- 2019- present: Lecturer (Animal Behaviour / Behavioural Neuroscience), Keele University
- 2017-2019: Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, Bangor University, UK
- 2016-2017: Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Bangor University, UK
- 2014-2016: Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Queen’s University Belfast, UK
- 2012-2014: Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship (NSERC), University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada
- 2011-2012: Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Oldenburg, Germany
- 2006-2011: PhD (Biology), University of Oldenburg, Germany
Born and raised in Russia, in 2003 I graduated with Diploma (biology and chemistry teacher) from the Ulyanovsk Pedagogical University. During my undergraduate (1998-2003) and later MSc studies (2003-2005) at the Saint Petersburg State University, Russia, I was contributing to several research projects in the field of avian movement ecology and bird navigation under the supervision of the academic staff of the Biological station Rybachy with which I still collaborate. This research institution is remarkable for being the descendant of the world’s first bird observatory ‘Vogelwarte Rossitten’ (German: ‘Bird Observatory Rossitten’) established in 1901 on the southeastern coast of the Baltic Sea - a hot spot for bird migration in Europe. Now it is a branch of the Zoological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences and one of the leading centres studying bird migration. In 2005, I obtained MSc in Biology from Saint Petersburg State University. That time I started a series of research projects on bird navigation addressing the question of how birds navigate. Specifically, I have delivered several experimental studies focused on the ability of migratory Eurasian reed warblers, Acrocephalus scirpaceus, typical European migratory songbirds, to find their way across 100’s and 1,000’s km and reach their migratory destinations even when they were displaced to unfamiliar territories (the phenomenon is called true navigation). In the past 15 years, myself with the international team of collaborators have done a series of experimental studies using reed warblers to address the questions of what are the senses birds require for finding their location relative to the goal. One of our main findings is that a trigeminal nerve dependent magnetic sense seems to be crucial for navigation in reed warblers and perhaps some other avian species (Kishkinev et al. 2013 PLoS One, Kishkinev et al. 2015 Curr Biol). In 2011, I earned a PhD in Biology working in Animal Navigation Lab, University of Oldenburg, Germany. This group is led by Prof Henrik Mouritsen and renown in the field of animal navigation and animal magnetoreception. My PhD was based on a range of field- and laboratory-based studies focused on different aspects of bird navigation and magnetosensory mechanisms including displacement experiments, orientation tests of birds in round arenas (so-called Emlen funnels), operant conditioning, brain activity mapping using neuronal activity markers and various magnetic manipulations.
During my postdoctoral years, I initially delivered my research project examining the role of magnetic and olfactory senses for bird navigation working in Canada (Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship funded by NSERC at the Norris Lab, University of Guelph, Ontario, 2012-14). Later in 2014, I moved to the UK to work as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant for the Leverhulme research grant led by Dr Richard Holland (former Queen’s University Belfast and now Bangor University). During those years I was actively engaged in several research projects mainly based overseas. In Austria (Biological station Illmitz) I did experiments to test the current hypotheses explaining how reed warblers can use earth’s magnetic field for navigation and positioning. In Russia, I used light-level geolocators to track songbirds migratory pathways and the impact of blood parasites on migratory performance in songbirds (Emmenegger et al., in review). In 2017, I started leading research on the two projects. My Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship (2017-present) was initially based in Bangor University. The project titled “The disturbing effect of electromagnetic fields on the avian magnetic compass sense” aims to further study a recently discovered disturbing effect of anthropogenic electromagnetic fields on the avian magnetic compass sense. I also led a team of overseas academics delivering the grant funded by Russian Science Foundation (project titled “Sensory systems for short and long-distance navigation in birds”). This project addressed the questions of how migratory songbirds can use magnetic and olfactory senses for finding their geographic position relative to destinations, whether the use of these senses depends on geographic scale (short vs long distances) and where magnetosensensory cells (aka magnetoreceptors) could be located in the animal's body.
I joined Keele University as a Lecturer in Animal Behaviour / Behavioural Neuroscience in November 2019.
Research and scholarship
How can birds and many other animals, such as sea turtles, migratory butterflies and many others, find their way to intended destinations travelling across 100’s or 1000’s miles even across completely unfamiliar territories without access to satellite navigation technologies? What cues and senses do animals utilise for navigation? These and associate questions lie in the heart of my research. Particularly, I study the role of magnetic and olfactory senses for navigation and how different factors affect migratory behaviours
Additionally, I am interested in unravelling the mystery of the animal’s magnetic sense to understand how this sensory system works. This is one of the greater mysteries in current biology. The puzzle is because solid behavioural responses of different animals prove that they do possess magnetic sensation but the magnetosensitive system(s) and magnetosensory cells (aka magnetoreceptors) have not been described yet with certainty and their mechanisms remain poorly understood.
My project funded by Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship aims to study a recently discovered disturbing effect of human-made electromagnetic noise on the avian magnetic compass sense even when the noise of extremely low magnitudes. This phenomenon was demonstrated in the laboratory by a few independent research teams but has never been studied in naturally navigating animals. I use free-flying homing pigeons collaborating with Bangor University. The pigeons perform navigation carrying different attachments to track the animal’s movement and manipulate with their magnetic sense. The research funded by Russian Science Foundation grant (2017-19) was focused on revealing of sensory mechanisms used by songbirds at long distances (100’s to 1000’s miles) down to just few mile distances. We also aim to screen for magnetically induced activity in the avian brain to reveal highly active regions. This should give us a better idea of what tissues inside the bird’s body contain magnetoreceptors, what sensory modalities underlie magnetic sense to ultimately solve the mystery of the magnetosensory mechanism.
Previously, my main model systems have been birds (both migratory songbirds and homing pigeons) but I am now extending the range of model species and searching for novel approaches and techniques (e.g. by including some popular genetic models such as zebrafish and potentially others).
I am also enthusiastic about the development and application of advanced telemetry and bio-logging techniques such as automated radio-tracking, GSM / GPS tracking, geolocation and some others to reveal the pathways of migratory species and better understand migratory connectivity, i.e. the geographic linking of individuals and populations between one life cycle stage and another. Recently, we used a network of automated radio-tracking towers to study movements of birds, dragonflies and bats in the south-eastern part of the Baltic Sea (Kaliningrad region in western Russia and Lithuania). The long-term goal is to build a network of automated radio-tracking units in Europe given that the MOTUS collaborative wildlife tracking system has proven to be a huge success in North America (find more here https://motus.org). I am also a co-founder of Wildlife Tracking Solutions Ltd. The main mission of the start-up is to develop and support affordable and versatile wildlife telemetry solutions for researchers.
Key to images (from top to bottom):
Experiments in magnetic coil setup
Automated radio-tracking tower
Eurasian reed warbler
White-throated sparrow (left) and a homing pigeon with GPS tracker (right)
I teach in both Biology and Neuroscience programmes contributing primarily to the following modules:
Year 1 (Level 4)
LSC-10081 Animal Biology
LSC-10083 Ecology and Plant Biology
LSC-10085 Fundamentals of Biology
Year 2 (Level 5)
LSC-20062 Living Together
LSC-20071 Animal Adaptations
LSC-20076 Learning and Memory
LSC-20078 Neuroscience Research Methods
Year 3 (Level 6)
LSC-30042 Current Research Topics in Neuroscience
LSC-30045 Double Experimental Project (with research skills assessment)
LSC-30066 Tropical Biology Field Course*
LSC-30074 Behavioural Ecology*
* - serve or plan to start serving as a module manager
Subject areas where my expertise fits best for teaching and supervising students:
Neuroscience (specifically, Behavioural and Sensory Neuroscience, Special Senses)
Other teaching activities in Keele University
I am developing and teaching a series of workshops “Data Analysis using R programming”. It is primarily designed for post-graduate students and members of staff across the university but highly motivated undergraduate students are welcome (subject to room space availability if the teaching is delivered face to face but the space is not an issue if delivered online). The access to online teaching material (e.g., slides, video sessions and supplementary materials) are available to all Keele students and staff on a request (just email me).
Full Publications List show
[Magnetoreception systems in birds: a review of current research]. Zh Obshch Biol, vol. 75(2), 104-123. link>2014.
Nature’s GPS: A vision-based compass and trigeminal-based map in birds? In The 33rd Annual Meeting of the J.B. Johnston Club for Evolutionary Neuroscience and the 25th Annual Karger Workshop in Evolutionary Neuroscience. Brain, Behavior and Evolution, vol. 81(4), 250-256. doi>2013.
Modern trends in study of avian orientation and navigation. ZOOLOGICHESKY ZHURNAL, vol. 85(3), 342-367. link>2006.
Migratory orientation of juvenile Pied Flycatchers (Ficedula hypoleuca L.) from the Eastern Baltic. Ornithologia.2006.
Song of Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus (Aves, Sylviidae) as an acoustic marker of wetland habitat during migration. Russian Journal of Zoology.2005.
Juvenile dispersal in Reed Warblers (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) at night. Avian Ecology and Behaviour.2000.
Navigation by extrapolation of geomagnetic cues in a migratory songbird. Current Biology.
Eurasian Reed Warblers compensate for longitudinal displacement during spring migration. JOURNAL OF ORNITHOLOGY (vol. 147, p. 148). link>2006.