Postdoctoral Research Associate

Genetic underpinnings of specialized carnivorous plant surfaces

I am a new transplant to the UK, and I have recently completed my PhD in Molecular Plant Sciences from Washington State University, USA. My main research focus was on the role of flavins in plant metabolism. Flavins are a class of small molecules used as cofactors for many enzymes, and perturbations in flavin metabolism have widespread but subtle effects on the plant life cycle and stress tolerance. My main research focused on a link between flavins and flowering times in the model organism Arabidopsis thaliana, although flavins are also known to influence plant disease resistance.
During my PhD studies I also moonlighted as a forester, helping to manage and collect data from forests in the Western USA, from California to the Canadian border. My management focus is forest health and climate resilience, including identifying causes of tree mortality and loss of vigor.
As a postdoctoral researcher here in Bristol, I will work on identifying the  genetic pathways underlying development of specialized trapping surfaces of carnivorous pitcher plants. The uniquely patterned pitcher rim is unusually wettable and provides directional fluid transport. When it is wet, it turns into a deadly water slide for insects. We only just started to understand how this unusual surface develops – thanks to Oona Lessware’s MScR work where she characterized the developmental stages using cryo-SEM imaging. My work will offer us a view of the gene expression patterns underlying carnivorous trap and surface development.
During my non-work time in the USA, I have enjoyed rock climbing, mountaineering, and gardening. Here in Bristol I am looking forward to the same, plus getting to know my new surroundings!