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Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

Dr Emelie Brodrick

Dr Emelie Brodrick

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

 Living Systems Institute S01/07


Living Systems Institute, University of Exeter, Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QD


I am primarily interested in how marine invertebrates experience this world, with their weird and wonderful bodies, nervous systems and senses so different to our own. My PhD research examined how the compound eyes of fiddler crabs adapt to extreme changes in brightness, using electron microscopy, x-ray tomography, electrophysiology and behavioral analyses.

My current research, as a postdoc in the Jekely Lab, aims to deconstruct the neurobiology behind settlement decisions in coral larvae. I want to understand how the decentralised nervous system of this primitive animal uses a variety of sensory cues to drive sophisticated habitat searching and attachment behaviours. To achieve this, I aim to produce a connectome of the whole larval nervous system and analyse neural cell types using volume data generated by serial-section electron microscopy.


2016 – 2020 PhD Biological Sciences, University of Bristol

2007 – 2011 MSci Marine Biology, University of Southampton


2020 – present Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Exeter

2015 – 2016 Team Leader, Environmental Scientifics Group

2012 – 2015 Environmental Consultant, Assurity Consulting

Research group links

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Research interests

In order to deconstruct the neurobiology behind settlement decision-making in coral larvae, my research combines behavioural analysis with serial section electron microscopy and neuroanatomy. Within an exciting HFSP project, I am working to produce high-resolution 3D image volumes to connectomes of the Acropora larval nervous system. Corals belong to one of the earliest animal groups and lack a brain, instead possessing a primitive de-centralised nerve net. Understanding how these early nervous systems work to drive sophisticated behaviours can reveal new insights into animal evolution.

Reef-building corals provide the foundation for some of the most beautiful and diverse ecosystems on the planet, but they are now vulnerable and pushed to their limits. Understanding coral recruitment, specifically how they use a large variety of sensory cues and searching behaviours to make crucial decisions on where to settle, can also help us to protect their future.

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Journal articles

Poon RN, Westwood TA, Laeverenz-Schlogelhofer H, Brodrick E, Craggs J, Keaveny EE, Jékely G, Wan KY (2023). Ciliary propulsion and metachronal coordination in reef coral larvae. Physical Review Research, 5(4).
Wainwright JB, Schofield C, Conway M, Phillips D, Martin-Silverstone E, Brodrick EA, Cicconardi F, How MJ, Roberts NW, Montgomery SH, et al (2023). Multiple axes of visual system diversity in Ithomiini, an ecologically diverse tribe of mimetic butterflies. Journal of Experimental Biology, 226(24). Abstract.
Brodrick E, Jékely G (2023). Photobehaviours guided by simple photoreceptor systems. Animal Cognition, 26(6), 1817-1835. Abstract.
Brodrick EA, How MJ, Hemmi JM (2022). Fiddler crab electroretinograms reveal vast circadian shifts in visual sensitivity and temporal summation in dim light. Journal of Experimental Biology, 225(5). Abstract.
Jasek S, Verasztó C, Brodrick E, Shahidi R, Kazimiers T, Kerbl A, Jékely G (2021). Desmosomal connectomics of all somatic muscles in an annelid larva. Abstract.
Brodrick E, Jékely G (2021). Flatworm behaviour: Pieces behaving like wholes. Curr Biol, 31(22), R1472-R1474. Abstract.  Author URL.
Brodrick EA, Roberts NW, Sumner‐Rooney L, Schlepütz CM, How MJ (2020). Light adaptation mechanisms in the eye of the fiddler crab <i>Afruca tangeri</i>. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 529(3), 616-634. Abstract.

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