Kirsty’s PhD work investigates the ecology of the gut microbiome using wild wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus) as a model system. Her research focusses on how host and environmental factors such as diet and parasitic infections influence the dynamics and function of the gut microbial community, and how this impacts host fitness under natural conditions. She uses a combination of metabarcoding and metabolite profiling as well as classic parasitological techniques together with multivariate statistical methods to bring together these different elements of a complex system.
Kirsty gained a BSc (Hons) in Zoology from Cardiff University in 2014, during which took a placement year as a biodiversity monitoring assistant at the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. This led on to an MRes in Biosciences (also at Cardiff University) for which she studied the role of social interactions in disease transmission using social network analysis in collaboration with Fondazione Edmund Mach Institute (Trento, Italy). Kirsty obtained an RVC studentship to begin the NERC-funded research in 2016, supervised by Dr. Sarah Knowles and Prof. Joanne Webster and working closely with Oxford University Zoology dept. for data collection.