Research Assistant

Nicola Atkinson

staff profile


The development of novel gene-editing technology and its application to improving resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses is a priority research area considering current climate change predictions and growing global needs in food and feed production. My current interests are in enhancing the potential of molecular tools, particularly crop transformation and construct optimisation, towards these aims.

I have a background in plant tissue culture previously studying genetic variation arising in tissue culture regenerated high-transposing lines of Antirrhinum majus during my PhD. Following this I developed a sugar beet transformation system for British Sugar focussing on improving nutritional value for the feeds industry before taking a career break for family.

I completed a Daphne Jackson fellowship retraining programme within the Department of Crop Genetics at the JIC in June 2019, enabling me to return to a career in plant science research after my career break. Through the fellowship I expanded my skills in Agrobacterium-mediated transformation to include barley and wheat and gained new skills in gene-editing technology within a project aimed at contributing to our knowledge surrounding drought tolerance mechanisms in the cereals. I then joined the ENSA (Engineering Nitrogen Symbiosis for Africa) team at the JIC to troubleshoot the current Medicago and barley transformation systems, efficient gene-transfer being an essential tool for the elucidation of the molecular pathways involved in nitrogen fixation.

Currently I am a Senior Research Assistant within The Sainsbury Laboratory supporting a range of projects aimed at disease resistance in crops and assisting in general laboratory management.

Job history

  • 2019 -

    Research Assistant

    The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich, UK
  • 2019 -

    Research Assistant

    John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK
  • 2017 - 2019

    Daphne Jackson Fellow

    John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK
  • 1991 - 1997

    Research Scientist

    British Sugar Technical Centre, Norwich, UK
  • 1990 - 1991

    Post Doctoral Researcher

    Birmingham University, UK