Samantha McGaughey

Posted: Jun 19th, 2019

PhD Student

Samantha is a PhD student at the University of Adelaide looking at the role of plant water channels, or aquaporins, in water and ion movement in plant cells.

Samantha’s passion about plant biology started in her high school science class with one teacher in particular standing out as a special inspiration.

“For as long as I can remember I’ve had an interest in science, but was inspired to study biology at university by my high school biology teacher. I got into plant science because they were by far, in my opinion anyway, the most interesting subjects in my degree! Plants are amazing!” Samantha said.

With the wind of a role model at her back Samantha went on to complete her Bachelor of Biotechnology with Honours at the University of Adelaide. Her honours research project introduced her to the fascinating world of aquaporins, and the many unsolved questions surrounding them. From there her PhD research has primarily been focused on a type of plant aquaporin that is permeable to both water and ions (like sodium), and how they function in plant cells. She has been working on uncovering the features of these aquaporins that enable it to conduct both water and ions, and how these aquaporins are regulated by the plant cell. The problem solving involved in this research is part of what drives Samantha’s passion.

“I really enjoy being able to pursue the questions that interest me most. Being a scientist allows you to think creatively and analytically to solve problems.”

Samantha’s hope is that through her research a greater understanding of how these water and ion permeable aquaporins work could lead to improving crops to better cope with stressful environments like drought and salinity. Samantha is keen to play a role in securing global food security in the face of climate change, and seeing how her lab work might be adapted into real crop improvements.

As featured in People of Plant Energy Biology

Samantha's directory profile here