DryGro PhD studentship opportunity

Programme Description

The University invites applications for a PhD student to join our Hertfordshire Knowledge Exchange Partnership (HKEP) scheme which is 1-year industrial placement followed by a 3-year PhD studentship funded jointly by the European Regional Development Fund, Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and DryGro.

Start date: TBC

Duration: 4 years

Company: DryGro

Stipend: Starts at £15,009 per annum plus approved expenses. All students will also receive a maximum contribution towards their individual tuition fees, equivalent to the Home/EU student fee in each year of registration.


DryGro, an agriculture technology company that is growing Lemna, commonly known as duckweed, a high-protein replacement for soy as an ingredient in animal feed. With the expansion of the global population, meat consumption is increasing, therefore driving a market gap in soy production. Demand for soy is causing environmental problems like massive deforestation in the search for more land to farm and countries such as Kenya are facing scarcity in the supply of cheap, high-quality feed ingredients. DryGro is tackling this with their technology to cultivate Lemna consistently and continuously on non-arable land with higher yields and less water than conventional soy production.


As a partnership between the University of Hertfordshire and DryGro, this project aims to first bring the student to DryGro’s R&D and production site in Kenya. The student will be exposed to the challenges and opportunities that arise from working on scientific exploration for a start-up and will primarily consist of field research. The second part of the project will be held at the University of Hertfordshire and will consist of phenotypic and proteomic screens on a diverse panel of Lemna to investigate their agronomic characteristics and the underlying molecular regulation of those traits. This project will provide the student with a comprehensive view of how research can be conducted to both advance the general body of biological knowledge, while also benefiting an industrial partner.

Supervisor Information:

  • Dr Cristina Barrero Sicilia
  • Dr Yongju Huang



  • A minimum 2:1 Honours Degree in a relevant academic subject in the Life Sciences minimum of an upper-second honours BSc degree (equivalent to UK upper second or first class)
  • Experience of undertaking research in plant or crop studies, including data collection and presentation of findings
  • Demonstrate sufficient breadth and depth of knowledge within the field of the research project, and general research processes and methodologies.
  • Ability to priorities work independently, and also as part of the wider research group to deliver research objectives
  • Strong organisational skills, and respond to challenges on your own initiative.
  • Ability to communicate fluently; verbal and written
  • Knowledge of the requirements of undertaking a PhD programme of research


  • A minimum of Merit in a relevant Postgraduate (MSc) qualification (e.g.)
  • Experience studying or undertaking research in a different country as well as some experience of land-based industry

Application Process and Deadline

For further information please email hsp@herts.ac.uk. Applications sent directly to this address will not be accepted.

To apply, please download the application form here and send along with qualification certificates and a copy of your passport to: doctoralcollegeadmissions@herts.ac.uk

Deadline: Thursday 2 January 2020

If you do not receive an invitation to interview, then you have unfortunately been unsuccessful on this occasion.