Emily O'Connor

Emily O'Connor


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Personal profile


I am an evolutionary biologist who studies how adaptations in the immune system have facilitated the evolution of different life-history traits. I currently work on several different research questions within this topic, such as whether variation in immune genes has influenced the evolution of cooperative breeding in birds and the role that immunity has played in the evolution of longer lifespans. I approach these research questions through a combination of studying immune genes and phylogenetic comparative analyses.

I have a varied research background. I completed a PhD in 2007 at the University of Liverpool, UK, studying local adaptation to low oxygen in three-spined sticklebacks. Following this project, I changed study system to assess the consequences of anthropogenic stressors on the social behaviour and physiology of domesticated animals during a postdoc at the Royal Veterinary College (University of London, UK, 2008–2011). In 2012 I returned my focus to wild animals and began to study avian immune genes during a post-doc in the Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab (MEEL) at Lund University (2012-2015). This project introduced me to the utility of studying immune gene in an evolutionary context to learn about the role of immunity in shaping some of the fascinating diversity we see around us in the natural world. Since 2015 I have been employed as a researcher within the MEEL group at Lund University where I continue my work on the role of immunity in the evolution of various life-history traits. Since 2016 I also work as a board member for the Graduate Research School in Genomic Ecology (GENECO) at Lund University.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action


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