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Published 29 March 2019

2019 Rutherford Memorial Lecture on plant smarts

Dame Ottoline Leyser will travel to New Zealand in May to give the 2019 Rutherford Memorial Lecture on her area of expertise: how plants adjust their growth and development to suit their environmental conditions.

Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser DBE FRS is Director of Sainsbury Laboratory at the University of Cambridge. 

She aims to understand how plants adjust their growth and development to suit the environmental conditions in which they are growing. Plants are continually balancing competing needs, especially whether to invest their limited resources into growing roots or shoots. Plants make these decisions without the benefit of a brain, instead they use a sophisticated distributed processing system.

Dame Ottoline plant hero

In particular, Dame Ottoline studies how plants change the number of branch shoots they produce depending on factors such as nutrient supply and damage to the main shoot. She is particularly interested in the roles and mechanisms of action of plant hormones such as auxin. One of her discoveries — the auxin receptor — has helped to explain how hormone signals shape the response of a plant to its environment. 

Dame Ottoline was awarded a CBE in 2009 in recognition of her pioneering work in plant science.

In May Dame Ottoline will travel to New Zealand to give four talks. 

2019 Rutherford Memorial Lecture: 'Thinking like a vegetable: how plants decide what to do'

CHRISTCHURCH | Monday 13 May, Tait Technology Centre - Register for Christchurch

WELLINGTON | Tuesday 14 May, Te Papa Soundings Theatre - Register for Wellington

NAPIER | Wednesday 15 May, MTG Hawke's Bay Tai Ahuriri - Register for Napier

AUCKLAND | Thursday 16 May, Auckland Museum, Events Centre - Register for Auckland 

The 2019 New Zealand Rutherford Memorial Lecture is proudly presented by Royal Society Te Apārangi in partnership with The Royal Society, London, and with thanks to Auckland Museum Institute.

About the Rutherford Memorial Lecture

The Rutherford Memorial Lecture was established in 1952 by The Royal Society (London) and since that time, in association with the Royal Society of New Zealand, triennial visits have taken place to New Zealand to present the Rutherford Memorial Lecture. In accordance with the Rutherford Memorial Committee guidelines, the Royal Society of New Zealand Council, now known as the Royal Society Te Apārangi Council, is requested to recommend possible lecturers to The Royal Society (London). Lecturers are chosen from Fellows of The Royal Society (London).

Source: Royal Society Te Apārangi