Dr Robert Hammond

Lecturer in Evolutionary Biology

School/Department: Genetics and Genome Biology

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 5302



My undergraduate project studying chromosomal evolution - coupled with inspirational teaching - sparked my lifelong fascination with evolution.  This led to a PhD studentship and teaching assistantship at Oxford Brookes University studying moth colour/pattern evolution.

With molecular genetics increasingly applied to evolution & ecology, I set about learning and applying these techniques at the Institute of Zoology.  My 1st postdoc took to me Saudi Arabia - working on the conservation genetics of gazelles (and baboon population genetics) - where I set up a molecular lab and trained personnel. My 2nd investigated social evolution using the ant, Leptothorax acervorum as a model. My focus on social evolution continued University of Lausanne studying social conflicts and social organisation social insects.

In 2006 I began teaching and supervising PhD students as a lecturer at the University of Hull. Here I continued researching social evolution and collaborating with Dr Africa Gomez on sexual mode evolution in the ancient crustacean order, Notostraca.

In 2010 I moved to Leicester where I continue to teach, supervise PhD / MSc students and research evolutionary questions (see Research).


My research (funding: NERC, BBSRC, Genetics Society) focuses on the evolution and consequences of haplodiploidy & complex adaptations.

The genetic consequences haplo-diploidy.  In Hymenoptera (ants, bees, wasps, sawflies) - & other insects - males are haploid and females diploid. Selection is predicted to act differently on genes expressed as haploids or diploids. We test these ideas in social insects and plants.

Evolution and organisation of social groups.  There is great diversity in the organisation of social groups, but how does this diversity arise? We investigate the behavioural and genetic underpinnings of variation in social organisation using the ant, Leptothorax acervorum.

The evolution and consequences of variable sexual mode. Variation in modes of reproduction raise questions as to how this variation arose and what are the genetic consequences? We use the crustacean Order, Notostraca, to investigate these questions. 

The dynamics of complex societies and resolution of social conflicts. Societies exist in a balance between cooperation and conflict. I have a longstanding interest in investigating the dynamics of within colony conflicts to test the predictions of kin selection. 



MC Harrison, EB Mallon, D Twell, RL Hammond (2019) Deleterious mutation accumulation in Arabidopsis thaliana pollen genes: a role for a recent relaxation of selection. Genome Biology and Evolution 11: 939-1951,

J Price, MC Harrison, RL Hammond, S. Adams, JF Gutierrez-Marcos EB Mallon (2018) Alternative splicing associated with phenotypic plasticity in the bumble bee Bombus terrestris. Molecular Ecology 27: 1036-1043,

E Favreau, CM Ruiz, LR Santiago, RL Hammond & Y Wurm (2018) Genes and genomic processes underpinning the social lives of ants. Current Opinion in Insect Science 25: 83-90,

MC Harrison, RL Hammond & EB Mallon (2015) Reproductive workers show queen-like gene expression in an intermediately eusocial insect, the buff-tailed bumble bee, Bombus terrestris Molecular Ecology 24: 3043-3063,

TC Mathers, RL Hammond, RA Jenner, B Hanfling, J.Atkins & A Gomez (2015) Transition in sexual system and sex chromosome evolution in the tadpole shrimp Triops cancriformis. Heredity 115: 37-46,

TC Mathers, RL Hammond, RA Jenner, B Hanfling & A Gomez (2013) Multiple global radiations of tadpole shrimps challenge the concept of 'livingfossils' PeerJ 1:e62,

TC Mathers, RL Hammond, RA Jenner, T Zierold, B Hanfling & A Gomez (2013) High lability of sexual system over 250 million years of evolution in morphologically conservative tadpole shrimps.  BMC Evolutionary Biology 13: 30,

RJ Gill & RL Hammond (2011) Workers influence royal reproduction. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London series B. 278: 1524-31,

RJ Gill, A Arce, L Keller & RL Hammond (2009) Polymorphic social organization in an ant. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London series B 276: 4423-4431,

RL.Hammond*, LJ.Lawson Handley*, BJ.Winney, MW.Bruford & N Perrin. (2006) Genetic evidence for female-biased dispersal and gene flow in a polygynous primate.  Proceedings of the Royal Society of London series B. 273: 479-484, (*joint first authors)

RL Hammond & L Keller (2004) Conflict over male parentage in social insects. PLoS Biology 2: e248,



I am very keen to supervise students (PhD, Masters) in my research areas (see research section for details)

I have successfully supervised a number of PhD students:

Richard Gill (NERC funded, University of Hull) Polymorphic social organisation in an ant
Tom Mathers (NERC CASE award, University of Hull) The genetics and evolutionary dynamics of sexual system evolution in tadpole shrimps
Ben Braim (BBSRC, University of Leicester) The evolution of complex social phenotypes and the genomic architecture of complex behavioural traits
Mark Harrison (NERC, University of Leicester) The influence of ploidy-specific expression on selection
Max John (BBSRC MIBTP, University of Leicester) Genomics of social organisation in the ant, Leptothorax acervorum
Charlie Durant (BBSRC MIBTP, University of Leicester) 


I am a Senior Fellow of The Higher Education Academy.

I convene and teach on the following modules:
BS3073 Conservation and Ecological Genetics (3rd yr undergrad)
BS2078 A Field Guide to Evolution (2nd yr undergrad - a field course to Mallorca)

I supervise 3rd year undergraduate research projects (see research section for details of project areas)

I teach on the second year modules:
BS2059 Global Change Biology
BS2077 Neurobiology and Behaviour
BS2000 Research project

I teach on the first year modules:
B1030 The Molecules of Life: An Introduction to Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
BS1040The Cell: An Introduction to Cell Biology and Microbiology
BS1050 From Individuals to Populations: An Introduction to Genetics
BS1060 Multicellular Organisation: An Introduction to Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience
BS1070 Biodiversity and Behaviour - An Introduction to Zoology

Postgraduate teaching:
I teach and supervise projects on the MSc Molecular Genetics and supervise projects on the MSc Bioinformatics.

Press and media

Evolutionary biology social insects (ants bees and wasps) Conservation Genetics.
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