Fiona Whelan

Fiona Whelan


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Currently only accepting self-funded PhD students

Personal profile


I am a Senior Lecturer and Lister Fellow in the Manchester Evolution Reserach at Manchester (MERMan) group. My research group studies the human microbiome and microbial pangenomes. We are particularly interested in how microbial communities are affected by the microbe-microbe interactions that occur within them and how strain-level differences between isolates affect these relationships.


I am a bioinformatician, microbiologist, and evolutionary biologist. Previously, I was an Anne McLaren Fellow (2020-3) at the University of Nottingham and a MSCA Postdoctoral Fellow (2018-20) in James McInerney's research group. I conducted my Ph.D. research on the human microbiome and cystic fibrosis in the laboratory of Dr. Michael G. Surette at McMaster University as a CIHR Doctoral and Cystic Fibrosis Canada scholar. I also worked as a MSc with Dr. Dawn Bowdish, also at McMaster University, investigating the evolutionary history of a family of immune cell receptors with support from a Ontario Graduate Scholarship.


2005-10: Bachelors of Computer Science (BCS, Honours Bioinformatics), University of Waterloo, Canada

2010-12: Masters of Science (MSc, Infection and Immunity), McMaster University, Canada

2012-17: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD, Biochemistry), McMaster University, Canada

Memberships of committees and professional bodies

Canadian Society of Microbiology (CSM), 2015-present

Microbiology Society, 2018-present

Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution (SMBE), 2018-present

Associate Member, Yeates School of Graduate Studies, Toronto Metropolitan University, 2021-4

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

External positions

Editor of Microbial Genomics, Microbiology Society

28 Mar 2024 → …

Research Grants Review Committee member, Cystic Fibrosis Trust

1 Feb 2024 → …

Member of the Building Communities committee, Microbiology Society

1 Oct 2021 → …


  • Bioinformatics
  • Microbiology
  • The human microbiome
  • Cystic fibrosis


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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