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.


To help me promote women in science, head over to my crowdfunding:

For any media and sponsorship enquiries, get in touch with me via email at

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.


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

Facebook: PawSci


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).

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.


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