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Frequently asked questions

What is the tree in the quad?  -  Sophora (more information required)

Who is in the painting over the door to the library?  -  Sir Francis Darwin (1848-1925).  Painted by Sir William Rothenstein.  More information.  For information on other paintings in the Department see BBC Your Paintings.

What is with the bronze feet in the pavement outside?  -  It's a bronze statue of artist Antony Gormley turned upside down.  More information.

Where is the bust of Charles Darwin?  -  Woolner sculpted Darwin twice, once for a circular plaque and once for a larger bust.  The larger bust is at the Herbarium in the Sainsbury Laboratory.  Christ's College have the sculpted plaque.

What art do you have in the Department? -

Can anyone attend lectures?  -  All members of the University of Cambridge are entitled to attend the lecture courses so feel free to come.  However, you will not be able to attend the practical parts of the courses, nor to have access to the teaching resources which are reserved for enrolled students and supervisors.  All members of the public are welcome to attend term time seminars at Plant Sciences, details of which can be found on

Can we use your logo?  -  No, sorry.

I'm visiting your Department, could I have internet access?  -  There are a limited number of temporary passes available.  Ask at Reception to see if any are free.

I'm visiting your Department, could I have a parking space?  -  Parking is extremely tight on the site and can only be granted when you can't make alternative arrangements such as the Park and Ride.  There is a car park off Downing Street (in The Grand Arcade) which is quite expensive.

Can we use your Lecture Theatre?  -  We have been known to let University clubs use our Large Lecture Theatre upon request.  Somebody from the Department needs to be responsible so you will need to find a willing volunteer.

Do you do dendrochronology? - Not really.  Apparently tree corers are very old fashioned.  Disks can be collected using and hand saw and only need to be around 1 cm thick. Collect the disks from the base of the stems (to get a complete age reconstruction) and from multiple trees (needed for cross-dating analysis). Let the disk air dry to avoid them getting moldy. Once in the lab the stem disks are then sanded down to obtain a flat and polished surface and then scanned using a high-resolution flatbed scanner (at least 2400 dpi). The scanned imaged will be used to count the tree rings and to cross-date the samples (i.e. compare the growth trends of different trees to identify potentially missing rings). There are several software that can be used for this purpose such as CDendro.  Update Feb 2018: Geography have a Dedicated Tree Ring Lab.  It says so here, so it must be true!

Can you identify this fungus? - We have nobody here who can do this any more.  Try Lucy Evans of the Melbourn Mushroom Club.

Questions about rice - for rice genetics questions it would be recommended to contact the International Rice Research Institute (

Quaternity group.  We don't have any archives or details of this group, which used to come under the umbrella of Plant Sciences.  You can get help from Geography or here.