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Miss Joanne Boden

Miss Joanne Boden

Miss Joanne Boden

Assistant Teacher


University Road,
Clifton, Bristol BS8 1SS
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I am interested in the biogeography of cyanobacteria. They were the first photosynthetic organisms to evolve on our planet and are now widespread from cold glacial habitats at the poles to warm tropical oceans near the equator. Many species are important ecosystem engineers, generating organic nitrogen and carbohydrates which facitate the growth of other algae and plants. This is particularly important in the cryosphere and especially on the surface of glaciers where there are few external sources of organic nitrogen and where freezing temperatures and lack of water make it difficult for other organisms to survive. I investigated how cold Snowball Earth climates drove the evolution of these cold-tolerant cyanobacteria by implementing a Bayesian molecular clock on a phylogenetic tree of more than 100 polar and alpine species. My findings are currently being reviewed as part of the grading process for my taught MSc in Climate Change Science and Policy, but I hope to build on them in future, providing a picture of how life survived in extremely cold paleoclimates. Until then, I am focussing my research efforts on how the diversification of nitrogen-fixing bacteria has affected global nutrient cycles.


I completed my BSc in Biological Sciences with Study Abroad in 2015 at the University of Exeter. After a short break working outside of academia, I obtained a Master of Science in Climate Change Science and Policy from the University of Bristol (September 2017). Now, I am conducting a PhD to investigate how various species of cyanobacteria (often called blue-green algae) came to live in the ocean. My supervisors are Dr. Patricia Sanchez-Baracaldo and Professor Paul Valdes.


I work alongside my PhD as a postgraduate teaching assistant. This involves designing and teaching a curriculum of study skills tutorials to first year geography students.

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