Shannon Woodhouse

Trust Manager – Food & Farming Discovery Trust

I started my NRPDTP PhD in 2017 and worked in the Crop Genetics Department at the John Innes Centre. My PhD combined molecular biology and genetics with computational biology to work toward understanding the genetic regulation of flowering time in Brassica oleracea. B. oleracea includes many important crop vegetables such as broccoli, kohl rabi and cabbage. During my PhD I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to interact with growers and plant breeders and learn more about agriculture and the challenges growers were facing, which allowed me to understand the wider impact of my work.

Throughout my PhD, I took part in a range of public engagement activities alongside my studies and discovered I had a great passion for education. Being an NRPDTP student meant I had the opportunity to take part in a PIPS (Professional Internships for PhD Students) placement. I carried out my three-month PIPS placement with the SAW Trust, an education charity that combines science, art and writing to make science more accessible and exciting for young people. This placement taught me a wealth of new, transferrable skills and gave me the chance to be a part of large-scale events like Latitude Festival. It was during this placement that I realised I wanted to pursue a career in science communication.

I now manage an education charity called the Food and Farming Discovery Trust (FFDT). We aim to teach young people more about food, farming and the countryside, including about current STEMM research and innovation. In my role I run a range of activities and events for young people to teach them more about agriculture and to help them understand where their food comes from. My role combines my love of public engagement with my knowledge of agriculture and crop production.