Science on Sundays 2018 begins this weekend at Cambridge University Botanic Garden



As we head into spring do you ever wonder at nature’s ability to bounce back after a winter of snow and storms? Plants are capable of doing this and a whole lot more...

Join scientists from the University of Cambridge to hear about some of the latest discoveries in plant science and how these have the potential to solve some of the biggest global challenges in food security, climate change, industry and medicine.

Cambridge University Botanic Garden launches its seasonal series of monthly ‘Science on Sundays’ talks on 18 March 2018 during the Cambridge Science Festival. The 30-minute, informal, ‘drop-in’ talks are suitable for adults and children over the age of 12. This season’s topics range from how plants trick and attract their pollinators, to how their sugars can be woven into wood, to how DNA from long-dead plants can be used to measure the impact of climate change.

Professor Beverley Glover, Director of Cambridge University Botanic Garden curates the series. She says: “I never cease to be amazed by plants and the extraordinary ways they make food, survive predatory attack, reproduce and adapt and cope with their environment – all while being rooted to the spot.  We have so much to learn from them and what many of us don’t realise is that they hold the key to solving some of today’s biggest global challenges.”

She continues: “These talks are about sharing the wonders of plants.  The aim is to introduce the latest science that seeks to understand how plants function and, crucially, how we can apply some of the lessons learnt to solve some of today’s very real and pressing problems including shortages of food and fuel as well as the effects of climate change.  Issues such as these can only be addressed with the help of plant scientists and we’re proud that many of the plants held here in the Botanic Garden play such a pivotal role in supporting such vital research.”

The ‘Science on Sundays’ series talks take place at 11am and 2pm monthly between March and August.

The talks are held in the Garden’s classroom, close to the Brookside entrance. Talks are free but normal garden admission charges do apply; there is no need to book, just drop-in to the Classroom at 11am or 2pm.

For more detailed information search Science on Sundays 2018 see

Science on Sundays programme of talks

Frenemies: do plant viruses 'pay back' their hosts?                                                         

Explore how virus-infected plants are more resistant to drought and how work at Cambridge University Botanic Garden has shown that infected plants might be more attractive to pollinators.

Join Dr John Carr, Department of Plant Sciences, for this Science on Sundays talk, 18 March 2018, 11am and 2pm



Potent chemicals on the move – seeing plant hormones in action                                                                                             

Where are plant hormones made? Where do they go? And what precisely do they do when they get there? This talk will explain how new technologies are helping to bring the answers to these questions into focus by visualizing these chemicals as they move about a living plant.

Join Dr Alexander Jones, Research Group Leader Sainsbury Laboratory, University of Cambridge, for this Science on Sundays talk, 15 April 2018, 11am and 2pm

 How flowering plants pattern their petals                                                                                              

Flowering plants very often display striking patterns on their petals which are key to attracting pollinators. They are very elaborate, combining different pigmentations, but also an array of microscopic features that play a key role in plant-insect communication. How flowering plants produce those patterns is still unknown and this talk will look at what scientists in Cambridge and elsewhere are doing to try and solve this enigma.

Join Dr Edwige Moyroud, Sainsbury Laboratory, University of Cambridge, for this Science on Sundays talk on Sunday 20 May 2018, 11am and 2pm


  ‘SCUBA-Rice’: How rice survives flooding?

Rice is the food staple for more than two thirds of the world’s population. Although rice varieties are adapted to flourish in standing water, they are still susceptible to flooding. This talk will look at some recent scientific breakthroughs from around the world in our understanding of how rice survives flooding. These studies are revolutionizing rice cultivation and providing farmers with protection against short-term flooding.

Join Dr Pallavi Singh, Department of Plant Sciences, for this Science on Sundays talk on Sunday 17 June 2018, 11am and 2pm


 Sweet science: how do plants spin sugars into fibres?

Plants turn sugars into fibres that give plants strength and shape. These fibres are important in our food, textiles, paper and buildings. This talk will show how recent discoveries reveal how the fibres are made and then woven into wood.

Join Professor Paul Dupree, Department of Biochemistry, for this Science on Sundays talk on Sunday 15 July 2018, 11am and 2pm


  Old specimens, new tricks: what a million dead plants can tell us about the world today

Cambridge University has a collection of over a million dried, pressed plant specimens, including original specimens collected in the wild by great scientists such as Charles Darwin. These specimens can be used in all sorts of ways – from unlocking the DNA relationships between plants, to measuring the impact of climate change, to discovering new medicinal compounds, and determining the extinction risk of threatened species.

Join Dr Lauren Gardiner, Department of Plant Sciences, for this Science on Sundays talk 19 August 2018, 11am and 2pm




From 1 January 2018, admission to the Botanic Garden costs £6, which includes an optional donation of 10% more than the Standard Admission price (£5.45). If visitors opt to make this donation and are UK tax payers, CUBG can also claim Gift Aid on the whole amount paid. Concession admission is £5.50 (or £5 without the donation) for over 65s and students in possession of a valid recognised student identity card. University of Cambridge students and accompanied children 16 and under are admitted free of charge. For further visitor information please call 01223 336265 or visit


 Garden opening times during March: 10am-5pm, 7 days a week; from April – September, 10am-6pm



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