Personal profile


Clara is fascinated with the power of using the fly Drosophila melanogaster to study common neurobiological processes. This fascination came about during the curricular year of her PhD at the Champalimaud Foundation in Portugal, with the realisation of the variety and complexity of behaviour these animals display, as well as of the breadth of tools available to identify and manipulate individual neurons allowing a detailed architectural and functional understanding of neuronal circuits. Clara studied learning and memory and decision-making processes in individual flies in France and the UK. After obtaining her PhD from the University of Oxford, Clara set out to study social modulation of defence behaviours in groups of flies, a pervasive feature of social interactions across the animal kingdom. For this purpose, Clara developed a novel setup and found that flies use social cues from the group to infer both danger and safety. This paradigm and these initial findings open up a vast array of research questions that Clara is now pursuing in her lab at Northumbria University.

Research interests

Established in July 2023, research in the Ferreira lab focuses on understanding exactly how social cues are detected and processed in the brain to guide behavioural shifts. Protection against predation is a primordial driver of group formation and hence studying social processes within this context will provide important insight into the evolution of social behaviour. Moreover, studying these processes in flies will permit pinpointing where and how common environmental or genetic disruptors of social behaviour instantiate their effects, crucial to understanding social behaviour dysfunction.

Education/Academic qualification

Neurosciences, DPhil

1 Sept 200814 Nov 2014

Award Date: 30 Jun 2015


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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