I went to Buckswood School in East Sussex and then studied for the International Baccalaureate at Bexhill College. I next studied for a BSc in Environmental Science (University of Portsmouth), followed by an MSc in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation (Imperial College London). After time spent at the Natural History Museum (London) and Kew Gardens, I completed a PhD in Plant Sciences at the University of Essex. I then spent three years as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Bristol. In 2024, I joined the University of Oxford as a Glasstone Research Fellow in Plant Sciences and Extraordinary Junior Research Fellow at Queen’s.


My research is broadly interested in understanding the extraordinary diversity of life. In particular, this focusses on plants and their changing relationships with water over the last billion years of evolution. In my work, I use a range of molecular, computational and morphological analyses of living and fossil plants. These experiments aim to answer questions about how plant innovations originated millions of years ago, how they work today, and how they might be (mal)adaptive in the future. 


  • Bowles, A.M.C. Bechtold, U. & Paps, J. (2020) The origin of land plants is rooted in two bursts of genomic novelty. Current Biology 30 (3), 530-536.
  • Bowles, A.M.C. Paps, J. & Bechtold, U. (2022) Water‐related innovations in land plants evolved by different patterns of gene cooption and novelty. New Phytologist 235 (2), 732-742.
  • Bowles, A.M.C. Williamson, C.J. Williams, T.A. Lenton, T.M. & Donoghue, P.C.J. (2023) The origin and early evolution of plants. Trends in Plant Science 28 (3), 312-323.

An up-to-date list of Alex’s publications is available here.