Rotation PhD Programme in Plant and Microbial Sciences

John Innes Foundation Rotation PhD Programme in Plant and Microbial Sciences

Four-year multidisciplinary PhD opportunities in genetics, genomics, cell biology, microbiology, molecular biology, crop science, biological chemistry, applied mathematics, computational and systems biology.

Our long-running flagship Rotation PhD programme at the John Innes Centre and The Sainsbury Laboratory supports the most promising independent minded students to undertake in-depth postgraduate research training.

The programme involves the John Innes Centre and The Sainsbury Laboratory, two internationally recognised centres of excellence in plant and microbial sciences, based in Norwich, UK.

The programme is designed to attract outstanding applicants with excellent academic records who show potential for research at the highest level. A key feature of the programme is empowerment to choose three research topics and supervisors for research rotations in the first year, from which you build your own area of research.

During your first year, you will undertake three 10-week research projects with different supervisors located in either of the two research institutes.

You will learn from your fellow rotation students in this multidisciplinary programme through regular journal clubs and research presentations at the end of each rotation.

Rotation PhD Programme in Plant and Microbial Sciences

The programme is internationally recognised for its academic excellence and ground-breaking research. Students are encouraged towards independent, critical and creative scientific thought from day one.

You will be mentored by the programme tutor, a senior academic, and a rotation student from the previous year-group and will become familiar with a wide range of scientific approaches, including:

  • Genetics
  • Genomics
  • Cell biology
  • Physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular biology
  • Crop science
  • Developmental biology
  • Biological chemistry
  • Structural biology
  • Applied mathematics
  • Computational biology and systems biology

The objective of the first eight months is for you to gain a broad baseline of technical and theoretical training prior to the selection of your main research project and supervisor, who will work with you towards the submission of an outstanding PhD thesis within a total of four years.

You will be registered for your degree at the University of East Anglia.


The scholarship is open to UK, EU and international applicants. It covers a stipend of £21,622pa (2023/4 level) plus university registration fees and a generous allowance for research consumables/training.

Further Information

Apply To Us

The deadline for receipt of applications is Wednesday 29th November 2023. Interviews for short-listed candidates will be held on Monday 12th and Tuesday 13th February 2024.

Application help and guidance

Programme Directors: Dr Jacob Malone and Prof Stephen Bornemann.

The Rotation PhD Programme is supported by the John Innes Foundation, together with the participating institutes.

Rotation PhD Programme in Plant and Microbial Sciences