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Formerly I worked on insect immune mechanisms and the clever ways in which they were evaded by parasites that insects carry and transmit, such as tapeworm larvae and malaria; I also helped run marine ecology courses on the shore. I'm now a writer - articles, novels, stories - and have written for and worked as a presenter for radio. Believing strongly that the science that affects people should be understandable, I talk about modern bioscience - the basic science and ethics behind the headlines (eg the Talking Science in Cumbria project) to community groups, and enjoy facilitating interactions between scientists, writers and artists.
I lead a research group at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, which is a world-renowned centre for plant and microbial research. My research focuses on the natural products that plants produce. These are the substances that give rise to the scents, colours and flavours that distinguish one plant from another. They also provide built-in chemical protection against pests and diseases.
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