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Plant Health Undergraduate Studentships

Projects arranged for summer 2021

We have arranged ten exciting projects around the UK to take place in the summer of 2021, depending on Covid guidelines.

Plant Health Undergraduate Studentships provide paid summer research placements for students. Successful students will work with leading research groups on 8-10 week projects relevant to Defra priority areas in plant health.

Students will be able to apply for these projects from this page, when applications open later in April 2021.

We are grateful to our partners for their support for this programme: Defra, British Society for Plant Pathology, Crop Protection Association, SCI Horticulture Group and David Colegrave Foundation.


 ––– See the report of our 2019 programme here –––


The following studentship projects are planned for 2021:


Publish a taxonomic re-description of an important plant pest following study of specimens from the Fera collection

Host: Fera Science Ltd, Sand Hutton, York
Supervisor: Thomas Prior
Sponsor: Defra


Setting up target-based screening in plant-pathology: disrupting the "conductor" of plant-nematode parasitism

Host: University of Cambridge
Supervisor: Sebastian Eves-van den Akker
Sponsor: Defra


Developing next generation diagnostics to prevent establishment of fungal pathogens in UK fruit crops

Host: University of Greenwich
Supervisor: Andrew Armitage
Sponsor: British Society for Plant Pathology


The barberry conundrum: counterbalancing biodiversity and managing crop pathogens

Host: Earlham Institute / John Innes Centre, Norwich
Supervisor: Diane Saunders
Sponsor: British Society for Plant Pathology


Disease resistance profiling of oak trees to bacterial and fungal pathogens

Host: University of Birmingham
Supervisor: Thomas Welch
Sponsor: British Society for Plant Pathology


Modelling the return of wheat stem rust to the UK

Host: University of Exeter
Supervisor: Daniel Bebber
Sponsor: Defra


H2-mediating resistance to the white potato cyst nematode Globodera pallida: Functional characterisation of candidate resistance genes

Host: James Hutton Institute, Dundee
Supervisor: John Jones
Sponsor: Defra


Understanding the potential for transmission of Lso to crops by alternative psyllid vectors

Host: Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture, Edinburgh
Supervisor: Fiona Highet
Sponsor: Crop Protection Association


An analysis of Phytophthora diversity in plant nurseries and peat-free growing media

Host: Forest Research, Edinburgh
Supervisor: Sarah Green
Sponsor: SCI Horticulture Group


Development of a bioluminescent and biofluorescent assay to study the efficiency of bacterial seed sterilisation methods

Host: University of Oxford
Supervisor: Lauren Chappell
Sponsor: David Colegrave Foundation

About Plant Health Undergraduate Studentships

Plant Health Undergraduate Studentships aim to:

  • Address skills and capacity challenges in plant health science by providing attractive opportunities for research experience to suitable undergraduates, offering them the opportunity to undertake supervised research with leading research groups.
  • Facilitate training of undergraduates in research practice.
  • Encourage research proposals and generate research outcomes in areas relevant to Defra’s plant health priorities.
  • Build networks of research groups, emerging scientists and employers with a focus on plant health.

Plant Health Undergraduate Studentships projects address at least one of the following priorities identified by Defra related to plant health:

Detection or control | Data & modelling | Globalisation of trade and risks to plant health | Host plants / Earth observations | High-risk pests or pathogens | Knowledge exchange | Oak health | Transboundary plant pests