Jason Banda

JasonEPSR”Can I have a beer and some water please waiter?” This is a typical example of a question you would never hear from a plant. Firstly, plants don’t like beer that much, they prefer a shot of ½ MS. Secondly, they can’t walk into the bar and order anything, because they are plants. But how do plants get to available water then? This is exactly the question I am interested in. I am Jason Banda and just started my 3rd year in the lab of prof. Malcolm Bennett. Some might remember me from a talk I gave last year at the EPSR in Utrecht on how SUMOylation controls lateral root branching towards water sources, aka hydropatterning. Or from when I was the only one to raise my hand for organising next years meeting. Well now it is truly happening and I hope that many of you can join me here in Nottingham. I’ll personally make sure that we don’t have to grow roots to forage for water during lunch, it will just be on the table.


Jordan Robson

JordanEPSRIn the words of Marvin Gaye: Let’s Get It On… As a third year PhD student in Professor Zoe Wilson’s lab at UoN I’m looking at plant sex or, more specifically, the fundamental genetic pathways underlying male fertility. So what’s so interesting about plant sex? Well actually, male sterility is hugely desirable to plant breeders and hybrid vigour is not a thing to be laughed at. Using Arabidopsis thaliana as a model, our lab studies development of male organs in different mutant backgrounds and under different environmental conditions. We then transfer this knowledge into crops such as Barley, Wheat, Rice and Oilseed Rape. But life’s not all Sex, (Antibiotic) Drugs, and Rock’n’Roll here in Nottingham. When I’m not in the lab emasculating tiny flowers under the microscope you’ll most likely find me enjoying a nice G&T on a Canalside terrace or in a Cave Bar, absorbing a bit of culture at one of Nottingham’s many theatres or hiking up Tors in the nearby Peak District.


Emily Morris

EmilyEPSRUnfortunately, I am yet to develop the super powers needed to see through soil and watch roots grow. In the meantime X-ray CT scanning has turned out to be a very useful invention for me! Using CT scanning I’ve been able to get an inside view of root development. What I’ve seen has confirmed that plant roots are highly sensitive to water in the soil and branching is altered by the external water environment. I’m in the final year of my PhD in Malcolm Bennett’s group here at Nottingham. Whilst I doubt I will have developed super powers by the end of my PhD, I will have helped organise a fantastic EPSR!


Johanna Astrand

JohannaEPSRAs the self-appointed Excel spreadsheet coordinator of the EPSR committee I can personally guarantee we are going to have a great time at the retreat! In between all the colour-coding of our documents, I’m doing the second year of my PhD on male sterility in barley and wheat. When things are going according to plan (almost never) I try to figure out the gene network behind pollen development so that we one day can produce more whiskey, beer, and pasta. I strongly believe everyone needs a favourite grass in their life and I highly recommend Holcus lanatus (Google it and love it) closely followed by barley. Looking forward to seeing you all in July!


Dimitra Aggelopoulou

dimitraepsrDimitra to the rescue! With a pipette on one hand and an infra-red gas analyser on the other, I am trying to identify whether wheat disease resistance against the pathogen Zymoseptoria tritici is associated with the photoprotective mechanism of the photosynthetic machinery of the plant. Having studied Plant Pathology since my undergraduate, I am passionate about plants and fungi (good or bad) and their amazing, clever ways of interacting and competing! After all, in a plant party a mushroom is always invited – he’s such a fun guy!


Carlos Robles

CarlosEPSRMy name is Carlos, I am a second year PhD student in plant and crop science, working on the upscaling of radiation use efficiency and related physiological traits in wheat canopies using ecophysiological and remote sensing tools. I am interested in ecophysiology, crop physiology, remote sensing and ecosystem ecology.



Martina Franchini

MartinaEPSRHaving always been passionate about living things and nature, I started my Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences with the sweet dream of ending up working as a dolphin trainer or a butterfly breeder. Fast forward three years and I decided to follow the path of uncertain jobs and constant stress and ended up getting a Master’s Degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology. My main focus was bioremediation. This obscure topic actually studies the mighty power of bacteria to help us fixing the mess that we are doing with the environment. After more than one year of traineeship in microbiology, and being tired of people asking me if a MicroBiologist is a tiny scientist working in a lab, I decided to broaden my horizon and began a PhD in Plant-Bacteria Association. Convinced that the environment is something to be preserved and that human footprint can be reduced, I’m currently working to improve the beneficial effect of a nice bacterium that helps plants to grow stronger with less Nitrogen fertilizers consumption.


Alexander Bridgen

AlexEPSRMy name is Alexander Bridgen. I am a second year PhD student working on RNA methylation functions as a post-transcriptional regulator in Arabidopsis. I may not be the most passionate ‘typical’ gardener, but ever since my undergraduate degree I have been fascinated by the way plants are regulated, especially at the molecular level. With over 150 different types of RNA modifications, having the opportunity to the research the mechanisms which regulate this epitranscriptome excites me every day. This is my first time being involved in organising an international conference, but I’m really looking forward to it and meeting everyone who comes along.


Cindy Callens

CindyEPSRThe most exciting thing about my PhD is that I was able to travel the world doing it! I am one of the very first (lucky) student of the University of Nottingham – University of Adelaide Joint Doctoral Training Partnership. This means that I have spent half of my PhD in Adelaide, Australia and the other half in Nottingham, United Kingdom. I’m currently in my fourth year, with thesis submission looming on the horizon (yikes!). During my PhD I’ve studied the effects of heat stress on the reproductive development of European barley varieties. Currently I’m focusing on the functional and expression analysis of MADS-box genes involved in reproductive development. My many hobbies (have) include(d): wildlife carer, cross stitch fanatic, avid reader, book blogger, quidditch coach and international quidditch events assistant. (Yes, I said quidditch). Can’t wait to meet everyone in July next year!