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Department of Plant Sciences


Matthus Elsa

Group: Transport
Supervisor: Dr Julia Davies

What were you doing before you started your PhD and why did you decide to apply here?

Before coming to Cambridge, I studied a Bachelor and Master degree in Germany, at the University of Bayreuth and University of Bonn. I realized I really wanted to work with plants, and thought I might try to apply for a PhD project in this area. I decided to apply to Cambridge because I found a project at the Plant Science Department that sounded really interesting (working with roots and nutrients, what’s not to love), and the Ultimate Frisbee community seemed to be pretty good in Cambridge (not sure what was more important to me when starting to apply). Throughout the application process, both my supervisor Dr. Julia Davies and administration staff at the University were very helpful and encouraging.

What do you think makes the Department of Plant Sciences a good place to work at?

I find the atmosphere at the Department of Plant Sciences really enjoyable. There is a common tea room, were we go for tea / coffee breaks, and it is very easy to meet people from other groups (other students but also PostDocs and Heads of groups, in case you have any questions they might be able to answer). I like the idea that Charles, and especially his son Francis Darwin, have worked at the Department before, and sometimes browse the unique library at Plant Sciences, were you still find some pretty old books and magazines. It feels Plant Sciences is a Department were the focus was on plants for a long time.

What activities do you get involved in during your spare time?

I didn’t quite understand the College system in Cambridge at first, but really enjoyed being a member of a College. The College bar was such a good place to find new friends studying all sorts of things. Cambridge is an easy place to get around, initially I wanted to try and visit all the pubs, but four years are just not enough… Besides, I played a lot of Ultimate Frisbee, and think that many sports are very much encouraged by the University and Colleges.