Caroline Stone

Project title: A helping hand: signal transduction in plant immunity

Supervisor: Mark Banfield

I studied for my undergraduate degree at the University of Cambridge, choosing to specialise in Plant Sciences, before working as a research assistant in the Carter lab at the MRC LMB. There, I learnt about protein purification and biochemistry, and became interested in electron microscopy and other structural biology techniques.

I admire specialist platform and scientific staff, and how they use their technical knowledge to support researchers carrying out their own projects. I realised that a PhD would be an asset when looking for these sorts of roles myself, and so I was lucky to find the Banfield lab at the John Innes Centre where my interests of plant sciences and structural biology are combined.

My PhD research looks into the rice plant immune system, and how its receptors recognise infection by the fungus that causes rice blast disease. I am using structural biology to understand the molecular basis of that recognition, with the hope this will eventually lead to engineering improved crop disease resistance.

I chose the NRP DTP based on the combination of plant sciences and structural biology I could pursue here, as well as the opportunity to carry out a three-month PIPS professional internship.