Dr Fiona Hunter

School of Biosciences

Senior University Teacher

Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour

Fiona Hunter
Profile picture of Fiona Hunter
+44 114 222 0083

Full contact details

Dr Fiona Hunter
School of Biosciences
Alfred Denny Building
Western Bank
S10 2TN
  • 2021 - present: Director of Education, School of Biosciences, University of Sheffield
  • 2015 - present: Senior University Teacher, School of Biosciences, University of Sheffield
  • 2015 - 2021: Director of Learning and Teaching, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield
  • 2008 - 2015: University Teacher, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield
  • 2003 - 2009: Associate University Teacher, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield
  • 2001 - 2002: Contract Biologist
  • 2000 - 2001: Temporary Lecturer, University of Stirling
  • 1999 - 2000: Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Sheffield
  • 1992 - 1999: NERC Independent Research Fellow, Department of Zoology, Cambridge University
  • 1991 - 1992: Senior Research Assistant, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
  • 1990 - 1991: Temporary Lecturer, University of Sheffield
  • 1988 - 1990: PhD, University of Sheffield
Research interests
Fiona Hunter fieldwork

Main research projects

  • Mate switching, copulation behaviour and mechanisms of sperm competition in the Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adéliae) with fieldwork at Cape Bird, Antarctica.1992 - 1997.
  • Sexual selection and the evolution of ornaments in Aethia auklets, fieldwork on Buldir Island, Alaska. 1992 - present.
  • Sperm Competition in Northern Fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis), involving fieldwork on Fair Isle, Scotland. 1988 - 1990.

Examples of some minor projects

  • Honeybee use of floral signals, with fieldwork in Western Portugal. 2019 - present.
  • Sexual conflict and reproductive isolation in Drosophila pseudoobscura. 2005.
  • Heritability of sexually selected and immunological traits in Zebra finches. 2000.
  • Evolution of sperm morphology and viability in insects. University of Sheffield. 2000.
  • Population declines of Brunnich's guillemots in NW Greenland. 1987.
  • Gene reversion in yeast cells. 1983.

I have obtained research funding of over £1.4 million from sources including NERC, National Geographic, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Antarctica New Zealand, and the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

I have collaborated on Behavioural/Ecological research with colleagues from the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Russia and the UK, and given invited research seminars in the U.S, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Norway and Austria, as well as the UK.


Journal articles

Teaching activities

I am Director of Education in the School of Biosciences, overseeing learning and teaching in all biological subjects, and responsible for strategic planning in all areas of Bioscience education.

I have taught for over 30 years, providing lectures, lab and field practicals, tutorials, workshops, field courses, undergraduate and postgraduate projects and literature reviews. I have taught on 26 different modules and specialise in zoology, animal behaviour, ecology and field studies.

I was Director of Teaching in the Dept of Animal and Plant Sciences (APS) from Sept 2015 to Aug 2021, during which time I reviewed and updated all programmes, introduced a research embedded model of teaching and led all aspects of the rapid move to online teaching and support during the covid pandemic.

I am now leading on the planning and implementation of the Biologies Teaching Partnership, bringing the teaching from three departments into one coherent newly designed curriculum that optimises quality of teaching, practical training and student choice (Sept 2019 - present).

Professional activities and memberships

I am a life member of the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour and a National Geographic Explorer.

Outreach, Widening Participation and Public Engagement

Dr Fiona Hunter working with a primary school pupil in the lab

I designed and led the APS Outreach Programme which ran from 2010 until funding ended in 2018.  It reached over 55,000 children, provided opportunities for biology students to gain teaching and science communication experience and gave researchers opportunities for public engagement.

  • Christmastime Lecture - 8 showcase interactive lectures on birds, dinosaurs, plants, sea life, animal learning and evolution, presented to 7,213 children from 35 schools.
  • Primary school visits - ‘Be a Scientist for the Day’, ‘Be an Ecologist for the Day’ and ‘Be a Palaeontologist for the Day’.  Inspiring over 6,000 children from 37 primary schools.
  • Sideshow Science – A collaboration with Weston Park Museum, Sheffield, that brought science into the community, with themes including optical illusions, fossils and honeybee communication.
  • Science Festivals – Researcher’s and Discovery Nights and CBBC Live where I coordinated and ran biology and research-based activities for children and adults.