New curator of Cambridge University Botanic Garden named

Dr Samuel Brockington has been named as the new curator of Cambridge University Botanic Garden and will take up the post in May (2015).

The plant scientist has set up his own research group in the university’s department of plant sciences and is looking forward to bringing his scientific research skills to the garden.

He said: "‘It is an exciting time to be a plant biologist in Cambridge, with a thriving Department of Plant Science, the Sainsbury Laboratory and University Herbarium on our doorstep, and the blossoming Botanic Garden with its skilled staff and dedicated volunteers.  I am very much looking forward to getting to know the teams as we work out the future direction for the living plant collections and associated research and teaching initiatives."

Brockington’s research group focuses on two research topics. The first topic is the evolution of the cuticle, which is the thin waxy layer that covers the epidermal surface of all land plants. The second is a genome sequencing initiative exploring the relationship between genomic diversity and the evolution of extreme adaptation in Caryophyllales.

The living collections at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden will there play a key role in his research.

He said: "Currently we are growing many hundreds of species of Caryophyllales from seed sourced from the Millennium Seed Bank Wakehurst. In addition to driving cutting edge genomic research these plants will continue to expand the great diversity of the living collections at the Garden. We hope that the living collections will be able to sustain a great variety of plant diversity based research projects in the future and provide much needed teaching material for undergraduate education at the University."

Professor Beverley Glover, director of Cambridge University Botanic Garden, added: "We have taken the opportunity to revise the curator role to place much more focus on the scientific value of our collections, making sure that we collect and grow the plants that scientists will need in their research and teaching over the next decades, and Sam will be taking the lead on this."

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