Knowledge for a sustainable world

BSc, PhD

Dr Victoria Woolley joined the University of Greenwich in 2018, after completing her PhD in Life Sciences at the University of Warwick (Warwick Crop Centre). During her PhD, she investigated the impact of entomopathogenic fungi (fungi that infect and kill insects) and their metabolites on the insect immune response, as well as determining the potential of these metabolites for use as biopesticides in integrated pest management.

Since joining NRI, Dr Woolley has primarily been involved in the NaPROCLA project (Natural pest regulation in orphan crop legumes in Africa), collaborating with scientists in East Africa to investigate the potential of natural enemies to control insect pests of legumes on small holder farms. So far in this project, she has used DNA barcoding to identify key natural enemies of black bean aphid (Mkenda et al. 2019) and is now investigating how to conserve or augment populations of these natural enemies. Additionally, Dr Woolley is investigating the potential of entomopathogenic fungi to control important insect pests.

Dr Woolley is interested in how natural enemies can be used for integrated pest management, with the aim of developing more sustainable agricultural practices.

Dr Woolley’s main research interests are:

  • Using molecular biology techniques, such as DNA barcoding and metabarcoding to identify natural enemies of insect pests.
  • Developing techniques to conserve or increase the population beneficial insects on farms.
  • Understanding the mechanism of infection of entomopathogenic fungi, particularly how these fungi subvert the insect immune system.

Natural pest regulation in orphan crop legumes in Africa (NaPROCLA)

This is a BBSRC GCRF project which involves identifying natural enemies of key crop pests in legume fields and supporting these populations. Dr Woolley is mainly involved in using molecular biology techniques to identify important natural enemies of legume pests.

  • Mkenda, P.A., Ndakidemi, P.A., Stevenson, P.C., Arnold, S.E., Belmain, S.R., Chidege, M., Gurr, G.M. and Woolley, V.C., 2019. Characterization of Hymenopteran Parasitoids of Aphis fabae in an African Smallholder Bean Farming System through Sequencing of COI ‘Mini-Barcodes’. Insects10(10), p.331.
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