I’ve lived in the West Midlands with my partner for almost 8 years. But don’t be fooled, I’m no Brummie; I’m really an imposter from Essex! I’m a plant scientist at the University of Birmingham, and spend my time outside of work seeing my family, playing strategy games on my PS4 and looking after my pet Betta fish, Fish.
I also like going to see live music, and play bass guitar myself. Download festival for me is the happiest place on earth, and before the pandemic I went every year since I turned 18.
My pronouns are:
I’m interested in understanding how plants respond to low oxygen stress during flooding. When submersed under water, plants go into survival mode and their development completely changes. In my research group, we aim to understand what these developmental changes are, and how the plant uses them to survive low oxygen.
Although they photosynthesise, plants still need oxygen for respiration – the conversion of sugars into energy. If oxygen from the environment is unavailable (eg during a flood), plant cells become hypoxic, or ‘without oxygen’. When this happens, cells become stressed, triggering many molecular and biochemical changes which ultimately result in the plant surviving. My research focuses on learning what these molecular and biochemical changes are, which will help us understand how plants have adapted to surviving flooding and hopefully breed more flood resilient crops for the future.
My Typical Day:
On a typical day I wake up at 6:30, have a coffee and aim for the 7:52 train, which gets me to Biosciences for 8:10.
I spend my morning catching up on emails and planning my experiments for the day, organising what my students will be doing and… have another coffee. Then the fun begins! I will usually be in the lab performing experiments, helping troubleshoot other peoples lab work and generally making sure everything in the lab is running smoothly.
After lunch, I’ll either be back in the lab, or analysing my data. I’m usually peoples go-to person when it comes to lab work so I often have people asking for help throughout the day too. I’ll then usually be working at my computer until about 5pm, when I aim to head home.
What I'd do with the prize money:
With £500 prize money, I would organise a field trip to the National Sealife Centre in Birmingham. I spend my days trying to understand how to stop plants dying underwater, but there are thousands of plant species which are quite happy when fully submerged (including those in my aquarium!). Exploring the biology of these plants and seeing them in as close to their natural environment (without having to travel to the Amazon basin) as possible would be a great experience.
GCSE, A-levels; Westcliff Highschool for Boys 2005-2012
BSc; Queen Mary, University of London 2012-2015
PhD; University of Warwick
Postdoctoral researcher; University of Birmingham
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
heavy metal plant-scientist
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I would work in an aquatics centre or music shop
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
A cheeky Nandos