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Sainsbury Laboratory

SLCU research students enjoying lunch on the terrace overlooking the Cambridge Botanic Garden.

Postgraduate research at the Sainsbury Laboratory Cambridge University (SLCU)

How to apply  |  Funding  |  Find a supervisor  |  Cambridge Postgraduate Admissions


Why do your PhD or Masters at SLCU?

We're a friendly and diverse bunch of people.

Our interdisciplinary approach means our research community spans a wide range of fields, including cell biology, genetics, mathematics, physics, molecular biology, computational modelling, data analysis, evolutionary biology and plant biology.

Collaboration between disciplines is essential for answering complex biological questions. We draw on the strength and depth of our specialities to investigate the regulatory mechanisms underlying plant growth and development in a highly collaborative research environment.

At SLCU we foster an inclusive culture with equality, diversity, respect and wellbeing at its core. 

And we like to have fun! There are lots of different activities where people get together to go climbing, crafting, running and watching movies. We also have other lab-wide social activities during the year, including morning teas, the monthly Sainsbury Laboratory Social Hour (SLOSH), and our summer family BBQ.



What to expect

As a postgraduate research student, you will be an integral member of one of SLCU's 13 research groups working alongside leading scientists.

You will become part of SLCU's friendly and sociable community and have opportunities to take on leadership roles as a representative of your Research Group on various committees and working groups that contribute to the direction of the SLCU.*

While undertaking your research, you will have full access to our state-of-the-art advanced facilities, including microscopy, plant growth and wet lab facilities in our award-winning building set in the middle of the beautiful Cambridge University Botanic Garden.

As a researcher you will have your own spacious bench space, permanent desk, complete access to a fantastic suite of technical equipment and incredible support from the Research Labs, Horticulture, Microscopy and Facilities teams.



Professional and Personal Development Opportunities

Public outreach is integral to what we do and there are many different opportunities to participate in public engagement and science communications throughout the year.

You are also encouraged and supported to further your professional development through further training, seminars, presenting at and attending conferences and opportnities to work on other projects and groups.

The SLCU Students Group hosts regular social gatherings like a monthly pizza lunch, Friday pub nights, boardgames and sporting activities, together with wellbeing and professional development activities.



Our values

Our priority is to build a research environment where everyone feels free to share ideas, to take intellectual risks and to embrace interdisciplinary collaboration. You will be joining research students representing diverse fields, such as plant sciences, mathematics, physics, genetics and biochemistry. 

The SLCU community provides a supportive and inclusive environment with a number of peer-to-peer groups, including a Writing Club, Coaching Group and Bioinformatics Group.  You will also have access to extensive career and personal development opportunities and receive financial support to attend conferences and additional training.


We welcome and encourage diversity

Diversity is essential for creative and productive interdisciplinary research and it is best achieved when people feel secure and respected. For us equality, diversity and inclusion are not only a laudable goal, they are a necessity. We actively encourage applications from prospective postgraduate students from underrepresented groups. If you love your subject and have an aptitude for study or research, and have gained, or are on course for, the minimum qualifying standard for your nominated course(s) (normally a good 2i), we would very much like to hear from you.

In addition, if you come from a low-income background, you are likely to be eligible for an application fee waiver. In 2019-20, 73% of doctoral students in the School of Biological Sciences received full funding to do their PhD.

At least two of the 2022 School of Biological Sciences (SBS)  DTP 4-year funded PhD studentships will be reserved for candidates from underrepresented groups. More information about the University's committment to widening participation at postgraduate level is available here.



*This page was redesigned by the Student Working Group as part of the SLCU Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee.