Mabel Sydney

Mabel Sydney


I am a Class I BSc Hons Biological Sciences graduate from the University of Exeter, with an interest in the effects of environmental change on aquatic organisms. This follows from my enjoyment of my final year undergraduate project working with zebrafish – Hypoxia exposure alters the toxicity of dinoseb in zebrafish, (Danio rerio). Here I investigated the combinatory physiological impacts of multiple environmental stressors by testing the effects of oxygen concentration and exposure to the toxic pesticide dinoseb on early zebrafish. The results showed that as oxygen levels decreased, zebrafish embryo mortality from dinoseb exposure was reduced significantly, identifying an interlinking coping mechanism.

After graduating I decided to learn more about the academic writing and publishing side of scientific research. I joined Springer Nature at the London based online journal Scientific Reports as a Manuscript Assistant, where I have been working with editors and researchers alike for the past two and a half years. I have loved my time at the journal and am pleased to be able to put my experience from the role of examining scientific papers to use during my time as a returning research student at UEA.

I am very much looking forward to starting my PhD and having the opportunity to study the impact of environmental changes on fish in much greater detail than before. I am also looking forward to working with my supervisor Dr Simone Immler and to meeting the rest of the ARIES cohort.

Mabel Sydney

Ecology and Biodiversity

University of East Anglia, School of Biological Sciences

PhD title: The sperm factor: understanding selection at the gametic level for adaptation to changing environments.

This project relates directly to the impact of climate change on fertility. Temperature has an effect on fertilisation in many species but we don’t know much about the underlying causes of this. As fertility is a key indicator for a population’s persistence over time, this project aims to further understand the capacity of populations to cope in the face of climate change.

This follows on from the recent research from the Immler Laboratory, finding that zebrafish offspring sired by longer-lived sperm lived longer and showing a direct link between sperm phenotype and haploid variation in the sperm’s genes. The project will therefore focus on why different sperm traits exist and how sperm selection as a result of temperature variation will affect zebrafish offspring fitness.

Using in vitro fertilisation, I will compare and combine experiments measuring the impact of temperature on fertilisation in zebrafish by exposing adult fish, released sperm and embryos. Working with the Earlham Institute, this will then be coupled with Next Generation Sequencing to investigate the genetic or epigenetic basis of findings in the haploid gametes, and therefore the potential for adaptation in future climate scenarios.

Further Information

Scientific Report’s social media engagement, summarising research succinctly into posts for a generalist scientific audience.

Member of the Springer Nature Green Office Network – acting as a company ambassador working to implement environmentally friendly changes in the office.

Yearly attendance at SpotOn London conference for researchers with an angle on publishing.