May 2, 2017

Undergraduate research experience placement studying species interactions at the James Hutton Institute

Paid summer placement opportunity

A funded opportunity is available for an undergraduate student (subject to eligibility, see below) to be part of James Hutton Institute research in Dundee, Scotland during summer 2017. The opportunity is part of the research of Drs. Alison Bennett and Alison Karley, and will focus on whether a plant beneficial microbe found in the soil (arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi) influences the attraction of aphid herbivores and/or aphid herbivore enemies to plants.  This project will also examine whether microbes that live in the guts of aphids can negatively influence AM fungi in plant roots.  This 10 week project will run from mid-June until mid-September (dates are somewhat flexible), and will be supported by a student stipend of £200 per week provided by the soils training and research studentships (STARS) NERC-BBSRC scheme.

This student on this project will have the opportunity determine which questions will be asked in parasitoid choice tests, design the test structures (olfactometers), and determine how data will be collected in these tests.  In addition, students with a programing or image analysis background could explore ways of using these techniques to collect olfactometer data, or assess root and soil hyphal colonization.  The student will gain extensive experience in (1) experimental design and execution, (2) techniques to assess plant, insect and fungal performance, and (3) statistical analysis.  In addition, given that every student in the last four years of work in this system has published a paper, we fully expect that the student will publish their research.

If you are interested please send a short (less than one A4 page) letter of motivation detailing why you are interested and why you would be a good fit for the position to Alison Bennett ( by the end of May. If you need further details, or to discuss the opportunity, please drop me a line by email.

Dr. Alison Bennett

James Hutton Institute


Please note the following eligibility criteria. Applicants should:

  • be studying for an undergraduate degree in a quantitative discipline outside of NERC’s scientific remit (e.g. mathematics, statistics, computing, engineering, physics)
  • be applying for a placement in a different department to their undergraduate degree,
  • be undertaking their first undergraduate degree studies (or integrated Masters),
  • be expected to obtain a first or upper second class UK honours degree,
  • be eligible for subsequent NERC PhD funding (i.e. UK, EU or right to remain in the UK.