School of Biology

Biological Sciences

School of Biology

The School of Biology at the University of Leeds engages students in high-quality research on global and societal issues that matter.

We have a team of 33 academic staff, plus their research groups with more than 100 postdoctoral research assistants, postgraduate researchers and research technicians.

Our academics are tackling real-world scientific problems from sustainable crops to the biology of disease - and you'll be learning the answers with them. 

Our teaching

The School of Biology delivers the whole organism Biology programmes within the Faculty of Biological Sciences. This delivery ranges from molecular to population scales, includes animals, plants, and fungi, and involves fundamental basic biology through to applied research with considerable societal impact.

Our taught modules address the wonder of how life is maintained, both through internal mechanisms and within natural environments. Students are engaged in our active research projects based in laboratories within the school and research sites around the world.

Our research

The School of Biology hosts the faculty Research Groups of Ecology and Evolution, Plant Sciences and Heredity, Development and Disease.

Our staff also contribute to other research groups hosted in the other schools in the faculty. Within the University of Leeds we are involved in various interdisciplinary networks such as water@leeds and the Global Food and Environment Institute. We are also involved in numerous national and international collaborations including links with research groups in the USA, Australia, Africa, India, Japan and China.

We have recently secured over 12 million pounds in research income to support Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Livestock (CIEL) and Agricultural and Food-system Resilience: Increasing Capacity and Advising Policy (AFRICAP).

Research groups

Evolutionary research themes span from evolutionary genetics to the evolution of life-histories and population dynamics. Ecological research encompasses natural terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems across the globe. Our research also includes exploration of the impacts of human activity in heavily-modified urban and agricultural landscapes.

More on Ecology and Evolution

Our plant science research encompasses cell and molecular biology, through molecular genetics to ecophysiology & crop science. Specific areas of expertise include developmental biology & hormones, comparative genomics, epigenetics & chromatin structure, plant cell walls & glycobiology, stress responses, root-soil processes and plant nematology. Our strong fundamental plant science base is being used for the development of future crops with high productivity and resilience to climate change.

More on Plant Sciences

Biological mechanisms in the processes of development, nutrition and metabolism, in animals and humans, are investigated. We study several animal and in vitro systems to uncover the molecular basis and genetics of healthy and disease states including parasitic infections, congenital disorders and cancer. Our research has direct applications ranging from the improvement of animal performance in farming through to the design of therapeutic drugs for medical purposes.

More on Heredity, Development and Disease

Research Impact

We apply our research outcomes for societal benefit. Here are some examples of our high impact case studies:

Concepts for sustainable agriculture

A global challenge of the 21st Century is to produce enough food for the growing world population, in the face of climate change. Prof. Benton’s research has focussed on how farming drives ecological dynamics at field, landscape and global scales. Prof. Benton is a Global Agenda Steward for the World Economic Forum, and an author of the “Climate Change and Land” Special Report of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

The rapid increase in the population of the world puts increasing pressure on the production of sufficient food.

Plant parasitic nematodes cause more than $100 billion annual losses to world agriculture with cyst and root-knot nematodes in particular causing over 80% of these losses. Prof. Urwin’s research includes exploring new biotechnological approaches to resistance as well as examining the effectiveness of biofumigant strategies. His group also develop improved modelling approaches to determine the effect of variables on the impact of nematode parasitism. His research covers a wide range of nematode species and their associated host crops.

Protection of biodiversity in the Galapagos Islands

Galapagos is one of the most iconic places in the world for evolution and biodiversity, but many of the endemic species in the archipelago are now vulnerable to introduced diseases. Dr Goodman, with Ecuadorian partners, has established the first ever molecular genetic and pathology laboratory in the Galapagos islands, seeking to develop disease mitigation strategies.