The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences
(023) 8059 4336

Dr Herman Wijnen 

Associate Professor in Biological Sciences, Principal Investigator (Biological Timing),Science and Engineering Day Coordinator for Biological Sciences

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Dr Herman Wijnen is Associate Professor in Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton.

Career history

2014-Present: Associate Professor in Biological Sciences. University of Southampton, UK.
2012-2014: Senior Lecturer in Biological Sciences. University of Southampton, UK.
2004-2012: Assistant Professor Biology. The University of Virginia, USA.
2000-2004: Postdoc Circadian Biology. The Rockefeller University, USA.

Academic qualifications

2000: PhD Genetics. Stony Brook University/Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, USA.
1993: Drs MSc Biomedical Sciences. Leiden University, The Netherlands.






Research interests

Why do we sleep at night? What causes jet lag? How can molecules measure time? To answer these and related questions we study biological systems for daily time keeping that are known as circadian clocks. Circadian clocks allow organisms to organize their bodily functions in a daily schedule and keep their internal rhythms in sync with environmental rhythms of light and temperature. We would like to know what genes and molecules are involved in the function of circadian clocks and how they function together to measure time and coordinate biological rhythms.

For our research we use the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as an experimental model. This model system is not only convenient to use, but it also offers powerful tools for conducting genetic, molecular, and behavioural studies. Moreover, as it turns out, the molecular mechanisms of the clock in Drosophila are very similar to those in mammals and we have already learned a lot about the internal clocks of humans by studying flies.

Over the years we have worked on:

  • Cataloguing the clock-controlled transcripts in Drosophila heads (Neuron 32:657, 2001; PLoS Genet 2:e39, 2006).
  • Data analysis methods to detect oscillatory trends across independent data sets (Methods Enzymol 393:34, 2005).
  • Identification of the separate and combined contributions of environmental light, temperature, and the internal circadian clock in generating daily expression rhythms in adult Drosophila heads (PLoS Genet 2:e39, 2006; PLoS Genet 3:e54, 2007)
  • Determination of properties of circadian temperature entrainment in Drosophila that contribute to optimal detection of the time-of-day information encoded in natural environmental temperature profiles (BMC Biol 7:49, 2009).
  • Development of a new fluorescence/luminescence technique for imaging of molecular circadian rhythms at single-cell resolution (J Biol Rhythms 25:228, 2010).
  • Transgenic Drosophila with conditional circadian clock function (PLoS Genet 7:e1002167, 2011).

Developmental Requirements for Adult Clock Function

It is the objective of this project to identify where and how the conserved transcription complex CLOCK/CYCLE acts during metamorphosis to enable molecular and behavioural circadian rhythms in adult Drosophila.

’CATAC’, A Novel Circadian Promoter Element

This project is focused on describing the regulation of a new cis-regulatory element that mediates circadian transcription.

PhD supervision

Karolina Mirowska: Developmental requirement for adult behavioural rhythmicity in Drosophila melanogaster, EU Marie Curie Career Integration Grant
Miguel Ramirez-Moreno: Control of Drosophila circadian behaviour by the RHO1-signalling pathway, Gerald Kerkut Charitable Trust
Alex Hull: Developmental control of adult Drosophila sleep/wake rhythms by the conserved transcription factor CLOCK/CYCLE, EU Marie Curie Career Integration Grant
Bethan Shaw: Chronophysiology of Spotted Wing Drosophila, AHDB Horticulture
Charles Hurdle: Multi-functional environmental sensing by CRYPTOCHROME in a Drosophila model, Gerald Kerkut Trust & University of Southampton

Research group

Molecular and Cellular Biosciences

Affiliate research groups

Biomedical Sciences, Institute for Life Sciences (IfLS), Southampton Neuroscience Group (SoNG)

Research project(s)

Multi-functional environmental sensing by CRYPTOCHROME in a Drosophila model

This project aims to provide insight into the molecular basis of behavioural responses to light and magnetic fields in insects.

Temperature entrainment of the molecular circadian clock circuits in Drosophila

This project studies how temperature affects daily timekeeping in animals.

Circadian Developmental Requirements

This project uses the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to investigate the developmental role of the conserved circadian clock component CLOCK/CYCLE.

Control of Drosophila circadian behaviour by the RHO1-signalling pathway

This project studies how regulation of cell structure affects daily timekeeping in animals.

Chronophysiology of Spotted Wing Drosophila

Enhancing control of the soft- and stone- fruit pest Drosophila suzukii (Spotted Wing Drosophila) by exploiting its activity patterns in the field.


Module Coordinator

BIOL2018 Adaptive Physiology
BIOL3050 Short research project


BIOL2040 Neural Basis of Behaviour
BIOL3015 Regulation of Gene Expression
BIOL3020 Systems neuroscience
BIOL6027 Regulation of Gene Expression
BIOL6034 Systems Neuroscience


BIOL3031 Literature-based research project
BIOL3032 Literature-based research project
BIOL3034 In-depth research project
BIOL3060 Science Communication
BIOL6011 Advanced Library Project 1
BIOL6013 Advanced Research Project


BIOL1020 Core Skills in the Life Sciences

University of Southampton

Invertebrate Research Facility, Chair User Group
Science and Engineering Week, Coordinator for Biological Sciences

External Contributions

Member Editorial Board, Scientific Reports

Dr Herman Wijnen
Biological Sciences
Faculty of Natural & Environmental Sciences
Life Sciences Building 85
University of Southampton
Highfield Campus
SO17 1BJ

Room Number:85/4047

Telephone:(023) 8059 4336

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