Faculty of Biological Sciences

Dr Simon Goodman

BSc, Sheffield, PhD 1996, Cambridge
School of Biology

Background: 2000-2004 Research Fellow, Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London

1996-2000 Post-doc, Institute of Cell, Animal and Population Biology, University of Edinburgh

1995-1996 Research Assistant, Dept. Genetics, University of Cambridge

1991-1995 PhD, Dept. Genetics, University of Cambridge

1988-1991 Honours degree, Dept. Genetics, University of Sheffield

Contact:  Manton 8.10, +44(0) 113 34 32561, email address for  

Research Interests

Population and conservation genetics, molecular ecology, disease ecology

Caspian seal (photo courtesy of Agip KCO)

My research focuses on investigating how patterns of genetic variation relate to disease susceptibility, and the mechanisms by which disease acts as major conservation threat. Pathogens are a major driving force in evolution and are intimately linked with much of the biological diversity we see around us. However, disease is now also a major global conservation threat, comparable in importance to other major factors such as habitat destruction, climate change, over exploitation and invasive species. Work in my group deals with investigating both the underlying evolutionary genetic interactions between hosts and pathogens, and developing ways to manage real world conservation disease threats.

We use a combination of theoretical and empirical approaches in our research, for example by using theoretical models to test hypotheses about the evolution of disease resistance, and comparative genomic techniques to examine genetic variation in host candidate genes in relation to specific wildlife diseases, e.g. Phocine distemper virus in seals, or links between the population genetics of vector populations and their ability to act as vectors for different diseases (e.g. mosquitoes in Galapagos). In recent work we showed that evolutionary feedback due to acquired immunity and stochasticity in epidemic intervals can impede the evolution of disease resistance, a finding that may have important implications for epidemiological models of human, agricultural and wildlife diseases (Harding et al. 2005).

Assessing the health of Galapagos giant tortoises
Assessing the health of Galapagos giant tortoises

In other work, together with Ecuadorian partners we recently established the first ever molecular genetic and pathology laboratory in the Galapagos islands (see http://www.galapagoslab.org). Galapagos is one of the most iconic places in the world for evolution and biodiversity, but many of the endemic species in the archipelago are now vulnerable to introduced diseases, or changes to the ecology of native diseases. We are using a range of genetic and pathology methods to determine what the current and future disease threats are, and to develop disease mitigation strategies for the Galapagos National Park Service. Our research here has already guided plans to reduce the risk of introduction of West Nile Virus to the archipelago (Kilpatrick et al. 2006).

We are also working with Institutions in the 5 Caspian states to develop solutions for conservation of the Caspian seal, which we recently demonstrated to have declined by more than 90% since the start of the 20th century.


Current funding for these projects comes from the Darwin Initiative (Galapagos disease threats, grant no: 162-12-17), The Caspian Environment Programme and Agip KCO (Caspian seal conservation), BBSRC and Marie Curie PhD studentships.


Faculty Research and Innovation

Studentship information

See also:

Modules managed

BLGY3246 - Evolution and Population Genetics
BLGY5104M - Conservation Genetics
BLGY5191M - Biodiversity and Conservation MSc and MRes Summer Project
BLGY5191M/98M - Biodiversity and Conservation Projects

Modules taught

BLGY1303 - Tutorials for Biology and Genetics
BLGY1304 - Research Experience and Skills Level 1
BLGY2100 - Enhanced Study Skills for Biologists
BLGY2175 - Human Populations
BLGY2223 - Organismal Evolution
BLGY3246 - Evolution and Population Genetics
BLGY5104M - Conservation Genetics
BLGY5107M - Biodiversity and Conservation Skills I
BLGY5191M - Biodiversity and Conservation MSc and MRes Summer Project
BLGY5198M - Biodiversity and Conservation MRes Research Project 1

Dr Lilia Dmitrieva  (Research Fellow)

Dr Jenny Dunn  (Visiting Research Fellow)

Farmland bird ecology and conservation 


Laura Najera Cortazar (Primary supervisor) 85% FTE
Leandro Patino Patino (Primary supervisor) 85% FTE
Rebecca Thomas (Primary supervisor) 45% FTE
Jamie Bojko (Co-supervisor) 10% FTE
Jude Lane (Co-supervisor) 10% FTE
Linas Svolkinas (Co-supervisor) 50% FTE
Sonja Wild (Co-supervisor) 10% FTE