Careers in Plant Pathology

What is a Plant Pathologist?

A plant pathologist is someone who’s interested in understanding the organisms and agents that cause plant diseases and how diseases affect plant health. As you’ll see in the profiles below, there is a massive range of plant pathology careers. Most plant pathologists work in university departments, commercial companies or do government funded research. 

Work experience

Are you interested in work experience as a plant doctor?

Direct BSPP financial support is limited to undergraduate summer placements (http://www.bspp.org.uk/funds/vacation) but there might still be opportunities and lists of supervisors from previous years may help you decipher which areas are strong for plant path

There is also support available for those looking to pursue further qualifications beyond their undergraduate degrees https://www.bspp.org.uk/funds/mscmres/ 

With any of these programmes and future employment the more experience you have the better, it can help you stand out from other graduates if you can evidence ‘working in the field’ (literally or within this area of research). To help you decipher those research institutes and HEI’s with active plant pathology departments look specifically for what is offered from the list of course providers at

If considering a more industry focused route (rather than government funded research) look to see what the agrochemical  companies are offering.

John Innes Centre and the Sainsbury Lab, has a strong focus on Plant Pathology, so always potential opportunities for science technicians (short-term contracts) or PhD’s. ADAS and NIAB offer positions in the summer as trails officers. FERA also.

Example work experience placement: ‘The Processors and Growers Research Organisation is an applied research centre. If you are interested in a career in biology, plant science or agronomy then have a chat to their staff who are willing to host students on work experience for a day or longer. Have a look at how plant doctors are able to diagnose plant diseases and offer advice to growers on how best to treat their crop. See a seed testing lab where seed is tested for disease and germination. See www.PGRO.org for more information’

Universities

A number of universities offer undergraduate courses (e.g. Applied Biology) that include a significant number (i.e. >12) of lectures in Plant Pathology according to the BSPP audit. These include:

Undergraduate courses

Aberystwyth University

Canterbury Christ Church University

Harper Adams University

Imperial College London

Newcastle University

University of Aberdeen

University of Bath

University of Bristol

University of Cambridge

University of East Anglia

University of Edinburgh

University of Exeter

University of Nottingham

University of Reading

University of Worcester

University of Warwick

Askham Bryan College

Easton College

University of Dundee

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC)

The Royal Agricultural College

Forestry courses

Bangor University

University of Aberdeen

Newcastle University

University of Worcester

Postgraduate

Career resources

Royal Horticultural Society

Watch these Royal Horticultural Society videos on: Success stories in pursuing a horticulture career.