Knowledge for a sustainable world

Bsc (Hons), PhD

Dr Frances Hawkes completed her PhD (2009-2013) at the University of Greenwich, where she was supervised by Professors Gabriella Gibson and Steve Torr (Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine). Her PhD research focused on examining the endogenous circadian rhythms and exogenous sensory cues used by mosquitoes to successfully locate human hosts. This research used cutting edge 3D tracking to follow mosquitoes flying in low light intensities, the results of which allowed Dr Hawkes to develop a prototype trap for outdoor biting Anopheles gambiae, which she successfully tested in Burkina Faso, West Africa, and is now leading a University funded project to develop this technology. In 2012, Dr Hawkes was invited to present this research to MPs at the House of Commons as part of 'Science Engineering and Technology for Britain', a showcase of early-career research excellence and future scientific and technical leaders, supported by the Society of Biology.

She has since continued her work at the Natural Resources Institute, where she has developed novel video assaying techniques for observation of nocturnally ovipositing insects and works in collaboration with Public Health England to monitor for the presence of invasive mosquito species in south-east England. She has also worked with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on a 6 month placement in Malaysian Borneo. This involved vector incrimination work to identify the monkey-to-human bridge vectors of the simian malaria parasite Plasmodium knowlesi.

Dr Hawkes was presented with the University of Greenwich's first ever 'Student of the Year' Award in 2012 for her numerous outreach activities and outstanding academic performance.

In 2015, Dr Hawkes' research on a new trap for malaria mosquitoes in Africa was the subject of a BBC documentary called "Our World: Living with malaria", which was filmed on location at NRI's laboratories and in Burkina Faso with collaborators from the Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Sante (IRSS).

  • Improving our knowledge of insect sensory physiology, neurobiology and behaviour to increase our capacity to manage vector-borne diseases of humans and livestock, chiefly focusing on malarial mosquitoes in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Identifying the sensory cues that disease vectors use to find hosts and oviposition sites, and applying this knowledge to improve monitoring and control of disease transmission.
  • Exploring emerging vector-host relationships, particularly in the role of Leucosphyrus mosquitoes as bridge vectors of the zoonotic simian malaria parasite Plasmodium knowlesi from long- and pig-tailed macaques to humans in Southeast Asia.
  • Ecology of disease vectors in the face of environmental change and anthropogenic intervention, including behavioural adaptations such as modified host choices and geographical range, with a focus on monitoring invasive Culex modestus, a potential UK vector of West Nile Virus.

Experiments to compare trapping efficacy of novel human decoy traps with existing trapping methods for sandflies and blackflies

BBSRC GCRF Networks in Vector Borne Disease Research: Gnatwork Community Call (Dec 2019-Dec 2020, £45k)

Partners: International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research–Bangladesh, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture Benin & Cameroon, University of Dschang, Cameroon

Taking the bite out of wetlands: Managing mosquitoes and the socio-ecological value of wetlands for wellbeing

www.wetlandlife.org

NERC Valuing Nature: Health & Wellbeing (Aug 2016-Jul 2020, £1.3 million)

Partners: Public Health England, Forest Research, University of Bristol, University of Brighton, Cranfield University

Human Decoy Trap; operational and social acceptability of novel tool to improve surveillance and control of mosquitoes and other disease vectors

MRC GCRF Global Infections Foundation Award (Feb 2017-May 2019, £600k)

Partners: Institute de Recherche en Sciences de la Santé, Burkina Faso, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture Benin & Cameroon, Biogents GmbH, Germany, KEMRI Kenya Medical Research Institute, Kenya

The dengue vector Aedes aegypti: Microbiota and the chemical ecology of oviposition sites

MRC UK-Brazil Neglected Tropical Diseases Partnership (Feb 2016-July 2019, £400k)

Partner: Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (FIOCRUZ), Brazil

MOSMOS: Mosquito Outdoor Sampling for Malaria Outdoor Surveillance

University of Greenwich Intramural Research & Enterprise Grant (Aug 2014-Jul 2017, 3 awards totalling ~£100k)

Partner: Institute de Recherche en Sciences de la Santé, Burkina Faso, Biogents GmbH, Germany

Bionomics of zoonotic malaria vectors

RSTMH Small Grants Fund (Jan 2015-Dec 2015, £5k)

Partner: Universiti Malaysia Sabah

Anopheles balabacensis: vector ecology

Malaysian Ministry of Education Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (Aug 2015-Jul 2016, £25k)

Parnter: Universiti Malaysia Sabah

  • Hawkes, FM, Medlock, JM, Vaux, AGC, Cheke, RA, Gibson G (2020) Wetland Mosquito Survey Handbook: Assessing suitability of British wetlands for mosquitoes. Natural Resources Institute, Chatham, UK, http://www.wetlandlife.org/images/images/Project_outputs/NRI-PHE-UoG_Wetland_Mosquito_Survey_Handbook_v1-indexed.pdf.
  • Tang, JY, Kosgei, J, Ochomo, E, Ndenga, BA, Ghiaseddin, R, Lobo, NF, Hawkes, FM, O’Tousa, JE (2020) Impact of visual features on capture of Aedes aegypti with host decoy traps (HDT). Medical & Veterinary Entomology, https://doi.org/10.1111/mve.12482.
  • Davidson, J.R., Baskin, R.N., Hasan, H., Burton, T.A., Wardiman, M., Rahma, N., Saputra, F.R., Aulya, M.N., Wahid, I., Syafruddin, D, Hawkes, F.M., Lobo, N.F. (2020) Characterization of vector communities and biting behavior in South Sulawesi with host decoy traps and human landing catches. Parasites Vectors 13, 329. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13071-020-04205-z.
  • Hawkes FM, Manin BO, Cooper A, Daim S, Homathevi R, Jelip J, Husin T, Chua TH (2019) Vector compositions change across forested to deforested ecotones in emerging areas of zoonotic malaria transmission in Malaysia. Scientific Reports, 9:13312 (https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-49842-2).
  • Abong'o B, Yu X, Donnelly MJ, Geier M, Gibson G, Gimnig J, ter Kuile F, Lobo NF, Ochomo E, Munga S, Ombok M, Samuels A, Torr SJ and Hawkes FM (2018) Host Decoy Trap (HDT) with cattle odour is highly effective for collection of exophagic malaria vectors. Parasites and Vectors, 11:533 (https://doi.org/10.1186/s13071-018-3099-7)
  • Cheke, RA, Hawkes, FM, Gibson, GI & Acott, TG (2018) Mosquito magnet traps for monitoring host-seeking Simulium. Abstract no 13, page 17 in J. B. Davies (ed.) Proc. 8th. International Simuliidae Symposium, Birmingham, UK, 21-22 June 2018. The Simuliid Bulletin 50 Supplement: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0Bz0txvVk5I3Kb3A5X254WVA0bEE.
  • Hawkes FM, Dabiré RK, Sawadogo SP, Torr SJ, Gibson G (2017) Exploiting Anopheles responses to thermal, odour and visual stimuli to improve surveillance and control of malaria. Scientific Reports, 7:17283 (http://rdcu.be/A0bE).
  • Hawkes F, Manin BO, Ng SH, Torr SJ, Drakeley C, Chua TH, Ferguson HM (2017) Evaluation of electric nets as a means to sample mosquito vectors host-seeking on humans and primates. Parasites and Vectors, 10(338).
  • Hawkes, FM and Gibson, G (2016) Seeing is believing: the nocturnal mosquito Anopheles coluzzii responds to visual host-cues when odour indicates a host is nearby. Parasites and Vectors, 9(320).
  • Medlock, JM, Vaux, AGC, Gibson, G, Hawkes, FM, Cheke, RA (2014) Potential vector for West Nile virus prevalent in Kent. Veterinary Record, 175(11), 284-285.
  • Hawkes, FM, Whitehorn, LJ, Dublon, IAN, (2013) Superplot3D: an open source GUI tool for 3d trajectory visualisation and elementary processing. Source Code for Biology and Medicine, 8(19).
  • Hawkes, FM & Acott, TG (2013) People, environment and place: the function and significance of human hybrid relationships at an allotment in South East England. Local Environment, 18:10, 1117-1133, DOI: 10.1080/13549839.2013.787590.
  • Hawkes, F, Young, S and Gibson, G (2012) Modification of spontaneous activity patterns in the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae when presented with host-associated stimuli. Physiological Entomology, 37(3), pp. 233-240.

Research teaching outreach

  • Member of the British Ecological Society
  • Member of the Royal Entomological Society
  • Member of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene
  • 2020 Smart Pest Control programme awarded Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Further and Higher Education
  • Editorial Board Member, Scientific Reports
  • Member of Roll Back Malaria’s Vector Control Working Group
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