Developmental biology of superhydrophilic, directional, antiadhesive plant surfaces
I hold a BSc in Biological Sciences and a MSc in Global Ecology and Conservation from Cardiff University. I have a broad interest in plant ecology and conservation, particularly carnivorous plants. The first opportunity I had to work with carnivorous pitcher plants Sarracenia and Nepenthes (outside of home cultivation), was during my dissertation for my undergraduate degree. Here I designed a study which utilised 3D confocal and fluorescent microscopy to closely analyse the macro- and microscopic features present on the epidermis of several pitcher plant species. Since then, my interest and love for these plants kept growing, and I have taken every opportunity to continue research into their morphology and ecology. After my BSc, I undertook a taught Masters which enabled me to conjoin several of my academic interests: conservation, ecology, and carnivorous plants. My MSc thesis investigates the response of native Welsh carnivorous plants, Pinguicula and Drosera, to elevated nutrient levels, and their ultrastructural adaptations for carnivory.
I am proud to have been awarded the Lady Emily Smyth Studentship which funds a year’s research in agricultural and plant science. I will investigate the development and function of surface features that make the inside of Nepenthes pitchers superhydrophilic and slippery for insects. This research could pave the way for the development of crops with improved, mechanical pest resistance in the future. Numerous techniques will be utilised to research the trapping surface chemistry and morphology of Nepenthes pitchers including, microscopy, high speed videography, and 3D reconstruction. Outside of my research interests, I am an avid wild swimmer, hiker, SCUBA diver and amateur mycologist; having set up and run a fungi appreciation and outreach group called UnderFoot in my spare time.