Who we are
Dr Sandy Hetherington (PI of the Molecular Palaeobotany and Evolution Group)
I am an evolutionary palaeobiologist interested in how plants evolved to conquer the land. I work at the interface between the Life and Earth Sciences to study the evolution of plant development.
I studied an MSci in Geology at the University of Bristol (2008-2012) and became fascinated by the evolution of land plants. In 2012 I moved to the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Oxford to undertake my DPhil with Prof Liam Dolan on the evolution of lycophyte roots. My thesis was awarded the Irene Manton Prize in 2018 for the best thesis in Botany by the Linnean Society. After my DPhil I remained in Oxford, first as a postdoctoral researcher (2017) and then a Junior Research Fellow at Magdalen College (2017-2020) continuing my work on root evolution. For my work on root evolution I was named the Palaeontological Association Exceptional Lecturer for 2020-2021. In October 2020 I moved to the Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences at the University of Edinburgh to establish my research group supported by a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship.
Erica de Leau (Research Lab Manager)
Erica joined the lab in February 2021 funding by the UKRI. She will be leading on research to investigate the evolution of the phloem and acting as lab manager for the group.
Dr Rafael Cruz (Postdoc)
Rafael joined the lab in January 2022 as a PostDoc. He is working on lycophyte and fern evolution and development, focused on genes related to phloem development in Selaginella and other plants. He is particularly interested in plants with unusual morphologies. Find out more about Rafael's work and interested on his website: http://rafaeldscruz.com/
Laura Cooper (PhD Student)
Laura joined the lab in September 2021 to conduct a PhD on phloem in the Rhynie chert fossils and living lycophytes, following an undergraduate degree at the University of Oxford.
Zishan (Sannie) Fu (PhD Student)
Sannie joined the lab in October 2021 to do her PhD. She is working on phloem evolution with a focus on ferns and gymnosperms. She completed a Bachelor’s degree in Zhejiang University and an MRes in Imperial College.
Tea Reinert (PhD Student)
Tea joined the lab in October 2021 and is a PhD student researching phloem evolution in angiosperms and gymnosperms. She completed her undergraduate and Research Masters at National University of Ireland, Galway.
Jeremy Wyman (Palaeontology and Geobiology MScR Student)
Jeremy joined the lab in September 2023, he is working on the fossil plants from the Carboniferous fossil site Oxroad Bay locality
Erin Ryan (Visiting Student)
Erin is an undergraduate student at the University of Glasgow doing a 4th year Msci Biochemistry (Hons). Erin joined the lab in September 2023 for one year as a visiting research student working on phloem evolution in ferns, focussing on Ceratopteris.
Undergraduate and Masters Students
2021-2022 Dylan Hundleby (Palaeontology and Geobiology MScR, School of Geosciences)
2021: LuLi (RBGE Masters)
Honours Project students
2023: Kuo Xu
2022: Jenn Westermann and Beth Mitchell (Anderson Henry Prize and Lang Scholarship Prize)
2021: Holly-Anne Turner (Botanical Society of Scotland Student Prize)
Undergraduate Summer Students
2021: Jenn Westermann
2019/2020: Anna Jones and Siobhán Bridson (Department of Plant Sciences, Oxford)
Holly-Anne Turner Holly-Anne joined the lab in January 2021 to do her undergraduate honours project and on completion of this she worked as a Research assistant until April 2022.
2023 Lab Photo
2022 Lab trip to Fossil Grove, Glasgow
2022 Lab picnic on Blackford Hill to Celebrate Beth and Jenn finishing their projects
2021 Lab visit to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh