Clemence Bonnot

Looking forward to start!

Favourite Thing: Trying new experiments ! You’ve got to think about your question and find a way to get an answer. When you do something you never done before you got the feeling that you walk at the front line of discovery !



High school (Guadeloupe 2000-2003) University of Bordeaux (Master in Plant biotechnology 2003-2008) CEA (Energies research center PhD in Plant physiology 2008-2011)


Researcher in Plant biology (physiology / molecular biology)

Work History:

In France during my PhD (CEA)/ In UK till now (Oxford University)

Current Job:

Researcher in plant biology (Evolution and development)


Department of Plant sciences at Oxford University (UK)

Me and my work

I am a kind of plant genealogist, I am studying how the seaweed ancester of Land plant have adapted to life on land.

I always wanted to be a scientist, as long as I can remember I wanted to understand how everything works!

One of the most amazing thing for me is life and nature. You look around you and see all that diversity: so many species, so many individuals and no specie is the same as another one, as no one is the same as someone else… even twins!

How that happens? We are all made of cells but built in so many shapes!

So I decided to understand that: How the genetic code and the environment work together to create a perfect unique subject and how they rule evolution and creation of new species.

Plants are the best subject for this study because contrary to animals they grow organs all the time! Flowers, leaves, shoots … so you can easily follow the effect of mutation and environment just looking at the plant growing.

In the past, I have worked to understand the role of the genes in development, then I have studied how the environment influence it.

Now, I am investigating how evolution has affected the appearance of plants,  and helped their algal ancestor to adapt to land, create a root system and to cover earth.


My Typical Day

Very long but always too short! I wish I would not need to sleep!

I wake up at 6:00 🙁 Yes I am a girl and I need time to be ready but I REALLY want to be in the lab before ALL the others!

Why? Because I like to have all the machines for me and to turn on the radio as loud as I want 🙂 I usually start the experiments : looking at the growth of the plant (mutant, transformant) , trying to see which genes is expressed in which part of the plant and in which condition, measure the content of the plant in various nutrient, taking some picture using microscops (I love microscops – I love picture in general they describe better than words!)

Then I do the rest. What is the rest?

– I help my intern in the lab and teach her the techniques but mainly I teach  her to think by herself… to ask question … to determine the best way to answer it … and to conclude on the result she get…

– I teach at uni

– I prepare some talks for other scientist – because you need to share in science ! It makes it going faster and you can get the help of other brain then your which is really important as no one think the same!

– I prepare science communication events as Plant fascination day!

I leave around 8:00 pm and I go to the sport center where I climb 1 to 2 hours before to go home for dinner 🙂

What I'd do with the money

Invest it in Plant fascination day!

Invest it in Plant fascination day ! It s every 2nd week of may when plants are full of flower that plant scientist present their work to the public. At now the advertisement in oxford is not enough. A bit of money would help to make that day more visible and increase the number of visitors.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Little, enthusiastic and energetic

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Matmatah (French rock band)

What's your favourite food?

Stuffed Tomatoes

What is the most fun thing you've done?

A road trip from the south of France to the south of Croatia with friend when I was 20.

What did you want to be after you left school?

A researcher in plant biology

Were you ever in trouble in at school?


What was your favourite subject at school?

Biology :)

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

Giving a name to a mutant I created/ give a conference on my research in Standford University

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

A documentary I saw when I was 8 years old, it was explaining how reproduction and evolution of genetic information changed the earth

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

I would be involved in the diffusion of knowledge (as a teacher or in a museum… to share how biology is fantastic)

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

A permanent job, to find something completly new and revolutionary, a proposal from my boyfriend…

Tell us a joke.

How many french do you need to defend Paris?…….. We don’t know, no one never tried! (said by a south african lab mate to me who is french abviously)

Other stuff

Work photos:

A picture of me preparing some bacteria to clone  a gene. (I have painted that lab coat myself :)) myimage1