Rothamsted Research

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Researcher gets on soapbox to explain blackgrass threat

Laura describes her group's work on herbicide-resistant blackgrass (photo: Soapbox Science MK)

Taking part in a recent 'Soapbox Science' event, Laura Crook from the Weed Ecology group at Rothamsted Research talks with the public about work on herbicide resistant blackgrass.

On Saturday 9th July 2016, I took part in a Soapbox Science event at Milton Keynes shopping centre which involved standing on my ‘soapbox’ for an hour speaking to shoppers passing by about blackgrass, herbicide resistance and my role as a technician at Rothamsted Research. Soapbox Science is a platform for promoting women and the science that they do.

The event was well received with plenty of members of the public stopping to listen and engage, asking questions and looking at the blackgrass plants that I’d brought along as props. My family and colleagues from the Weed Ecology group at Rothamsted Research came along to support me.

My talk was one of 12, with women talking about the science that they study and topics ranging from global food sustainability to plant survival strategies; water-less, non-sewer linked toilets to the northern lights of Jupiter. All of these fantastic women did a great job of engrossing the public with plenty of props and activities to get involved with and hopefully inspire young people into a career in science.

The event was a great opportunity to tell people about the importance of technicians in science and to make the public aware of herbicide resistance and the huge problem that farmers are facing through the persistence of blackgrass. I enjoyed the whole experience and am really proud of my achievement. It has definitely given me confidence to speak in public again in the future.


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About Rothamsted Research

We are the longest running agricultural research station in the world, providing cutting-edge science and innovation for over 170 years. Our mission is to deliver the knowledge and new practices to increase crop productivity and quality and to develop environmentally sustainable solutions for food and energy production.

Our strength lies in the integrated, multidisciplinary approach to research in plant, insect and soil science.

Rothamsted Research is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). In 2013-2014 Rothamsted Researched received a total of £32.9M from the BBSRC.


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by Government, BBSRC invested over £509M in world-class bioscience in 2014-15. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

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