Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

A range of projects are possible using comparative transcriptomics and genomics to study tropical speciation patterns, using Hyb-Seq to study historical changes in population genetics and using classical genetics to understand plant form in non-model species.

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Personal profile


Postdoctoral Researcher CSHL, NY 1997 - 2004

PhD University of East Anglia 1997

BA Oxford University 1994

Current Research Interests

We are interested in determining the genetics underlying differences between species.  We would like to know how many genetic changes and what type of changes cause variation in plant growth and form.  A combination of classical genetics and comparative transcriptomic and genomics is being used to link the variation in form to variation in the sequence and expression of genes and in the structures of genomes.

We are particularly interested applying these techniques to tropical species, as the tropics contain most of the world’s diversity but have been genetically understudied.  As study systems we are working on Begonia, a species rich genus (1500+ species) found in wet rainforests throughout the world, and Inga, a genus of neotropical legume trees useful for agroforestry.

We are developing methods of retriving sequence data from herbarium specimens.  This will to enable us to use the extensive collections at RBGE to discover how population genetics have changed over time and to work with rare or extinct species.


Research students

Current Students

Primary supervisor
Lucia Campos Dominguez Started Oct 2017
    Genome Dynamics in Begonia
Thibauld Michel Started April 2018
    Mutational meltdown in a megadiverse genus
Cynthia Fan Start Oct 2018
    Genetics of leaf form diversity in Begonia

Second supervisor
    Yen-Ting Lu (University of Edinburgh) Started Sept 2015
    Isuru Kariyawasam (University of Edinburgh/RBGE) Started Sept 2015
    Pakkapol Thaowetsuwan (University of Edinburg/RBGEh) Started Sept 2015
    Kate Grant (University of Edinburgh/SRUC) Started Sept 2015
    Nadia Russell (University of Edinburgh/RBGE) Started Sept 2015
    Flavia Fonseca Pezzini (University of Edinburgh/RBGE) started May 2015
    Hannah Atkins (University of Edinburgh/RBGE) Started April 2015
    Yun Yu Chen (University of Edinburgh/RBGE) Started April 2015

Past Students
Saima Umbreen Started Jan 2007.  Graduated Sept 2011
    ARP genes in Begonia leaf evolution Funded by HEC , Pakistan
Nicola Burton Started Sept 2007 (viva Nov 2012)
    The evolution of Begonia section Gireoudia. Funded by BBSRC
Mobina Shaukat.  Started April 2007 (viva Nov 2012)
    The genetic architecture of species level variation in Begonia Funded by HEC , Pakistan
Alex Twyford Started Sept 2008, (Graduated Oct 2012)
    Hybrid vigour in Begonia. Funded by BBSRC
Steven Wrigely Started Sept 2010, left Jan 2012
    Rare species and rare niches. Funded by BBSRC
Katie Emilieova Started Sept 2012 (viva Dec 2016)
    Gene duplication in Begonia. Funded by BBSRC
Mansour Abdullah Started Feb 2012 (viva Jul 2016)
    Barcoding the flora of Kuwait. 

Collaborative Activity


Development of Inga species as Agroforestry crops.

Collaboration with Toby Pennington (University of Exeter)


Chemistry, taxonomy and diversification in tropical plants: a case study of Inga.

Collaboration with Toby Pennington (RBGE), Graham Stone (UoE), Tom Kusar and Phyllis Kusar (Univerity of Utah).


Ecophysiology and anatomy in Begonia

Collaboration wth Gail Jackson, School of Geosciences, UoE


Population genetics of Begonia hybrid zones

Collaboration with Richard Ennos, Institute of Evolutionary Biology, UoE


Phylogeography of Mexican Begonia

Collaboration with James Richardson, RBGE


Developmental diversity of Streptocarpus

Collaboration with Michael Moller, RBGE and Kanae Nishi, National Taiwan University


External positions

Senior Lecturer in PLant Evolution, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

1 Sept 2004 → …


  • QK Botany
  • Evolution
  • Plant development
  • Speciation
  • Diversity


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