Dr Tony Fulford

Biography & Research

Tanmay Toucan

On the Zambezi River, Zambia, October 2014.

My background is in medical research in Africa.  I work for 14 years as statistician in the Department of Pathology in Cambridge on the immunology and epidemiology Schistosomiasis in Kenya and Uganda, a joint project with the Kenyan Medical Research Institute and the Departments of Health in Kenya and Uganda.  The chronic nature of this infection allows a window on the development of the immune response over a timespan of decades: we demonstrated that the effective TH2 (IgE) immune response appears to be host-age dependent and does not develop until after puberty.

After that I worked for 15 years in nutrition research with the Medical Research Council’s International Nutrition Group.  The wide-ranging research of this group was largely conducted at a field station at Keneba in the Gambia.  Particular focuses were the interactions between iron, anaemia and infection, fetal and infant growth and early (nutritional) determinants of adult disease.  The analysis of longitudinal growth and seasonality (and other cyclic) data, genetic and epigenetic association analysis.

In both posts I provided statistical and data management support to the research team.  In Keneba I directed the development of a demographic surveillance system, the computerisation of the clinic and a DNA/biobank, all of which were integrated with one another and with data generated by the numerous research projects (ref).

I joined the Department of Zoology as an academic visitor from Oct 2014.  Here I have been engaged in a number of projects including analysis of Major Colebrook-Robjent’s egg collection data (with Claire Spottiswoode), modelling overheating of ground-nesting birds’ eggs exposed to the intense tropical sun of Zambia (with Nick Horrocks), maintaining the cohort of PIT-tagged Great Tits in Madingley Wood and analysis of data from these and other projects (with Hannah Rowland) and changes in women’s attraction and attractiveness associated with hormonal changes due to the menstrual cycle or hormonal contraception use (Rob Burriss and Hannah Rowland).

My publications can be found on my Google Scholar page where (as of Oct 2015) my lifetime H-index is given as 42 (28 since 2010).

My other interests include bird ringing and wildlife sound recording.

Publications

Dixit, T., English, S. & Lukas, D. (2017), The relationship between egg size and helper number in cooperative breeders: a meta-analysis across species. PeerJ 5:e4028; DOI 10.7717/peerj.4028. Read on journal website [Open Access]

News

Outreach for British Science Week at local Cambridgeshire school

During this year’s British Science Week, we’ve been engaging with local school children in Cambridgeshire. Mairenn Attwood led interactive talks at the Thomas Clarkson Academy in Wisbech,  a school partnered with ‘Teach First’ (a charity aimed at reducing educational inequality).

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New scientific paper on the “Limits to host colonization and speciation” published

Our paper “Limits to host colonization and speciation in a radiation of parasitic finches” has just been published in the journal Behavioral Ecology. In this study, led by Dr Gabriel Jamie, we explored the factors which limited the colonisation of new hosts by brood-parasitic Vidua finches. Speciation in these birds is closely connected with the colonisation of new hosts. Therefore, if we can understand what limits this process, we can understand what has limited the diversification of this radiation.

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Parasitic finches featured in new documentary “Attenborough’s Life in Colour” on BBC One

The amazing mimicry shown by nestling Pin-tailed Whydahs of their Common Waxbill hosts is showcased in David Attenborough’s Life in Colour the latest natural history documentary on BBC One. Filming of this sequence by Nick Green and Max Hug Williams of Humble Bee Films took place at our field site in Choma, Zambia, with Dr Gabriel Jamie acting as scientific consultant and contributing sound recordings.

You can watch the sequence in Episode 2: “Hiding in Colour” on BBC iPlayer.

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