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Samraat Pawar  •  Email  •  CV  •  Website  • 


I am currently Reader (equivalent to Associate Professor) in the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London (Silwood Park campus). I am mainly interested in developing general mathematical models using quantitative insights from (especially, macro-ecological) patterns. I am particularly interested in biomechanical constraints on individual energetics (temperature-dependence and body size-scaling , a la Ecological Metabolic Theory), 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).


Emma Cavan (Postdoc)  •  Email  •  CV  •  Website  •   • 


My overarching research interest is in how organisms interact with and influence our environment, particularly the role of microbes in biogeochemical cycles. My background is in empirical marine biogeochemistry/ecology, mostly on the role of microbes and zooplankton in the open-ocean organic carbon sink and storage (e.g. plankton poo!). I am also passionate about promoting the importance of organisms in global biogeochemical cycles, and the conservation of species for this purpose. My role in the Pawar Lab is to build models to predict how chemical pollution and warming will effect microbial biodiversity and ecosystem function (i.e., carbon fluxes) in freshwater systems.


Alexander Christensen (PhD Student)  •  Email  •  CV  •  Website


My PhD builds on recent advances in computational modelling tools, and our growing understanding that the dynamical systems driving ocean microbial ecology are complex, multifaceted and require us to model activity on an wide range of spatial scales. I am working towards a very large ecological model driven by Lagrangian particle tracking, and explicitly incorporating individual (or small-group) particle behaviours. I hope to be able to capture small scale subtleties whose effects reverberate across the wider microbial ecosystem, eventually incorporating interactions between other trophic levels and other extensions to the model. My background is in mathematics, with particular interest in dynamical systems and applications to biological modelling. I also have some research experience working with statistical earthquake forecast models and machine learning algorithms for medical diagnosis.


Tom Clegg (PhD Student)  •  Email  •  CV  •   • 


I am interested in how ecosystem properties such as stability and functioning emerge from the structure and dynamics of species interactions. My PhD uses theoretical models and empirical data to examine the effects of temperature on ecosystem carbon flux, scaling individual thermal responses to the ecosystem level. Specifically I use metabolic theory and classic food web approaches to assess the effects of dynamics on this process. I am also supervised by Prof Guy Woodward and Dan Goodman.


Jacob Cook (PhD Student)  •  Email  •  CV  • 


My academic interests lie in the search for extremal principles in ecology (coarse thermodynamic principles that provide the general systemic properties). The principle of interest is the maximum entropy production principle, i.e. the principle that ecosystems will in general maximise the rate at which they degrade low entropy energy sources into high entropy waste, subject to dynamical constraints. This principle can be seen as a slight extension to ideas of flux maximisation long proposed within ecology. My PhD project will attempt to establish the maximum entropy production principle based on stochastic thermodynamics in a way that is consistent with present biological theory. Due to the focus on stochastic thermodynamics a large portion of my work is carried out in the biological physics (Endres) group, I’m am additionally co-supervised by Guy-Bart Stan.


Hsi-Cheng Ho (PhD Student)  •  Email  •  CV  • 


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  •  CV


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  •  CV  •  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  •  CV  • 


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 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  •  CV  • 


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.


Francis Windram (Research Assistant)  •  Email  •  CV  •  Website  • 


I am a Research Assistant and ex-Masters student in the Pawar lab. My main research interests are threefold: 1) Spider web morphology and the associated allometric relationships 2) The application of computational and mathematical approaches to novel and understudied biological fields 3) The development of rugged software; easy to use and capable in field-conditions when the rain is slashing and you just want to get inside Both points 2 & 3 require efficient methods for storing and retrieving data, and both benefit hugely from large datasets. As such I am presently working on the VectorBite/VecDyn database and the BioTraits database, aiming to improve access methods and implement new features for exploring the enclosed data.


Hannah O'Sullivan (Masters Student)  •  Email  •  CV  • 


I’m a master’s student (MRes) on the CMEE course at Silwood park. Broadly, I am interested in applying computational methods to biological problems as well as ensuring overlap of practice when it comes to analysing biological data. For my MRes project I’m developing a python package to fit alternative mathematical models to thermal performance curves. Model choice is important in predicting responses to climate change but there is little consensus on which model performs best. In addition to developing a package, I am using model selection to determine which models are the most appropriate for a given dataset. My background is in tropical ecology and herpetology so before I was writing python I was catching pythons instead!


Yuxin Qin (Masters Student)  •  Email  •  CV


My MRes project aims at optimising population matrix models of Atlantic Salmon using ecological metabolic theory. The model will consider two key factors that affect the salmon life cycle: like temperature and body mass. The final output will a generalised population model to predict Atlantic Salmon abundance dynamics at different latitudes.


Luke Vassor (Masters Student)  •  Email  •  CV  • 


I am an M.Sc. student on the CMEE course at Imperial's Silwood Park campus. My research interests lie towards the mathematical side of Biology, having developed a keen interest in the use of sophisticated mathematical models in development of ecological theory and, more broadly, data analytics. For my thesis project, I will be evaluating the appropriateness of, and developing further, existing Ontogenetic Growth Models in accounting for the hyperallometric scaling of the allocation of body mass, realised through metabolism, to reproduction, a signal conveyed by recent data. The project focuses on Life History Theory, Metabolic Theory and Optimal Foraging Theory, 3 major arms of ecology. Classically trained as a field biologist, I am finding the transition to indoor theoretical work somewhat interesting and somewhat drier here in Britain.


Alumni

Bernardo García-Carreras (ex-Postdoc)  •  Email  •  Website

Sofía Sal Bregua (ex-Postdoc)  •  Email  •  Website

Adrienne Etard (ex-Research Assistant)  •  Email

Katie Hindson (ex-Masters Student)  •  Email

Julia Lanoue (ex-Masters Student)  •  Email

Perng Lee (ex-Masters Student)  •  Email

Saul Moore (ex-Masters Student)  •  Email

Calum Pennington (ex-Masters Student)  •  Email