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Plant Health Undergraduate Studentships

Funding to host RSB undergraduate studentships in Plant Health: applications now open 

The Royal Society of Biology (RSB) invites applications from researchers wishing to host an undergraduate studentship in plant health over the summer of 2024. Twelve awards are available.

Please read our guidance for applicants before making an enquiry or completing an application form. 

The closing date for applications is 4th March 2024 at 23:59.

Undergraduate students should not apply for this round of the awards, but are invited to apply for placements that will be advertised here in early April.

Funding for the 2024 programme is provided by Defra (6 studentships); BSPP (2 studentships), Association of Applied Biologists (2 studentships), SCI Horticulture Group (1 studentship) and the Colegrave Seabrook Foundation (in partnership with the the Crispa (Richard Cahn) Charitable Trust) (1 studentship).

 

The proposed research project must address at least one of the following themes related to plant health, pests and diseases:

  1. Risk assessment and horizon scanning
  2. Inspections, diagnostics and surveillance
  3. Management of pests and diseases
  4. Resilience and Adaptation
  5. Plant Health Behaviours
  6. Evaluation frameworks

Applicants are encouraged to look at the UK Plant Health Risk Register of current pests and pathogens.

Applicants will be asked to indicate the level of supervision the undergraduate can expect to receive during the placement.

Award

The awards provide support for the student at a rate of £380 per week for a studentship period of 8-10 weeks. The bursaries produce no National Insurance contribution liability. Each award includes £500 for costs to run the research; further research expenses are not offered under this scheme.

Students will be invited to participate in an online mini-symposium to present their project to other students in the programme. On completion of their project, students will be required to produce a poster about their research project. These may be included in relevant RSB and Member Organisation publications.

Eligibility

  • Researchers at universities and research institutions within the UK are eligible to apply to host a Plant Health Undergraduate Studentship.
  • Post-doctoral researchers with the support of their PI may apply to host a Plant Health Undergraduate Studentship. PhD students/candidates are not eligible for this award.
  • Supervisor applications from within the membership of the RSB, and our member organisations, are encouraged; those who are not RSB members are encouraged to consider the member application process. The successful supervisors will each receive 50% off their RSB membership fee for the following year (this will apply to the initial year of membership for newly-elected members).
  • Successful applicants are encouraged to join the Plant Health Professional Register.
  • Studentships funded by the BSPP are available only to BSPP members.
  • Only one application should be submitted per supervisor.
  • Projects in which the student will be supervised remotely are eligible for this award.

Successful projects will be widely advertised to students by the RSB from the end of March 2024.

Undergraduate students will be invited to submit applications for selection by the supervisor of each project. If desired by the supervisor, RSB can provide input into the process of selecting an undergraduate student.

Aims of the studentship

  • 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.

How to apply

To apply, please log in or create an account on the RSB’s mySociety portal, then complete the application form.

Please read the guidance for applicants before making an enquiry or completing the application form.

The closing date for applications is 4th March 2024 at 23:59.

Contact

Please direct queries to plantsci@rsb.org.uk

-----Projects which took place in 2023-----

BClunie 3

Investigating wireworm species (Harper Adams University)

Identification of agriculturally important wireworm species through DNA barcoding: determining species dominance and morphometric comparisons
Project Location: This project will be managed in-person at Harper Adams University.
Supervisor: Dr Ben Clunie

SCook 3

Insect competition and its effect on oilseed rape (Rothamsted Research, Harpenden)

The more the merrier? Understanding the consequences of cabbage stem flea beetle larval intraspecific competition on larval development and parasitism rate.
Project Location: This project will be managed in-person at Rothamsted Research, Harpenden
Supervisor: Dr Samantha Cook

MTinsley 3

Using biostimulants to improve plant health (University of Stirling)

Improving plant resilience to enhance biocontrol efficacy
Project Location: This project will be managed in-person at University of Stirling
Supervisor: Dr Matthew Tinsley

LBeal 3

Investigating disease in Roses (RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey)

Reduction of Rose black spot disease using silicon products
Project Location: This project will be managed in-person, at RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey
Supervisor: Dr Liz Beal

TPope 3

Changing insect behaviours through trap-cropping (Harper Adams University)

Trap cropping to sustainably management aphid vectors of barley yellow dwarf virus
Project Location: This project will be managed in-person at Harper Adams University.
Supervisor: Dr Tom Pope

Septoria 002

Investigating disease resistance in wheat (NIAB, Cambridge)

Characterisation of resistance to Septoria tritici blotch in synthetic wheat
Project Location: This project will be managed in-person, at the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB), Cambridge
Supervisor: Dr Kostya Kanyuka

NGhori 3

Investigating wheat genes for disease resistance (Rothamsted Research, Harpenden)

Exploring resistance to take-all root disease in wheat by high throughput genotyping and functional characterisation of wheat defence genes
Project Location: This project will be managed in-person at Rothamsted Research, Harpenden.
Supervisor: Dr Nida Ghori

SVarga 3

Investigating how fungi improve plant health (University of Lincoln)

Understanding entomopathogenic and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal interactions within the rhizosphere
Project Location: This project will be managed in-person at the University of Lincoln
Supervisor: Dr Sandra Varga

 IV I 3

Investigating a novel tree virus (Fera Science, York)

A novel nepovirus infecting Tilia spp. – filling the gaps of the biological desert.
Project Location: This project will be managed in-person at Fera Science, York
Supervisor: Dr Ines Vazquez-Iglesias.

 DSaunders 3

Investigating how climate change affects wheat diseases (John Innes Centre, Norwich)

Investigating the future threat of wheat stem rust in the UK in a changing climate
Project Location: This project will be managed in-person at The John Innes Centre, Norwich
Supervisor: Professor Diane Saunders

 DoWilliams

Detecting stress in raspberry plants (James Hutton Institute)

Validating hyperspectral imaging as a novel high throughput technique for early detection of pests and diseases in fruit plantations
Project Location: This project will be managed in-person at the James Hutton Institute, Dundee
Supervisor: Dr Dominic Williams

SGreen 1SGreen 2

Investigating pathogenic fungi on Scots Pine (Forest Research, Roslin)

Biology and impact of the fungus Curreya pithyophila in association with the adelgid Pineus pini on Scots pine in Scotland
Project Location: This project will be managed in-person at Forest Research, Roslin, Midlothian
Supervisor: Dr Sarah Green

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:

  • Risk assessment and horizon scanning   
  • Inspections, diagnostics and surveillance   
  • Management of pests and diseases  
  • Resilience and Adaptation   
  • Plant Health Behaviours    
  • Evaluation frameworks