I met Geraint Parry on Twitter, where he tweets under @LiverpoolPlants about his research. Fortunately, my colleagues were able to confirm that he indeed is real and a plant cell biologist studying the nuclear pore complex. He also scored 6 out of 10 points from the “10 signs you might be a plant biologist” post, plus I awarded him two more points for having a picture of Arabidopsis thaliana as avatar. All evidence combined, Geraint immediately qualified as today’s Face of Plant Cell Biology – thanks for taking part, Geraint! :-))
Please check out Geraint’s website for more information and watch the video at the bottom of this post where he highlights the ten reasons why we need plant scientists!
1) What is your research about?
I’m investigating the function of the Plant Nuclear Pore Complex, currently in Arabidopsis but with the hope of soon moving the work into other organisms. I’ve just started my lab at Liverpool where we’ve isolated some nucleoporin mutants with interesting phenotypes and are also looking to evaluate how the NPC influences different signaling pathways. I’m excited to soon get some microarray data so we can assess how the NPC influences gene expression in plants! Look out for a paper sometime in the next year (fingers crossed ;).
2) What is the best and the worst thing about your work?
The best thing is that you are your own boss and set the work and research agenda. Everything you do is new, however small it may be! Molecular cell biology can be a frustrating business so even getting good bands on a gel can be a thrill! I must admit to enjoying interacting with the students as well, it’s fun to see people develop over the year as they get more confident and knowledgable!
The worst is the constant low-level worry about grants and also if you are doing the right thing in the right way! At the moment with no PhD students or postdocs then I have to do the planning, the experiments, write the grants and do the teaching…all the while needing to write papers to let the community know what I’m up to!
3) How did you become a plant scientist?
Some-what by accident. During my MRes at Warwick I was looking for a project and was put in contact with Professor Malcolm Bennett. He explained auxin signaling to me and I was hooked. I was interested in signal transduction but never thought about it in plants! That meeting led to a PhD and here I am now…eeek, 15 years later!
4) What do you do to get your mind off work?
Racing bicycles is my main focus, training is hard but making small improvements is hugely satisfying….kinda like getting even a little result in the lab. Mostly I enjoy getting out into the countryside, knowing you are benefiting yourself as you enjoy the scenery! Otherwise I’m a big sports fan (support Norwich city) and am involved with the Merseyside Skeptics where I hang out with a load of like-minded people!
5) What advice would you give to students?
Get some research experience where you can, be it in a lab or elsewhere. Molecular cell biology is difficult so it’s best to know if you can roll with the punches before you start a PhD! Look into summer research studentships as there is money out there for the motivated student!
Geraint explains the 10 reasons why you NEED a Plant Scientist!