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Department of Zoology



I carry out pioneering research for the University of Cambridge, in collaboration with Cambridge Conservation Initiative and Cambridge Global Food Security, which aims to facilitate changes in food production and consumption from meat to sustainable fish and shellfish, with wide-reaching benefits to food security and human health.

The major objective of my PhD project is to develop and test novel microencapsulated diets to improve the productivity of and facilitate increased demand for sustainable bivalve shellfish aquaculture. Since starting in October 2016 I have published in multiple high-impact journals including Global Change Biology, Global Food Security, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, Aquaculture and Royal Society Open Science. I have also spoken and been awarded prizes at a variety of conferences and workshops, and featured in broadcast and online interviews. I have also worked on collaborative projects with the IUCN, NIAB, Cambridge Global Food Security and Cambridge Global Challenges, and teach final year undergraduate students.

My background includes research work over a 7-year period in biological and environmental sciences. Projects have ranged from metagenomics and laser photosynthetic analysis with the Department of Plant Sciences, to special initiatives assessing biotic responses to climate change with the British Antarctic Survey. I hold a 1st class undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge, the Sylvia Haslam prize for ecology, the Leathersellers' Scholarship and a Senior Scholarship at Fitzwilliam College.

I have a keen interest in outdoor pursuits and passion for improving human performance, health and wellbeing. I am a qualified Health Coach, President of Oxbridge Tri (Oxford-Cambridge alumni triathlon club), and trained as a mountain leader. 


Key publications: 

Willer, D. F.Smith, K. & Aldridge, D. C. (2019). Matches and Mismatches Between Global Conservation Efforts and Global Conservation Priorities. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 7, 297,

Willer, D.F., and Aldridge, D. C. (2019). Microencapsulated diets to improve bivalve shellfish aquaculture
for global food security. Global Food Security, 23, 64-73,

Willer, D., and Aldridge, D. C. (2019). Microencapsulated diets to improve growth and survivorship in juvenile European flat oysters (Ostrea edulis). Aquaculture, 505, 256-262,

Fitch, A., Orland, C., Willer, D., Emilson, E. J. S., and Tanentzap, A. J. (2018). Feasting on terrestrial organic matter: Dining in a dark lake changes microbial decomposition. Global Change Biology, 24, 5110–5122,

Willer D, Aldridge DC. (2017). Microencapsulated diets to improve bivalve shellfish aquaculture.
Royal Society Open Science, 4, 171142,

Three further publications in progress on microencapsulated diets to improve oyster broodstock conditioning and for nutritional fortification of shellfish


PhD Student

Contact Details

Room 3.01 David Attenborough Building


Collaborator profiles: