Dr Robert Hammond

Lecturer in Evolutionary Biology

School/Department: Genetics and Genome Biology

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 5302



Following an undergraduate project studying chromosomal evolution which, coupled with inspirational teaching, sparked a lifelong fascination with evolution, Rob Hammond attained a PhD studentship and teaching assistantship at Oxford Brookes University studying the evolution of the colours and patterns of moths.

With molecular genetics increasingly applied to evolution and ecology, Dr Hammond set about learning and applying these techniques at the Institute of Zoology. A first postdoc took Dr Hammond to Saudi Arabia working on the conservation genetics of gazelles (and baboon population genetics), setting up a molecular lab and training personnel. A second investigated social evolution using the ant, Leptothorax acervorum as a model. Dr Hammond’s focus on social evolution continued at the University of Lausanne studying social conflicts and the organisation of social insects.

In 2006 Dr Hammond began teaching and supervising PhD students as a lecturer at the University of Hull whilst continuing to research social evolution and collaborating with Dr Africa Gomez on sexual mode evolution in the ancient crustacean order, Notostraca.

In 2010 Dr Hammond moved to Leicester and continues to teach, supervise PhD and MSc students, and research evolutionary questions (see Research tab for details).


Dr Hammond’s research (funded by the NERC, BBSRC, and Genetics Society) focuses on the evolution and consequences of haplodiploidy and complex adaptations.

The genetic consequences of haplodiploidy: In Hymenoptera (ants, bees, wasps, sawflies) and other insects, males are haploid and females diploid. Selection is predicted to act differently on genes expressed as haploids or diploids. These ideas are tested 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? The behavioural and genetic underpinnings of variation in social organisation are investigated 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? These questions are investigated using the crustacean Order, Notostraca. 

The dynamics of complex societies and resolution of social conflicts: Societies exist in a balance between cooperation and conflict. Dr Hammond has a long-standing 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,



Dr Rob Hammond is very keen to supervise students (PhD and Masters) in the areas details on the Research tab.

Successful past PhD students include:

  • 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) 


Dr Hammond is a Senior Fellow of The Higher Education Academy.

Dr Hammond convenes and teaches on the following modules:

  • BS3073 Conservation and Ecological Genetics (third year undergraduate)
  • BS2078 A Field Guide to Evolution (second year undergraduate, field course to Mallorca)

Dr Hammond teaches on the following modules.

Second year:

  • BS2059 Global Change Biology
  • BS2077 Neurobiology and Behaviour
  • BS2000 Research project

First year:

  • BS1030 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

Dr Hammond supervises undergraduate research projects in third year and postgraduate projects in the MSc Bioinformatics and MSc Molecular Genetics courses.

Press and media

Evolutionary biology.

Social insects (ants, bees and wasps).

Conservation genetics.

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