Prof. Vicki Friesen
(August 2017-September 2018)
Population and adaptive genomics of Arctic Seabirds
An exploration of the genome-wide patterns of variation across arctic populations of the Black Guillemot. I used whole genome re-sequencing to gain insight into the population structure of the species, to explore if any signals of local adaptation are present, and to characterise the demographic history of the populations. The information gained will help inform Environment Climate Change Canada’s species management and ultimately support Marine Protected Area design.
PhD Student Evolutionary Biology
University of Zurich
Prof. Andreas Wagner
Prof. Lukas Keller
Conservation genomics of the Alpine ibex
An investigation into the parameters that influence the adaptive potential and on-going evolutionary processes of reintroduced populations. This study focused on the Alpine ibex (Capra ibex), a successfully reintroduced species that underwent a severe bottleneck of less than 100 individuals, but has a current population size of over 40,000 due to reintroduction efforts. I utilized next generation sequencing (RADseq) to understand how signals of selection and genome-wide diversity vary between these populations. Using a combination of simulations and selection detection methods, I explored if reliable signals of selection can be identified across populations given the history of strong genetic drift. This was with the aim of identifying a reliable method that could be used in other outlier scans on bottlenecked species and to understand the confidence we can place in such results. I also characterised and explored biases that can arise in next generation sequencing data, specifically when data is added incrementally to a study.
MRes Ecology, Evolution and Conservation
Imperial College London
Summer Thesis: Conservation Genetics of the Corncrake (Crex crex)
An investigation into the genetic health of captive, reintroduced and wild populations of British Corncrakes. This involved both microsatellite and mitochondrial sequencing analysis.
Winter Thesis: Diet quality and morph expression in the male dimorphic bulb mite
An examination of the influence of juvenile diet quality on the expression of alternative reproductive phenotypes Rhizoglyphus robini.
BSc Biological Sciences Hons. Zoology
University of Edinburgh
Dissertation: Do female Nicrophorus vespilloides suppress larval begging through cuticular chemicals?
An exploration of the role that parent-offspring chemical communication plays during the offspring transition to nutritional independence.
Research Assistant Experience
Field research assistant on IOZ’s Hihi Project, Zoological Society of London, New Zealand (2012-2013)
Soay Sheep Project summer catch and survey assistant, University of Edinburgh, St Kilda (2011)
Burying beetle lab assistant, University of Edinburgh (2010)
Hoverfly Behaviour and Conservation researcher, Scottish Natural Heritage/Stirling University (2010)
Leigh DM, Lischer HEL, Günther T, Guillaume F, Grossen C, and Keller LF. (In prep) Detecting selection in a species with a history of strong genetic drift. Prepared for Molecular Ecology.
Birchard K and Leigh DM (In prep) Core concept: Circadian
rhythms. Pre-accepted for Frontiers for Young Minds.
Leigh DM, Hendry A, Vazquez E, Friesen V (Submitted) Temporal trends in genetic diversity: A decline of 6% since the industrial revolution
Biogenises* (Under Review) IPBES Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Chapter 2: Status and Trends in Nature’s Contributions to People (NCP) * contributing author
Leigh DM, Lischer HEL, Grossen C, and Keller LF. (2018) Batch effects in a multi-year sequencing study: False biological trends due to changes in read lengths. Molecular ecology resources.
Biebach I, Leigh DM, Sluzek K, and Keller LF. (2016) Genetic Issues in Reintroduction. In: Reintroduction of Fish and Wildlife populations. USA: UC Press
Leigh DM, and Smallegange I. (2014) Effects of variation in nutrition on male morph development in the bulb mite Rhizoglyphus robini. Experimental and Applied Acarology. 64(2):159-170
Maenpaa M, Andrews C, Collette D, Leigh DM, and Smiseth P. (2014) Burying Beetle Larvae Discriminate Between Individual Parents and Between Some Classes of Adults. Ethology. 121:395-402
Leigh DM, and Smiseth PT. (2012) Parent–Offspring Conflict over the Transition to Independence in Nicrophorus vespilloides: Parental Chemical Cues and Offspring Begging. Ethology. 118(5):460-465
Funding and Prizes
Queen's SSE Postdoc Travel Award $1000
Evolution2018 SSE’s W. D. Hamilton Award finalist (2018)
Funded place to attend Polygenic Adaptation Summer School, Zurich (2017)
ESF ConGenomics Travel Grant (2016): Travel grant awarded to attend ConGenomics2016
ESF Short Visit Grant (2015): Awarded to visit Uppsala University for knowledge exchange 945 €
ESF Workshop Place (2015): One of twenty fully funded places for the ESF B@G winter school.
Imperial College London Bursary for Masters studies (2011): £ 1000
Ashworth Prize (2011): For highest achieving Zoology Graduate at the University of Edinburgh £ 200
William Turner Prize (2010): For outstanding academic achievement. £ 200
NSERC and SWEP (summer students) supervisor 2018
Guest lecturer on “adaptation” for second year undergraduates. Queen’s University (200 students, 2018)
Guest lecturer on “genetic rescue” to MSc and honours students. Queen’s University (30 students, 2017)
Co-supervisor for an honours thesis. Supervised a final year student for one year on a project examining TLR variation
across the global distribution of Kittiwakes. This included training and guiding the student from DNA extraction to analyses. Queen’s University. (2017-2018)
Co-lecturer NGS Course, a lecture introducing RAD sequencing library prep and data analysis to
PhD students. University of Zurich (2015 and 2016)
Co-supervisor for two undergraduate students on a ‘Block course.’ A multi-week course that a involved
data generation and writing a report. University of Zurich (2015)
Teaching assistant on a 3-week long course focusing on helping students develop a scientific question, then designing an experiment to test this. Kalahari Research Station. University of Zurich (2015)
Lab teaching assistant on a weeklong course focusing introducing students to population genetic theory. University of Zurich (2015)
NSERC Strategic Meeting 2017 (October 19th – 21st, 2017)
Co-organiser of the coordination meeting for the Seabird project that involved multiple
Universities and conservation practitioners.
UZH Evolutionary Biology PhD Retreat (June 1st-3rd, 2015)
Co-organiser of a 3 day long conference for over 50 PhD students from the UZH Evolutionary Biology program.
URPP Conservation Genomics Mini Symposium (March 14th, 2014)
Organiser of a daylong event based around conservation genomics, with external talks from experts and an afternoon workshop session with the speakers and interested attendees.
Reviewer for Molecular Ecology Resources 2017
Reviewer for The Auk 2017
PhD representative to the UZH Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies (2015-17)
Mittelbau representative (PhD and Postdocs) for the hiring committee for the “Succession of Prof. Bernhard Schmidt.” (2015-17)
Highly experienced in creating bioinformatics pipelines and scripts.
Comfortable navigating and working in Unix and bash scripting.
Familiar using genomic tools such as: Bowtie2, Stacks, VCFtools and GATK.
Knowledge of Python and R.
Experienced in NGS library prep (RADseq, single enzyme protocol).
Comfortable writing forward simulations in Nemo.
Experienced working in remote and difficult field conditions.
Experienced biopsy darting with a pressure rifle.
Workshops, Conferences and Seminars
Evolution2018. Oral presentation. Hamilton Award Finalist (2018)
University of Toronto Biology Department's seminar series. Invited speaker (2018).
Queen’s University Biology Department's seminar series. Invited speaker (2017).
Arctic Change (2018). Poster presentation.
Conservation of adaptive potential and functional diversity (2017). Oral presentation.
Integrated methods to detect polygenic adaptation from genomics data (2017). Poster and funded place
GDC conference, ETH Zurich (2016). Invited speaker.
Congenomics (2016). Best Talk Award. Travel award.
ESEB (2015). Poster presentation.
Bioinformatics for Adaptation Genomics (March 2015). ESF funded place.
Guarda Course in Evolutionary Biology (June 2014).
Evomics (January, 2014).
SIB (January, 2014).
Hobbies and Outside Interests
I enjoy bouldering, travelling, experiencing new cultures and hiking. On rainy days I like to cook and bake. I used to organise the Good Food Society with Hanna Kokko and would happily set up a break off branch!