Matthew Woodard

Project title: The role of chloroplasts in responding to drought stress in plants

Research group: Plants and food security

Degrees: Master of Zoology with Herpetology (MZool), Master of Science in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (MSc)

Personal website:

Twitter & Instagram: @MaW_Science & plants_n_cells

Other interests: Wildlife photography, reading, whisky, and gaming.


I completed my undergraduate integrated masters in zoology at Bangor University. During my 4th year I conducted a research project that looked at the potential of producing insect-resistant transgenic plants using an insecticidal toxin from spider venom. This project gave me a taste of plant molecular biology and its applications in crop science/agriculture. I also spent a summer conducting lab work for a researcher at Bangor that involved molecular biology work on rice. These two experiences cultivated a passion for lab work and specifically that surrounding plant molecular biology. I therefore decided to complete a 1-year MSc in molecular biology to gain more experience in a lab setting and to learn fundamental techniques, before applying for plant molecular biology PhD projects. I am now in my second year of a plant molecular biology PhD project studying chloroplast-to-nucleus retrograde signalling (see below).

Research interests

I am interested in plant molecular biology in general but with a specific passion for how plants respond to both abiotic and biotic stress. Within this topic, I am working on the signals sent from the chloroplast to the nucleus (retrograde signalling) during drought stress, the molecular basis for these signals and their overall effect on the plant. Additionally, I intend to examine the potential of manipulating the relevant signalling pathways for the production of drought-tolerant plants. The application of plant molecular biology in crop science to deal with the challenges of climate change and food security is a strong research interest and passion of mine.

Personal website/blog

Earlier this year I set up the website This acts as both my personal website and a place for me to write articles on scientific topics. I have always enjoyed writing and have a passion for topics outside of my own research area. I ran a zoology blog during my time as an undergraduate, but I wanted a space that would allow me to cover a larger variety of topics. On I have a blog page which consists of detailed scientific articles, a page titled ‘PhDing’ in which I intent to write about my experiences as a PhD student as well as hopefully provide advice and tips for other PhD students, and finally I have ‘book corner’ which I intent to fill with short reviews on popular science books. As the website was published only recently, there is only a small amount of content currently, but it will be added to frequently.