Fully funded 4-year PhD studentship open for applications now!

Come and join us in Exeter next autumn to investigate the underpinnings of hail resistance in plants from a multidisciplinary angle – combining biomechanics, AI guided motion capture, bioimaging and plant physiology and ecology. In times of changing climate, hailstorms are increasing in frequency and intensity. Climate models predict up to 50% more hail-induced damage by 2050. Hailstorms can cause considerable yield losses; however, not all plants are equally affected. Identifying and understanding the adaptations that enable some plants to survive hail impacts relatively unscathed will be key to breeding crops that are fit for the future. Past research has focused on field-scale assessments of damage only.

This PhD project will break new ground by investigating the interaction of hail impacts with plants at the individual organism level. You will (1) characterise the mechanical properties of leaves and stems, as well as their kinematic and physiological responses to simulated hail impacts, (2) establish a framework for objectively assessing and quantifying impact-induced damage, and (3) investigate the influence of weather preceding a hailstorm on the likelihood and severity of damage, with the aim to identify leaf traits and growth conditions that confer increased damage resistance during extreme weather events.

The project is advertised under the current BBSRC SWBio DTP call with an application deadline of 4th December (midnight). Applications from UK and international students are considered. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with any questions!


We strongly believe in the power of collaboration. From our experience, the best science emerges from multiple minds with complimentary experience and skills combining forces towards a common goal. Plus, working together is far more fun than trying to outcompete each other! We currently maintain collaborations with scientists as close as just one floor down in our building, to as far as the tropical kingdom of Brunei or the West coast of Canada. If you are interested in collaborating with us, please do not hesitate to get in touch and discuss your ideas!