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David Willer

David Willer

PhD Student

Room 3.01 David Attenborough Building
Office Phone: 07549988517


I obtained a degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge before beginning a BBSRC-funded Doctoral Training Partnership in food security in October 2016.  During my undergraduate degree I completed multiple research projects with the Department of Plant Sciences, Sainsbury Laboratory, and the British Antarctic Survey.  These included piloting the use of laser technology for remote monitoring of photosynthesis and projects aiming to optimise nitrogen usage in cereal crops.

My PhD is supervised by Dr David Aldridge.

Research Interests

I am interested in how we can reduce the environmental impact of food production - in particular, meeting the growing demand for seafood products whilst minimising impacts on biodiversity and the environment.  I have ongoing projects aiming to improve output and sustainability in commercial shellfish production using microencapsulated diets.

The global shellfish market has been growing at 18% per year since 1990 with a first-sale value of US$19 billion in 2014.  Current shellfish production focusses on growing algal cultures to feed the shellfish while they are held in the hatchery.  New advances in microencapsulation technology are enabling us to develop cheap and sustainable diets that are many orders of magnitude more nutritional than the 'best' algae.  Moreover, diets can be tailored to specific species, stages of development or to provide nutrients that may be limiting in a particular location.  The same microencapsulation technology also has useful wider applications in other areas including aquatic pest management.

Key Publications

Willer D, Aldridge DC. 2017 Microencapsulated diets to improve bivalve shellfish aquaculture. R. Soc. open sci. 4: 171142.