Plant Health Undergraduate Studentships 2024: Supervisor applications open

The Royal Society of Biology (RSB) is inviting applications from researchers wishing to host an undergraduate studentship in plant health over the summer of 2024.

Plants with yellow flowers

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 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.

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

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

Applicants are encouraged to look at the UK Plant Health Risk Register of current pests and pathogens. Also, applicants will be asked to indicate the level of supervision the undergraduate can expect to receive during the placement.


  • 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.

The closing date for applications is 4th March 2024 at 23:59. Application guidance and forms can be found on RSB Outreach & Engagement.