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Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center

Challenges in Plant Sciences – PSC Colloquium


This course addresses MSc and PhD students at ETH Zurich, University of Zurich and University of Basel. The seminar is organized by the Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center. Lecturers are PSC members.

Date and Venue: HS 2023

  • Monday, 30 October 2023, 14:15 – c. 17:45h. Room tba, ETH Zurich. ► Kick-off talks held by PSC lecturers; and
  • Monday, 27 November 2023, full day. Room tba: ETH Zurich. ► Group presentations held by students, exact schedule will be announced later.

Lecturers (members of the Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center)

Jordi Bascompte (UZH); Andrea Carminati (ETHZ); Alan Pacheco (ETHZ); Beat Keller (ETHZ); Joëlle Schläpfer (UZH); Klaus Schläppi (U Basel); Rie Shimizu-Inatsugi (UZH); Sara Simonini (UZH); Thomas Städler (ETHZ); Melanie Paschke (PSC)

Program, Monday, 30 October 2023 (kick-off talks)

14:15 Introduction Melanie Paschke, PSC
14:30 To the root of plant microbiome interactions Klaus Schläppi, U Basel
14:45 The potential of beneficial microbes for a more sustainable agriculture Joëlle Schläpfer, UZH
15:00 Ecological and evolutionary significance of polyploid transcriptome Rie Shimizu-Inatsugi, UZH
15:15 Break  
15:30 A revival of effective ploidy: dissecting endosperm-based reproductive isolation from evolutionary and molecular perspectives. Thomas Städler, ETH Zurich
15:45 Species interactions and biodiversity Jordi Bascompte, UZH
16:00 Interspecies microbial interactions in the phyllosphere Alan Pacheco, ETHZ (Julia Vorholt group)
16:15 Break  
16:30 Soil properties and their impact on plant water relations Andrea Carminati, ETHZ
16:45 Crop phenotyping Beat Keller, ETH Zurich (Achim Walter group)
17:00 Epigenetic control of embryo development and patterning Sara Simonini, UZH
17:15 Students meet with their group tutor to determine the content of the student talks. All participants
17:45 Approximate end of first course day  


The colloquium “Challenges in Plant Sciences” is a core class of the Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center's PhD program and the MSc module. The colloquium introduces participants to the broad spectrum of plant sciences within the network. The topics encompass integrated knowledge on current plant research, ranging 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 within the PSC. The course offers the opportunity to approach interdisciplinary topics as challenges in the field of plant sciences.

During the first course day, each involved PSC lecturer gives a short talk as a general introduction to her/his research field. Subsequently, each student group prepares a presentation chosen from a variety of topics and based on literature provided by the lecturer. Students gain knowledge on topics beyond their own research area while practicing discussion and presentation skills.

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 PSC members
  • Promote an interdisciplinary and integrative teaching program

Course structure and timetable

  1. Students register with PSC and choose a topic (through nuudel, tba).
  2. During the kick-off meeting, selected PSC lecturers hold short talks on their research field and groups. Afterwards, student groups meet with their lecturer to define their talks scheduled for the second course day and to plan the student teamwork.
  3. Between first and second colloquium day: Each student group prepares its colloquium presentation independently. Literature will be provided.
  4. During the second course day, student groups present their talks, (check the exact schedule on this website). Each student receives a feedback on the individual performance.

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.

Weiterführende Informationen



PSC PhD program

Choose Plant Sciences

Registration for PSC Courses

More about Registration for PSC Courses


PSC course registration is located within the ETH Zurich course registration system:

►Footer at the bottom of the website ► Staffnet ►More services ►Courses, continuing education.


Direct link:


Select ► Plant Sciences


Registration usually opens on 1 July and 1 December.