Alison Smith is Professor of Plant Biochemistry in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge, where she is currently Head of Department. Her research interests are focussed around the metabolism of plants, algae and bacteria, in particular of vitamins and cofactors, and more recently for compounds of commercial interest such as high-value pigments and plant natural products. Current projects include the role of vitamins in the interaction of algae with other microbes in the environment and the control of gene expression. She has pioneered the use of synthetic biology in algal biotechnology, including the use of modular cloning of standardised parts and workflows, and has used these to generate artificial regulatory circuits to control transgene expression. She is Director of the Algal Innovation Centre in Cambridge, a facility that allows pilot-scale testing of algal-based solutions to improve sustainability such as the use of algal cultivation for production of plant natural products, for vitamin-rich food ingredients and for waste valorisation.