Internships lasting three months are available in the former Centre for Economic Botany (CEB), now part of the Sustainable Uses Group.

We are currently involved in a wide range of research topics relating to useful plants, focusing on the United Kingdom and on the world's tropical arid and semi-arid regions. An internship here offers the opportunity to gain experience in aspects of economic botany and ethnobotany relating to collections, taxonomy and information retrieval and dissemination. Internships do not involve fieldwork or, in CEB, work with living plants. Interns will also become familiar with the range of work carried out in a large botanic garden and local and online resources.

Changed arrangements for 2009-

Owing to building and staff changes in the Sustainable Uses group, the format of internships has changed. Rather than offering all-round experience, interns are now assigned to a particular project, although within this they can expect to work on varied topics:

  • Ethnomedica Collaborative oral history project on medicinal plants in the British Isles. Contact: ethnomedica [at]

  • Chinese Medicinal Plants Authentication and pharmacology, and curation of medicines and voucher herbarium specimens. Specialist postgraduate-level knowledge of Chinese medicines required. Contact: cmpac [at]

  • Biochemistry - the Biological Interactions team can occasionally offer internships, but postgraduate-level laboratory experience of pharmacology is usually required. Contact: Prof. Monique Simmonds m.simmonds [at]

  • Ethnographic and natural history collections - the Economic Botany Collection offers work placements to students on Museum Studies and Conservation courses.

How to apply

Most interns have had a biological training, but a background in anthropology or scientific herbalism may also be appropriate for work with Ethnomedica. In general we prefer interns who have completed an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, as this allows them to undertake more advanced work.

Horticulture students will find the Horticulture internships more appropriate.

The first step for potential applicants is to read these notes, and to read carefully the CEB web pages. Then email the appropriate contact a short curriculum vitae, and a letter about your interests, career plans, academic or field experience, and proposed dates. Please give names and email addresses for two referees. Preliminary enquiries should be made as far in advance as possible. Please do not send internship enquiries to the general ceb email address.


Although we are not able to give financial assistance with these internships, European Union students from outside the UK may be able to access partial funding through the Leonardo programme, or other funding offered by your university or local government.

London is an expensive city. Interns should budget about 90 pounds/week for accomodation, and a further 50-100 pounds/week for food, laundry, travel etc. We can assist with booking accomodation within walking distance of Kew. Working hours are Monday-Friday, 36 hours/week excluding lunch breaks, with flexible working hours.


Intending interns from outside the UK/EU should note that from November 2008 immigration rules have changed. The former arrangements for voluntary workers have ceased. The new arrangements are more complex and more expensive, and require the host organisation to have Sponsor status. Kew does not currently have this status.


We also receive welcome assistance from a number of volunteers who live in the region and come to the Centre for one or more days a week.

Further information

For further details, please contact the Centre for Economic Botany by email (preferred):, or by writing to: Centre for Economic Botany, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AE, UK. Fax: +44 (0)20 8332 3717.

We remain in touch with almost all of the 50+ interns who have worked in Sustainable Uses Group, increasingly through our Facebook group I was an intern at CEB/Sustainable Uses Group, Kew Gardens. All past and current SUG interns are encouraged to join.

With many thanks to these past interns, volunteers and sandwich students, 1998-:

Canada: Kate Daley, Kristine Kozicki, Jenny McCune, Kristin Mozel, Trish Owen, Barbara Ozimec, Victoria Pitkin, Robin Smith, Luke Stempien, Emily Tector

France: Florent Bernad, Melanie Broin, Sophie Laroche, Olivier License, Anne Ponce de Len Iglesias

Germany: Eva Cue Br, Sabine von Mering, Judith Seidel, Julia Wellsow

Japan: Fumiko Ishizuna;

Netherlands: Caroline Servaes

New Zealand: Fleur Maseyk

Singapore: Maryam Hanafiah

South Africa: Renee Street

UK: Clare Armsworth, Simon Behr, Dan Brierley, Kasia Brookes, Alison Catterall, Caspar Chater, Laura Clifton (Kelly), Caroline Cornish, Loren Crawley, Rosalie Dobson, Rosie Fox, Laura Harrison, Heather Hickman, Cicely Marshall, Bryony Morgan, Claire Morgan, Georgina Pearman, Jane Sackett, Louise Sayarer, Mark Stroud, Ellie Suggs, Claire Teeling, Lucy Wilmot

USA: Jay Bost, Jessica Dolan, Ben Van Ee, Laura Furmanski, Rick Hederstrom, Ellen Hooker, Liana May, Martha Pagen, Paul Scanlon, Sharon Sanders, Jess Wallis