skip to content

Department of Plant Sciences


Research group


Research overview

We investigate plant molecular, physiological and environmental processes which regulate productivity and CO2 sequestration, and aim to improve the operating efficiency of the primary carboxylase, Rubisco, and match water availability to use. Stable isotope methods are used to evaluate the origins and regulation of diverse photosynthetic carbon concentrating mechanisms (CCM). These include the C4 pathway and Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM), as well as the biophysical CCM in algae and hornworts, where our particular focus is on the molecular determinants of the chloroplast pyrenoid. Against a background of natural community diversity, our work increasingly translates via experimentation and fieldwork into resilience in cropping systems and the promotion of food security and equality.

School of Biological Sciences theme affiliations



Teaches on the Natural Sciences Tripos, including Part IA, Part IB and Part II lectures and Part IA and Part IB practical classes. Delivering a total of 25-30 lectures per academic year and leading an annual eight-day fieldcourse to Portugal.

Previous positions

2008 Visiting Research Fellow, RSBS, Canberra
2006 Visiting Research Fellow, RSBS, Canberra
2002-present Fellow of Clare College, University of Cambridge
1983-2000 Lecturer, Reader, then Personal Chair, University of Newcastle


1975-1983 PhD in Botany, University of Dundee
1972-1983 BSc Botany, First Class Honours, University of Dundee


School of Biological Sciences staff profile

Key publications

All publications



  • Fellow, Royal Society of Biology, 2014
  • Fellow, Linnaean Society, 2015

Committees and other roles

  • Member CambPlants Steering committee
  • GCRF QR Governance Committee, 2019
  • Advisor to Vice Chancellor for strategic partnerships with India, 2019
  • Chair, Departmental Graduate Education Committee, 2018- 2021
  • GCRF Strategic Advisory Group  member, 2018-2021
  • Member, Board of Electors for Professorship in Crop Science, 2018- 2019
  • Representative on Old Schools Delegations to India, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
  • Member, Departmental Graduate Education Committee, 2016-2017
  • Member, University International Strategy Committee, 2015
  • Co-Chair, University of Cambridge Global Food Security Strategic Initiative, 2014
  • Board Member, Cambridge University Potato Growers Association, 2014-2020
  • Member, Cambridge NERC DTP Organising Forum 2013, and Chair of Biology Theme 2016, 2017
  • Member, Journal of Experimental Botany Strategy Board and Associate Editor, Jan 2012
  • Member, Institute of Continuing Education Strategic Committee 2011-2021
  • Royal Society panel member for Newton International Fellowships, 2010
  • Department of Plant Sciences Teaching Co-ordinator, 2008-2013 and 2014-2016, including management of two successful Departmental Learning and Teaching Reviews, 2009, 2015  Chair, Department of Zoology LTR, 2012, Member, 2016, Member Earth Sciences LTR, 2011, 2018, Chair, Genetics LTR, 2017
  • Member, NERC Peer Review College, 2007-2011, 2014
  • Organiser, C4-CAM Satellite Meeting to International Photosynthesis Congress, 2007
  • Organiser IBC Vienna - Epiphytes and Climate Change, 2005
  • Organiser SEB Barcelona - Drought Tolerance, 2005
  • Discussion Leader, Gordon Conference, Aussois, France, 2005
  • Chairman/Discussion Leader, International Photosynthesis Congress, Montreal, 2004
  • Member, Departmental Resources Committee (formerly Research Committee), 2004
  • Joint organiser BES/SEB International Symposium Carbon Balance of Forest Biomes, 2003
  • Cory Fund Manager, Cambridge Botanic Garden, 2001
  • NERC Strategy, Scientific Services and Peer Review panel memberships 1995-2008
  • Leader of expeditions for field work in Trinidad, Venezuela and Panama using stable isotopes to investigate carbon balance, drought tolerance and water vapour exchanges for forests and epiphytes, 1981, 1983, 1985,1990, 1992, 1995, 1998, 2003, 2004
Head of Physiological Ecology Group
Professor of Plant Ecology
Professor Howard  Griffiths

Contact Details

Email address: 
Department of Plant Sciences,
Downing Street,
01223 333946