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Professor Rebecca Kilner

My research

Our research analyses how evolution works. It focuses in particular on how social interactions among animals drive, or prevent, evolutionary change. We combine experimental evolution in the lab with observations and experiments in the field, mainly using burying beetles as our model species. This is a common British insect, which is unusual in providing elaborate parental care for its larvae. Our work asks: how does caring for offspring change the course of evolution? To answer this question we analyse how parents influence genetic and phenotypic diversity; we test whether parents are agents of natural selection; and we investigate whether parents can even promote speciation.

My journey

Two things have made a big difference in combining a career in science with family: a high level of domestic support, and the autonomy to control my day-to-day life. I’m very lucky to be well-supported at home, especially by my husband who contributes a lot to the running of the home even though he has a full-time job as well. Childcare is a team effort involving my parents and a nanny as well as me and my husband. I already had a lectureship when I had my sons, which meant I had the financial capacity to pay for a nanny and which gave me considerable control over the organisation of my working day.