Katy Hubbuck

Katy is a Research Assistant for the Plant Health team, providing technical support and allocating space and equipment for projects and experiments

What do you do?

My main area is the molecular side of Plant Health. I extract the DNA from frozen plant pathogens and diseased material sent in to the Plant Health team and amplify it using PCR, before analysing it to determine the species of pathogen – it’s always exciting to see what results come back! I also culture plant pathogens such as rose black spot on petri dishes, so that we can use them in experiments or store them as part of a culture collection.

“Working in plant sciences is very rewarding, because you often get to see the physical results of your work. Usually it's bad news when you see plants develop symptoms of a disease, but for me, it means I’ve done a good job!”

Why is your team’s research important?

The work we do gives scientific support to the advice gardeners receive on how to manage pests and diseases. As we discover more about them, it can reframe how we view these organisms in the first place! 

Projects I’m working on now

  • Rose black spot
  • Powdery mildew
  • Phytophthora root rot


  • Plant sciences are often underrepresented in schools and universities, so I feel proud to have represented the RHS when schools come to visit the labs or during careers fairs. It feels really good when a student expresses interest or is really engaged when having a chat and seeing what we do, especially when they may not have had much exposure to plant sciences in the past.

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.