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Department of Plant Sciences


Research group


Research overview

Hamish is interested in pollination and plant-pollinator interactions - how flowers have evolved alongside insects, and how crop breeding has changed pollinator-relevant traits. He is currently investigating the basis of nectar spurs in the toadflax genus Linaria. Nectar spurs are considered a key evolutionary innovation, enabling rapid speciation by defining pollinator specificity. Linaria features a spur, but the genetic basis of its formation is still unclear, particularly the genes which control spur positioning and length. He aims to investigate this with a combination of genetic manipulation and analysis of bulk sequencing data. 
Alongside this, he is also investigating flower colour in the horse chestnut and the Indian Bean Tree. The flowers of these species feature a yellow centre which changes to pink or purple over time. This is often said to be in response to pollination... but is it?
His PhD, also in the Glover lab, investigated these using the garden strawberry as a model system, characterising the floral variation between cultivars of strawberry and testing bumblebee responses to extremes of that variation. Alongside this, he investigated the molecular basis of flower colour Aethionema, a genus in the Brassicaceae with cultivars having flowers ranging from light to deep pink.
In 2019 he and fellow PhD student Jake Moscrop were awarded funding by EIT Food to develop a Improving Flowers to Help Feed the World, a video about his research, which is available on the University of Cambridge's YouTube channel.


In October 2022 he started a three-year Junior Research Fellowship at Queens' College, Cambridge. Prior to this he studied for a PhD on the BBSRC Doctoral Training Programme (DTP). After an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at Cambridge, graduating in 2002, Hamish worked variously for the University and University Press in various aspects of IT and graphic design. In 2008 he founded a software company designing business systems for photographers. Upon selling his share in the company in 2016, he returned to science on the BBSRC DTP scheme, starting his PhD in October 2017. He is always willing to talk about life as a mature PhD student (and managing a PhD and a toddler!) with anyone interested in applying.



Key publications

Pattrick, Symington, Federle and Glover: Bumblebees negotiate a trade-off between nectar quality and floral biomechanics, 2023, iScience

Pattrick, Symington, Federle & Glover: The mechanics of nectar offloading in the bumblebee Bombus terrestris and implications for optimal concentrations during nectar foraging, 2020, Journal of the Royal Society Interface Featured in the New York Times, The Times, The Independent, the Daily Mail, ITV News, Sky News, The Naked Scientists on BBC Radio and Australia's Radio National and more.


All publications

Postdoctoral Research Associate
Junior Research Fellow, Queens’ College

Contact Details

Email address: 
Department of Plant Sciences,
Downing Street,
01223 330216