Nina Kinney

University of Warwick


Bio-precipitation or self-cryopreservation: Why does pollen nucleate ice?


  • Tom Whale (Warwick)
  • Matt Gibson (Warwick)
  • Dani Ballesteros (Kew)

PhD Summary

My PhD project focuses on investigating the role of pollen in atmospheric ice nucleation. It is known that some species’ pollen have specific ice nucleating activity – facilitating the freezing of ice at higher temperatures than would occur homogeneously. Pollen present in the atmosphere can impact weather and climate by affecting the glaciation of mixed-phase clouds. All this suggests that there may be some evolutionary basis for the ice nucleating properties of pollen. Through a broad comparison of various species’ ice nucleating activity, my aim is to develop some understanding of why pollen nucleates ice.

Previous activity

I was first introduced to research during my undergraduate studies at the University of Edinburgh, graduating with a BSc (Hons) in Chemical Physics. I developed an interest in nucleation after working on a summer project looking into laser-induced nucleation of salt solutions. From there, I continued my studies at the University of Glasgow where I undertook an MSc (Research) in Chemistry. I submitted my MSc thesis, titled ‘Laser control over crystal nucleation’, just before starting my PhD at Warwick.

Why did you choose doctoral research?

I have been fortunate through my studies so far to have undertaken projects within diverse research groups and have benefitted greatly from interacting with other researchers at various stages of their careers. I really enjoy working in these unique environments, learning about interesting topics, and was excited by the prospect of working on a new and more extended project continuing on from my MSc (Res).

Why did you choose CENTA?

The CENTA studentship appealed to me primarily because of its interdisciplinary focus. Further to this, I think it is hugely valuable that CENTA maintains strong relationships between industry and academia, which are often lacking, and that they facilitate broad opportunities for development beyond the scope of the PhD projects themselves.

Future plans

Ultimately, I would like to pursue a career in research; whether this be in an academic or industrial context. I’m also interested in science communication and would like to explore this further in future. I hope these plans will develop as I progress through my PhD study.