Miss Sophie Mallett
School of Biosciences
- Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX
My PhD is focused on the thermal ecology of ants across large geographic scales. This work is using new technological approaches to gather high resolution physiological data across many species and populations at speed. These data will be crucial in helping us to understand the response of small, cold-blooded organisms like ants to climate change.
BSc Biological Sciences, Imperial College London (2017-2021)
PhD Biological Sciences, University of Cardiff (2022-)
NatureMetrics Ltd (2021-2022)
School of Biosciences
University of Copenhagen and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama
My primary interests focus on uses of organisms to predict and mitigate ecosystem-level changes, for example through their uptake of nutrients or thermal performance.
With the University of Copenhagen I investigated nutritional plasticity of fungal mutualists farmed by leaf cutter ants using Nutritional Geometry, which maps organism performance across a complex nutritional landscape. This research spotlights how this mutualism may pose significant risks to ecological and economic systems, where the fungal cultivar enables leaf-cutter ants to access nutrients from diverse vegetation types. Following this, I assisted in field and laboratory research on ant foraging behaviour and nutrition in the Gamboa Rainforest, Panama. I have commercial laboratory experience in a biodiversity monitoring company specialising in eDNA metabarcoding for clients including DEFRA, WWT and the Scottish Government.
I place huge importance on engaging and integrating ideas across a range of stakeholders, where effective engagement and dissemination of research findings is crucial for meeting both environmental and social goals. I am particularly concerned about the social dimensions of environmental change, including those relevant to intergenerational, racial and gendered effects.
Currently, I am working to collect thermal performance data on geographically dispersed populations of multiple interacting ant species across the UK and Europe. This work will aim to address knowledge gaps regarding how we can automate classical thermal experiments to predict and mitigate impacts of climate change on future ecosystems.