individual variations are some focusing points of the project. I am co-supervised by Professor Jason Tylianakis, a community ecologist expertises in interaction networks.

Paul Huxley (PhD Student)  •  Email

My PhD focuses on the potential impacts of environmental change on vector-borne disease dynamics. Traditional epidemiological models tend not to account for vector biology or ecology. My work addresses this by investigating functional vector traits, and establishing the extent to which individual variation within populations is influenced by environmental factors, such as changes in temperature and diet. Trait variation may play an important role in determining the ability of mosquitoes, for example, to transmit potentially fatal diseases to humans and wildlife.

These research areas are brought together by an overarching interest in contributing to our understanding of global environmental change, and its impacts on human and ecosystem health. I’m excited to collaborate with my peers, experienced academics and staff within the Grantham Institute, Public Health and Life Sciences in order to meet this challenge.

Dimitrios - Georgios Kontopoulos (PhD Student)  •  Email  •  Website

I am mainly interested in understanding how evolution - from the level of genes to species and beyond - allows organisms to respond to biotic and abiotic changes in their local environment. In line with this, my PhD project in the Pawar lab focuses on identifying biological limits of thermal adaptation and acclimation in ectotherms. I address this question via phylogenetic meta-analyses of published thermal response datasets, molecular dynamics simulations of proteins, and (hopefully!) mathematical modelling of the evolution of thermal responses. Through the combination of bio-/evo-/eco-informatics with modelling and (relatively) big datasets, I aim to uncover evolutionary trade-offs between key thermal traits, and trace their macroevolution across short and long timescales. My co-supervisors are Prof. Timothy Barraclough (an evolutionary biologist) and Prof. Iain Colin Prentice (a climate scientist).

Tom Smith (PhD Student)  •  Email

Broadly my interests lie in investigating how organisms adapt and evolve to changing environments, including understanding the genetic and biochemical changes underlying phenotypic adaptation. My PhD project in the Pawar lab involves combining experimental and computational approaches to the question of how micro-organisms respond and adapt to temperature change. My experimental work aims to measure thermal performance for growth and metabolic traits in a wide variety of bacterial strains isolated from natural environments to better understand general trends in temperature fitness across organisms. This will be coupled with evolutionary experiments to investigate the trade-offs which occur when micro-organisms adapt to new temperature regimes. I'm co-supervised by Tom Bell, a microbial ecologist, allowing me excellent access to loads of microbiologists (and their high-throughput experimental equipment!) in the Bell lab.

Jonathan Zheng (PhD Student)  •  Email

Hi, I'm a PhD student working on visualisation of complex and dynamically assembling/changing ecosystem models. It's an extension of my Masters project, called Ecobuilder, which is a video game where the player can play with an ecosystem model in real time. If you're curious, you can play it at ecobuildergame.org.

For the PhD, I'll be working further on the game, by improving the visualisation by applying graph drawing theory to maximise readability. We'll also be adding additional features to the mathematical model itself, such as community assembly and the effects of global warming. The end goal of the project is to create a interactive visualisation, good enough to give the player a strong intuition about the dynamics of ecosystems.

Matthew Watts (Research Assistant)  •  Email

I am a research assistant in the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London (Silwood Park campus). I am responsible for the development and curation of two databases for the the VectorBiTE RCN (Vector Behaviour in Transmission Ecology Research Coordination Network) project: VecTraits (a global database on variation in phenotypic traits of disease vectors) and VecDyn (a global database on population dynamics of disease vectors). I have a background in biology/ecology and data science. Before coming to Imperial College, I worked for the European Food Safety Authority’s Animal Health and Welfare team.

Katie Hindson (Masters Student)  •  Email

I'm a Computational Methods in Ecology and Evolution (CMEE) MRes student broadly interested in mechanistic ecological modelling and data science. My project is looking into the scaling up of individual responses to entire ecosystem responses. More specifically, I'm studying how the thermal dependency of individual metabolism ( in terms of photosynthesis and respiration) scales up to that of ecosystem flux (carbon flux). Ultimately, my aim is to build a model that is capable of predicting how an entire ecosystem will respond to temperature change given information on the thermal responses of the individuals within it.

Saul Moore (Masters Student)  •  Email  •  CV

Peto's Paradox - The relationship between cancer risk and body size

Calum Pennington (Masters Student)  •  Email  •  CV

I am a master's (by research) student of Computational Methods in Ecology and Evolution. Fundamentally, I am fascinated by the complexity of biology. Yet, simple models can be impressively useful. Focusing on biodiversity, I aim to integrate two general theories. Will this added complexity advance our understanding? Using random processes, Neutral-Theory models produce realistic biodiversity levels; Metabolic Theory bases predictions on organisms' metabolic rates. Is metabolic rate (largely controlled by body size) a key driver of biodiversity? I hope to make quantifiable predictions, meaningful to issues of species decline and extinction.