I joined Canterbury Christ Church University in 2013 after having worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University (USA) and the Institute of Ecology, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). I obtained my PhD from the University of York in 2010, and an MSc and a BSc in Biology from the UNAM.
Although most of my work is focused on small mammals, I am generally interested in using molecular techniques and bioinformatics for population and landscape genetics and genomics, conservation biology, biogeography and phylogeography to understand the patterns and processes that shaped the spatial distribution of organisms. Whenever possible, I intend to use the scientific information for the management of biodiversity with conservation purposes.
I am also interested in using DNA barcoding, eDNA metabarcoding and metagenomics for assessing biological diversity and community structure in freshwater ecosystems. These techniques can be used in ecological studies for species identification, detecting invasive species, identifying cryptic species and water (and soil) quality analysis for biomonitoring and ecological assessments, but can also be applied in biomedical research for diet analysis and assessing gut microbiota in humans, and identifying viral, bacterial and parasitic zoonotic species in non-human animals.
As a member of staff of the Section of Natural and Applied Sciences, I am module lead and teach in several undergraduate modules, carry out scientific research, supervise undergraduate, MSc and PhD students. Other responsibilities include module and programme administration, external examination, one-to-one tutorials, doing outreach events and carrying out knowledge exchange.
Research and knowledge exchange
I am involved in several research projects looking at ecological and evolutionary patterns and processes in mammals, birds and insects. This research is often performed by MSc and PhD students under my supervision. For details about my research output please check Google Scholar or Staff Space.
Teaching and subject expertise
I teach in the following modules of the Science Programmes: Diversity of Life and Genetics and Evolution (Level 4), Molecular Ecology (Level 6) and Biological Concepts (Foundation-level), as well as in Masters modules. Sometimes I also participate in ecology field practicals.
Within the Section, I am a member of the Ecology Research Group (ERG) and the Biomolecular Research Group (BMRG). I am also a current member of the British Ecological Society.
If I am not teaching or in the labs or office carrying out my research, I might be at a conference presenting my work or giving an invited talk, meeting with collaborators, or acting as an external examiner (for PhD vivas and/or programme examinations).
Publications and research outputs
Some of my most relevant scientific publications are:
Vega, R., et al. (In Press). Phylogeographic structure of the pygmy shrew: revisiting the roles of southern and northern refugia in Europe. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.
Frantz, L.A.F, Rudzinski, A., Nugraha, A.M.S., Evin, A., Burton, J., Hulme-Beaman, A., Linderholm, A., Barnett, R., Vega, R., et al. (2018). Synchronous diversification of Sulawesi’s iconic artiodactyls driven by recent geological events. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 285: 20172566.
Vega, R., et al. (2017). Population genomics applications for conservation: the case of the tropical dry forest dweller Peromyscus melanophrys. Conservation Genetics, 18: 313-326.
Vega, R., et al. (2016). Ecogeographical patterns of morphological variation in pygmy shrews Sorex minutus (Soricomorpha: Soricinae) within a phylogeographic and continental-and-island framework. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 119: 799-815.
Yannic, G., Pellissier, L., Dubey, S., Vega, R., et al. (2012). Multiple refugia and barriers explain the phylogeography of the Valais shrew, Sorex antinorii (Mammalia: Soricomorpha). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 105: 864-880.
McDevitt, A.D., Vega, R., et al. (2011). Colonisation of Ireland: revisiting ‘the pygmy shrew syndrome’ using mitochondrial, Y chromosomal and microsatellite markers. Heredity 107: 548-557.
Vega, R., et al. (2010). Genetic and morphological variation in a Mediterranean glacial refugium: evidence from Italian pygmy shrews, Sorex minutus (Mammalia, Soricomorpha). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 100: 774-787.
Vega, R., et al. (2010). Northern glacial refugia for the pygmy shrew (Sorex minutus) in Europe revealed by phylogeographic analyses and species distribution modelling. Ecography 33: 260-271.
Vega, R., et al. (2007). Unexpected high levels of genetic variability and the population structure of an island endemic rodent (Oryzomys couesi cozumelae). Biological Conservation 137: 210-222.