Plant Health Summer Studentships

Join an active programme of plant science research and communication at one of the world’s great gardens

​Applications for 2024 are now closed

What does RHS plant health research involve?

  • Plant disease and pest diagnostics
  • Integrated disease and pest management
  • Biodiversity in gardens
  • Epidemiology of new and important diseases and pests
  • Science communication

What can we offer?

  • 6–10 week summer research project
  • Gain new skills and laboratory and fieldwork experience
  • Work alongside experienced scientists as part of the RHS Plant Health Team

​How is it funded?

We will work with you to apply for funding from a number of external sources. Funding is typically around £300 per week.

​Who can apply and how?

If you are an undergraduate students in their second year of a three-year study, then please send your CV and a cover letter outlining your interest to [email protected].
Please note: Placement opportunities will be subject to funding availability.

Applications are now closed. 

​Our past students and research subjects

2022 – Emma Thornton, Royal Society of Biology

Emma worked on a 10-week sluggy Summer Studentship as part of the Royal Society of Biology plant health undergraduate studentship programme. Her focus was a feeding choice lab experiment on home garden slug deterrents. The scientific results have already updated the advice we give to home gardeners.

“I enjoyed the chance to present my work to peers, the public and press as well as create a poster and report for scientific publication.”

2021 – Hazel Irving, Askham Bryan College

Hazel worked with senior plant pathologists Dr Liz Beal and Dr Matthew Cromey, and Dr Jon Banks from Bartlett Tree Experts, on cultural and green chemical control of cucurbit powdery mildew, funded by the British Mycological Society.

 “I enjoyed carrying out a practical experiment and learning how to carry out identifications under the microscope, and through DNA extraction.”

2021 – Melissa Saphra, University of Warwick
Melissa worked with plant health scientists Dr Magdalena Boshoff and Dr Fryni Drizou on sampling and identifying plant parasitic nematodes, funded by the British Society of Plant Pathology.

 “I have explored a fascinating area of science, and have gained a brand new breadth of knowledge. The plant health team were supportive and encouraging throughout my studentship, and I feel really inspired by my time at Wisley.”

2020 – Emma Hallett, University of York
In her third year of studying biology Emma completed a literature review since lab work was not possible due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The review was supervised by Dr Liz Beal and considered environmental factors that favour powdery mildew outbreaks. 

 “The opportunity to write a literature review about powdery mildew provided me with a great insight into the field of plant pathology and advanced my research skills. The support from a leading plant pathology expert was invaluable and has affirmed my interest in this field.”

2019 – Colleen Sellwood, Newcastle University
A third year biology student, Colleen spent 7 weeks working alongside Entomologist Dr Stephanie Bird researching box tree moth oviposition.

“I was based mostly at the field research facility where I reared moths from larvae for experiments and monitored box tree moth infestation on box tree plots. The results from this project will help us work out ways to reduce infestation and protect box tree plants in the future.”

2019 – Julie Lin, Imperial College, London

Working for 10 weeks alongside Dr Hayley Jones, Julie investigated the life cycle of  the agapanthus gall midge.

“The placement was incredibly insightful and rewarding. I received much needed guidance from the RHS research staff and am so grateful for the opportunity to experience life as a research scientist. I learned the principles of experimental design and project management and presented my research findings at a BSPP conference.”

Other subjects have included
  • Investigating endophytic Trichoderma for bio-control of honey fungus
  • Developing molecular methods for honey fungus species identification
  • Identifying gastropod feeding preferences
  • Analysis of soil fauna diversity following slug control

Get in touch

For any questions about Plant Health summer Studentships, please email and we will be happy to answer your questions.

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.