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Sainsbury Laboratory





Undergraduate summer research projects

Every summer, we offer undergraduate students the opportunity to take part in a research project within one of the Sainsbury Laboratory Cambridge University (SLCU) research groups.

The projects are aimed at undergraduate students who are considering a future in scientific research and wish to gain hands-on experience of research in a lab. All projects involve the planning, assimilation, interpretation and presentation of research data.

You will contribute to research in wet lab and/or modelling teams integrating biology, physics and mathematics. We welcome students studying any relevant science background, including biology, mathematics, physics, genetics, biochemistry, animal science or computational modelling.

You will need to be currently enrolled in a science undergraduate degree and have a genuine interest in scientific research and an eagerness to learn about new areas of science.

Most research projects will run between June-August, culminating in the Plant Biology Summer Student Career and Poster Session on Thursday 15 August 2024 where you will have the opportunity to present the outcomes of your project.  We offer flexible research project periods so students can fit around their other commitments - and still take a summer break!


Application Deadline

Applications close: 1 March 2024

Offers will be made on a rolling basis. All applicants will be notified whether they have been successful or not by 30 March 2024.


How to apply

1. Review the topics that the different SLCU Research Groups work on to see if there is a specific research area that you are interested in.

2. Select one SLCU Research Group where you would like to complete your research project.

3. Write a short (no more than 1-page) motivation statement outlining why you are interested in their research area and why you would like to undertake a research project in their group.

4. Email your motivation statement and your CV to your selected Research Group Leader.


Joining a research group

A career in life sciences research can be extremely rich and rewarding. However, you might find it difficult to imagine what it would be like to be part of a research institute. Your summer period of research at SLCU will give you an opportunity to find out what it is like to be in a research institute. 

You will:

  • Join one of SLCU's research groups and carry out an original research project alongside SLCU scientists with full access to all our research facilities.
  • Be under the supervision of a postdoctoral or PhD researcher and be fully embedded within the research group, participate in lab meetings, attend seminars, read research papers, write a research report, present your results to your lab colleagues, and participate in social and other events.
  • Be leading your own project under the guidance of your supervisor. You will plan and carry out research, learn how to perform techniques and how to record and analyse your data.



Skills development

This summer project offers you an opportunity to enhance primary research skills and participate in events and activities designed to provide further insight into engaging in a research institute and exploring avenues for career development. You will have the opportunity to develop scientific techniques, including using molecular biology laboratory, horticulture and microscopy facilities.
SLCU brings together specialists in biological, physical, and mathematical sciences integrating a range of wet-lab experimental research with computational modelling of plants. This interdisciplinary approach is essential for understanding the complex dynamic and self-organising properties of plants. As a result you will be interacting with scientists from a huge diversity of backgrounds.



Meet other scientists

You will interact closely with your Research Group members, but will also have opportunities to network with PhD students and scientists across the whole SLCU community to talk to them about their jobs and get advice about careers and educational opportunities. There will be many chances to join informal and social gatherings and learn about other research happening at the institute.



Explore Cambridge

Our community has lots of different social and sporting groups who you can join while at SLCU, like indoor climbing, running, volley ball, yoga classes, dance lessons, board games, crafts, tennis, book and jigsaw swap, movies etc. We will also organise a number of recreational activities during your time at the Sainsbury Laboratory, including BBQs, walks to Grantchester and punting on the River Cam!




Who can apply

Our summer undergraduate research projects are open to both University of Cambridge students and those studying at other universities in the UK and internationally.

To be eligible for research project, you must be an undergraduate bachelor student who:

  • Is enrolled in your first undergraduate degree in a relevant science discipline (eg  biological/life sciences, biochemistry/chemical sciences, physical/mathematical/computing sciences, environmental sciences or biomedical sciences).
  • Is able to demonstrate a strong record of academic performance.
  • Has an interest in undertaking a research postgraduate degree (MPhil or PhD).
  • Is not a final-year undergraduate already accepted/committed to a PhD/MPhil programme or have already graduated from your degree.

If selected, you will be asked to provide evidence of registration at your home Institution for the period of your visit at the Sainsbury Laboratory.

All science disciplines welcome

We are a multidisciplinary plant sciences research institute integrating biology, physics and mathematics. This interdisciplinary approach is essential for understanding the complex dynamic and self-organising properties of plants and so we welcome students from biology, plant sciences, mathematics, physics, genetics, biochemistry, animal sciences, computational modelling etc to join us.


Widening participation

SLCU wants to encourage and support students from diverse backgrounds to move into postgraduate training and careers in research. Our undergraduate summer research programme aims to bring talented students to Cambridge from all backgrounds by promoting diversity of attendance and inclusivity of participation of underrepresented groups. To ensure that we support a diverse range of students, we particularly welcome applications from students who come from underrepresented or disadvantaged groups.

The University of Cambridge is committed to equality of opportunity.

How to apply

Applications for 2024

You can express your interest by contacting the Group Leader of the team where you would like to pursue your research project, explaining your background and your motivation, including a brief CV as an appendix. The Group Leader will inform you about their selection process. The deadline for applications is March 1, 2024, and you can expect a response no later than March 30.

How to apply

1. Review research areas covered the different SLCU Research Groups listed below to identify a specific field that interests you.

2. Select a preferred SLCU Research Group for collaboration.

3. Write a short (no more than 1-page) motivation statement outlining why you are interested in their research area and why you would like to undertake a research project in their group.

4. Email your motivation statement and your CV to your selected Research Group Leader.


Profile photo of SLCU Group Leader Alexander Jones

Dr Alexander Jones

Jones Research Group

The Jones Group investigates how plant hormones serve as signal integrators and master regulators of physiology and development.

Profile photo of SLCU Group Leader Henrik Jönsson

Professor Henrik Jönsson

Jönsson Research Group

The Jönsson Group studies the development and growth of multicellular plant tissues at the cellular level, such as the shoot apical meristem, by combining experimental techniques with computational morphodynamics models.


Profile photo of SLCU Group Leader Edwige Moyroud

Dr Edwige Moyroud

Moyroud Research Group

The Moyroud Group studies the mechanisms that account for pattern formation in petals at the molecular, cellular, biophysical and ecological levels.

Profile photo of SLCU Group Leader François Nédélec

Dr François Nédélec

Nédélec Research Group

The Nédélec Group studies the cytoskeleton, cell morphogenesis and developmental biology using computer modelling.

Sarah Robinson

Dr Sarah Robinson

Robinson Research Group

The Robinson Group uses a combination of novel biophysical tools, genetic manipulation and mathematical modelling to investigate how plant development (cell division and cell expansion) is controlled.


Profile photo of SLCU Career Development Fellow Katharina Schiessl

Dr Katharina Schiessl

Schiessl Research Group

The Schiessl Group uses coloniser-induced plant organs such as symbiotic root nodules and parasitic root galls to advance and refine our understanding of the common principles that underpin plant organ diversification.

Profile photo of SLCU Group Leader Sebastian Schornack

Dr Sebastian Schornack 

Schornack Research Group

The Schornack Group aims to characterise the extent to which beneficial and detrimental microorganisms employ similar plant developmental processes for colonisation

Profile photo of SLCU Career Development Fellow Renske Vroomans

Dr Renske Vroomans

Vroomans Research Group

The Vroomans Group studies long-term processes in plant development using evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo) models.

Profile photo of SLCU Group Leader Chris Whitewoods

Dr Chris Whitewoods

Whitewoods Research Group

The Whitewoods Group studies how plants pattern themselves in three dimensions, using leaf air spaces and carnivorous plant traps as models

Funding support

Funding to support your research project

To help with your living expenses while in Cambridge, you will receive a bursary while undertaking your research project at the Sainsbury Laboratory.


Other scholarship programmes

There are a number of other separate summer research scholarship programmes that the University of Cambridge operates. See details below.


Experience Postgrad Life Sciences internships for UK and Republic of Ireland students

The University of Cambridge's School of Biological Sciences runs an Experience Postgrad Life Sciences scheme, offering 8-week paid research internships with free accommodation, in partnership with Corpus Christi College, to UK and Republic of Ireland residents who are studying at a UK or Republic of Ireland university for their undergraduate bachelor degree and are in their penultimate year of study. The programme in 2024 will run from Monday 8th July until Friday 30th August and includes free accommodation. The Sainsbury Laboratory is one of the departments that students can choose to undertake their internship at.

Application deadline: 31 January 2024, 23:59

Find out about the Experience Postgrad Life Sciences scheme



Amgen Scholars Programme

The Amgen Cambridge Scholars Programme offers 15 undergraduate students from across Europe the opportunity to take part in an eight week research project within one of the laboratories at the University of Cambridge.  The 2024 will run from Monday 8th July until Friday 30th August. Accommodation is provided at a Cambridge college throughout the programme. The Sainsbury Laboratory is one of the departments that students can choose to undertake their internship at.

Scholars are also invited to take part in weekly evening sessions as part of our professional development programme. In recent years this has included sessions exploring different scientific careers, applying for graduate education and on how to prepare and present scientific posters. The programme will culiminate in an Annual Symposium, which will take place in Cambridge and include Amgen Scholars from the other four Amgen programme sites.

Applications deadline: 1 February 2024

Find out about the Amgen Scholars Programme



Finding a place to live

You will receive a bursary to help cover accommodation, living expenses and travel. We are not able to provide accommodation, but will be happy to point you to resources for short-term rental options in the local area. 

The below services list accommodation options in Cambridge:


Visit Cambridge website

The Visit Cambridge website lists College Rooms, B&Bs, Guest Houses and Apartments:


University Accommodation Service

The University of Cambridge Accommodation Service provides access to their accommodation service if you wish to rent a whole property for 2 weeks or longer, between June and September. Fill in their registration process.


Telephone: (01223) 338099)


The University Accommodation Service also lists accommodation provided by private landlords for short-term lets:

Privacy policy

Collecting and storing your personal data

We ask you to provide personal data about yourself when applying for a SLCU Undergraduate Summer Research Project in order for us to process your application.

We are committed to keeping your personal information safe and secure. Equality monitoring data is stored electronically and not shared outside of the working committee who manage this programme, other than in the form of anonymised data for equality monitoring and reporting purposes.

Your application and personal details are kept for a period of 12 months after the program has concluded after which information is anonymised and stored for reporting and statistical purposes.

Accessing, correcting or deleting your information

We want to make sure that your personal information is accurate and up to date. You have the right to request a copy of the information we hold about you, to request a correction and to request that your personal data is deleted.

For more information about how we handle your personal information, and your rights under data protection legislation please see

Contact us

Do you have any questions?

If you have any questions about undergraduate research projects, please contact Renske Vroomans.