Challenges in Plant Sciences – PSC Colloquium

Date and Location

  • Tuesday, 24 September 2019, 14.15–17.45h, ETH Zurich, room tbd,  map, (kick-off talks by PSC lecturers); and
  • Tuesday, 29 October 2019, tentative schedule: 09.15–16:15h. ETH Zurich, room tbd, map (group presentations of students)

PSC Lecturers

Sylvain Bischof, Mana Gharun, Antia Rodriguez Villalon, Maria Santos, Christian Schöb, Marcel van der Heijden, Julia Vorholt, Alex Widmer, Samuel Zeeman, Thomas Boller, Sylvia Martinez (PSC & U Basel)


The colloquium “Challenges in Plant Sciences” is a core event of the Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center's PhD program and the MSc module. The colloquium introduces participants to the broad spectrum of disciplines in plant sciences. The topics offer integrated knowledge about plant sciences, they range from the molecular level to the ecosystem level, and from basic to applied science while making use of the synergies between the different research groups of the PSC. The course offers a unique chance to approach interdisciplinary topics as challenges in the field of plant sciences.

During the kick-off meeting, each involved PSC lecturer gives a short kick-off talk as a general introduction to his/her research field. Subsequently, each student group prepares a presentation chosen from a variety of topics and based on literature provided by the tutors. Students gain knowledge and practice discussing and presenting research results.

Program, Tuesday, 24 September 2019 (kick-off talks)

14h15 Introduction to the colloquium Sylvia Martinez PSC
14h30 Plant adaptation Alex Widmer, ETHZ
14h45 Understanding and harnessing plant metabolism

Sam Zeeman, ETHZ


Plant microbiomes

Julia Vorholt, ETHZ


Plant vascular development Antia Rodriguez Villalon, ETHZ


An ecologist’s view on crop system

Christian Schöb, ETHZ

15h45 Break  

Understanding plants from a leaf to the ecosystem

Mana Gharun, ETHZ

16h30 Root microbiome management and soil ecological engineering for a sustainable agriculture Marcel van der Heijden, UZH

Plant function and ecosystem services – a social-ecological perspective

Maria Santos, UZH

Epigenetics and chromatin remodeling

Sylvain Bischof, UZH
17h15 All student groups meet with their respective tutor to define content and work schedule for student talks. All participants
17h45 Approximate end of first event  

Main objectives

  • Introduce PhD and Master students to the broad field of plant sciences
  • Promote active participation and independent student work
  • Enhance presentation and discussion skills
  • Increase interactions among students and teachers
  • Promote an interdisciplinary and integrative teaching program

Course structure and timetable

  1. Students register with PSC and choose a topic through the doodle (tba).
  2. During the kick-off meeting PSC lecturers hold short talks on their research topics and groups. Afterwards student groups meet with tutors/lecturers to define their talks scheduled for November and to plan the student teamwork.
  3. Between September and October: Each student group prepares its colloquium talks independently. Literature will be provided.
  4. Colloquium block course will be held in October, (check the exact schedule further up this website). Student groups present their talks. Each student receives grading and feedback from two experts.

Grading and Credit Points

2 Credit Points for PhD and Master students. Based on 8 days of work (= 60 learning hours) consisting of 1.5 days block course and 6.5 days of independent preparation time for the talk.