I received my Bachelors and Honours degrees in ecology and environmental conservation from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, with a thesis on the cold tolerance strategies of two native alpine plants to the Drakensberg Alpine Centre. My interests in plant ecology, plant molecular biology and evolutionary ecology lead me to complete a Masters in plant biology at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden. I did my master thesis on barley and cereal yellow dwarf diversity infections in winter cereals (barley, winter wheat and winter rye) in southern Sweden. During this time I did an internship studying the role transcription factors in root stress response to salt and ABA at Uppsala University, and and intensive internship programme in plant breeding on hybrid breeding and developing a breeding programme for African cabbage (cleome gynandra L. ) at the European Plant Breeding College. I started my PhD at the NIOO-KNAW in the department of Microbial Ecology and in the Department of Virology at Wageningen University.