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Women in Science

Jane went to Bath University to study applied biology. She did a PhD in London, studying human genetics, and then spent five years at Yale working in plant genetics. In 1990 she returned to the UK to set up a laboratory at Oxford. She was a University Lecturer and Tutorial Fellow from 1994 to 2006 and then became Head of Department of Plant Sciences from 2007 to 2012. She is currently on sabbatical leave.

Portrait of Jane Langdale© Women in Science


at the time of the interview - April 2015

Jane is a Professor of Plant Sciences in the Department of Plant Sciences. 


Extended biography

at the time of the interview - April 2015

I think most people will say that teachers motivate you to be interested in one thing or another and for me it was very much the science teachers that got me interested in doing science at school

Jane’s teachers motivated her to study science. She went to Bath University to study applied biology. During her degree she got exciting six month placements in two laboratories, one at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund and one at Cold Spring Harbor, USA. While she was at a conference in the USA someone from St Mary’s Hospital London invited her to do a PhD in human genetics, which she did, but did not particularly enjoy.

Jane then went to Yale University for postdoctoral research and stayed for five years. She worked in plant developmental genetics and found her scientific niche. Funding came via the PI working in the lab.

In 1990 Jane returned to the UK to set up her own research group in the Department of Plant Sciences at Oxford. She was awarded a Fellowship from the Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC). Later Jane was awarded a Fellowship from the UK Royal Society, but at the same time she was encouraged to apply for a University Lectureship, which she got, so she gave up the fellowship and ran her lab with about nine people and taught for 14 years. She was also a Tutorial Fellow in biology at Queens.

In 2006 she decided to do less undergraduate teaching but taught graduates and did more administration. Eventually she became head of the department, a role she really enjoyed. She also got a European Research Council Advanced Investigator Grant, so her lab increased to 12 people. She has been very successful and published widely.

Jane sees her work and home life as part of a continuum. She doesn’t have children but has dogs, which need a lot of organiszing. She really enjoys science and finds it very rewarding. She is on sabbatical at the moment so is no longer head of department and does not have teaching or administrative duties. Ethnic background/nationality: White British.