Plant scientist

A plant scientist carries out scientific experiments on plants, generally to evaluate plant traits such as appearance, yield and hardiness

Training, qualifications and skills Usually a degree, but many in the field have master’s degrees or PhDs – usually in the life sciences. The most relevant skills are communication and problem solving
Career progression opportunities The civil service offers opportunities to gain a wide range of experiences and progress upwards in your career. Policy roles may also be needed in industry to ensure stakeholders understand what they need to do for plant health purposes.
Useful links The Plant Health Portal
Royal Society of Biology
UK Plant Science Federation
British Society for Plant Pathology

Focus on: Policy advisor

Matthew Casey
Full time, salary up to £45k

A policy advisor interprets and develops policies in line with legislation so they can be used to protect plants from pest and disease. Biosecurity for plants is key, and advisors work towards protecting our environment and industry from harmful pests and diseases. Plant health laws are in place to protect UK plants from pests that may originate inside or outside the UK.

Get a good grounding in horticulture and / or the life sciences. Being able to communicate effectively in writing and face to face to share your technical expertise is a key skill.

I trained as a plant scientist and now use that knowledge in my work as a policy advisor. My role helps ensure that changes to laws are applied correctly, and that the burden on businesses, such as plant nurseries, is minimised. I do this by meeting with delivery bodies (like APHA and FC), lawyers, businesses and scientific advisors. I enjoy decoding policy so that we can all understand it, and explaining to the public the purpose of the laws and why they matter.

Focus on: Plant scientist

Julia Asenbaum
The Fragrantarium
Full time, salary up to £45k

I am a scent hunter. I scientifically analyse the scents surrounding plants and use this information to create scents that smell like living flowers, roots, shoots or even entire landscapes.

I used my scientific knowledge about the plant kingdom to create my own start up company, Fragrantarium. It can be compared to a herbarium, but instead of capturing the physical shape of plants, it captures their fleeting scents. These scents are bottled and can be used just like a perfume. Every scent is illustrated and tells a short story about natural history.

Combine all your talents and try to think outside the box.

I studied plant science and specialised in pollination and scents. I worked part time as a quality manager for a cosmetics company and learned about the industry and the legislation required to produce a scent ready to be sold. After receiving my master’s degree I combined all my knowledge and interests to realise my dreams. and share my fascination with the plant kingdom.

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.