Circadian clocks are almost universal among animals and are essential in coordinating physiological and metabolic functions throughout the day. The fundamental importance of circadian, or daily, rhythms encompasses all areas of biology, from human health, to development and behaviour, and was the research area of the recent Nobel prize winners (2017). However, there is also a seasonal clock, which allows reliable anticipation of forthcoming seasonal changes to time physiological adaptations necessary for survival, such as migration, hibernation and reproduction. How this seasonal clock functions is not known for any animal. Humans do show seasonal rhythms – immunity, infection, symptoms of Alzheimers disease and depression – but seasonal clocks are poorly defined in humans, therefore we look to other animals to define this clockwork. The Arctic is an excellent place to research biological clocks (chronobiology): the light dark cycle is absent for large parts of the year, offering unexploited natural experiments. To appreciate the wider impact of biological clocks it is necessary to first understand how they are co-ordinated at a mechanistic level and the limits of their function, which is the basis of the TFS award.
Shona Wood graduated with an Honours degree in Zoology from the University of Wales, Bangor, UK, and then completed a PhD at the University of Liverpool, UK, in Genomics (2010). She then spent 3 years exploring the relationship between diet and the rate of brain ageing (University of Liverpool). Her second post-doc was at the University of Manchester, UK, working with Andrew Loudon on the neuroendocrine circuits in the pituitary regulating seasonal timekeeping, and, the role of epigenetics in seasonal timing (2013-2017). She has recently moved (October 2017) to the University of Tromsø to take up the TFS award.