I spent much of my childhood investigating the world and have never really grown out of it.
I was extremely fortunate to grow up in rural Northamptonshire, playing in hedgerow dens and building dams in the local stream. We used to go on Nature Walks at my village primary and I had some wonderfully inspiring teachers who instilled in me a love of the natural world. My biology teachers at comprehensive were particularly passionate about their subject and that enthusiasm passed to their students. Thank you Miss Mappledoram and Mr Woodcock!
I studied Biological Sciences at the University of Oxford where I spent too much time in the Botanic Gardens and University Parks to achieve a sparkling degree. However, the wonderful opportunities afforded by Oxford did cement my love of science. I went on to gain a Masters degree in Crop Protection from The University of Aberdeen in association with The Scottish Agricultural College (now Scotland's Rural College), which involved more time in fields, with a bit of gazing out to sea. My Master's thesis was in the Plant Pathology Laboratory at The Royal Horticultural Society in Wisley where my love of horticulture blossomed. I remained there to study on their Horticultural Training Programme.
After so much studying I finally got a job running the glasshouses at Royal Holloway, University of London. It was a wonderful job with both technical and botanical houses. I also got to demonstrate in the laboratory and to teach on field courses both in the UK and in Tenerife. This is where I began to share my love of plants.
I returned to studying to gain my PhD. It was at the University of Reading, in conjunction with Rothamsted Research and Syngenta. I did a mixture of field trials and molecular biology with my favourite part being examining wheat diseases in the Broadbalk Archive. The latter resulted in a lovely study linking wheat diseases to environmental pollution over a 150 year period.
I now have three very lively children and have become adept at answering their questions about the world. I became Science Governor at their school and a STEM Ambassador to further raise the profile of science in Primary Schools. I got so many positive comments from the work I was doing, I decided that I should give it a go professionally. My enthusiasm for sharing science with everyone earned me The Joshua Phillips Award for Innovation on Science Engagement 2014. I am exceedingly proud of this. You can imagine how delighted I was to be invited by BBC Learning to contribute to their CBeebies Big Day Out festival in 2015!