I am Jenny Mortimer. I am an Associate Professor of Plant Synthetic Biology at the University of Adelaide, Australia, and an Adjunct Staff Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. My group in the US uses synbio to redesign the plant cell wall to support the production of biofuels and bioproducts as part of the Joint BioEnergy Institute. We also use synbio to redesign plants to support long-term habitation in space as part of the Plants for Space Centre of Excellence.
I met Enid when I was a PhD student at Cambridge. She had already been retired for some years but was just “finishing up a couple of experiments” (i.e., continuing to actively publish: MacRobbie (2006), PNAS; MacRobbie & Kurup (2007), New Phytologist). Enid was a Fellow of the Royal Society, a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, and the former head of department. She made immense contributions to the field of ion transport, and many of the active researchers in the field had passed through her lab. In the Plant Sciences department we had a tea room with long, refectory-style tables. She would come to teatime each day and spent the time asking the students about their projects, delving into experimental details with gusto. I was in awe of her and her intellect, but she was humble, thoughtful, and took the time to listen to a shy and nervous PhD student. Having her in your corner felt like a secret superpower. With her encouragement, I applied for and got my dream postdoc, and she set my career on the path to success.
About the Author
Jenny Mortimer is an Associate Professor of Plant Synthetic Biology at the University of Adelaide, Australia, and an Adjunct Staff Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. You can find her on Twitter at @jenny_mortimer1.