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Dr Andrew Plackett

A Plackett

Contact Details

Dr Andy Plackett

School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham

Research Interests

The lab is currently working on projects to compare the function of regulatory genes (transcription factors) found in both ferns and seed-bearing plants, where these genes have an important role in controlling reproduction in the model flowering plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Previously we found that the LEAFY floral regulator functions in vegetative development in ferns (Figure 3), suggesting that the genetic network controlling floral development first arose from a vegetative shoot.1 We are now focusing on the MADS-box genes, which in Arabidopsis act downstream of LEAFY to specify the identity of developing seeds and other floral organs.

Supervision Style

In three words or phrases: Organised, outcome-oriented, supportive.

Provision of Training

My lab remains small, and so I will support you with hands-on training at the start of your PhD to help you find your feet and gain confidence in your project. Once you feel comfortable with learning more techniques independently I can signpost you to people in the School or further afield who can help you develop the skills you want to.

Progression Monitoring and Management

I like to provide a regular structure of meetings for you so that you know you will have time to discuss any issues you have, at least every two weeks at first but as you transition to greater independence this can be lengthened to suit your needs. I love talking science and so please don’t be alarmed if I also chat to you informally about your work- it’s because I am interested in you and your project. I do have high standards but I recognise that you are still learning the skills to be an independent researcher, and so my feedback is always aimed at helping you to develop and achieve what is needed to earn a PhD. We will work out monthly goals and expectations for progression by discussion and agreement.


I try very hard to be available on-site 9-5 on weekdays to talk to in person. I am still a lab-based researcher myself and so there may be times when I cannot discuss something immediately, but if I know you need help I will always make time to do so with you as soon as I can. Sometimes I have to send emails outside of those hours because that is the only time I get at my computer, but I do not expect you to respond to them outside of working hours.

PhD Students can expect scheduled meetings with me:

In a group meeting

At least once a month

In year 1 of PhD study

At least once a fortnight

In year 2 of PhD study

At least once a month

In year 3 of PhD study

At least once a month

These meetings will be a mixture of face to face or via video chat or telephone, and I am usually contactable for an instant response 3 or 4 days a week.

Working Patterns

The timing of work in my lab is completely flexible, and (other than attending pre-arranged meetings), I expect students to manage their own time.

Notice Period for Feedback

I need at least 2 weeks' notice to provide feedback on written work of up to 5000 words.