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Dr Ashleigh Griffin

My research

I am interested in the evolution of cooperative behaviour because it poses a special problem for evolutionary theory - how can selection favour a behaviour that reduces reproductive success? The question is important, not just so we can gain an insight into striking examples such as colonies of social insects or meerkat groups, but because it is fundamental to understanding life as we know it: the evolution of the genome, the eukaryotic cell and multicellular organisms.

My journey

I was heavily pregnant during my PhD viva so I had half a glass of champagne to celebrate and a month later I had a baby. Three years on I started a postdoc testing ideas I had about social behaviour in meerkats using a bacterial experimental system. The advantage of bacteria over meerkats (well, one of them) is that they freeze easily, so I worked part-time for five years around the growth cycles of bacteria. When I started working full-time I was super-efficient after years of fitting everything in to a three-day week. I still appreciate now having time for coffee.