There is an opportunity to develop a PhD project involving RBG Kew staff at the Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) investigating their professional work with domestic and global partners over the last 25 years. The MSB is the largest ex situ conservation site for wild seeds. Managed by RBG Kew at Wakehurst, West Sussex, it holds seed samples from over 190 countries (in terms of national collections). Seeds are collected and conserved in the country of origin and duplicates are sent to MSB for storage, when possible. Access agreements are integral to the transplantation work of the MSB. Seeds are returned to countries of origin on request and in some cases such as South Africa the MSB is in effect acting as the “national seed bank”.
The MSB is a science diplomatic actor and seed diplomacy involves a myriad of activities from negotiating formal agreements with third parties to securing access to fieldwork sites for the purpose of collection and extraction for storage in the MSB itself.
There would be as part of this PhD project an opportunity to work closely with MSB research staff and learn first-hand how seeds are identified, collected, and stored. Opportunities exist to work with seed-collecting colleagues in Madagascar where Kew maintains a local office. In other countries, access to potential collection sites can be complex due to conflict, national sensitivities over seed sovereignty and access agreements. The PhD project, using case studies such as Madagascar, South Africa, and the UK, could consider how seed diplomacy is undertaken and where and when it is thought to be successful.
This project would work well for an applicant who is interested in conservation diplomacy and geopolitics; and/or interested in the environmental, legal, and political challenges around the protection of biodiversity. It would also involve a placement at the MSB.
The project is supervised by Professor Klaus Dodds (Royal Holloway, University of London) and Dr Elinor Bremen (Royal BotanicGardens, Kew)
For further details, please see: https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/studying-here/fees-and-funding/research-degrees/sources-of-funding/other-studentships/