First of all, I would like to wish you a happy, healthy and successful new year 2012! When I was pondering about blog topics for 2012 I thought that it would be nice to publish short profiles of plant cell biologists. With this I am hoping to put faces to the general term often heard in media, “scientists have found out that…”, and show that scientists are not at all like the stereotypical eccentric mad professor in a white lab coat – well, 99% aren’t!
Hopefully it will also make you realise that the information you find in text books about plant cells, organelles and plant functions is far from being set in stone. These topics are actively being researched and advances in our understanding of plants are more needed than ever in times of climate change and the global food crisis.
On this note I present the first post in the new series called “Faces of Plant Cell Biology“, in which plant cell biologists answer a set of five questions about their research and career. For obvious reasons this will at first feature researchers which I know quite well, as I hope that they will be more willing to complete the questionnaire! However, by no means does this indicate an order of importance and I am very keen to feature as many scientists as possible. If you are a plant cell biologist and would like to to see your answers here, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charlotte Carroll is in the second year of her four year PhD course.
She is working with Dr Lorenzo Frigerio at the University of Warwick
and is studying aquaporins in the membrane of the plant vacuole.
1) What is your research about?
I work on a subset of aquaporins which sit in the vacuolar membrane (tonoplast). Aquaporins are membrane channels through which water and small molecules move. I am interested particularly in those expressed at embryo stage, how they are targeted to this membrane, and why.
More about the vacuole and aquaporins: “The Vacuole: not just an empty hole!”
2) What is the best and the worst thing about your work?
I really enjoy what scientists call ‘bench work’. Some of it can be repetitive, but it suits me as I am quite a methodical person. The fancy equipment we get to use, such as confocal microscopes, is also pretty cool! I have to admit, reading long, in depth papers is probably my least favourite part…!
3) How did you become a plant scientist?
I studied Biology, Law, English and General Studies at A level and found it hard to get onto a Biological Sciences degree course without A level Chemistry. But I managed it, and achieved BSc Biology 2.1 from University of Southampton in 2010. I started my PhD course at University of Warwick later that year after applying to several PhD courses. My undergraduate dissertation was not plant based, but did make me realize I longed to be a plant scientist. I had spent so long working on something, wishing I was doing something else!
4) What do you do to get your mind off work?
I keep myself busy by meeting up with friends and particularly enjoy the cinema. I also like to bake as I find it quite stress relieving!
5) What advice would you give to students?
Try and do one or two summer student placements while you’re an undergraduate, I found that not having them really disadvantaged me when I was interviewed for PhDs.
Follow Charlotte on Twitter: https://twitter.com/_CharlotteCC_
Connect with Charlotte on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/charlotte-carroll/37/a1/8b1