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Innovating sustainability in the flower industry through state-of-the-art applied plant physiology techniques MRes


   School of Water, Energy and Environment (SWEE)

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  Dr N Girkin  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This fully-funded Masters by Research is an exciting opportunity to improve sustainability through applied plant science. The cut-flower and ornamental plant sector are worth £1.4 billion to the UK economy in 2020. Maintaining flower longevity and quality relies on a detailed understanding of plant physiology for a range of species. This project, funded by Arena Flowers, will focus on assessing the role of nutrient solutions in maintaining flower quality over prolonged periods. At the conclusion of the project, the successful candidate will be well-placed for continuing their career through PhD studies, or working in research, or industry.

Nutrients are critical to plant growth but are also vitally important for cut-flowers. In the UK, ornamental plants and flowers represent an industry worth £1.4 billion in 2020 (Defra, 2021). A major challenge for the industry is maintaining cut-flower shelf-life. Stems are typically placed in nutrient solutions before sending to customers. Nutrient solutions are either applied directly to stems, or else to a packaging material that surrounds the cut stem. Manipulating either the material or the solution may offer a way to maintain cut flower quality, but few studies have investigated either. The aim of this project is to identify the role of nutrient solutions and packaging material in maintaining cut-flower quality, and to assess and optimise the best practices to minimise losses

In this project, you will develop and apply your understanding of plant physiology to identify and test approaches to prolong cut-flower quality. You will test the effects of different nutrient solutions on flower health, using novel optical measurements of plant health, and developing and applying metrics for short to long-term monitoring. You will also identify alternative packaging material to control the rate of nutrient release to the stem.

To support your research, you will receive training in a range of laboratory techniques, experimental design, data analysis, and a range of transferable skills (e.g. report preparation, and presenting to industry). There will be opportunities to present findings at conferences, and to undertake site visits with the project partner. This MRes project will help prepare you for a career in research, industry, or in undertaking further studies at a PhD level.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a minimum first or second class UK degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline, such as biology, chemistry, food sciences, or environmental sciences.

How to apply

For further information please contact:

Dr Nick Girkin [Email Address Removed]

Dr Carol Verheecke-Vaessen [Email Address Removed]

Dr M Carmen Alamar [Email Address Removed]

If you are eligible to apply for this studentship, please complete the online application form stating ref no. SWEE0176


Funding Notes

This fully-funded studentship will provide a bursary of up to *£18,000 (tax free) plus home fees for one year for the successful candidate. International applicants are welcome but will need to pay the difference in fees (£12,740).

*To be eligible for this funding, applicants must be a UK national. Due to funding restrictions all EU nationals are eligible to receive a fees-only award if they do not have “settled status” in the UK.
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