In his capacity as Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Dr Herman Wijnen oversees research in Biological Timing with a focus on the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying daily rhythms in animal behaviour and physiology. His research group is part of Research Themes in Neuroscience, Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, Plants and Food Security, Computational and Systems Biology as well as the Institute for Life Sciences. The Wijnen Lab uses invertebrate research models to study signaling pathways underlying processes such as the sleep/wake cycle, feeding and oviposition.
Herman also serves as the Director of Doctoral Programmes for the School of Biological Sciences and he is the Academic Lead for the Invertebrate Research facility. He contributes to Undergraduate and Postgraduate teaching as module coordinator, lecturer, academic tutor, examiner and project supervisor. Herman has external roles as member of the Pool of Experts for BBSRC and as journal editor.
- Control of Daily Rhythms by Circadian Clocks and the Environment
- Genetics, Behaviour and Neuroscience of the fruit fly Drosophila
- Chronophysiology of Invertebrates in Association with Global Environmental Change and Food Security
- Functional Genomics and Regulation of Gene Expression
Why do we sleep at night? What causes jet lag? How can molecules measure time? To answer these and related questions the Wijnen lab studies 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.
Current PhD Students
Module Coordinator (& Lecturer)
BIOL2018 Adaptive Physiology
BIOL3020 Systems neuroscience
BIOL6034 Systems Neuroscience
BIOL1027 The Human Genome and Disease
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
BIOL1030 The Human Genome and Disease
External roles and responsibilities
Dr Herman Wijnen joined the University of Southampton in 2012 and currently holds a position as Associate Professor of Biological Sciences. Previously, Herman was on the Faculty of the Department of Biology at the University of Virginia, where he led research addressing the basis of daily timekeeping in the model organism Drosophila melanogaster. From 2000-2004 he conducted postdoctoral work with Prof Michael Young at the Rockefeller University featuring pioneering genome-wide studies of daily rhythms in gene expression. Herman has a Doctorate in Genetics from a joined Doctoral Research programme between Stony Brook University and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, which he earned with a dissertation on Cell Cycle regulation in budding yeast.
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.
2000: PhD Genetics. Stony Brook University/Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, USA.
1993: Drs MSc Biomedical Sciences. Leiden University, The Netherlands.