The Jiggins Lab Webpage

Helen Leggett

Research Interests

I work on the evolutionary ecology of microbes by primarily studying evolution in real-time in controlled lab experiments (experimental evolution) with various strains of bacteria (Pseudomonas spp.) viruses (bacteriophages), and nematode worms (Caenorhabditis elegans). My research focuses on social evolution and virulence in parasites. My main interests include:
  • • How does multiplicity of infection affect virulence?
  • • How should virulence evolve in response to the spatial structure of parasites?
  • • How do various life history parameters correlate with parasite virulence?

Personal Website College Website

Education and Employment

2014 - Present: Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 Research Fellow + Robinson College Teaching Fellow

2013 - 2014: ERC Post-doctoral research assistant - University of Oxford (with Stu West)

2009 - 2013: University of Oxford, DPhil in social evolution and virulence in parasites with Stu West and Angus Buckling

2011 - 2013: University of Exeter (Cornwall Campus), two years of myDPhil were completed here in the Biosciences Department

2005 - 2009: University of Sheffield, MBiolSci in Biological Sciences with Mike Boots

Prizes and Awards

2013: The Thomas Henry Huxley Award and Marsh Prize awarded by the Zoological Society of London

2009: The Thomas Woodcock Prize awarded by the University of Sheffield


Leggett H.C., Brown S.P. & Reece S.E. 2013. War and Peace: social interactions in infections. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences doi:10.1098/rstb.2013.0365. - featured as a Research Highlight in Evolutionary Applications (

Leggett H.C., Buckling A., Long G. & Boots M. 2013. Generalism and the evolution of parasite virulence. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 28(10) 592-596

Leggett H.C., Benmayor, R., Hodgson D.J. & Buckling A. 2013. Experimental Evolution of Adaptive Phenotypic Plasticity in a Parasite. Current Biology 23, 1-4 doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.11.045

Leggett H.C., Cornwallis C.K. & West S.A. 2012. Mechanisms of Pathogenesis, Infective Dose and Virulence in Human Parasites. PLoS Pathogens 8(2): e1002512. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002512

Hall A.R., Miller A.D., Leggett H.C., Roxburgh S.H., Buckling A. & Shea K. 2012. Diversity-disturbance relationships: frequency and intensity interact. Biology Letters 8 5 768-771 doi:10.1098/rsbl.2012.0282 1744-957X

Hall A.R., Scanlan P.D., Leggett H.C. & Buckling A. 2012. Multiplicity of infection does not accelerate infectivity evolution of viral parasites in laboratory microcosms. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 25 409-415 doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2011.02434.x

Leggett H.C., El Mouden C., Wild G. & West S.A. 2011. Promiscuity and the evolution of cooperative breeding. Proceedings of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences rspb20111627 doi:10.1098/rspb.2011.1627 1471-2954

Leggett H.C., Jones E.O, Burke T., Hails R.S., Sait S.M. & Boots M. 2011. Population genetic structure of the winter moth, Operophtera brumata, in the Orkney Isles suggests long distance dispersal. Ecological Entomology, 36, 318-325 doi:10.1111/j.1365-2311.2011.01275.x