Dr. Beth Nicholls Dr Beth Nicholls

Principal Investigator                      


Twitter: @BethBees


Dr Sergio Rossoni   Dr Sergio Rossoni

Research fellow in Insect Electrophysiology   


Twitter: @rossoni_sergio


About Sergio: I moved from Italy to the UK in 2012, to start my undergraduate degree in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science at the University of Sussex. After my BSc, I stayed at Sussex to complete an MRes in Neuroscience in Prof Jeremy Niven's lab, looking at the motor control of insect prey and predators. I moved to the University of Cambridge in 2016 to start a PhD in Zoology. During my doctoral research, I investigated the behavioural strategies predators use to spot and catch prey, collaborating with Prof Paloma Gonzalez-Bellido, Prof Jeremy Niven, and the University of Minnesota. After completing my PhD, I moved back to the University of Sussex where I am currently a post-doctoral research fellow in Dr Beth Nicholls's lab, researching how bees process chemical information of pollen.

I am interested in understanding how information is exchanged between individuals in food webs, and how inter-individual relations of conflict and cooperation are successfully established. How do predators spot and capture prey that does not want to be seen and caught? How can plants attract pollinators to reproduce, while at the same time avoiding being predated upon? I try to answer these questions by studying how insects have adapted to many different lifestyles so successfully. To do so, I use a variety of techniques including behavioural analysis, electrophysiology, computational modelling, and microscopy

Dr Natacha Rossi                                                                                        Natacha Rossi headshot

Research Fellow in Insect Behaviour


Twitter: @rossi_natacha


Animal Behaviour Live:

About Natacha: I am a behavioural ecologist specialising in cognition, with a particular interest in decision making and the ultimate causes underlying observed behaviour. My approach to science leans towards a non-anthropocentrism of cognitive science, being more interested in how species have evolved to adapt to their environment.

My current project with Beth focuses on flower choices and pollen foraging in bees. We want to quantify the energetic and temporal costs associated with switching from one type of flower to another and ultimately determine the relative contribution of reward quality and handling costs in flower choice during pollen foraging.

In my previous post-doc, I worked on my own research project (Fyssen Fellowship), in the lab of Prof. Lars Chittka and in collaboration with Dr. Joe Woodgate, in which we tracked male bumblebees in 3D to answer several questions related to movement rules and use of space between food and mating objects, and whether males trade off pre-copulatory behaviours for food as a function of spatial configuration of flowers and food quantity.

My previous postdoctoral work (ECOS+ Fellowship, University of Buenos Aires) and my PhD (Universities Paul Sabatier and Paris 13) focused on broadening the definition of pheromones by exploring their modulatory effect on responsiveness, learning and decision making in different social insect species (Apis mellifera, Camponotus aethiops, Linepithema humile).

When I find time, I like to dance tango and salsa and create things.

Sam Butler Headshot of Sam Butler

PhD Student




Emily Millerchip                                                                                          PhD student Emily Millerchip

PhD Student


Twitter: @EmilyMillerchip

About Emily: My key area of interest is in urban agriculture and the co-benefits it can provide for people, biodiversity and global sustainability. I am inspired by the possibility that even small-scale, individual led urban agriculture can contribute to global food security. Within this topic, I am particularly interested in the richness and abundance of beneficial insects, due to the vital ecosystem services they provide.

My current PhD research is exploring the use of perennial crops within urban agriculture in temperate regions. I am investigating the possible benefits of using perennial crops over annual crops for water usage, soil health, biodiversity, individuals labour costs and more. Alongside this, the associated issues faced when planting perennial crops are being analysed. This project will involve field studies on beneficial insects along with citizen science surveys on labour and yield.

 Previously, in my MRes Conservation Biology from the University of Sussex, I investigated the impact wildflower planting has on the diversity of insect natural pest enemies in Sussex vineyards. This was in association with Buglife and the Changing Chalk project. Before that I completed a bachelor’s degree in Zoology at the University of Sheffield.

Co-supervised doctoral students

  • Yanet Sepulveda De La Rosa

  • James Woodcock

  • Leah Salm

  • Kerry Barnard

Postgraduate Students

  • Jenna Williams

  • Ella Kelby

  • Ashu Tomar

  • Emily Millerchip

Lab Alumni