Prior to this research project, Emma completed an MBiolSci in Molecular Biology in the department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Sheffield. This four-year qualification included an extensive education of the molecular biosciences including components of genetics, microbiology and biochemistry. Included in and in addition to this undergraduate degree she has undertaken 3 research projects across a diverse range of biosciences. In a summer internship, she investigated the role of water in molecular interactions in order to gain a greater understanding of protein-ligand interactions during drug discovery. This employed isothermal titration calorimetry. Her third year laboratory project allowed her to develop practical skills within molecular microbiology whereby yeast was employed as a proposed host system for producing bacterial proteins required for the host laboratory’s research. During this experience, Emma’s research interests diverted towards plant biology. From then she became highly motivated in the need for sustainable agriculture and to create realistic solutions in combatting the devastating effects of climate change. In her fourth year research project, she studied the role of signals from plant chloroplasts in downstream stomatal development in the model organism Arabidopsis thaliana.
This PhD will involve combining Emma’s expertise in molecular biology with those in geochemistry, ecology and plant physiology in the investigation of silicon-mediated crop protection as a downstream co-benefit of enhanced silicate weathering. Maize will be used as a model organism in order to identify traits responsible for enhanced weathering and subsequent crop protection by silicon.