An ethnobotanist studies the interrelationships between people and plants, and produces research that tackles socio-ecological issues such as the loss of biodiversity and cultural knowledge

Training, qualifications and skills A MSc degree-level qualification such as ethnobotany, environmental anthropology or human ecology. Familiarity with social science and natural science is required in order to undertake ethnobotanical research at PhD level.
Career progression opportunities Combining academic work with hands-on experience of working with plants; presenting research and networking with other ethnobotanists at the annual Society for Economic Botany meeting; training in botanical identification and taxonomy.
Useful links Society for Economic Botany (SEB)
The Ethnobotanical Assembly
Countryside Jobs Service (biodiversity)
Countryside Jobs Service (ecology)

Focus on: Ethnobotanist

Harriet Gendall
University of Kent School of Anthropology and Conservation
Full time, salary up to £35k
University of Kent

My doctoral research focuses on the revitalisation of endangered crops and traditional food culture, both in Peru and in the UK, at the University of Kent’s School of Anthropology and Conservation. This involves both desk-based research and interdisciplinary fieldwork collecting botanical and anthropological data through interviews and other methods.

My PhD is funded by the UK government through the SeNSS (South East Network for Social Sciences) doctoral training partnership.

Connect with others in the field – they can signpost opportunities. Cultivate your curiosity for plants by visiting botanic gardens and growing your own. Be passionate and open-minded.

I studied International Development at bachelor degree level and a master’s degree in Agricultural Development. Outside academia, I gained practical experience working on farms during travels in Latin America and was employed as a project officer on a people-and-plants focused initiative at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.