Plant health scientist

A plant health scientist looks at potential plant pests and diseases that pose a threat to the UK’s plant health, be that agricultural, horticultural or the wider environment

Training, qualifications and skills A BSc in biological sciences and an MSc. A PhD is not essential
Essential skills include seeing the bigger picture, communicating and influencing, and delivering at pace
Career progression opportunities Plant health evidence and analysis, policy, college or university role, consultancy
Useful links Royal Society of Biology
British Society for Plant Pathology

Focus on: Plant pest scientist

Duncan Allen
Full time, salary up to £35k

Plant health scientists at DEFRA give advice to manage plant health risks as well as seek out and analyse emerging plant health risks such as new and emerging pests and diseases. Members of the Risk and Horizon Scanning Team, who manage pest risk are from a range of scientific / technical backgrounds and provide an advisory bridge between science, policy and operations.

If you have a passion for something then go for it. Focus on your goal, persevere and don’t be afraid to take an unconventional path to achieve what you want.

On a day-to-day basis the team in which I work maintains and adds to the pest risk register, writes and produces pest risk analyses, pest alerts and pest fact sheets. We give advice on pest interceptions and outbreaks via action recommendations, advise on licences for pests used for research / biocontrol, prepare contingency plans, survey proposals and biological control licences, prepare monthly reports to ministers (MBM), as well as data analysis and mapping.

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.