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Symington Hamish

Group: Evolution and Development
Supervisor: Professor Beverley Glover

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

I studied Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge, and graduated in 2002. Between then and starting on the DTP in 2017, I trained as a graphic designer and software developer, running an independent software company for a number of years. I have kept honeybees for a number of years and wanted to return to science to study plant-pollinator interactions; Beverley Glover's lab in the Department of Plant Sciences is the perfect place to do that. 

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

The Department seems a very friendly place, and people are always ready to answer questions from people (like me!) who know much less than them. My fellow lab members are a diverse bunch, with greatly varying interests, and the more experienced PhD students and postdocs are very good at taking the time to explain things to newer people. During term I really enjoy the weekly lunchtime seminars - while they’re often entirely unrelated to what I (or any of my group) work on, it’s really interesting to see how people approach research and tell their story. 

From a personal point of view, Prof. Glover is extremely understanding of the fact that I have a toddler to look after, and therefore have to leave to pick her up from nursery or if there’s an emergency; I couldn’t have considered doing a PhD if that wasn’t possible. 

What do you do in your spare time? 

I have a little catalogue of hobbies, of which choral singing is the least unusual. I sang with my college’s Chapel Choir when I was an undergraduate and have been singing with a local choir for the last ten years or so; we reached the Adult Finals of the BBC Choir of the Year a few years ago. I set cryptic crosswords and have been featured in the Guardian’s ‘Genius’ puzzle slot under the name ’Soup’. I also keep honeybees, teach on the local beekeepers’ course, and have won prizes for my honey, wax and mead. And, of course, there’s the toddler to look after; it’s amazing to watch a little person grow.