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University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute



I carry out pioneering research for the University of Cambridge, in collaboration with Cambridge Conservation Initiative and Cambridge Global Food Security, which aims to facilitate changes in food production and consumption from meat to sustainable fish and shellfish, with wide-reaching benefits to food security and human health.

The major objective of my PhD project is to develop and test novel microencapsulated diets to improve the productivity of and facilitate increased demand for sustainable bivalve shellfish aquaculture. Since starting in October 2016 I have published in multiple high-impact journals including Global Change BiologyGlobal Food SecurityFrontiers in Ecology and EvolutionAquaculture and Royal Society Open Science. I have also spoken and been awarded prizes at a variety of conferences and workshops, and featured in broadcast and online interviews. I have also worked on collaborative projects with the IUCN, NIAB, Cambridge Global Food Security and Cambridge Global Challenges, and teach final year undergraduate students.

My background includes research work over a 7-year period in biological and environmental sciences. Projects have ranged from metagenomics and laser photosynthetic analysis with the Department of Plant Sciences, to special initiatives assessing biotic responses to climate change with the British Antarctic Survey. I hold a 1st class undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge, the Sylvia Haslam prize for ecology, the Leathersellers' Scholarship and a Senior Scholarship at Fitzwilliam College.

I have a keen interest in outdoor pursuits and passion for improving human performance, health and wellbeing. I am a qualified Health Coach, President of Oxbridge Tri (Oxford-Cambridge alumni triathlon club), and trained as a mountain leader. 


David’s research focusses on the development and testing of microencapsulated diets to improve output and sustainability in commercial bivalve shellfish production.

Food Security 


Sustainable Aquaculture


Key publications: 

Willer, D. F., Smith, K. & Aldridge, D. C. (2019). Matches and mismatches between global conservation efforts and global conservation priorities. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2019.00297

Willer, D.F., and Aldridge, D. C. (2019). Microencapsulated diets to improve bivalve shellfish aquaculture
for global food security. Global Food Security, 23, 64-73,

Willer, D., and Aldridge, D. C. (2019). Microencapsulated diets to improve growth and survivorship in juvenile European flat oysters (Ostrea edulis). Aquaculture, 505, 256-262,

Fitch, A., Orland, C., Willer, D., Emilson, E. J. S., and Tanentzap, A. J. (2018). Feasting on terrestrial organic matter: Dining in a dark lake changes microbial decomposition. Global Change Biology, 24, 5110–5122,

Willer D, Aldridge DC. (2017). Microencapsulated diets to improve bivalve shellfish aquaculture.
Royal Society Open Science, 4, 171142,

Geographical region

Australasia / Oceania
Central America
Central Asia
East Africa
East Asia
North Africa
North America
North Asia
South America
South Asia
South East Asia
Southern Africa
West Africa
PhD Student


Departments and institutes: 
Research keywords: 
Food Security
European Agricultural Areas
Public Health
Climate Change
Conservation Biology