Case study: Zombie ants foster research relations
A substantial grant from the Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship awarded to Dr David Hughes of the University's School of Biosciences has advanced both his career and Exeter's relationship with Harvard University in the US.
Dr Hughes' research concerns an ancient fungi which takes control of its host's brain and turns them into zombies.
The grant made it possible for David to spend 18 months comducting his research at Harvard University, before a 12 month reintegration phase at Exeter.
How did Research and Knowledge Transfer help?
- Advised on the requirements of the application.
- orked on the terms and conditions of employment under the Mare Curie scheme.
- Put in place the secondment agreement with Harvard.
Research and Knowledge Transfer (RKT) also acts as the first point of contact for David if he has any queries regarding his fellowship.
Focussing on ants and Cordyceps, a parasitic fungus of ants, David’s research at Harvard examined the evolutionary development and geographical distribution of the host-parasite relationship between these two organisms.
A unique training programme was created to help David to develop the required techniques, as well as providing him the opportunity to widen and consolidate his network of professional contacts through regular interaction with colleagues at other North American institutions.
For the return phase at Exeter, David’s research will focus on the molecular biology of the same ant-fungus interaction, as well as transferring his newly acquired knowledge and skills to colleagues at Exeter.
You can read more about David's research in a recent paper published by the Royal Society.