Faculty of Biological Sciences

Dr Elizabeth Duncan

Lecturer in Zoology
School of Biology

Background: After completing my PhD in 2007 at Otago University (New Zealand) I did a post-doctoral fellowship examining the evolution of an early developmental pathway found in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and became enamoured with invertebrate biology, in particular reproduction and development. As a research fellow I continued working in these areas and was also successful in obtaining my own funding to work in the area of phenotypic plasticity. All animals respond to their environment, but some have the ability to change their physiology, biochemistry, behaviour and reproduction in response to an environmental cue; a phenomenon known as phenotypic plasticity. Using insect models including the honeybee and the pea aphid I have been working to understand how the environment interacts with the genome of animals these animals to give rise to phenotypic plasticity. In October 2015 I moved to the University of Leeds as a Lecturer to establish my own laboratory focussed on phenotypic plasticity and the evolution of eusociality.

Contact:  Miall 8.06, +44(0) 113 34 37716, email address for  

You can read more about Dr Duncan's interests here:

Research Interests

Evolution of eusociality, phenotypic plasticity, invertebrate developmental biology, evolution of developmental pathways, genome architecture and evolution.

Faculty Research and Innovation

Studentship information

Undergraduate project topics:

  • Interested in doing a summer project in my lab in 2016? http://www.fbs.leeds.ac.uk/research/studentships/

Postgraduate studentship areas:

  • Environmental and molecular control of reproduction in solitary bees
  • Maternal control of early development in insects
  • Evolution of eusociality
  • How is reproduction repressed in eusocial insects?
  • http://www.findaphd.com/search/ProjectDetails.aspx?PJID=66805&LID=735
  • http://www.nercdtp.leeds.ac.uk/projects/index.php?id=256

See also:

Modules managed

BLGY3122 - Social Insect Biology

Modules taught

BLGY1303 - Tutorials for Biology and Genetics
BLGY2100 - Enhanced Study Skills for Biologists
BLGY2313/5156M - Mediterranean Ecology Field Course
BLGY3021 - Research Project
BLGY3122 - Social Insect Biology
BLGY3245 - Advanced Topics in Evolution
BLGY3340 - Biology Research Projects
BLGY3395 - Advanced Research Skills and Experience
BLGY3396 - Research Literature Review
BLGY5380M - Extended Research Project


Jens Van Eeckhoven (Primary supervisor) 50% FTE