Our Group

The Sumner lab seeks to understand how and why sociality and social behaviour evolves, from the genome to the phenotype, through the interplay of genes, behaviour and the environment. Our study organisms are wasps, bees and ants.

Current Postdocs

Dr. Daisy Taylor – Genetic basis of caste differentiation

Dr. Alessandro Cini – Insect social parasites: behavioural genomics models for understanding the basis of phenotypic evolution

Current PhD Students

Emily Bell – Phenotypic plasticity and the evolution of castes in eusocial insects. NERC Studentship. Co-supervisor: Andy Radford,  University of Bristol.

Robin Southon – Adaptive value of males in primitively eusocial insect societies. NERC Studentship. Co-supervisor: Andy Radford, University of Bristol.

Adam Devenish –  Assessing current and future impacts of invasive ants on ecosystem services. NERC CASE Studentship. Co-supervisors: Dr Jon Bridle, University of Bristol; Dr Rose Newton, Kew Gardens, UK.

Patrick Kennedy – Social evolution in tropical paper-wasps. University of Bristol Scholarship. Co-supervisor: Dr Andy Radford, University of Bristol.

Sam Duckerin – How pesticide ‘hang-overs’ affect social insect networks. BBSRC studentship. Co-Supervisors: Dr Dick James, University of Bath; Dr Heather Whitney, University of Bristol.

Sandra MorenoBehavioural genomics of Malaysian hover wasps. CONACyT (Mexico) studentship. Co-supervisors: Dr Andy Radford, University of Bristol.

Benjamin Taylor – Evolution and mechanisms of post-reproductive lifespan in Polistes paper waspsNERC London DTP Studentship. Co-supervisors: Dr Max Reuter, University College London.

Current Masters by Research Students

Sam Morris Genomics of simple social insect societies. Co-supervisor: Dr Andy Radford, University of Bristol.

Ryan Brock – Comparative genomics of social evolution. Co-supervisor: Dr Davide Pisani, University of Bristol.



Trinidad 2015 team

Current Volunteers

Thomas Courty – Bees, wasps, ants…anything he can get his hands on! 



Left August 2012: Dr Solenn Patalano – Nest drifting behaviour as a strategy for assuring fitness in tropical paper wasps. Funder: NERC

Left August 2013: Dr Stephanie Dreier – Investigating the impact of habitat structure on queen and worker bumblebees in the field. FunderBBSRC/NERC

Left Feb 2014: Dr Kate Ciborowski – Genetics and life history traits of salmon. Funder: BBSRC

Left July 2014: Dr. Ian Warren, Postdoc – Genetics and life history traits of salmon. Funder: BBSRC

Left Fab 2015: Dr. Peter Graystock – Population genetics of pollinators.

 PhD Students

Completed Sept 2013. Dr Claire Asher, PhD Student – The  Dynamics of Reproductive Dominance in Dinosaur Ants,  Dinoponera quadriceps. Co-supervisor Prof William Hughes, University of Sussex, UK. Funder: NERC CASE Studentship.

Completed Oct 2013 Dr. Thibault Lengronne, PhD Student – Social Dynamics in Paper Wasps: The case of nest-drifting in Polistes canadensis. Co-supervisor Prof Laurent Keller, Lausanne University, Switzerland. Funder: Lausanne University.

Completed Sept 2014. Dr Henry Ferguson-Gow, PhD Student – The evolution of social traits and biodiversity in the ants. Funder: NERC CASE Studentship. Co-superviors Prof Andrew Bourke, University of East Anglia, UK & Prof Kate Jones, University College London, UK. NERC CASE Studentship.

Research Assistants

Left Sept 2014: Mr. Chris Wyatt – Evolution of caste social systems using transcriptomics and proteomics. NERC

Left July 2010: Dr George Busby – Gene expression in castes of primitively eusocial wasps. Funder: L’Oreal for Women in Science

Panama, pre 2010: Dr Daniel Fanelli; Dr Eric Lucas; Dr Hans Kelsrup

Panama 2010: Mr Javier How – Nest drifting in eusocial wasps.

Panama 2010: Dr Roberto Lomabado – Nest drifting in eusocial wasps.

Panama 2012: Dr. Lawrence Bellamy- Phenotypic plasticity and the evolution of castes in eusocial insects. NERC.

Panama 2013: Mr. Daniel Fabbro – Phenotypic plasticity and the evolution of castes in eusocial insects. NERC & STRI.

Trinidad 2014: Mr. Joshua Valverde –  Adaptive Value of Males in Primitively Eusocial Insect Societies & Queen Succession Behaviour. NERC & Genetics Society Summer Studentship.

Trinidad 2015: Mr Liam Crowley & Mr Sam Morris.- Behavioural genomics of Metapolybia wasps. NERC.