Madeleine Seale

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

University of Oxford


I am a plant sciences researcher with a background in plant development, genetics and biomechanics. My research investigates how plants develop into diverse structures, and how they maintain their shapes and forms in adverse environmental conditions.


  • Plant Biomechanics
  • Plant Development
  • Form and Function


  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, 2019

    Heriot-Watt University

  • PhD in Plant Development, 2016

    University of Cambridge

  • BA in Natural Sciences, 2011

    University of Cambridge



Lab shift co-ordinator

UK Biocentre Covid-19 lighthouse lab

March 2020 – June 2020 Edinburgh
Volunteered at the UK Biocentre to help set up their Covid-19 diagnostic testing programme. Tasks included assay development and optimisation, scaling up the testing programme, and training and managing a team of around 50 people to process ~15,000 tests per day.

Assistant Features Editor

Plant Physiology

January 2020 – December 2021 American Society of Plant Biologists
Involves writing News and Views articles on a wide variety of topics for the journal Plant Physiology.

Assistant Professor

Heriot-Watt University

October 2018 – September 2019 Edinburgh
Taught cell biology, microbiology and study skills to undergraduates. Role included lecturing, leading tutorials and lab practical classes, preparation of materials, and administration of courses.

Postdoctoral Research Associate

University of Edinburgh

May 2016 – November 2018 Edinburgh
Research project investigating the form and function of the dandelion fruit. Joint appointment between School of Biology and School of Engineering working with an interdisciplinary team to understand the how the structure of the dandelion fruit interacts with its environment.

PhD student

University of Cambridge

April 2012 – April 2016 Cambridge
Carried out research on plasticity in plant development. Investigated how hormones and transcription factors form a regulatory network to influence whether shoot branches grow or remain dormant.


Bryophyte mechanics

Investigating the relationship between mechanical forces and structural integrity of bryophytes

Form and function of the dandelion fruit

Investigating the structure and function of the familiar dandelion fruit

Transcriptional targets in shoot branching

Investigating how hormones and genetic networks regulate shoot branching


Dandelion pappus morphing is actuated by radially patterned material swelling

The dandelion pappus changes shape when it is wet. This is due to a unique ring of tissue in the centre of the structure that swells in …

Shoot dominance relationships lead to robust reproductive outputs

The number of reproductive structures produced by Arabidopsis and Brassica is consistent regardless of branching patterns. …

The fat of the land: cuticle formation in terrestrial plants

Cuticle composition changes during land plant evolution from largely phenolic-based in bryophytes to dicarboxylic acid-based …

Callose deposition during pollen development

A SKU5-SIMILAR family protein in cotton regulates callose deposition during pollen formation.

Informed dispersal of the dandelion

Why do the parachutes (pappi) of dandelion fruits close when wet? Fluid flow and drag forces are significantly altered when this …