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Mr Benjamin Watkinson-Powell

Postgraduate Student
Mr Benjamin Watkinson-Powell
Department of Plant Sciences
University of Cambridge
Downing Street

Cambridge CB2 3EA
Office Phone: 01223 330229


I completed my undergraduate degree in Biology at the University of York in 2014, where I specialised in ecology, evolution and genetics, and undertook a final year project with Prof. Calvin Dytham. After this, I worked as a summer student for Prof. James Brown at the John Innes Centre in 2014. From there I moved to Imperial College London where I graduated from in 2015 with an MSc in Computational Methods in Ecology and Evolution, and was supervised in my research project by Dr Nina Alphey. Since 2015 I have been a part of the Cambridge BBSRC DTP, starting work on my PhD in Plant Sciences in 2016 under the supervision of Dr Nik Cunniffe and Prof. Chris Gilligan.

Research Interests

I am interested in the interaction between spatial structure and evolutionary processes within populations. This is particularly relevant for systems with rapidly changing dynamics that have major impacts on food production and human health. My current research revolves around studying the effects of landscape scale host spatial structure on the epidemiology and evolution of agricultural plant pathogen populations. The aim of this is to identify strategies that reduce disease spread over evolutionary timescales, and therefore to improve the durability of crop disease resistance genes. In our work we utilise spatially explicit mathematical simulation models to charactarise the eco-evolutionary processes that underpin such strategies, in order to identify the systems where they can be most optimally employed.  

Key Publications

Watkinson-Powell, B., & Alphey, N. (2017). Resistance to genetic insect control: Modelling the effects of space. Journal of theoretical biology, 413, 72-85.

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