Imperial College London

Dr Richard J. Gill

Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Life Sciences (Silwood Park)

Senior Lecturer



+44 (0)20 7594 2215r.gill Website




N2.13MunroSilwood Park





Research Interests

The scientific interests of my research group are on a broad scale. Our research generally involves the study of animal responses to environmental stressors to address ecologically applied issues, as well as taking an evolutionary biology approach to understanding trends in ecology. 

In particular, we are interested in how human activities affect insect populations, biodiversity, and function. We primarily study the effects of agricultural land use and the impacts of climate change. This has involved focusing on how specific factors, such as aspects of habitat loss, chemical applications and temperature changes can influence individual molecular responses, physiology, behaviour(s) and fitness, and how this scales to shape populations and communities.

Whilst not wedded to a particular study organism/system, social insects (bumblebees in particular) have been the focus of our research. Their large and intricate societies exhibit efficient and often complex cooperative behaviours making them not only interesting for the study of animal behaviour, but also a dominant insect group in the environment that provide vital ecosystem functions and crucial ecosystem services important for human welfare.

Please find my research group website on insect ecology & evolution here:


Congrats to Aoife for being awarded 1st prize for her presentation at the NW IUSSI conference for her Masters work; studying signatures of stress in bumblebee museum specimens.

Collaborating with Joe Colgan and Yanick Wurm, our bumblebee genome paper has been accepted for publication in Molecular Biology & Evolution.

Cecylia Watrobska published her UG project work, investigating if pollen source richness predicts bumblebee colony growth

Danny Kenna now has a 2nd publication from his PhD, investigating the thermal performance curves of bumblebee flight and the implications of this for colony foraging potential and bumblebee responses to climate change (doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.13887). Well done Danny!

In collaboration with the Pfeiffer group, we have produced the first bumblebee brain atlas, and the first insect brain atlas using microCT scanning. Click here to explore the brain.

Celebrating UN World Bee Day 2021; follow this link.

Sept 2021 - we finished our third field season studying Arctic bumblebees. The ArcticBuzz project welcomed Aoife Cantwell-Jones who has now finished the first year of her PhD. This is in collaboration with Keith Larsen, and is affiliated with CIRC. Please also listen to a podcast covering earlier Masters student's work.

Recent publications

Kenna, Pawar & Gill (2021) Thermal flight performance reveals impact of warming on bumblebee foraging potential. in Functional Ecology doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.13887

Rother et al. (2021) A micro‑CT‑based standard brain atlas of the bumblebee. in Cell & Tissue Research doi: 10.1007/s00441-021-03482-z

Smith et al. (2020) Insecticide exposure during brood or early-adult development reduces brain growth and impairs adult learning in bumblebees. in Proc. Roy. Soc. B. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2019.2442 

Samuelson, Gill & Leadbeater (2020) Urbanisation is associated with reduced Nosema sp. infection, higher colony strength and higher richness of foraged pollen in honeybees. in Apidologie,

Current Group (see 'research' page for more details)

Independent Fellow hosted by Gill lab: Dr Peter Graystock

NERC funded DTP PhD students: Daniel Kenna (in 4th year); Aoife Cantwell Jones (in 2nd year)

Dept. PhD: Catherine Parry (in 1st year)

PhD co-supervisor: Joe Palmer (Sup. Dr Vincent Jansen, RHUL, BBSRC); Mahika Dixit (Sup. Will Pearse, Imperial, NERC) 

Masters students: Juliet Everson, Li Wang

Previous Group Members

Associated Fellow: Dr Jacob Johansson

NERC funded PDRA: Dr Andres Arce

Grantham funded PDRA: Dr Kirsty Yule

BBSRC funded PhD student: Ana Ramos-Rodrigues (2016-2020)

NERC funded DTP PhD student: Dylan Smith (2014-2019)

Masters project students: Sarah Hudson, Nerea Montes Perez, Claire Tsui, Charlotte McGinty, Oonagh Barker, Mahika Dixit (2021); Michael Tansley, Aoife Cantwell-Jones, Connor Lovell, Henrique Galante Nunes de Sousa, Sarah Hudson, Sebastian Pipins, Alan Ward (2020); Emma Eatough, Xeuni Bian, Lottie Gibbons, Rach Dawson, Freja Gjerstad, Chloe Sargent and Stephen Bishop (2019); Jacob Birkenhead, Marcus Rhodes, Tara Cox, Libby Bates, Miranda Burke, Flo Coulmance--Gayrard (2018); Koorosh McCormack, Cecylia Watrobska, Nicholas Tew, Elspeth MacKeller, Jenny Dawson, John Paterson (2017), Ross Gray, Laura Bentley, Chun (Harris) Tso (2016); Jiajun (Stanley) Yu, Katie Taylor, Sarah Gougeon (2015), Emma Randall, Thomas David (2014)

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Rother L, Kraft N, Smith DB, et al., 2021, A micro-CT-based standard brain atlas of the bumblebee, Cell and Tissue Research, Vol:386, ISSN:0302-766X, Pages:29-45

Smith D, Arce A, Ana RR, et al., 2020, Insecticide exposure during brood or early-adult development reduces brain growth and impairs adult learning in bumblebees, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Vol:287, ISSN:0962-8452

Kenna D, Cooley H, Pretelli I, et al., 2019, Pesticide exposure affects flight dynamics and reduces flight endurance in bumblebees, Ecology and Evolution, Vol:9, ISSN:2045-7758, Pages:5637-5650

Colgan TJ, Fletcher IK, Arce AA, et al., 2019, Caste- and pesticide-specific effects of neonicotinoid pesticide exposure on gene expression in bumblebees, Molecular Ecology, Vol:28, ISSN:0962-1083, Pages:1964-1974

Arce A, Ramos Rodrigues A, Yu J, et al., 2018, Foraging bumblebees acquire a preference for neonicotinoid treated food with prolonged exposure, Proceedings - Royal Society. Biological sciences, Vol:285, ISSN:1471-2954

Samuelson A, Gill RJ, Brown M, et al., 2018, Lower bumblebee colony reproductive success in agricultural compared with urban environments, Proceedings - Royal Society. Biological sciences, Vol:285, ISSN:1471-2954

Arce AN, David TI, Randall E, et al., 2016, Impact of controlled neonicotinoid exposure on bumblebees in a realistic field setting, Journal of Applied Ecology, Vol:54, ISSN:1365-2664, Pages:1199-1208

Gill RJ, Smith DB, Raine NE, et al., 2016, Exploring miniature insect brains using micro-CT scanning techniques, Scientific Reports, Vol:6, ISSN:2045-2322

Gill RJ, Baldock KCR, Brown MJF, et al., 2016, Protecting an Ecosystem Service: Approaches to Understanding and Mitigating Threats to Wild Insect Pollinators, Advances in Ecological Research, Vol:54, ISSN:0065-2504, Pages:135-206

Bryden J, Gill RJ, Mitton RAA, et al., 2013, Chronic sublethal stress causes bee colony failure, Ecology Letters, Vol:16, ISSN:1461-023X, Pages:1463-1469

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