The lab

c_kyriacouCharalambos Kyriacou

I was born in Camden and spent my school years in North London. I went to Birmingham University aged 17 in 1970 and read Psychology, where one of the lecturers, David Fulker, turned my attention towards behavioural genetics. My PhD in this subject using Drosophila was carried out jointly in the Departments of Psychology and Genetics in Sheffield under the supervision of Kevin Connolly and Barrie Burnet. After spending one year in Psychology at the University of Edinburgh as a Demonstrator, I moved to Brandeis University in Boston in 1978, where I worked with Jeff Hall on the neurogenetics of sexual behaviour in flies and initiated a project on circadian clock genes in the context of courtship.

I continued this collaboration back in in Edinburgh and then Leicester with Jeff and Michael Rosbash (also at Brandeis) into the 1980s and 1990s, and was involved in their pioneering molecular analyses of fly circadian rhythm genes.  This work was to win them the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology in 2017 which they shared with Michael Young at Rockefeller.  My current research interests are focused on tidal, circadian and seasonal rhythms, aggression and the effects of electromagnetic field on behaviour, working predominantly with Drosophila and Eurydice, an intertidal marine organism. My lab is funded by multiple grants from BBSRC, the European Union and the Electromagnetic Field Biological Trust. Within the department I collaborate extensively with Dr Ezio Rosato (see below) on biological rhythms and Prof Flaviano Giorgini using fly models to study Huntington’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. Outside the department my main collaborators are Dr Michael Hastings (LMB, Cambridge), Dr David Wilcockson (Aberystwyth) and Prof Rodolfo Costa (Padova). cpk at

Bambos’ profile on Research Gate

EzioEzio Rosato

I studied at the University of Padova for my first degree. After military service in Rome, I won a national competition and obtained a PhD scholarship in Genetics. Although my ‘Dottorato’ was awarded by the University of Ferrara, my laboratory work was carried out in the Department of Biology at the University of Padova and in the Department of Genetics at the University of Leicester. I moved to Leicester permanently in 1994.

Over the years, my laboratory has been particularly involved in studying a complex behaviour, the circadian clock, in insects and in particular in the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster. We are interested in the genes that regulate the clock and we study them by characterising their function, by examining their evolution, and by analysing their expression.  We are also engaged in understanding how clock neurons (neurons expressing clock genes) are organised and how circadian information flows through their network. More recently we have started analysing other complex behaviours such as learning and memory, courtship and sleep.

Another area of research we are pursuing is the study of biological rhythmicity in marine invertebrates. The marine environment is particularly complex as the interplay of circadian, lunar and tidal rhythms might influence the habitat of some species. We have analysed the circadian and tidal behaviour of the ragworm Nereis viriens and we have studied the circadian behaviour of Northern and Antarctic krill. er6 at

Ezio’s pofile on Research Gate

RobertoRoberto Feuda

I studied Evolutionary Biology at the University of Rome Sapienza and completed the degree with a dissertation on the phylogeography on the common mole. During my undergraduate studies, I was one of two European students funded by the Science Foundation Ireland to do a summer internship at the National University of Ireland of Maynooth, where I worked on a project on horizontal gene transfer in plants. In 2009, I was awarded a PhD fellowship from the Irish Council for Research and Engineering to work in the lab of Davide Pisani. During my PhD, I used computational methods to reconstruct the origin of vision (we identified the pattern of gene duplication that lead to the origin of opsin) and the relationships between non-bilateria metazoans. After my PhD in 2013, I spent two months in the department of Zoology in Oxford in the lab of Peter Holland to work on the pattern of evolution of opsin in insects.
During my PhD, I started to be fascinated by the problem of body plan formation and how the genomes encode for morphology. Therefore for my postdoc, I decided to learn some Experimental Biology, and so I moved to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), to work in the laboratory of Eric Davidson. At Caltech, I worked on the evolution of photoreceptors cells and on the gene regulatory network controlling the formation of neurons in the sea urchin larvae.
In 2018, I was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship, and so I moved back to Europe. After spending one year and a half in the School of Earth Science in Bristol as part of the Paleobiology group, in October 2019, I accepted a proleptic position in the Department of Genetics and Genome Biology at the University of Leicester.

In my lab, we combine experiments in different model systems (e.g. sea urchin, flies, ctenophores and cnidarians) and computation approaches (single-cell and phylogenomics) to understand two main problems 1) the evolution of the neurogenic gene regulatory network and 2) the molecular assembly of vision. rf190 at

Roberto’s profile on Research gate


HelenHelen Roe

As laboratory technician I have worked with Drosophila and looked after the health and safety and research needs of the fly groups for over 20 years. hdo at



Lin photo

Lin Zhang

I am a Senior Research Associate and my work has been focusing on the molecular basis of circatidal rhythm in the intertidal crustacean Eurydice pulchra for more than a decade. The work has been continuously funded by BBSRC  in collaboration with Aberystwyth University (Dr DC Wilcockson), Bangor University (Prof SC Webster) and MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge (Dr MH Hastings). Unlike terrestrial organisms where the circadian ~24 h solar cycle dominates, intertidal organisms are exposed to a prominent ~12.4 h component that reflects the ebb and flow of the tides, as well as semi-lunar (spring and neap tides), lunar and solar cycles which is reflected in their endogenous circatidal rhythms of behaviour and physiology.. However, the molecular control of tidal behaviours is poorly understood. We have been using Eurydice pulchra to address a long-standing question whether the circatidal rhythm shares the same molecular components of the circadian clock, the whether the tidal cycle is distinct from circadian oscillator (Wilcockson and Zhang 2008, Zhang et al 2013, O’Neill et al, 2015). lz8 at

Lin’s profile on Research gate

ValValeria Zonato

I have been in the fly lab for a few years. During my PhD I studied diapause in D. melanogaster, a seasonal character that allows flies to escape winter in time. I was particularly interested in natural populations, which experience different environmental stimuli as winter approaches. I analysed several genes carrying polymorphisms which allow flies to anticipate the changing of seasons. After my PhD I have been managing two Marie Sklodowska-Curie Initial Training Networks: INsecTIME and CINCHRON. These networks involve 15 laboratories in Europe and Israel, with coordination and management in Leicester. The main focus of the networks is chronobiology in insects. vz12 at

Valeria’s profile on Research gate


Laura Delfino

I joined the group in 2012 as a PhD student with a background in Biology and Evolutionary Biology gained through my BSc and MSc degrees at University of Padova (Italy). During my PhD in Genetics, I worked on a Drosophila model of Huntington’s disease. By focusing on different phenotypes, including altered sleep/wake cycles, I interrogated the role of a genetic modifier (Rab8) as a therapeutic target for the pathology. During my PhD I started to become interested in basic aspects of circadian rhythms and thanks to a research project funded by the BBSRC, my current research aims to dissect the role of peripheral clocks in Drosophila behaviour. ld148 at

Laura’s profile on Research gate


Joe Watkins

I am in the third year of my NERC funded PhD and interested in how Drosophila change their behaviour and biology in response to extreme environmental factors such as temperature. I look into the diapause phenotype in response to the cold, short photoperiods experienced in winter, whereby flies halt their ovary development so as not to waste valuable resources on non-viable progeny. I also look at the locomotor response of flies under varying environmental conditions with a particular focus on the use of more ‘natural’ experimental conditions than traditional laboratory studies. Jcww2 at

Joe’s profile on LinkedIn


photoAurore Capillon

I come from Marseille, in the south of the France. During my studies, I specialised in biology and did a multidisciplinary master on Development, Immunology and Neurology. During my internships, I worked on memory and spatial navigation at the INMED (Mediterranean Neurology Institute) and on the effect of maternal cholesterol on lymph node development of the embryo, in the CIML (Immunology Center of Marseille Luminy). I recently moved to Leicester to start a PhD programme within the European network CINCHRON. By using state of the art genetic technologies I am dissecting the fly clock to understand how the neuronal network induces a circadian rhythm. ac767 at


MG101801Abhijit Parameswaran

I hail from Peringode, a beautiful little village in the heart of Kerala, India. I was fortunate enough to join one of the premier research institutes for basic research in India, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Thiruvananthapuram. My master thesis was to decipher the role of miR-184 in the growth and development of Drosophila melanogaster. Life at IISER offered me an opportunity to understand the power of interdisciplinary research as a path to elucidate scientific problems. Nothing has been as enigmatic to me as the structure and function of the brain. I am fascinated to learn more about the genetics underlying the precise control of intricate neuronal networks. In Leicester I am part of CINCHRON. I am working on the neurogenetics of temperature compensation in the Drosophila circadian clock. ap713 at



Alessandra Aleotti

I joined the lab in 2019 to conduct a PhD under the supervision of Dr Roberto Feuda. The topic of my research is the molecular origin and evolution of vision in animals. The main goal of my project is to understand when and how the fundamental components of visual systems (such as phototransduction machinery and photoreceptor cells) originated in animals. For this I will complement phylogenetic analyses with experimental approaches to explore the conformation of visual systems in early branching animals, like jellyfish and comb jellies, to provide novel insights on the early evolution of vision. aa1176 at


Michael Hastings– MRC Cambridge

Flaviano Giorgini -Leicester

Rodolfo Costa -Padova

David Wilcockson  and Simon Webster -Aberystwyth and Bangor University