Professor Alison Smith

Head of Department and Professor of Plant Biochemistry at Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge

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Head of Department and Professor of Plant Biochemistry, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge

Professor Alison Smith is a Professor in Plant Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge. After graduating in Biochemistry from the University of Bristol, she carried out her PhD work in the Department of Biochemistry in Cambridge. On appointment as a member of staff of the Department of Plant Sciences, she was elected a Fellow of Corpus Christi, where she is the Director of Studies in Biological Sciences.

Professor Smith’s work concentrates on how plants, algae and microbes make chemicals, particularly vitamins. There are two main environmental aspects of her work. In one, Professor Smith’s discovery that half of known algal species have a much closer relationship with bacteria than previously thought has implications for the study of aquatic ecosystems. The algae need an external source of vitamin B12, which they get from bacteria - in turn the bacteria get fixed carbon from the algae.

The other aspect is examining the potential of algae as a source of bioenergy. Algae have two potential advantages over crop plants for biofuel production: they do not use up agriculturally productive land and they can be used to sequester carbon dioxide. Algae also have a potential use in photovoltaics and hydrogen production.

  • 23 April 2014, 6pm

    CPP Lecture: Vince Cable, MP

    The Easter term 2014 CPP lecture will be given by The Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP.

  • 24 September 2012, 6pm

    BBC World Service Forum Programme on Education

    CSaP is hosting a discussion programme in front of a live audience, for the BBC World Service Forum programme, which takes place at 6pm on 24 September at Murray Edwards College in Cambridge – the first time the Forum has been hosted at the University.