Alexander Bowles

Graduate Laboratory Assistant
School of Biological Sciences
Postgraduate Research Student
School of Biological Sciences
 Alexander Bowles



I graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a degree in Environmental Science where I studied a wide range of topics ranging from ecology to climate change. After my undergraduate study, I completed an MSc in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation at Imperial College London. The course taught a broad range of skills with those pertinent to my PhD project including phylogenetics, speciation and genome evolution. Applied techniques that I developed during my MSc include advanced statistics in R, bioinformatics and genomics. My thesis was based at the molecular laboratories of the Natural History Museum where I further developed skills in molecular and computational biology as well as statistics which I used to investigate the cyanobacterial diversity of Lake Untersee in Antarctica. After my postgraduate study, I completed a research internship at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew where I worked on the Plant and Fungal Tree of Life (PAFTOL) project. Processing samples collected from Kew's Herbarium and Gardens, I developed techniques in plant molecular biology including library preparation for Next Generation Sequencing. Graduate Learning Assistant (October 2017 - Present) - I have demonstrated in practical classes aiding in the teaching of undergraduates at the University of Essex. Drought is one of the major constraints limiting crop production, decreasing productivity more than any other environmental stress. These factors are exacerbated by climate change and an increasing human population competing for environmental resources. As drought impacts plant growth and developmental biology, understanding adaptations to drought could provide possibilities to produce crops with increased tolerance, improving global food security. The regulatory mechanisms leading to the expression of drought tolerance are complex and generally supported by changes in gene expression. Genes that ensure productivity in water limited environments have evolved in nature and consequently exist in many plant species. Understanding the genomic underpinning of drought tolerance across phylogenetic distance could have exciting consequences for the understanding of the evolution of drought tolerance in plants. My PhD will investigate the evolution of genes known to be involved in drought tolerance, aim to identify novel drought tolerance genes from across multiple plant families and then experimentally evaluate the function of these selected genes. Awards University of Essex Doctoral Scholarship (2017) awarded on the basis of a record of academic excellence and the potential for future achievement Imperial College Masters Support Scheme scholarship (2014) based partially on academic success during my undergraduate degree Best Environmental Science Dissertation Poster (2014)

Research and professional activities


Evolutionary genomics: the emergence of drought tolerance in plants



Colchester Campus