Laura graduated from the University of Warwick in 2016 with a BSc in Biological Sciences. During the course of her degree Laura attended the Gatsby Plant Science Summer School 2014 and in the following year was awarded a place on the Vienna Biocenter Summer School programme, where she worked at the Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Pathology. For her final year research project Laura focused on the use of the CRISPR/Cas9 system to delete gene clusters and therefore determine their roles in plant development.
Her time in Vienna encouraged her to pursue her interest in plant pathology. She is currently working with Prof Kim Hammond-Kosack (Rothamsted Research), Dr Michael Deeks (University of Exeter), as well as collaborating with Dr Christine Faulkner (John Innes Centre) to investigate the cellular and molecular mechanisms used by the fungus, Fusarium graminearum, needed to allow for plasmodesmatal growth within its host plant, wheat.
Sarah graduated from the University of Bristol in 2016 with an MSci in Biology. Her final year project in Prof Alistair Hetherington’s lab investigated the role of a respiratory burst oxidase homologue in stomatal function and development. During her undergraduate degree Sarah also worked in the Fungal Molecular Biology lab, supervised by Dr Colin Lazarus, concentrating on recreating secondary metabolite biosynthetic pathways in a model fungal species.
Her current research now aims to utilise genome editing techniques to lower acrylamide levels in wheat. Acrylamide is a Class 2a carcinogen which forms from free asparagine during cooking and processing. Sarah aims to develop a variety of low-asparagine wheat through the use of genome editing techniques.
Lieselot graduated from the University of Aix-Marseille (France) in 2010 with a BSc in Environment and Biology and from the University of Lille (France) in 2012 with an MSc in Management and Evolution of Biodiversity. Her Master’s research projects were focused on studying tolerance and accumulation of cadmium and zinc in Arabidopsis halleri, looking at possible effects of trace metals on drought tolerance and the effects of multipolution. After her MSc, Lieselot studied the Effect of silver nanoparticles on Eseinia fetida for one and a half years. In 2014, started as a Research Technician at Rothamsted Research where she provided technical support to the team whilst developing an interest in the study of the evolution of resistance to herbicides.
Lieselot’s PhD started in September 2017 and is based at Rothamsted in partnership with the University of Exeter (Penryn campus) on “Re-winding the tape: experimental evolution of resistance to herbicides”. Her project is under the supervision of Dr Paul Neve, Prof Angus Buckling, Prof Nick Colegrave and Dr. Steve Hanley.
Mollie graduated from the University of Bath in 2018 with a BSc in Biology. As part of her degree, Mollie completed a Professional Placement Year at Rothamsted Research where she helped investigate the potential of increasing seed yields by increasing ovule number per pod. This work sparked an interest for agriculture and food security, particularly manipulating yields to meet future agricultural demands.
Mollie’s passion for plant science was cemented by her University plant-pathogen interaction Research Project and her Millennium Seed Bank summer internship, leading her to choose a PhD that combined fundamental and strategic research focusing on seed yields.Mollie will be working under the supervision of Dr Smita Kurup (Rothamsted Research) and Prof Rod Scott (University of Bath) on a PhD project investigating the use of tissue-specific expression of brassinosteriod-related genes in Arabidopsis thaliana to increase ovule number and subsequently seed yields.
Ishbel graduated from the University of Aberdeen in 2019 with a BSc in Ecology. Her final year project focused on the oviposition preferences of northern brown argus on its host plant Helianthemum nummularium.
Ishbel’s research will build on her longstanding interest in lepidoptera by focusing on the impact of light pollution on moth populations. This will involve modelling the impacts of light between polluted and unpolluted sites and identifying potential genetic differentiation or gene flow between populations of lit and unlit landscapes. This project is supervised by Dr James Bell and Dr Ramiro Morales-Hojas from Rothamsted Research and Prof Kevin Gaston and Dr Jon Bennie from University of Exeter.
Standard studentship with associate partner: In collaboration with Rothamsted + Swansea
Sophia graduated from the University of Greenwich in 2018 with a BSc in Commercial Horticulture. Her final year project, a collaboration with PlantWorks Ltd, focused on the effect of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi on tomato plants subjected to abiotic stresses. It was during this project that Sophia became fascinated with the complex nature of plant-microbe interactions. After this, she worked as a Research Technician for a year at Driscoll’s UK Ltd, during which she focused on the micropropagation of soft fruits for berry breeding programmes. Sophia then went on to graduate from Harper Adams University with a PgD in Plant Pathology.
Sophia’s PhD project, a collaboration between Rothamsted Research and Swansea University, aims to identify how the stage of the life cycle and type of mycorrhizal fungal structures alter root cell metabolism of colonised roots by creating the first small molecule maps of mycorrhizal roots using state-of-the-art mass spectrometry imaging technology.
Victoria graduated from the University of Bristol in 2020 with a MSci in Biology, where she completed her final year project in the lab of Prof. Alistair Hetherington looking at CO2 and drought-induced signaling pathways resulting in stomatal closure.
During her undergraduate studies, she undertook a BSPP funded summer studentship at The Sainsbury Laboratory in the group of Dr Matthew Moscou, where she investigated the wild barley diversity collection (WBDC) as a source of novel resistance for Pyricularia oryzae (teleomorph Magnaporthe oryzae), the causal agent of blast disease on the Poaceae (true grasses). This opportunity ignited an interest in plant-pathogen interactions, which Victoria hopes to explore further with her PhD project investigating communication mechanisms between the fungal pathogen Fusarium graminearum and wheat, under the supervision of Prof Kim Hammond-Kosack (RRes) and Dr Michael Deeks (Exeter).
Erika graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2020 with a BSc in Biological Science (Plant Science). During her degree she worked as an undergraduate research assistant under Dr Naomi Nakayama to study the mechanisms underlying informed dispersal of the dandelion seed. For her final year project, she worked with Dr Attila Molnar to elucidate whether the targeted gene-editing process of single-stranded template repair (SSTR) is independent of homologous recombination in the model organism Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Her work was awarded the Lang Scholarship Prize for the Plant Science Top Project.
Erika’s PhD Project is titled “Fusarium disease of wheat – exploring tissue specific host-pathogen interactions using a systems biology approach” and is supervised by Dr Martin Urban. The project aims to elucidate genetic interactions between Fusarium graminearum and wheat through a combination of molecular genetics, transcriptomics, microscopy, and computational biology.