I am currently studying for a PhD in plant sciences at the John Innes Centre in the UK. Although my research is focused in on a particular area of plant science I am fascinated by other areas of biology and science as a whole. I am also interested in science communication and during my PhD I have been involved with a number of outreach events involving schools and the general public. My posts will be mostly plant-related, but I will feature other things too including technology scientists are using in their research, outreach ideas/events and anything else I find interesting!
I think plants are fascinating because unlike us they can get all the energy and nutrients they need to survive and grow while rooted to one spot. As humans we are totally dependent on plants and they provide us with food, fuels, building materials and medicines. Feeding the world’s growing population is set to become increasingly challenging. The more we understand about plants, the more likely we are going to be able to increase crop yields to meet future food demands.
My PhD research involves the legume family of plants (e.g. peas, beans). They can form a mutually beneficial relationship or symbiosis with bacteria in the soil known as rhizobia. The rhizobia provide the plant with nitrogen (an essential plant nutrient) and in return the plant provides sugars and a home in special organs called nodules that develop on the plant root. I am particularly interested in the communication or “cell signalling” that happens within the plant root and I spend much of my time imaging living cells under a fluorescence microscope. I also do some molecular biology and genetics, and I fairly regularly escape the lab to tend to/collect material from my plants in the greenhouses.