The Benefits of Working in Plant Science

One of the most common questions that we get asked here at PlantSci is: what is it like to be a Plant Scientist?

Due to the sheer variety of occupations within our field it’s obviously a little difficult to answer in general terms, but we decided to pool our resources and reach out to all our friends in the field to try and get as balanced an opinion as possible as to what you can actually gain from working with plants.

Your colleagues will become your friends

This comes top of the list thanks to the volume of researchers that we talked to who are busy helping PhD students and professors with their projects.

Although researchers may well be at the bottom of the pack when it comes to things like salary and pecking order, we’ve found that they form long-lasting friendships as a result of the endless hours that they spend working with their colleagues.

Plenty of work to go around

Regardless of the frenzy around crowdfunded tech startups, the realm of plants and biology is still one of the most lucrative industries to work in.

Plants are, after all, the basis of most of the food that we eat. The food industry is always looking for new ways of producing more product for less, these kinds of problems can’t very well be solved by chefs or businessmen. Hard science is required to get the most of plants – enter the plant scientists…

Travel the World

Thanks to the high demand for trained plant scientists, we can find work all across the world. In order to collect these opinions we emailed friends and colleagues in the industry – we received replies from plant scientists working in over 15 different countries and over 4 continents.

Should you wish to play the career game then you can always spend a year in one job, take that experience then move on to another lab and another country – the world’s your oyster!

Plus 10 to Science Repair!

Working with temperamental machines on a daily basis means that you might find yourself in the role of mechanic more than you might think, leading to an unexpected increase in confidence and skills.

Spend enough time fiddling around with complex machines that cost literally thousands of pounds and suddenly having a crack at appliance repairs doesn’t seem so intimidating. A few years working in the Plant Scientist role and you’ll be taking on all sorts of repair jobs. 

Serving a Cause not a Taskmaster

Job satisfaction is, on average, much higher in the Plant Scientist industry than other competing industries, such as computing or finance. This is due in part to the previously stated benefits, but it’s also worth considering that when you’re working in the science industry you’re serving a greater cause than simply making money.

Your research might well be funded by a corporation that you are beholden to, but the work that you do will always be furthering the knowledge of man, a fact that gives your day-to-day work real purpose. 

Plant Based Events That Will Get You Outdoors

There are many things that the British are famous for…

Quirky Science Fiction (think Doctor Who and Red Dwarf), excessive fried breakfasts and exquisite garden shows.

From the opulent environs of London’s Chelsea Flower Show, to the more discreet hidden treasures of Cornwall’s Lost Garden’s of Heligan – British Summer Time is the best time of year to get outside and appreciate the hard work and ingenuity that goes into maintaining a stunning English garden. Thousands of dedicated gardeners around the UK have been spending the Winter and the Spring months eagerly designing, trimming and planting around Britain’s public gardens.

Now that the Summer weather is well and truly upon us, why not take advantage of the longer days and make some excursions into the great outdoors to check out what Great Britain’s country houses and gardens have to offer?

Rose Festival at RHS Garden Rosemoor

Rosemoor Garden, nestled in the idyllic environs of North Devon, is worth a visit at any time of the year, regardless of your interest in horticulture. An enchanting blend of formally arranged gardens and relaxed varied arrangements, Rosemoor is one of the best hidden secrets that the RHS has in it’s ownership. Originally conceived and designed by Lady Anne Palmer, the oldest sections of the garden have continued to represent her passion for flowers and plant specimens from all over the world.

Included in these grounds are two of the largest (and most beautiful) rose gardens in Britain. Visit RHS Garden Rosemoor between the 17th June and 30th July and you’ll be able to see expert florists arrange flowers and embark on A Rose Trail, taking you on a scented journey throughout the garden’s rose offerings.

Laboratory Tour at RHS Garden Wisley

The RHS was given the home and garden of Wisley over a hundred years ago by former owner and Treasurer of the Society, George Fergusson Wilson. At the time of this donation, in 1903, only a very small section of the 60 acre estate was dedicated to gardening, with the majority of the land dedicated to farmland. Before this though, George Wilson had already built a reputation for making ‘difficult plants grow successfully’, cultivating rare Japanese plants, such as irises, primulas and water plants.

Throughout the Summer, you can get an insight into how the RHS cultivate and breed rare plants by taking a Laboratory tour. For the price of £15, you can get a unique look into how horticultural research is carried out by the RHS’ scientists and how this is applied to their gardening techniques.

Chatsworth Flower Show at Chatsworth House

Although there are countless grand country houses dotted around Great Britain, it’s hard to find one to beat Chatsworth House in terms of grandeur and design. Passed down through 16 generations of the Cavendish family, this is a typical example of an English manor house that has been kept exceptionally well. In addition to one of the best kept manor houses in England, you can also explore some 1000 acres of exquisite parkland which will be filled to the brim this June with some of the best gardeners in Britain.

This year the RHS are bringing a brand new show to Chatsworth. Standing alongside its contemporaries such as the Chelsea, Hampton Court and Tatton Park shows; RHS Chatsworth Flower Show will be celebrating the creative designers of gardeners from the past – including Joseph Paxton, the estate’s much acclaimed designer. Fro the 7th-11th June ticket holders will have access to a vast range of cutting-edge gardens and will also be able to take a peak at gardens entered into a new category for the RHS: ‘FreeFrom’, which will encourage radical sculptural designs and daring structures.

You can check out more of the events that the RHS are putting on this summer over at their website: https://www.rhs.org.uk/

5 Natural (And Unnatural) Cleaning Solutions

These 5 Natural(ish) and not-so-Natural Cleaning Solutions will save you in your darkest, dirtiest hours.

As Plant Scientists and Chemical Engineers, we’re often asked about natural biological solutions for common cleaning problems. These little trick and tips should help you out of a tight spot – with easy to grab house hold items that are (mostly) free of chemicals.
cleaning

However, as Plant Scientists and Chemical Engineers, we also know that sometimes the best solution to a messy mistake is an unnatural one, so we’ve included them too:

Carpet Cleaner

You’ve got friends round for dinner. The worst happens – red wine is spilt. As the red stuff sinks in and your mind starts darting around for ideas that might help you out – you give in to the realisation that you’re going to have to deal with this stain forever. Weeks past, but the stain remains in your carpet and on your mind. Is it too late? No, it’s not.

wine-stain

This handy blend of natural ingredients will help you out in a jiffy – no pun intended. Simply combine baking soda, with some cornstarch and crushed bay leaves and cloves (to make it smell nice). Stuff these ingredients in a salt shaker and scatter liberally. Leave to soak with a little water and then scrub away, repeat until the stain is no more!

[It may be expensive and full of chemicals – but the most efficient solution is Folex. Hard to find but excellent.]

Furniture Polisher

With the modern age of IKEA flat packs, polishing furniture may seem like a silly idea but there are still plenty of people who need to look after their high gloss wooden pieces. Sometimes it’s preferable to find a cheaper, nicer smelling alternative, to the usual commercial products. After all, just because you’ve got a a great matching dining room set, doesn’t mean you want your whole house to smell like a museum.

wood-polish

Olive Oil is your friend when it comes to getting a shine up on you wooden surfaces. It may seem counter-intuitive, but smearing and polishing your wooden floors and furniture with high quality olive oil will leave a great shine, without an invasive odour.

[If all else fails – then Method is the product to go for. It doesn’t come cheap, but it’s extremely effective and uses non-toxic, plant based ingredients!]

Pest Control

If you’ve got a major pest issue – we’re talking ants, mosquitoes and rats – it can be all too tempting to reach for the powerful (and harmful toxic ingredients). Poisons, sprays and traps may well be effective at taking down your miniature home invaders, but they also come with draw backs. Little corpses littering your home, harmful toxins that could harm children/pets – the list goes on.

mice

Instead, why not invest in something that will smell a great deal nicer and is guaranteed not to kill your dog? Peppermint is a gorgeous, hardy plant that will not only make your house smell better, but will also deter the aforementioned creatures.

[They might come at a dearer price, but there are plenty of effective ultrasonic deterrents on the market. They usually cost around £20 and get rid of everything in sight, with no dead bodies!]

Fungicide

At some point in your life, you’re going to have a mould issue. Whether it’s as a student, in a dangerously damp house, or later in life with a bathroom that simply isn’t ventilated enough – the black stuff always threatens to darken your walls and fill the air with spores.

mold

Although you may find yourself reaching for the chemicals – more often than not – you can get the job done with the aid of natural ingredients alone. Brew a pot of chamomile tea, let it cool and decant into a spray gun. The active ingredients in this spray will work away at the mold over time.

[Alternatively, you could buy Pro-Kleen’s Mould & Mildew Killer is effective, though it will set you back a fair price.]

Oven Cleaning

Ovens get dirty. It’s a sad, sad fact of life that, at some point, you are going to find yourself scrubbing one – and you’re probably not going to enjoy it. Grease and detritus can stay glued to every side of the oven and it can be a nightmare to get clean. Thankfully there’s a natural solution to this problem.

dirty-oven

Mixing up lemon juice, citrus oils and baking soda will create a powerfully abrasive substance that will cut through the grease and filth.

[Cleaning the oven is never a fun job – sometimes it’s better just to call in a professional like these guys: Ovenu Australia]

The Biomass Argument

We live in an age of widespread awareness of the important environmental threats to our future generations.

When it comes to educating our young people on the impact we have on the Earth, we’re successfully teaching millions of children every year of the damage that fossil fuels can cause and how renewable energy sources will pave the way for a longer, prosperous future.

But, are there now too many ways to be environmentally friendly?

recyclingWe currently stand at a cross roads: modern science has given us the tools to deal with our issues effectively and now, more than ever, we have the drive to invest in projects that will ensure people engage with environmentally friendly behaviours from an early age.

However, with the sheer wealth of information on offer today, do we run the risk of overloading young minds with too many morally forms of action?

It’s all very well understanding how our planet is being damaged by our actions, but can we really expect tomorrow’s generation, and the one’s that follow, to obediently follow every rule and guideline that we place for them?

It’s unrealistic to expect our kids to pick up our slack, especially when they’ll be so achingly aware of the amount of guilty pleasures their forefathers indulged in over the centuries.

carbon-footprintHuman beings are creatures with selective memories and thought tracks.

Different people have varying thresholds for what they deem to be environmentally actions. One man may feel content simply recycling. He will feel that the effort he takes to separate his rubbish, and take it out, will constitute ‘his bit’. Therefore he won’t feel any guilt in purchasing oranges from his local super market, even though for every kilogram of oranges that are imported into the UK roughly 250g of Carbon is emitted into the atmosphere.

If we are going to make our planet safer for our future generations then we’re going to need to convince them that simply performing one environmentally action won’t be enough – they’ll need to go the whole hog.

Not only will we need them to start sourcing their food locally, we’ll have to hope that they embrace the new forms of renewable energies that we have spent decades researching and investing in.

energy-efficinctThanks to the Renewable Energy Directive, member states of the EU have committed to fulfilling at least 20% of all it’s energy needs with renewable resources.

In the last 20 years all major developed countries have been investing heavily in turbines, with nations like China and the US leading the way. However, in order to double down on the effect we’re having on the environment, we need to exploring every avenue of renewable energies – biomass fuels being one of these.

windfarmsA bio mass is the general term for any energy source that can be derived from organic material. This can be as simple as piping methane gas from land fills to burning wood biofuels, which come in the form of wood pellets. There is so much energy potential locked up in biological matter, that it would be foolish to ignore exploiting them.

As they are all naturally occurring, they are renewable (although, confusingly, not carbon neutral). By diversifying the forms of energy that we produce and utilise, we stand a good chance of not further destroying the planet with more invasive resource gathering.

Whether we’re investing in new forms of renewable energy, or irrevocably changing modes of behaviour that have been damaging the environment for decades, there will only be one way we can make a lasting change.

Regardless of how we choose to move forward – the only way we can get our younger gen to follow suit is by leading by example on all fronts.

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