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 Becca Millard

Becca Millard

PhD Student

 Geoffrey Pope Lab 201


Geoffrey Pope Building, University of Exeter , Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QD, UK

Rebecca is a PhD student within the Environmental Biology research theme. She has a strong interest in aquatic animal health and disease mitigation within aquaculture industries.

Prior to starting her PhD, Rebecca studied Biology at the University of Leeds. During her industry year she worked for the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas). Here she developed GIS tools to assess the risk of pathogen spread between aquaculture sites connected via river networks, and informed risk models to determine the probability of Koi herpesvirus spread between fully-enclosed waters by the movement of contaminated angling equipment.

Rebecca continued to work with pathogens during her dissertation project; employing routine molecular biology techniques to investigate the changes in exosome protein profiles following Toxoplasma gondii infection in a neuronal cell model.

Her current research combines disease exposures, molecular, and computational biology to determine the mechanisms of pathogenesis of white spot syndrome virus infection, a hugely important pathogen within the shrimp farming industry.

You can keep up to date with her twitter feed here:

Broad research specialisms

  • Aquaculture
  • Bioinformatics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pathology
  • Virology


2015 - BSc Biology (Ind), First Class Honours, University of Leeds


Research projects

Project Title: Understanding the Molecular Basis of Pathogenesis of White Spot Syndrome Virus


Dr Eduarda Santos, University of Exeter

Prof Charles Tyler, University of Exeter

Dr Ronny van Aerle, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas)

Project Description:

Production of sufficient high quality food to sustain an ever increasing human population is one of the greatest challenges globally. In this context, aquaculture has a very significant role to play, and farming of crustaceans, including penaeid shrimp is hugely important both as a source of animal protein worldwide and in supporting the economies of the major developing nations.

One of the most significant threats to crustacean farming is disease caused by infection with white spot syndrome virus (WSSV). This virus has devastating effects on cultured shrimp, with losses estimated to reach up to $1.5 billion USD annually. Currently there is no cure or vaccine for this disease.

This project employs state of the art molecular biology and pathology techniques, such as electron microscopy, high throughput sequencing and bioinformatics. Comparative studies of the responses to WSSV in a susceptible versus resistant crustacean host will be used to identify potential mechanisms of anti-viral defence and investigate potential routes to therapy for this devastating disease. 

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