Victoria Spencer

NERC Ph.D Student

Institute of Evolutionary Biology
University of Edinburgh

Office: Room 4.21, Ashworth Laboratories 2
Lab: Room 4.17, Ashworth Laboratories 2
Telephone: +44 (0) 131 650 8678
Email: victoria.spencer(at)
2010 - present: NERC Ph.D student, Institute of Evolutionary Biology, University of Edinburgh, UK
Advisor: Amy Pedersen

2009 - 2010:
Research Technician, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, UK

2005 - 2009:
MBiolSci Zoology (1st), Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, UK

Research Interests:
My research interests focus on understanding the process of disease emergence.

I am particularly interested in experimentally addressing the ecological and evolutionary drivers of host shifts, with a focus on cross species transmission, something that is notoriously difficult to test empirically.

My past and current research has investigated both multi-host multi-virus systems and parasite host interactions by (i) using a moth - baculovirus system to successfully investigate cross-species infection and transmission potential, (ii) studying life history tradeoffs in parasite-host interactions, and (iii) understanding the role of spatial structure on disease transmission. I gained this experience both as a student while completing my MBiolSci and during my year as a research technician in Professor Mike Boots lab (both in at Sheffield University).

My graduate research uses a moth-model system, Plodia interpunctella and Ephestia cautella and their associated viruses, PiGV and EcNPV. I aim to experimentally test cross species transmission, focusing on both the effects of ecological variables on the transmission potential in both new and old hosts, as well as exploring the evolution of the virus after multiple transmission events in the new and old hosts.

I am also interested how pathogen communities evolve in hosts, and what common factors allow pathogens to succeed in particular hosts, something I hope to address by completing a comparative study using a well established primate, carnivore, ungulates and human parasite and life history databases.