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Leverhulme Centre for Life in the Universe


Summer Internships 

Applications are now closed.

The Leverhulme Centre for Life in the Universe is committed to widening participation in postgraduate students at the University of Cambridge. Research within the Centre aims to develop a deeper understanding of life, its emergence, and its distribution in the Universe by addressing four questions:

  • What are the chemical pathways which led to the origins of life that are compatible with benign conditions for life in different planetary environments?
  • How do we characterise the environments on Earth and other planets that could act as the cradle of prebiotic chemistry and life?
  • What observational facilities and methods will allow investigation of bodies beyond the Solar System, the remote sensing of their atmospheres and the search for signatures of geological and biological evolution?
  • How can philosophical and mathematical concepts refine our understanding of what we mean by life, leading to new interdisciplinary collaborations and modes of scientific enquiry?

What we offer

We are offering 8-week paid research internships to undergraduates currently studying science from underrepresented groups, who wish to consider a research career within the field of Life in the Universe.

We particularly welcome applications from:

  • Undergraduates who are Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME)
  • Undergraduates who are in the first generation of their family to go to university
  • Undergraduates who have been in care or who have been a young carer
  • Undergraduates from a low-income background

The programme in 2024 will run from Monday 8th July until Friday 30th August 2024.

Interns are invited to take part in additional events including training on how to apply for postgraduate courses and scientific lectures and seminars.

Interns are paid the Real Living Wage for an 8-week internship, working 35 hours per week, which for 2024 is £400.40 per week.  Accommodation will be provided free of charge in Kings College. Intern’s research lab is allocated £500 to contribute to laboratory expenses.

Successful LCLU summer interns will be automatically entitled to a LCLU PhD studentship interview for entry in 2025. 

Eligibility criteria

Students must meet all of the eligibility requirements listed below to apply for a LCLU internships:

  • Have, or expect to have and be able to proveright to live and work full time in the UK for the duration of the programme
  • Have finished their degree by October 2025, so this would include students in their penultimate year of their degree, and those who will finish their degree in Summer 2024. People who have already completed their degree prior to 2024 may also apply. 
  • Not currently a student at the University of Cambridge.  


In order to be considered for an internship, please apply to by 31st March 2024.

In your email please provide your:

  • (a) Full Name, (b) email, (c) home address, (d) nationality including confirmation of right to work in UK, (e) current academic course and expected graduation date, (f) academic transcript, grades, (g) project(s) for which you wish to apply; if more than one is indicated please list these in order of priority.
  • CV (no more than 2 pages). CV should include a list of grades for all University courses taken.
  • A personal statement: (i) giving your reasons for applying for this internship; and (ii) explaining how you would benefit from this research experience (maximum words 300).
  • One academic reference (no more than one page) emailed to no later than the closing date, 31 March 2024.
  • Completed online EDI form (this form is a mandatory part of the application process, but contains ‘prefer not to say’ options for all questions asked). The form will be viewed by LCLU management only and will not be forwarded to supervisors.


Research Proposals

Unravelling the nature of an ice-rich body from the outer Solar System
Supervisor: Helen Williams, Department of Earth Sciences

Bayesian inference applied to interferometric calibration of extreme-precision radial-velocity spectrographs
Supervisor: David Buscher, Department of Physics

Do prebiotic molecules survive cometary impact?
Supervisor: Paul Rimmer, Department of Physics

Microbially drive iron mineralogy changes in sediment
Supervisor: Sasha Turchyn, Department of Earth Sciences

Growth of bacteria on iron minerals - impact of carbon source on changing mineralogy
Supervisor: Sasha Turchyn, Department of Earth Sciences

Constraining the cometary delivery of prebiotic molecules to the terrestrial planets
Supervisor: Catriona McDonald, Institute of Astronomy

Simulating species: investigating the impact of biodiversity on the biosphere through deep time
Supervisor: Emily Mitchell, Department of Zoology



Please contact for any enquiries.