Plant Health Summer Studentships

Work alongside our team of plant health specialists as you undertake your own 6–10 week research project tailored to your interests

Plant Health research

Projects tailored to you

There are multiple studentships awarded every year and each one can be tailored to your interests. As part of your application let us know what you want to focus on and, if you’re successful, we’ll work with you to apply for funding from external sources.

Our past students and research subjects

2022 – Emma Thornton, Royal Society of Biology:Student Melissa Saphra sampling and identifying plant parasitic nematodes
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.

Emma said: “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 Irving
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.

Hazel said: “I really enjoyed having the opportunity to carry out a practical experiment and learning how to carry out identifications under the microscope, and through DNA extraction. I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been to have this opportunity and really hope the work I’ve produced is helpful.”

2021 – Melissa Saphra, University of Warwick:Student Melissa Saphra sampling and identifying plant parasitic nematodes
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.

Melissa said: “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:Powdery mildew on Delphinium
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. 

Emma said: “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.”

Colleen Sellwood2019 – Colleen Sellwood, Newcastle University:
A third year biology student, Colleen spent 7 weeks working alongside Entomologist Dr Stephanie Bird researching box tree moth oviposition.

Colleen said: “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.”

Julie Lin2019 – Julie Lin, Imperial College, London:
Working for 10 weeks alongside Dr Hayley Jones, Julie investigated the life cycle of  the agapanthus gall midge.

Julie said: “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

Applying for a Studentship

To apply for a Studentship, you must be an undergraduate student in the second year of study in a three-year degree, or in the second or third year of study in a four-year degree.

RHS Plant Health summer studentshipsApplications for 2023 are now closed

Placement opportunities are subject to funding availability. 

For any questions about Plant Health summer Studentships, please email [email protected].

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