Evolution Research Group

Head: Professor Julie Hawkins


Molecular data are used to study the biosci_ACDorbiculata_270sqecology and evolution of plants, animals and microbes. We have a major strength in the use of DNA sequence data to construct molecular phylogenies to unravel patterns in the evolution of biodiversity including responses to climate change. We also make extensive use of molecular ecology to understand structure, dispersal and history of populations in plants, fungi, and animals. Human languages, like genes, evolve over time. Mark Pagel, Andrew Meade and colleagues in the Evolution research group at Reading use statistical and computational methods inspired by genetic evolution to study the evolution of language and culture. Reading University hosts the Species 2000 secretariat which has responsibility for publication of the Catalogue of Life.


This group aims to change the way evolutionary biologists think about and study evolution, both through methodological innovation (provision of tools and data) and by applying established evolutionary methods to unconventional systems.

Over the next five years the Evolution group will:

  1. Continue to develop important new phylogenetic methodologies and tools for the evolutionary biology community.
  2. Apply these phylogenetic methods to a range of non-conventional systems, such as human culture, language and medicinal plant use, while consolidating phylogenetic work in established systems, namely plants and arachnids.
  3. Develop complementary experimental methods to test phylogenetic assumptions and predictions in areas such as genetic code evolution and cancer biology.

Academics Research Interests
Professor James Cook JamesCook7070

Symbiosis and coevolution, Sex ratios and mating systems, Insect-plant interactions, Figs and fig wasps

Dr Alastair Culham biosci-CulhamAlistair_small

Biodiversity informatics, evolutionary responses to climate change, plant phylogeny and taxonomy, DNA barcoding & molecular markers

Professor Julie Hawkins

[Head of Evolution Research Group]

Plant Evolution, Plant Conservation, Plant DNA certification, Taxonomy, Wildlife trade and conservation, Molecular phylogenetics.

Dr Louise Johnson JohnsonLouise_small

Evolution, genetics, intragenomic conflict, genomics, levels of selection, genome defence

Dr Andrew Meade MeadeAndrew_small

Phylogentic inference, Comparative methods, Computational biology and High performance computing

Professor Mark Pagel Mark Pagel

Evolution, computational biology, language evolution, phylogeny, Markov chain Monte Carlo

Dr M. Alejandra Perotti biosci-PerottiAlejandra_small

Genes and environment, Forensic biology, Acarology, Mites, endosymbiotic bacteria, Wolbachia

Dr Chris Venditti


Phylogenetic inference and comparative methods, Speciation, Adaptation and Rates of Evolution

Dr Richard Walters r-j-walters-small

Evolutionary Ecology and Adaptation to Climate Change

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