Beatrice Harrison Day smiling at camera

Beatrice Harrison Day

Flower Scientist: Plant Killer

PhD Candidate, Plant Biology
College of Sciences and Engineering,
University of Tasmania

Have you ever looked at plants after a long dry season and wondered why some are dead and others are still alive? Or looked at a tomato plant at the end of summer and questioned why the plants are withered and dead but the tomatoes are still red and juicy? The answer to this is in the complicated water transport networks through the plant, the xylem.

I grew up in Tasmania, surrounded by the natural environment. I love being in the bush and have always been in awe of the amazing plant diversity around us, especially in our rainforests and alpine areas. I became aware that climate change was damaging our home, so I decided to study how drought affects plants. I am so excited to be studying in my home state!

Flowers are beautiful, fragile things and they are super important for plant reproduction. Flowers make sure we have food to eat, clothes to wear and paper to write on. But how vulnerable are these little flowers to climate change? My research examines the impacts of heat and drought on plant reproduction. By looking inside the plant at their water transport networks, I examine how vulnerable these vascular networks are to damage in drought. Using cameras, I make time-lapse movies of flowers and leaves drying to understand the effect of drought on plants. In short, I kill plants to understand how to keep them alive.

There is an amazing world inside plants, and I hope to share my love of flowers with you.


Follow Bea on Twitter: @BotanistBea