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Sainsbury Laboratory



Applications for summer 2023 are now closed


Spend your summer in a plant science lab

Each year Sainsbury Laboratory Cambridge University (SLCU) offers up to 30 paid summer research placements for undergraduate students from across the globe.

Our undergraduate summer student placement scheme is aimed at undergraduate students who are considering a future in scientific research and wish to gain hands-on experience of research in a lab.

Each year we offer up to 30 placements for 8-12 weeks contributing 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, computational modelling etc to join our wet lab and/or modelling teams over summer.

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


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 work in a research institute. Your summer placement at SLCU will give you an opportunity to find out what it is like to work in a research institute. 

You will:

  • Join one of SLCU's research groups and carry out original research, working alongside SLCU scientists with full access to all our research facilities.
  • Work 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 programme offers an opportunity to develop primary research skills whilst being supported by a core programme of events and activities designed to provide further insight into working in a research institute and to explore career development opportunities. 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 working with scientists from a huge diversity of backgrounds.



Meet other scientists

You will work 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

The life of a scientist is not all work. Wellbeing and taking time away from work for rest and recreation is essential. 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, board games, crafts, tennis, book and jigsaw swap, movies etc. We will also organise a number of recreational activities during your placement, including BBQs, walks to Grantchester and punting on the River Cam!




Who can apply

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

To be eligible for a placement, 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.


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 summer placement 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 summer 2023 are now closed

Group Leaders are reviewing applications and will contact applicants to let them know if they have been offered a placement for 2023. If you have any questions, please contact contact Renske Vroomans or Sarah Robinson.





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 James Lock

Dr James Locke

Locke Research Group

The Locke Group investigate gene expression dynamics in microbial and plant systems.

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 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 Group Leader 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

Additional funding to support your research placement

You will receive a living wage salary while undertaking your summer placement at the Sainsbury Laboratory.

There are also number of separate summer research scholarship programmes that you can apply to — 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 2023 will run from Monday 10th July until Friday 1st September and includes free accommodation. The Sainsbury Laboratory is one of the departments that students can choose to undertake their internship at.

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 2023 programme will run between 10th July and 1st September. 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.

Find out about the Amgen Scholars Programme




Sainsbury undergraduate studentships

The Gatsby Charitable Foundation runs an undergraduate studentship scheme supporting second-year undergraduates with an interest in plant science to undertake summer research projects in laboratories outside their place of study.

Each award totals £5,000:  £3,000 paid through the host institution to support the student and provide some costs to the host laboratory during the summer internship as well as £2,000 directly to the student (£1,000 before and after the summer project). Gatsby Mentors are universities with strong plant science research can nominate students, and up to seven students per year are then chosen to receive these studentships.

Find out about the Sainsbury Undergraduate Studentships 



Botanical Research Fund

The Botanical Research Fund (BRF) makes small grants (up to £500) to individuals to support botanical research.  BRF make grants to amateurs, professionals and students of British and Irish nationality who are resident in the UK or Ireland at the time of application. BRF funds both laboratory and field-based botanical research projects. All queries should be directed to the Fund's Hon. Secretary, Mark Carine.

Complete the Botanical Research Fund 2023 Application Form to apply


Finding a place to live

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:

Contact us

Do you have any questions?

If you have any questions about undergraduate research placements, please contact Renske Vroomans or Sarah Robinson.

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 Placement 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