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Cowan, Robyn S.

Aloe vera plant
Job title: 

Lab Technician (Molecular)

Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology
Joined Kew: 


Qualifications and appointments: 
  • BSc (Hons), Univ. London, 1993.
  • Council, Systematics Association (2007 – 2009)
  • Chair, Plant Working Group & Scientific Advisory Board, Consortium for the Barcode of Life.(2005 – 2007)

I work in the molecular laboratory helping with the day to day maintenance and operation of the laboratory. I also train staff, students and visitors, support the technical aspects of project design and implement new technologies.

I have worked on a research project towards establishing a universal DNA barcode for land plants, on conservation genetics projects involving threatened species in the UK and UKOT. At present I am working on projects to develop techniques for extracting DNA from old and recalcitrant samples such as herbarium specimens and wood and enhancing our Next Generation Sequencing capabilities.

Selected publications: 

Vitales, D., García-Fernández, A., Pellicer, J., Vallès, J., Santos-Guerra, A., Cowan, R.S., Fay, M.F. & Garnatje, T. (2014) Key Processes for Cheirolophus (Asteraceae) Diversification on Oceanic Islands Inferred from AFLP Data. PLoS ONE 9(11): e113207. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113207

Sanchez, M., Ingrouille, M.J., Cowan, R.S., Hamilton, M.A. & Fay, M.F. (2014). Spatial structure and genetic diversity of natural populations of the Caribbean pine, Pinus caribaea var. bahamensis (Pinaceae), in the Bahaman archipelago. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 174: 359–383. doi: 10.1111/boj.12146

Särkinen, T., Staats, M., Richardson, J. E., Cowan, R.S., Bakker, F.T. (2012). How to Open the Treasure Chest? Optimising DNA Extraction from Herbarium. PLoS ONE 7(8): e43808. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0043808

Rowntree, J.K., Cowan, R.S., Leggett, M., Ramsay, M.M. & Fay, M.F (2010). Which moss is which? Identification of the threatened moss Orthodontium gracile using molecular and morphological techniques. Conservation Genetics 11: 1033 - 1042.

CBOL Plant Working Group (2009). A DNA barcode for land plants. PNAS 106: 12794-12797.