History

Establishment

The Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center (PSC) was founded as a competence center by ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich in 1998. PSC associates helped prioritize new professorships, so that all the disciplines of plant sciences, from ecology and systematics to agronomy and molecular biology, are now represented.

To fortify existing research and teaching relationships and to build new ones, the PSC held its first international symposium in 1998, now an annual event organized by the PSC and its PhD students. The University of Basel joined the PSC in 2002.

Graduate Program Development

The PSC offers graduate programs at both the Master’s and the PhD level, advancing education, student mobility and shared excellence between the three partner universities.

The PSC PhD Program in Plant Sciences was launched in 2002,and now offers more than 40 different courses serving 160 PhD students.

The Master’s Studies and Courses in Plant Sciences were launched in 2006; students can now choose from 6 programs and more than 100 courses.

In 2010, a new PhD Program in Science and Policy began, through which students acquire tools for policy work, learn about policy sciences and attend international conferences at the interface of plant sciences and policy.

In 2013 the PSC-Mercator PhD Fellowships "Bridging Plant Sciences and Policy" were launched. Currently, four PhD students are being supported by the Mercator Foundation Switzerland in their work at the interface of plant science and policy.

Building on the groundwork laid by these programs, the IDP BRIDGES initiative, funded by the 7th Framework Marie Curie Actions, is supporting new cohorts of PhD students in the Science & Policy program.  These students are also strengthening our network of partnerships through targeted internships with industry, NGOs and agenices.

New Roles in Outreach

The PSC promotes transparent dialogue with the public. The aims are to present the abundance and benefits of plant science research but also to discuss new research findings with the public and raise political awareness among decision makers.

In 2005, Dialog Green was initiated as a platform to discuss the ecological, social and economic implications of GMOs. Those conferences are now highly regarded in political and public event series.

The PSC organizes public round table discussions as part of the PSC PhD Program Science and Policy. Scientists and experts from agencies, NGOs and private organizations debate policy-relevant topics such as climate change and biodiversity loss.

The Plant Science at School teacher training programme offers vocational training for teachers interested in bringing current topics of plant science research to the classroom.

PSC Plant Science Expeditions offer young people access to experiments, geocaching trails and hands-on workshops. Young people have the opportunity to work with scientists on challenging questions in plant sciences, such as food security and global change.

Partnerships

In 2003 the ETH Zurich, the Universities of Zurich and Basel began a long-term research collaboration with Syngenta, supporting PhD and/or Postdoc fellowships each year.  More than 20 PhD and Post doc projects have been funded so far.

The PSC initiated the Swiss Plant Science Web, a national network of plant science researchers from all Swiss universities, to strengthen interactions among the Swiss plant scientists and to increase the visibility of plant research. The Swiss Plant Science Web serves as gateway to three technology platforms: the Genetic Diversity Center, the Bio-Molecular Analysis platform and the Chemical Analytical Service Center.

In March 2012, the PSC launched PLANT FELLOWS, an international post doc fellowship program in plant sciences. 20 international organisations are serving as hosts for almost 60 Post docs.