Broadly, my research aims to understand how ecology and evolution shape the reproductive biology and behaviour of individuals. I am particularly interested in the evolution of ejaculates, including sperm and non-sperm components. Sperm are especially interesting because they are the most morphologically variable cell type known, and yet our understanding of the evolutionary causes and adaptive significance of this variation remains limited. Thus a recurrent theme in my research is to understand the evolutionary consequences of postcopulatory sexual selection, especially in terms of morphological diversification of sperm cells, and the adaptive and functional significance of sperm diversity. Moreover, because both sperm and non-sperm components of the ejaculate can contribute to fitness, I am also interested in the evolution and functionality of non-sperm components of the ejaculate. While much of my research has focused on passerine birds, I have worked with a variety of taxa (e.g. mammals, millipedes) in order to try and understand the universality of evolutionary patterns and processes.
With support from a Research Council of Norway Young Research Talent grant, I recently began a new project investigating sperm-pathogen interactions and the evolution of ejaculate antimicrobial defences in birds. This project integrates organismal and molecular approaches to develop a systems level understanding of the role of bacteria in the evolution of avian seminal fluid and factors that minimise bacterial-induced sperm defects and limit the transmission of STDs.