skip to content

The Department has carried out a comprehensive COVID-19 risk assessment process and has opened to allow research work to take place. To ensure the safety of our staff, a range of measures to reduce building occupancy and allow strict social distancing have been introduced, including increased cleaning and hygiene regimes. We are currently not accepting visitors so please continue to contact us by email until further notice.

Department of Plant Sciences


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.