Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences
(023) 8059 4336

Dr Herman Wijnen Drs, PhD, FHEA

Associate Professor in Biological Sciences, Principal Investigator (Biological Timing),Director of Doctoral Programmes for Biological Sciences

Dr Herman Wijnen's photo

Dr Herman Wijnen joined the University of Southampton in 2012 and currently holds a position as Associate Professor of Biological Sciences.

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 invertebrate models.

The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is an experimental model that is not only convenient to use, but also offers powerful tools for conducting genetic, molecular, and behavioural studies. Moreover, as it turns out, studying the molecular mechanisms of the clock in Drosophila not only gives us insights into the basis of daily timekeeping in insect pests, pollinators and disease vectors, it also helps us understand clock function in mammals. A lot of our understanding of the internal clocks of humans has come about based on discoveries made in these flies. We are currently using Drosophila as a model to understand how the clock circuits in the brain control sleep/wake rhythms in a manner that integrates environmental light quality and intensity.

We also study insect pests and the way that their intrinsic circadian rhythms might be used to inform strategies for their management. These include the invasive horticultural pest spotted wing Drosophila as well as Diamondback moth a major agricultural pest of brassica crops. Finally, we are interested in the environmental impact of artificial light. In particular, we investigate how artificial light at night impacts Gammarid aquatic crustaceans at the behavioural and molecular level and what role their circadian clocks might play in this process.

Some highlights from our publications:

Cataloguing clock-controlled transcripts and promoter elements (Neuron 32:657, 2001; PLoS Genet 2:e39, 2006; Nucl Acids res 45:6459, 2017).

Data analysis methods to detect daily oscillations 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 (PLoS Genet 2:e39, 2006; PLoS Genet 3:e54, 2007)

The molecular and behavioural determinants of circadian temperature synchronisation (BMC Biol 7:49, 2009; Proc Biosci 281:1793, 2014).

Development of a new fluorescence/luminescence technique for imaging of molecular circadian rhythms at single-cell resolution (J Biol Rhythms 25:228, 2010).

Transgenic conditional control of circadian clock function (PLoS Genet 7:e1002167, 2011).

Identification of clock- and environment-controlled daily rhythms in spotted wing Drosophila behaviour (PLoS one 13: e0199406, 2018; J Biol Rhythms 34:463, 2019)

Potential of new pest management approaches for spotted wing Drosophila (Pest Manag Sci 74:1466, 2018; Pest Manag Sci 75:3340, 2019)

PhD Supervision

I am willing to supervise Doctoral Students on a wide variety of projects involving biological timing and am open to receiving applications from qualified candidates. To date, I have acted as the main supervisor for eleven PhD students, seven of whom have successfully defended their Doctoral Dissertations and the remaining four (listed below) are currently working towards that goal.

Jonathan Charles Anns: Linking sleep to patterns of brain activity in the genetic model organism Drosophila melanogaster. ARAP A*STAR programme & University of Southampton Presidential Scholarship

Mike Price: Light-Mediated Switching of Circadian Pacemaker Function Across the Neural Clock Circuit of Drosophila. Gerald Kerkut Charitable Trust & University of Southampton Presidential Scholarship

Connor Tyler: Harnessing natural plant defence pathways to control Diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella). SPITFIRE Doctoral Training Programme

Charlotte Underwood: Impact of light pollution on aquatic invertebrates. INSPIRE Doctoral Training Programme

Research group


Affiliate research groups

Plants and Food Security , Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, Computational and Systems Biology, 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.

Sort via:TypeorYear


Module Coordinator

BIOL2018 Adaptive Physiology

BIOL2040 Neural Basis of Behaviour

BIOL3020 Systems neuroscience

BIOL6034 Systems Neuroscience


BIOL3015 Regulation of Gene Expression

BIOL6027 Regulation of Gene Expression


BIOL3034  Laboratory research project

BIOL3060 Science Communication

BIOL3061 Field Research Project

BIOL3066 Extended Science Communication

BIOL3069 In-Silico Research Project

BIOL6011 Advanced Library Project 1

BIOL6013 Advanced Research Project

BIOL6068 MRes Advanced Biological Sciences Research Project

BIOL6092 MSc Neuroscience Research Project


BIOL1020 Core Skills in the Life Sciences

University of Southampton

Invertebrate Research Facility, Chair User Group

Graduate School of Biological Sciences, Director of Doctoral Programmes

External Contributions

Member Editorial Board, Scientific Reports, PLoS one

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

Room Number NNN: 85/4047

Dr Herman Wijnen's personal home page
Share this profile Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings