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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge
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    Dr Timothy Hearn

    01223 333928
    Murray Edwards College
    Huntingdon Road
    CB3 0DF

    Fellow in Plant Sciences; Director of Studies

    Plant Science


    Murray Edwards is an incredibly special place, unlike anywhere I’ve previously been a part of, that brings together exceedingly talented students and allows them to grow together.

    Degrees & Honours

    2011 BSc Hons (B’ham)

    2016 PhD (Cantab)

    2017 Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

    Awards & Prizes

    2016 University of Cambridge HE Woodmann prize for best PhD thesis in plant science

    2011 University of Birmingham Farmer prize for highest mark in Biological sciences

    2011 Society of Biology award for highest degree in Biosciences

    Research Interests

    I research how organisms tell the time of day. Almost all organisms have internal biological clocks that control daily or circadian rhythms. My PhD and post-doctoral work in the Department of Plant Sciences with Professor Alex Webb explored the interaction between the plant circadian clock and metabolism. My work focussed on the regulation of how plant circadian clocks interpret metabolic signals, such as sugar from photosynthesis, as input signals to reset the clock, a process known as entrainment. My work has uncovered the role of dynamic adjustment of circadian period as a plastic phenotype for environmental entrainment.

    My current interests are on how environmental signals including seasonality and light intensity regulate biological clocks, and how this can be modelled using realistic light regimes.


    I studied for a BSc in Biological Sciences at the University of Birmingham, completing my undergraduate research project with Dr Juliet Coates.

    I moved to Cambridge and joined Professor Alex Webb's circadian signal transduction laboratory as a PhD student, funded by an industrial CASE studentship in partnership with Bayer Cropscience (now BASF). I continued this work in the circadian signal transduction laboratory as a post-doctoral research associate.

    I am now a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Medical Genetics, where I co-ordinate the MPhil in Medical Genomics programme. When not teaching I continue research into biological clocks, in zebrafish and plants.

    I have a strong teaching focus, with experience supervising all of the biological natural science courses at 1A and Plant and Microbial Sciences at 1B. I am also an Associate Lecturer with the Open University.

    I live in Cambourne with my wife and daughters.


    Fewings E, Ziemer M, Hörtnagel K, Reicherter K, Larionov A, Redman J, Goldgraben MA, Pepler A, Hearn T, Firth H, Ha T, Schaller J, Adams DJ, Rytina E, van Steensel M, Tischkowitz M. (2019) Malta (MYH9 Associated Elastin Aggregation) Syndrome: Germline Variants in MYH9 Cause Rare Sweat Duct Proliferations and Irregular Elastin Aggregations. Journal Investigative Dermatology. S0022-202X(19)31487-3.

    Mombaerts L*, Carignano A*, Robertson FC*, Hearn TJ*, Junyang J, Hayden D, Rutterford Z, Hotta CT, Hubbard KE, Maria MRC, Yuan Y, Hannah MA, Goncalves J, Webb AAR. (2019) Dynamical differential expression (DyDE) reveals the period control mechanisms of the Arabidopsis circadian oscillator. PLoS Comput Biol. 15(1):e1006674.

    Hearn TJ, Marti Ruiz MC, Abdul-Awal SM, Wimalasekera R, Stanton CR, Haydon MJ, Theodoulou FL, Hannah MA, Webb AAR. 2018. BIG Regulates Dynamic Adjustment of Circadian Period in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Physiol. 178(1):358-371. doi: 10.1104/pp.18.00571.

    Ohara T, Hearn TJ, Webb AAR, Satake A. 2018. Gene regulatory network models in response to sugars in the plant circadian system. J Theor Biol. 17;457:137-151. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2018.08.020

    Martí Ruiz MC, Hubbard KE, Gardner MJ, Jung HJ, Aubry S, Hotta CT, Mohd-Noh NI, Robertson FC, Hearn TJ, Tsai YC, Dodd AN, Hannah M, Carré IA, Davies JM, Braam J, Webb AAR. 2018. Circadian oscillations of cytosolic free calcium regulate the Arabidopsis circadian clock. Nat Plants. 4(9):690-698. doi: 10.1038/s41477-018-0224-8.

    Frank A*, Matiolli CC*, Viana AJC*, Hearn TJ*, Kusakina J, Belbin FE, Wells Newman D, Yochikawa A, Cano-Ramirez DL, Chembath A, Cragg-Barber K, Haydon MJ, Hotta CT, Vincentz M, Webb AAR, Dodd AN. 2018. Circadian Entrainment in Arabidopsis by the Sugar-Responsive Transcription Factor bZIP63. Curr Biol. 28(16):2597-2606.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.05.092

    Seki M, Ohara T, Hearn TJ, Frank A, da Silva VCH, Caldana C, Webb AAR, Satake A. (2017). Adjustment of the Arabidopsis circadian oscillator by sugar signalling dictates the regulation of starch metabolism. Scientific Reports. 7:8305.

    Box MS, Domijan M, Huang BE, Jaeger KE, Khattak AK, Sedivy EL, Jones DM, Hearn TJ, Webb, AAR, Grant, A, Locke JCW and Wigge, PA. (2015). Natural variation in ELF3 controls thermoresponsive growth in Arabidopsis. Current Biology. 19. 194-9.

    Hearn TJ and Webb AAR (2014). Measuring circadian oscillations of cytosolic-free calcium in Arabidopsis thaliana. Methods in Molecular Biology. 1158. 215-26.

    Hearn TJ (2014) Biology in the fourth dimension. The Letter. Berforts information press. 93. 74-76.

    Haydon MJ, Hearn TJ, Bell LJ, Hannah MA and Webb AAR (2013) Metabolic regulation of circadian clocks. Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology. 24 (5).414-21.

    Saidi Y, Hearn TJ and Coates (2012) Function and evolution of ‘green’ GSK3/Shaggy-like kinases. Trends in Plant Science. Cell Press. 17 (1). 39-46.

    *indicates equal contribution