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Andrew Balmer B.Sc.

Andrew Balmer, B.Sc.

Senior Research Laboratory Technician (Part-time)


I am an evolutionary biologist working with mycalesine Butterflies. After conducting research in plant developmental genetics and parasitology during my undergraduate degree, I decided to focus more on evolutionary biology and then Zoology. I am fascinated by how visual phenotypes may arise through natural selection and have I broad interests in plasticity, eyespots and mimicry, particularly in Lepidopteran butterflies and caterpillars. I have also had extensive experience in the field of popular science journalism, publishing in high profile publications such as Scientific American, Yahoo News and Salon magazine. I also began my own popular science media outlet, Lu:Sci popular science magazine. 


I am currently working as an M.Phil student and Research Assistant in the Brakefield lab here at Cambridge.


Research Interests

My research covers two main themes:

1. Plasticity in sexual structures, male sex pheromones and mating behaviour in mycalesine butterflies. 

My Master's project primary focuses on these topics, in which I use a broad range of quantitative genetics techniques, pheromone sampling and competition experiments to quantify variation in androconial patches, their effects on sex pheromone production and how these differences may translate into differences in mating behaviour. 

2. Imperfect Batesian mimicry in hawkmoth caterpillars (Sphingidae)

Alongside my studies I am involved in research into how imperfect mimics may evolve through natural selection. In particular the role of body size and ontogeny in the evolution of imperfect mimicry. I use a range of different techniques, including morphometric analysis and human rankings to quantify mimetic fidelity in these species and to test various hypotheses for the evolution of this kind of mimicry.