Emily Seward

Favourite Thing: Discover new things! Science is great because everyone you talk to has an interesting new fact to tell you that perhaps nobody has ever know before. That feeling when something suddenly clicks into place is wonderful and even better if you are the first person to see it.



University of Oxford (2013 – now), Harvard University (2012-2013), Cambridge University (2009 – 2012), Francis Holland School (2001 – 2008)


The usual.

Work History:

London Zoo! It was amazing. Also other less unusual places.

Current Job:

I am a PhD student.


The wonderful Steve Kelly, an absolutely fantastic scientist and great mentor.

Me and my work

Parasites often face challenging or hostile environments within their hosts; I explore how plant parasites evolve to survive in new hosts as well as the genetics that makes this possible.

I slowly and patiently teach computers how to search the genome looking for interesting things. It is amazing, they can do thingsĀ in seconds that it would take me weeks to do manually.

My Typical Day

Coding, lots of coding… and lots of tea.

Every day is actually quite varied, there is coding to be done but also analysis of the results, drawing them into graphs and even a bit of fieldwork if I’m lucky.

What I'd do with the money

Fund a podcast series on interesting plants.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Cheerful, inquisitive, patient

Who is your favourite singer or band?

I really like Adele.

What's your favourite food?

Sweet potatoes and cheese (odd I know).

What is the most fun thing you've done?

I lived in Madagascar for a while and consumed copious amounts of mangoes. It was great.

What did you want to be after you left school?

I didn’t have a clue, still barely do!

Were you ever in trouble at school?

Yes, I was cast as Puck in “Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

What was your favourite subject at school?


What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

I dunno, I once made my friend take shots of tabasco to see if the body responds to actual heat (generated by exercise) and perceived heat (caused by the spice) in the same way. Don’t worry, we are still friends.

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

Lots of people, I was lucky to have many scientific role models.

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

Very sad.

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

1) I’d really like a time-turner. 2) I have a strange desire to be able to photosynthesise, preferably without being green. 3) Is it cheeky to ask for two more wishes?

Tell us a joke.

What do you call two crows sitting on a branch? An attempted murder. (The collective noun for crows is a murder of crows!)

Other stuff

Work photos: