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Dr Frank Hailer

Dr Frank Hailer


School of Biosciences

+44 (0)29 2087 4125
c5.12, Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX
Available for postgraduate supervision

I am an evolutionary biologist working at the interface of genomics, molecular ecology and conservation biology. My research interests are broad, focussing on surveying genetic variation within and among species to infer key processes in ecology and evolution, such as speciation, adaptation, introgression and population structuring. I am also interested in the causes and consequences of dispersal, mechanisms of loss or maintenance of genetic diversity, and disease ecology.

Understanding these processes often requires knowledge about population structure and phylogeographic history. Hence, my research traces the origin and fate of genetic variation within individuals to their populations and species, and continues deeper into phylogenetic time scales. In this context I find it particularly fascinating to see how independently inherited parts of the genome reflect different aspects of present and past processes.

In my research I have studied a wide range of taxa, including bears, eagles, various species of tropical seabirds, wolves, coyotes and dogs, turtles, fruit flies, lynxes, elephants etc., spanning arctic to tropical habitats.

I am part of the Cardiff University Otter Project, where we study otters in the UK and beyond. We are using a diversity of scientific approaches, for example studying their exposure to environmental contaminants, antimicrobial resistance and their population structuring.

Academic service

I serve as Reviews Editor for the journal Heredity and as Associate Editor for Animal Conservation. Please feel free to get in touch if you're interested in submitting to these journals.

I also served as Committee Member on the board of the Genetics Society UK, representing Population and Evolutionary Genetics.


  • Module Leader BI3153 Evolution and Species Adaptation
  • Organiser of Organisms and Environment departmental seminar series
  • Safety co-ordinator for the Molecular Ecology labs

Interested in joining my research group?

I enjoy including students in my research. My research group offers various opportunities for undergraduate, Master's and PhD students, typically involving lab work and/or bioinformatics/statistical analysis. I am also happy to discuss with interested postdoc candidates about the potential to apply for funding from sources such as NERC, BBSRC, Marie-Sklodowska-Curie fellowships, etc.

If you are interested, please contact me by email.

Since 2015Lecturer, Cardiff University
2011-2014Postdoc, Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F), Senckenberg Research Institute & Goethe University Frankfurt
2007-2010Postdoc, Smithsonian National Zoo, Center for Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, USA
2006-2007Postdoc, Department of Evolutionary Biology (EBC), Uppsala University, Sweden
2006PhD, Evolutionary Genetics, Uppsala University, Sweden
2001MSc, Biology, Uppsala University, Sweden
1998Basic exam in Biology ('Vordiplom'), Marburg University, Germany

After studies in biology at Marburg University (Germany), I completed my Master’s degree at Uppsala University (Sweden), where I continued to pursue PhD studies in the lab of Hans Ellegren and Carles Vilà (now at CSIC, Spain). My PhD work focused on conservation genetics of white-tailed eagles, but I also worked on other projects on dog domestication and canid population genetics. I then worked with Jennifer Leonard on hybridization of coyotes and wolves in North America. In 2007 I started a new postdoc with Rob Fleischer at the Smithsonian National Zoo. In 2010-2014 I worked at BiK-F in Axel Janke’s group, studying population genetics and adaptation of arctic vertebrates and their boreotemperate counterparts.

Academic service

Since 2018Reviews Editor for Heredity
Since 2012Associate Editor for Animal Conservation
2014 - 2017Junior researcher representative on Goethe University Frankfurt's Graduate Academy (GRADE)
 Peer reviewer for 36 journals including PNAS, Molecular Biology and Evolution, Nature Communications and Nature Ecology and Evolution, plus for Axios

Committee membership

Elected committee member of the GeneticsSociety UK (representing Area E: Evolutionary, ecological and population genetics)















I currently supervise/co-supervise the following PhD students:

Current supervision

Alexandra McCubbin

Research student

Annalea Beard

Research student

Photo of Zoe Deakin

Zoe Deakin

Research student

Nia Thomas

Nia Thomas

Research student

Photo of Sophie Watson

Sophie Watson

Research student

Clare Brown

Research student

Ali Basuony

Research student