My next expedition

Two months ago I returned from Madagascar where I spent 10 weeks in a tent in the littoral forests of the south working with SEED Madagascar on conservation. It was hot, sandy, and awe inspiring. Next I go to explore somewhere which is the exact opposite of the first two but for sure will be the third.

I am honoured to have been chosen for the Homeward Bound expedition where, along with 79 other women scientists, I will be spending three weeks at sea, exploring the Antarctic. The Homeward Bound project aims to heighten the influence and impact of women with a science background in order to influence policy and decision making as it shapes our planet, sending 1000 women to the Antarctic within 10 years.

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To help me promote women in science, head over to my crowdfunding: https://chuffed.org/project/send-a-woman-in-science-to-the-antarctic

For any media and sponsorship enquiries, get in touch with me via email at dhessenberger@gmail.com.

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My scicomm blog

Living in five different countries, in only two of which you spoke the language fluently, you realise that innovative communication is key. I started a blog, Pineapples and Whales, with PhD student Chloé Schmidt aiming to communicate our love of all things ecology and evolution via the medium of infographics.

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If you are interested in collaborating or want to tell us about some cool research, get in touch with us at pineapplesandwhales@gmail.com, otherwise you can follow us on any and all of these:

Facebook: PawSci

Twitter@PaW_sci

Instagram: pineappleswhalesci

My research

After studying Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge I was keen to further my research skills. Although I had started my BA Hons degree with little interest in plants, by the end I was convinced not only by the paramount importance that this field holds for the challenges facing our world, but also by the possible applications of plant sciences innovation. So I embarked on a 4 year PhD program with at the world-renowned RNA silencing lab of Sir Prof. David Baulcombe investigating hybrid vigour and evolutionary dynamics in algae.

“Keep it simple.”
— Regius Prof Sir David Baulcombe

This culminated in a paper (in review) and an open access thesis:

Hessenberger, D. (2015). Small RNA and genome interactions in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii recombinants (Doctoral thesis). https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.22065

My comedy

The other unique approaches I take to science communication all have one thing in common – comedy. While experimenting with text, film, photography and other media, in my spare time I am part of a improvisational theatre crew, CatCave9 which aims to make people laugh while imparting some scientific insights to our world.

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You can catch our shows every third Thursday of every month in Lausanne, Switzerland, at the Cinema Oblo.