Tessa Pocock, PhD

Senior Research Scientist

Dr. Tessa Pocock is fascinated by photosynthesis and has conducted research with plants in both academic and industry settings. She received her Diploma in Horticulture at Olds Agricultural College, Alberta, Canada where she majored in greenhouse management and developed practical knowledge on plant cultivation with work at the Alberta Horticultural Research Centre, Brooks, in Canada. She went on to obtain an Honours BSc degree in plant science at the University of Western Ontario (UWO), London, Canada. An MSc at UWO in plant physiology followed where she examined the effect of temperature and light on photo-inhibition, carbon metabolism and freezing tolerance in winter and spring wheat. Her work resulted in the development of a rapid and non-invasive method to accurately test for freezing tolerance in newly bred wheat cultivars using chlorophyll a fluorescence techniques. She switched from vascular plant systems to green algae during her PhD at UWO. Using chlorophyll a fluorescence, thermoluminescence and biochemical techniques she examined photo-inhibition and recovery mechanisms in an Antarctic, extremophilic green alga and compared these processes to mesophilic strains. Furthermore, she elucidaded and revised its molecular phylogeny using small subunit rRNA sequencing and placed this organism correctly in the present day Chlamydomonas molecular systematic system. In 2004, she finished her PhD and was awarded a prestigious Marie Curie Fellowship to do postdoctoral research at MidSweden University, Sweden. There she conducted laboratory experiments that mimicked the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (TAR-2003) observations of increased temperatures and reduced salinity in northern oceans. This work led to one of the first research studies attributing an organism’s phenotypic plasticity to its ability to withstand disturbances in their local climates. In 2007 she accepted the position of director of research at a small Swedish biotechnology and engineering company. There she ran a research program that developed several specific LED light regimes to optimize plant growth while manipulating plant morphology and biochemistry naturally.

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