Flora Hetherington

Department of Biosciences Durham University Stockton Road Durham DH1 3LE


Professor Keith Lindsey

I am a PhD student at Durham University funded by the BBSRC DTP scheme.  I graduated from Bristol University with a first class honours BSc in Botany.  I have spent time working in labs in a number of different fields including cereal genomics, plant evolutionary genetics, guard cell research and plant environmental signalling.  My main interests are in plant cell and developmental biology.  

Project title: Mechanisms of plant growth responses to potassium

My project is investigating the relationship between potassium availability, hormone signalling pathways and root architecture, in the model organism, Arabidopsis thaliana. Understanding the mechanisms by which plants take up nutrients and adapt their growth patterns in response to nutrient stress is not only fascinating but is also important for society. Huge amounts of fertilizers are applied to agricultural land every year however, much is washed off, or not taken up by the plants.  

Better characterization of nutrient uptake mechanisms and responses to stress have the potential to help improve our agricultural practices and increase crop yields in the future.

Where did I get my PIPs

PIPS Internship Organisation Name 

Fera- food and environment research agency



When deciding on your internship, what did you want to experience and what did you hope to gain from that experience? 

I was not really sure what I wanted to experience, I just wanted to see another side to plant science research and to see if it was the kind of thing I would want to do as a job after my PhD.  I hoped to get a better idea of what jobs are outside of academia but still involved in the plant sciences area. 

Did you get the experience you were expecting and did you achieve the personal development you had hoped to make?

As I did not have many expectations I feel that I did achieve the personal development that I had hoped to make.  I learned about research in industry and how different it is to research in a university.  I also developed a lot of new skills that may be useful in my further research career.  It was also really interesting to see how research is being used to help farmers in the field and the development process involved in this.

Has the internship made you feel differently about potential career options and has it helped to put the skills from research into a broader context?

It has helped show me what industry is like and it has shown me the side of research that is directly helping companies and farmers which was very interesting.  It has also given me a lot to think about for a career after my PhD.

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