Alison Tidy is a research scientist, specializing in the field of plant science. She earned her PhD degree from the University of Nottingham (UK). Below she shares a little about her career and the inspiration behind it.
What is your specific area of STEM?
I specialise in Plant Molecular Biology in the School of Biosciences, focusing on flower development.
How would you explain your STEM field to young girls?
I research how flowers develop, produce pollen and seed. I look at the effects of single genes on pollen development through using mutants and transgenic plants to increase our understanding and aid in breeding.
What traits might a child possess that may indicate an interest or aptitude for your STEM field?
An interest in nature and discovering things around them. Asking lots of why's and discovering the beauty in everything around them.
What did you know about your STEM field when you were a child?
I had a few science and chemistry sets as a child, and I just had a general inquisitive nature and liked to know how things worked. By the time I entered A level in school, my focus was on genetics which sparked my career.
Why did you choose your STEM field? Were you inspired by someone?
I was inspired by a single book, The Selfish Gene. This was when I choose to be a genetist. I studied Biotechnology as an undergrad and then focused on plants throughout my studies and PhD.
What are some really cool things that people in your profession work on?
Using mutant plants we see all ranges of interesting things, to plants roots that don't know to grow down, or plants stems that can't grow up. We do a lot of microscopy work, in particular I look at glowing plants which cause some spectacular images. And we have used X-ray CT to see inside plants and watch plant root grow in the soil.
What inspirational message would you give young girls to inspire them to pursue STEM?
Follow your heart, do what you enjoy and you can do whatever you want to do.
You can learn more about plant science, and see images contributed by Alison, at https://www.botany.one/.
Thank you for contributing, Alison!
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