Martin Balcerowicz joined the School in January to establish his own laboratory in the Division of Plant Sciences. He undertakes an Independent Investigator position which will be supported by a University Research Fellowship from the Royal Society. Martin’s research focuses on how temperature affects gene expression in plants, and how such changes are translated into growth responses. Temperature change has direct agricultural impacts wherein wheat and barley, each 1 °C increase above optimal growth temperature reduces crop yield by 5-6 %. Understanding these effects at the molecular level and finding ways to breed climate-resilient plants that can cope with the challenging temperature environment of the future will be key activities of the fellowship and his wider research portfolio.
Martin did his PhD, followed by a short postdoc, in the lab of Ute Hoecker at the University of Cologne, Germany, investigating light signalling processes in Arabidopsis thaliana. He then received an EMBO long-term fellowship to join the group of Phil Wigge at the Sainsbury Laboratory, University of Cambridge (SLCU), to study the interaction of light and temperature signaling pathways in Arabidopsis. He then stayed on at the SLCU and joined the group of Alexander Jones, where he was recently generating FRET auxin biosensors with the goal of tracking auxin dynamics in response to light and temperature signals in plants.