Kristine Bagdassarian

Department of Biosciences Durham University Stockton Road Durham DH1 3LE


Dr Peter Etchells, Dr Natasha Savage and Dr Ian Jermyn

After graduating with an MSci Mathematics degree in the University of Birmingham, I decided to focus my attention on applying mathematics to other areas of life. I am currently in my second year of PhD in Dr Peter Etchells’ laboratory at Durham University.

The focus of my research is the modelling of some of the integral components of the AUX-PXY signalling network in order to gain better understanding of the processes involved in plant vascular development. I am also aiming to devise a methodology to analysing images of cross sections of vascular tissue in order to gain further insight into the effects of PXY on the cell differentiation.

Modelling of Plant Vascular Tissue in Arabidopsis

The division and orientation of cells in the plant vascular tissue occurs in a highly coordinated manner. It has been found that this is influenced by a signalling mechanism between the ligand CLE41 and the receptor-kinase PXY. A number of genes acting downstream of PXY to regulate vascular development have been identified. However, the exact mechanisms of these genes’ interactions is unclear. A question of interest for my research involves specifying the exact mechanisms through which PXY and the hormones auxin and cytokinin coordinate radial growth.

The aim of my project is to device a mathematical model in MatLab involving the PXY signalling network and auxin, subsequently establishing how the components interact to create the known vascular pattern within the plant. A second aim of my project is to use image analysis techniques to study and derive quantitative data for the differences between wild type plants and various mutants.

Where did I get my PIPs

PIPS Internship Organisation Name

FindAUniversity Ltd.



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

I wanted to learn about writing on a digital platform, as well as handling software and researching content.  I learned about all this, in addition to many other skills, including basic HTML, evaluating content and success of published material, how to research keywords.

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

Yes I did.

Did you discover anything about yourself or make any achievements that you were not expecting? 

I discovered that I enjoy writing even more than I thought and that structure and logical thinking are a major part of creating content.

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?

I feel much more confident in my writing abilities. I am now able to consider publishing as a future career option and provide a portfolio of actual work.

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