Royal Society University Research Fellow

I was trained as a tropical ecologist at the University of Würzburg, Germany, before moving to Trinity College Cambridge, UK, to do a PhD in Zoology. After getting stuck in Cambridge for another three years as a Junior Research Fellow at Robinson College, I moved to Bristol in January 2014 and joined the School of Biological Sciences as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow. Since 2017, I held a Royal Society University Research Fellowship and started to build a small (but highly motivated) research group that investigates the mechanical aspects of (mostly) plant ecology.

It was back in Würzburg during my undergraduate that I was introduced to carnivorous pitcher plants and since then, I spent over 15 years delving deeper and deeper into the secrets behind how these fascinating plants trap, kill and eat insects. Much of my current work still revolves around pitcher plants and their incredibly clever, tuneable, slippery trap surfaces. During my PhD and early Fellowship years, I spent over 2 years in total working with pitcher plants in their natural environment, first in Borneo, and later also in the Seychelles. Whenever I could afford to take a little time off work, I travelled around the world to seek out pitcher plants in the wild, observe their biology, photograph them, and gather inspiration for new research projects. I learned quickly that true discoveries in science are rarely made in a planned fashion, but usually come from venturing out curiously, with open eyes and an open mind.

Nowadays, my role as PI sadly means that I’m tied to my desk more than I would like to be, but I still take every opportunity to travel and be in nature, whether taking photographs, wildlife-watching and botanizing, hiking or rock-climbing. Back in the office, my main job these days is to pull together the strings of research from my lab members and external collaborators and weave them into stories that I can then tell to inspire and ignite the passion for science and for the natural world in others, through publications, outreach events, and teaching.