Prof Hoyle’s research has evolved from a background in nonlinear dynamics and pattern formation to a now strongly interdisciplinary focus applying mathematics and modelling to issues in the life and social sciences.
In collaboration with Dr Tom Ezard, Dr Roshan Prizak and Dr Bram Kuijper she has written a series of papers on the evolution of transgenerational effects, a form of non-genetic inheritance. They used a quantitative genetics approach that blends statistics and dynamical systems to understand the evolution of maternal effects – namely the effect of a mother’s phenotype on the phenotype of her offspring independent of the inherited genes – looking at the interplay of environmental change, phenotypic plasticity, genetic assimilation and maternal inheritance. They discovered that a negative maternal effect – the tendency of offspring to be phenotypically ‘opposite’ to their mother, once genes have been taken into account – leads to greater population mean fitness in stable environments by reducing trait variance across the population. This may go some way to explaining why measurements of maternal effects are often found to be negative, despite the potential of positive maternal effects – being like mum – to promote more rapid adaptation to environmental change, which their modelling also confirmed.
Prof Hoyle and collaborators Dr Martina Testori and Prof Hedwig Eisenbarth have used statistical analysis of data from experimental strategy games to study the effect of personality and emotion in decision-making. They deduced the range of strategies in play and the impact of personality on cooperation when participants receive facial feedback on the emotional impact of their actions. They went on to show that the distribution of individual personality traits within a group can affect group cooperation dynamics on a static network: specifically groups with higher densities of players scoring higher for psychopathic traits such as fearless dominance and self-centred impulsivity cooperate less than groups composed of players who are all low-scoring for these traits, even taking into account the direct effect of the individual personality traits on cooperation. They also ran evolutionary individual-based simulations to understand how environmental conditions might influence the evolution of propensities to risk-taking and selfishness, finding that selfish risk-seeking can be evolutionarily advantageous in situations where an individual’s survival is moderately challenged.
With collaborators Dr Jim Allen and Prof Anne Skeldon she has considered economic and social influences on the evolution of cooperative behaviour using a modified public goods game on a multiplex network, finding that social influence leads to the persistence of initial cooperation strategies and so can promote the survival of highly cooperative strategies even when the economic reward for cooperation is relatively modest.
She collaborated with Dr Dan Burnham, Dr Hazal Kose and Dr Hasan Yardimci on unravelling the mechanism of DNA unwinding by the eukaryotic replicative helicase; the team combined experimental and modelling work to deduce that the helicase acts as a lazy Brownian ratchet that may enter up to three pause states during the unwinding process.
Prof Hoyle wrote a graduate textbook Pattern Formation: An Introduction to Methods (Cambridge University Press; 2006) and maintains a list of typos and errata for it here.
- IMA Hedy Lamarr prize (2021)
- IOP 2020 Rosalind Franklin Medal and Prize (2020)
- PraxisAuril KE Prize for KE Team of the Year (2021)