Professor Barber is Deputy Dean of the School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences.
Prior to joining NTU, Professor Barber served as the Deputy Head of the Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour (2015-17) and as Head of the Department of Biology (2011-15) at the University of Leicester. He joined Leicester as a Lecturer in 2006 and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2009. He previously held a lectureship at Aberystwyth University (2004-06), and from 1998-2004 held successive independent research fellowships, funded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (at the Kristineberg Marine Research Station, Sweden) and the NERC (at the Universities of Glasgow and Aberystwyth). Professor Barber holds a BSc (1st Class Hons) in Biological Sciences from the University of Leicester, a PhD in Fish Behaviour and Parasitology from the University of Glasgow. In 2010 he was the recipient of the FSBI medal, which is awarded in recognition of ‘exceptional advances in the study of fish biology and/or fisheries science’. He was awarded a Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy in 2016.
Professor Barber is an animal biologist and behavioural ecologist with specialist expertise in the fields of host-parasite interactions, fish behavioural ecology and animal personality research, with a particular interest in questions that lie at the intersection of these fields, and how these are impacted in changing environments. His research programme employs a wide range of controlled laboratory experiments, field work and molecular genetic techniques. Professor Barber has a number of active international collaborations that extend the range of approaches taken and the impact of the work carried out by his group. Ongoing / recent research includes:
- The impacts of changing environments on the behaviour, ecology and host-parasite interactions of fish
- The effects of pollutants, including heavy metals and endocrine disrupting chemicals, on fish physiology, behaviour and host-parasite interactions
- The consequences of parasite infections for the behaviour, growth and reproductive fitness of animal hosts
- The neurophysiological and neurochemical basis of parasite-induced behavioural change
- The consequences of consistent individual behavioural differences (‘personality’) for host-parasite interactions
- The effects of changing climates for parasite life cycle dynamics and disease transmission in aquatic ecosystems
- The nest building behaviour of fish, and the molecular evolution of nesting glue in sticklebacks
- Using next-generation sequencing to quantify transcriptomic changes in parasites associated with behavioural manipulation of hosts
- The development of 3Rs techniques and approaches to improve the welfare of fish in experimental research
Professor Barber is the Honorary President of the Fisheries Society of the British Isles, an international, non-political, learned society that promotes and supports scientific activity in the fields of fish biology and fisheries science, and a Council member of the World Council of Fisheries Societies.
He has previously served as Education Officer for the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour
He has twice served as a member of the NERC Peer Review College and as an assessor of grant applications for the The Research Council of Norway, the Russian International Affairs Council and the Lizard Island Research Station.
Professor Barber is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
Sponsors and collaborators
Professor Barber has received over £1M in research funding to date, from funders including:
- Association of the Study of Animal Behaviour
- Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
- Centre for Fisheries, Aquaculture and Environmental Science
- EU FP7-ASSEMBLE Access to marine research infrastructure initiative
- Fisheries Society of the British Isles
- Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
- Nuffield Foundation
- Royal Society
- The Research Council of Norway
- Universities Federation for Animal Welfare
Professor Barber has a number of active ongoing research collaborations, including:
- Prof Nadia Aubin-Horth (Laval University, Canada) – quantifying the transcriptomic changes in hosts and parasites that underpin infection-associated behavioural manipulation
- Prof Andy Sih (UC Davis, USA) – understanding the interactions between animal personality and parasite infections
- Dr Will Norton (University of Leicester, UK) – investigating the neurochemical mechanisms of behaviour change in parasitized fish; developing and validating non-invasive methods for DNA collection in laboratory fish
- Animal behaviour / behavioural ecology
- Fish biology
- Behavioural ecology of fish
- Nesting behaviour of fish
- Fish parasitology
- Parasite ecology
- Impacts of environmental change on animal behaviour and host-parasite interactions