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Philip Donkersley supervises 1 postgraduate research students. If these students have produced research profiles, these are listed below:

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Dr Philip Donkersley

Part-time Senior Teaching Associate

Philip Donkersley

LEC Building



Research overview

Philip is an expert on invertebrate biology, ecological impact, conservation policy and nature’s contributions to people, with seven years' experience of conducting cutting-edge transdisciplinary field and lab research at Lancaster University (LU). Having completed his PhD in 2014, studying pollinator biology from a transdisciplinary perspective, he studies the interactions between insects and their environment from nutritional, microbial and fitness perspectives, studying how the environment, both physical and biological, interacts with pollinator physiology.

Philip undertook a unique research secondment with the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST) that ran between 2019-2021 called the Parliamentary Academic Fellowship. The primary output of this fellowship is a flagship Parliamentary briefing document (POSTbrief) to support Parliamentarians with the available evidence during the historic shift in land use policies the UK is facing. During this fellowship, I also delivered seminars on the principles of bridging research and policy across the N8 group of northern universities. These seminars were also complimented by lectures for undergraduate teaching at LU and an article written for The Conversation to explain the POSTBrief content for members of the general public. Following its publication in September 2021, I hosted a Parliamentary launch event for the POSTbrief, with the goal to drive forward a public debate in the House of Lords on the role of sustainable land management as a framework for the future of landscapes in England. In January 2021, in collaboration with the House of Lords Committee Office, a Special Inquiry was formed to gather evidence on Land Use in England.

He has worked around the world, in collaboration with institutes in the USA, Brazil, Panama, Oman, China, Japan and Tanzania. He has developed successful collaborations with researchers from other institutions, demonstrated extensive university teaching experience at a range of levels as lectures, practical demonstrations and student supervision; worked with academic bodies, professional services and student bodies to affect meaningful change to life on campus; and developed considerable management and organisation skills through my contribution to departmental and research group administration.

Philip’s current research is in leading a collaborative research project with LU Engineering department, focusing on bio-inspired engineering solutions to environmental crises. Through this project, he has prototyped a new artificial nest for wild pollinators: BEEOX. The prototype nests enabled running a video livestream of life inside a wild bumblebee nest – the first of its kind worldwide. Over the course of national lockdown in the UK, Philip set up and ran a series of internet live-streams recording life inside the bumblebee nest, broadcast to Youtube. This stream and nestbox received media coverage in the iPaper. He is also leading a project designing a accessibility device for beekeepers and investigating the bioplastics potential for a common honeybee biproduct: propolis.

Philip is also an active public speaker, having presented his research at the Lancaster Library Festival and Winter Lecture Series. He is a regular member of the Lancaster Bright Club, a unique science stand-up event hosted at the Borough Pub in the city centre annually.

Published research

Philip is at an early stage of his career, and has published research focused at the nexus between micro- and macro-ecological trends, invertebrate ecology and zoology, ecosystem service resilience and the impact of anthropogenic threats. He has established a solid publication record of 18 first-author papers, including the interdisciplinary and multi-institutional collaborative efforts of A One-Health Model for Reversing Honeybee (Apis mellifera L.) Decline; my independent efforts in Trees for bees; the multi-trophic eco-physiological research presented in Bacterial communities associated with honey bee food stores are correlated with land use and Nutritional composition of honey bee food stores varies with its floral composition. Over the last three years of my post-doctoral career, he has secured £150,000 in research funding from four sources: ESRC, EPSRC, British Beekeepers Association and the Waitrose Research Fund.


Philip has worked on four research projects to date:

  • PhD: Causes and consequences of variation in the nutrition and endemic microflora of food stores in managed honey bees (Apis mellifera L.)
  • Managing grassland diversity for multiple ecosystem services.
  • Etiology, tolerance and management of diseases of acid lime.
  • Biopesticides for Africa.
  • Parliamentary Academic Fellow: Sustainable Land Management
  • BEEBOX: A novel artificial nest for wild pollinators


Philip is on the editorial board of Ecology and Evolution, a high impact international journal publishing open access research. Recently he was appointed to the editorial board of Frontiers in Bee Science.


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