Michael Pointer

Project: Why are pests so successful? The evolutionary ecology of colonisation and spread
Supervisor: Dr Lewis Spurgin

I have always been interested in science and followed this through to study ecology at UEA as an undergraduate. After this I had several years away from academia, then returned to UEA on their applied ecology and conservation Masters programme. This was when the ecology and evolution bug really bit me, and I managed to get funding to carry out a population genetic study of an endangered gecko in Madagascar for my MSc thesis. Having enjoyed this experience so much, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in research through a PhD.

I’m now using an insect model to investigate what makes pest species such good colonisers. I’m bringing together artificial selection, highly replicated ecological microcosm experiments and population genetics to address questions with broad implications for biodiversity, conservation and food security.

The wide variety and collaborative nature of research across the Norwich Research Park means that this is a great place to study biological science. I can use the experience of others to learn and apply a broad range of techniques to my own work.

The BBSRC DTP training programme also affords many opportunities to connect with other researchers and pick up new skills – some applicable within academia, but also some that are valuable for employability or personal development. First among these is the PIPS placement, which funds PhD students to take up an internship of their choice outside the scope of their research project.