Simon Rolph - CV

Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, UK / / / @simon_rolph

Personal Statement

I am a population biologist interested in how comparative analyses of population models can provide insight into fundamental and applied questions about the nature of life history trade-offs and responses to environmental change. My research uses mathematical population modelling tools, integral projection models (IPMs) and matrix population models (MPMs), to produce simulated population models as an investigative framework for identifying best practises for comparative analyses. I am an advocate of open-access and reproducible research.


2016 - Present, University of Sheffield

PhD student at the University of Sheffield, Department of Animal and Plant science.

Primary supervisor: Dr Dylan Childs, with supporting supervisors; Dr Rob Salguero-Gómez, Dr Jonathan Potts and Professor Rob Freckleton.

Research project funded by the Leverhulme Centre for Advanced Biological Modelling (CABM). This project aims to quantify how constrained life history strategies are across hundreds of plant species worldwide using the COMPADRE Plant Matrix Database and determine their major a/biotic drivers.

2013-2016, University of Exeter

BSc (Hons) in Conservation Biology and Ecology at University of Exeter (Penryn Campus) - 1st Class.

Third year modules: Tenerife Field Course, Mathematical Biology and Ecology, Ecology and Evolution of Disease, Marine Spatial Ecology. Second year modules: Iceland Field Course, Mathematics of the Environment, Analysis of Biological Data, Biodiversity and Conservation, Biology of Aquatic Vertebrates, Ecological Consultancy.


August 2018 Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, New Orleans. Giving a talk on whether density-dependence limit comparative analysis of demographic data.
July 2018 BES Quantitative Ecology 2018, St Andrews. The first one day conferece and annual meeting of the BES Quantitative Ecology Special Interest Group (SIG).
December 2017 Ecology Across Borders (British Ecological Soceity Annual Meeting), Ghent. I presented a poster on my work on simulated plant life history strategies as a tool to guide comparative research of matrix population models.
December 2016 British Ecological Society Annual Meeting, Liverpool. Presented an outreach poster about the COMPADRE Plant Matrix Database and COMADRE Plant Matrix Dabase. A version of this poster is available here.

Courses, Meetings and Working Groups

February 2018 Be Better Than Boring Bullet Points (February 2018). This one-day course taught the techniques of great presenters. Taught by Steve Hutchinson.
December 2017 COMPADRE & COMPADRE Core Comittee Meeting. Attended by invitation from Roberto Salguero-Gómez to share my experiences of the development of front-end user interfaces for COMPADRE/COMADRE with the new database architect.
March 2017 Matrix Approaches Health Demography (2 weeks), taught by Hal Caswell at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research. This course introduced methods based on Markov chains, Markov chains with rewards, multistate matrix models, and matrix calculus.
January 2017 Foundations for Effective Scientific Writing (January 2017). This 4-day workshop introduced the core writing skills that will be required in graduate studies, looking at the primary challenge of achieving clarity when presenting complex scientific information. Taught by Iain Patten.
October 2016 Integral Projection Models: Demography in a Continuous World (1 week), Barcelona. Taught by Tim Coulson, Eelke Jongejans, Rob Salguero-Gómez and Maria Paniw. This course taught the construction and analysis of integral projection models. Coordinated by Transmitting science.
June 2016 International Demography Working Group (1 week), attended by invitation from Prof. Dave Hodgson (workshop host) at the University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus. Participated in break-out groups about the future of COMPADRE/COMADRE and the importance of data standards in comparative analyses.


Spring 2018 Teaching asssitant for a first-year undergraduate R and statistics course taught by Dr Bethan Hindle. This course introduced undergraduates to the basics of command-line data analysis and data visualisation.
Autumn 2017 Teaching asssitant for a second-year undergraduate R and statistics course taught by Dr Dylan Childs.
Spring 2017 Facilitator for a small tutorial group module titled ‘Breaking Boundaries’: an interdisciplinary undergraduate module designed to provide experience in researching an issue, forming an argument and presenting it in a debate. My assigned groups were given the topic: will true artificial intelligence be possible winthin 20 years?


Summer 2016 Internship with Prof. David Hodgson’s research group working with the COMPADRE Plant Matrix Database (10 weeks). My main role was data input, processing and error checking of matrix population models from scientific literature into COMPADRE database. I also worked on the front-end development of a web application for the COMPADRE database using Python, Javascript and HTML.


June 2017-current President of the Animal and Plant Sciences Department PostGrad Soceity.
2014-2016 Comittee member of the Falmouth and Exeter Students Union’s EcoSoc.
2014 Part-time lead volunteer at Falmouth Aquarium.
2013 Four month full-time lead volunteer bottlenose dolphin research assistant at Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre.
2010-2013 Practical conservation work party volunteer and Ecology Groups office-based volunteer with Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire.

Soceity Memberships

  • British Ecological Soceity
  • Ecological Society of America (Sections: Plant Population Ecology)

You can find me on Twitter, Youtube and GitHub.