My name is Alex and I am originally from the North West coast of England but now live on the border of Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire with my partner and our two dogs: Biscuit and Shadow. I am a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow based at the University of Nottingham with research focusing around crop canopy architecture and sustainable agriculture. You can find more about my research background below and interests on this site.


Alex the Scientist

I am a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow in the department of Agriculture and Environmental Science, School of Biosciences at the University of Nottingham. I studied Biological Sciences at Hertford College, Oxford followed by my PhD at the University of Nottingham (2013-2016) supervised by Professor Erik Murchie. My PhD, titled ‘The variable light environment in complex 3-dimensional canopies’ used a combination of 3D reconstruction, light and empirical mathematical modelling to link canopy architecture to the light environment within crop canopies and how this influences photosynthetic pathways and, ultimately, yield production.

Following my PhD, I moved to Queen Mary University of London to the lab of Professor Alexander Ruban to study the effect of high light intensities on the photosynthetic membrane as a postdoctoral researcher. During this project, I used biochemical and biophysical techniques to assess of the efficiency of protective non-photochemical quenching (pNPQ) in higher plants; a process whereby plants divert light energy into heat energy to prevent damage to the membrane. Determination of the balance between photoprotection and photoinhibition within the photosynthetic membrane. I also explored how the role of specific components of the membrane (including minor antenna complexes) on NPQ capacity and function through use of mutants.

I then moved back to the University of Nottingham to work as a postdoctoral researcher on the BBSRC funded project ‘The 4-Dimensional Plant: Enhanced mechanical canopy excitation for improved crop performance’ under Professor Erik Murchie. This project was aimed at exploring the effect of wind movement through crop canopies to determine how displacement of stem and leaf material can alter the patterning and interception of light. The project was performed jointly with the Schools of Computer Science and Mathematics to develop new methodologies for the capture and modelling of plant material. During this period I was also involved in the Horizon 2020 funded ‘CropBooster-P: Future proofing our plants‘, to identify priorities and opportunities to adapting and boosting crop productivity to environmental and societal changes.

In September 2020, I commenced my Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship titled ‘ArchiCrop: Casting light on the architecture of crop yield’. To find out more about this project and other recent projects, you can visit my projects page.

In addition to my research, I co-developed and built the Sutton Bonington Teaching and Medicinal garden, to showcase plants with traditional and current medicinal properties, as well as teaching undergraduate students in the School of Biosciences how to grow their own produce.

You can find out more about the garden here.

More information can be found in my Projects page or through my linked researcher Dr Jonathon Gibbs.

Real success can only come if there is a change in our societies and in our economics and in our politics.

David Attenborough