Hetherington Lab


Who we are

Dr Sandy Hetherington (PI of the Molecular Palaeobotany and Evolution Group)

Photograph of Sandy Hetherington by a trig point on a hill

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)

Photograph of Erica de Leau



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. 

Holly-Anne Turner (Research Assistant)

Photograph of Holly-Anne Turner


Holly-Anne joined the lab in January 2021 to do her undergraduate honours project working on Rhynie

chert fossils and on completion of her degree she is staying on to continue her research as a Research Assistant from August 2021.


Undergraduate and Masters Students

Honours Project students

2021: Holly-Anne Turner


Masters Students

2021: LuLi (RBGE Masters)


Undergraduate Summer Students

2021: Jenn Westermann

2019/2020: Anna Jones and Siobhán Bridson (Department of Plant Sciences, Oxford)