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Profile of Robert Fairweather

Robert Fairweather
Research Masters Student
Environment Centre Wales, School of Biological Sciences, Bangor University, Deiniol Road, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2UW     


I am interested in the application of molecular techniques to ecology and conservation science, particularly in the marine environment. The potential applications are exciting and varied, ranging from understanding evolutionary processes and taxonomic relationships to applications such as biodiversity and population dynamic monitoring and traceability of wildlife products.

Of particular interest to me is the field of fisheries genetics, and the role of molecular ecology as part of multidisciplinary research into fisheries science. Some specific research themes that interest me include the role of selection and local adaptation in population structuring in highly connective marine habitats, fisheries and wildlife forensics and the traceability of wildlife products, and the development of molecular tools for marine environmental monitoring.

In my spare time I love to hike the welsh mountains, swim in Snowdonian lakes, and explore the coast on snorkel and scuba. I have an avid interest in local wildlife and conservation issues. I also enjoy swing dancing, fantasy, sci-fi and adventure novels, and live music of many kinds.



Academic qualifications

BSc in Marine Biology with Zoology, Bangor University, September 2011 – September 2014
MRes in Ecology, Bangor University, January 2015 – present

Other qualifications

PADI Divemaster with over 150 temperate water dives
SeaSearch observer qualification


Academic Writing Mentor, Bangor University Study Skills Centre, September 2013 – present.
Volunteer research assistant, MEFGL, Bangor University, September 2013 – present.
Volunteer and paid scientific diving experience including benthic surveys and invasive species removal.
Former volunteer aquarist at Anglesey Sea Zoo
Volunteer work with various conservation organisations (RSPB, Welsh Wildlife Trust) mainly including public outreach and engagement activities.

Professional memberships

Fisheries Society of the British Isles (FSBI) Student member
British Ecological Society (BES) Student member


Full CV
Research Gate


Current Project

My current research involves using population genomic methods to examine population structuring in Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) over large geographic scales. Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers provide highly informative markers for examining populations structuring in marine fish and informing fisheries management through the provision of tools for stock structures analysis and traceability of fish products. Atlantic cod is a species of high commercial and ecological interest and a sentinel species in fisheries genetic research, and already a substantial number of cod SNP studies have been published by a number of researchers.

An extensive cod SNP database has been generated by the FishPopTrace project, spearheaded by researchers at Bangor University and collaborators at DTU Aqua, and my current research involves further collaboration to synthesis this dataset with that of researchers at Dalhousie University. The complimentary dataset represents collectively the largest and most geographically comprehensive generated for a commercially important fish to date: over 1100 common loci represent a rich diversity of sampling locations on both sides of the Atlantic.

Through a collaborative meta-analysis of this data, we aim to examine broad trends in population structuring in Atlantic cod at both neutral and selected loci. In doing we intend expand the knowledge base used to define biological stocks and inform management of cod fisheries. We will also gain significant insight into the functioning of evolutionary forces in the highly connective marine environment. This analysis will include examination of local adaptation to temperature gradients, the effects of neutral evolution due to isolation, and the effects of past of isolation and secondary contact following the last glacial maximum.
This ambitious collaborative project will utilise a suit of analytical techniques and expertise from both sides of the Atlantic, and will be led by myself as the subject of my M.Res thesis.

Supervisor/Principle Investigator

Prof. Gary Carvalho


Dr. Mark De Bruyn
Dr. Jakob Hemmer Hansen (DTU Aqua)
Dr. Ian Bradbury (DFO Canada/Dalhousie University)
Dr. Sarah Helyar (Matis)

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