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Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center

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25th Anniversary Symposium of the Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center

Save the 8th of December 2023 and look forward to exiting talks given by leading scientists addressing the contribution of plant science research to key challenges of today.

Location: University of Zurich, Aula and Lichthof, Rämistrasse 71, 8006 Zürich

Registration: register here until 6th of November 2023 (places are limited)

Download Program (PDF, 882 KB)


hosted by Manuela Dahinden   and Melanie Paschke Managing directors of PSC


Michael Schaepman   Rector of University of Zurich

Bernhard Schmid   Founding member of the PSC

Bruno Studer   President of the PSC, ETH Zurich


hosted byNina Buchmann    ETH Zurich

13:50-14:30Frank EwertDirector of the Leibniz Center for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF)

Sustainable agriculture and food system - from local solutions to large-scale adoption


hosted bySabine Rumpf    University of Basel

14:30-15:10 Yvonne Buckley Trinity College Dublin

Priorities for research in ecology and environmental science

Yvonne Buckley is Professor of Zoology at Trinity College Dublin and an ecologist with expertise in environmental decision making, conservation, natural capital management and population ecology. She leads a team of researchers and students seeking to understand the fundamental drivers of animal and plant population processes in a rapidly changing world. She uses these discoveries to provide support for environmental decisions in the areas of biodiversity conservation, invasive species management, climate change and habitat restoration. Yvonne Buckley is a Member of the Royal Irish Academy and Academia Europaea, an Irish Research Council Laureate and was awarded the British Ecological Society President’s medal (2021) and BES award (2022). She has highly cited papers in ecology, zoology, botany and agricultural sciences, is a Senior Editor for Journal of Ecology and co-directs Nature+, the Trinity Centre for Biodiversity and Sustainable Nature-based Solutions.


hosted byCyril Zipfel    University of Zurich

15:10-15:50Jürg GertschUniversity of Bern

Aspects of molecular pharmacology related to natural products

Jürg Gertsch is Professor (Ordinarius) for Pharmaceutical Biology and Biochemistry  at the University of Bern. His research focuses on molecular pharmacology of the endocannabinoid system, cannabinoids, and drug discovery. He studied cultural anthropology at the Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV) and Neurosciences and Biochemistry at Sussex University (UK) and the Biozentrum Basel. He received his in pharmacognosy and natural product chemistry from the ETH Zurich. He has done extensive fieldwork among the Yanomami Amerindians in Venezuela and carried out ethnopharmacological expeditions in Mexico, Bolivia, and Sarawak. Jürg Gertsch was on the management board of the NCCR TransCure (2012-2022) and Marie Curie ITN MedPlant. He is a co-founder of Synendos Therapeutics, a startup that brings a novel cannabimimetic drug developed in his lab to the clinics. He is author and co-author of more than 170 scholarly articles and is a co-inventor on several licensed patents.

15:50 Coffee Break

Knowledge of Science

hosted byCélia Baroux   University of Zurich

16:20-17:00Sir David Baulcombe University of Cambridge

Of maize and men or peas and people -
plant science as a foundation for basic biology

David Baulcombe is a British plant scientist and geneticist. He is Regius Professor of Botany (emeritus post 2019) at the University of Cambridge. David Baulcombe has made an outstanding contribution to plant virology, gene silencing and disease resistance. He discovered a specific signalling system and an antiviral defence system in plants. He also helped unravel the importance of small interfering RNA in epigenetics and in defence against viruses. This led to the development of new technologies that promise to revolutionise gene discovery in plant biology. In June 2009, David Baulcombe was awarded a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II.

Panel Discussion: What's next?

17:00-18:15 Key research questions for the future moderated by Chris Luebkeman Head of Strategic Foresight, ETH Zurich

Christian Wolfrum, Professor of Food Nutrition and Health and Vice President for Research at ETH Zurich;
Nina Buchmann, Professor of Grassland Sciences, ETH Zurich;
Sara Fabrikant, Professor of Geography at University of Zurich and member of the Swiss Science Council;
Philipp Langer, State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI)

Christian Wolfrum is Vice President for Research and Professor of Food Nutrition and Health at ETH Zurich. His research focuses on elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying the altered adipocyte differentiation and maturation associated with obesity and other metabolic disorders. Christian Wolfrum received several honors, including the H.P. Kaufmann Award (2000), the Young Investigators Award by the EFSTL (2004), the Starting Independent Researcher Grant from the ERC (2008) and the Rössler Award (2014).

Nina Buchmann is Professor of Grassland Sciences at ETH Zurich. Her research focuses on (1) plant and ecosystem physiology, (2) biogeochemistry of terrestrial ecosystems, i.e., forest, grassland and cropland, particularly the response of soil and ecosystem carbon, nitrogen and water dynamics to climatic conditions and management regimes, and (3) interactions among biodiversity, ecosystem functions/services, and sustainable resource use. Nina Buchmann is among the "Highly Cited Researchers" and «Best Scholars in the field of Ecology and Evolution in the World 2023». She published more than 350 refereed original journal papers and 40 books and book chapters.
Sara Irina Fabrikant is Professor of Geography at the University of Zurich. Her research focuses on geographic information visualization and geovisual analytics, GIScience and cognition, graphical user interface design and evaluation, including dynamic cartography. She is  member of the Swiss Science Council (SCC) and Associate Editor of Frontiers in Visual Communication. Sara I. Fabrikant is co-initiator of the UZH Digital Society Initiative (DSI). Other service included vice-president of the International Cartographic Association (ICA) 2015-2019, and program committee co-chairing of the international AGILE 2008, GIScience 2010, and COSIT 2015 and 2022 conferences.

Philipp Langer is Deputy Director-General for International Research and Innovation Programmes at Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). Together with his team, he is responsible for the international and national processes concerning Switzerland's participation in the EU Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation and in other bi- and multilateral research and innovation programmes, as well as for Switzerland's integration in the European Research and Innovation Area (ERA).Before joining the Ministry in 2009, Philipp Langer pursued an academic career: After a BSc / MSc in Pharmaceutical Sciences in Lausanne (Switzerland), he did his PhD in Behavioural Genetics in Lausanne and Australia. Following this, he did a PostDoc at Harvard University (USA) in Game Theory. Philipp also worked in other research topics such as brain research (ETH & University of Zurich, Switzerland), cardiovascular diseases (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada) and virus/host interactions (University of Utah, USA).


Moments of Discovery

18:15 Final remarks and
Apéro for all participants  and Artistic poster Exhibition “Moments of Discovery” in the Lichthof, University of Zurich

19:00-22:00 Dinner (by invitation only), Uniturm, University of Zurich

Scientific Program Committee

Manuela Dahinden PSC                            Bruno Studer ETH Zurich

Célia Baroux University of Zurich         Caroline Weckerle University of Zurich

Sabine Rumpf University of Basel       Cyril Zipfel University of Zurich

Symposium Coordination

Weiterführende Informationen