iGRAD-Plant Graduate Exchange

In 2012, the Heinrich-Heine Universität Düsseldorf (HHUD) was named by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft  (DFG) as one of two “Centers of Excellence in the Plant Sciences” in all of Germany. This designation follows on the heels of an innovative graduate exchange program established in 2010 in partnership with Michigan State University and funded by a grant from the DFG. The training grant aims to give German graduate students exposure to another country and a different academic environment, in addition to promoting their collaborative international research endeavors. The German students come to MSU to pursue research that will contribute to their doctoral dissertations, in the area of “Dynamic Responses of Plants to the Environment”. They are given an academic home in the interdepartmental Genetics Graduate Program, with administrative support from the College of Natural Science.  In the reciprocal direction, MSU graduate students are encouraged to pursue research in one of the collaborating German research programs for a one or two semester period, with support from the MSU Graduate School.

student in lab student at computer student in lab student presenting research

Research emphasis

The iGRAD-Plant program’s research theme addresses the dynamic molecular changes of plants in response to environmental cues at the cellular and tissue levels, such as signal transduction pathways, metabolic and physiological responses, and biochemical adaptation.  This focused approach is complemented by exploring the effects of allelic variation on specific cellular traits, such as the antioxidant defense system and by a comprehensive set of non-invasive and destructive phenotyping tools. www.igrad-plant.hhu.de


The iGRAD-Plant faculty consists of 13 junior and senior faculty members at HHUD and the Jülich Research Center, and 23 faculty members at MSU.  Under the umbrella of the common research theme, three parallel and complementary research thrust areas exist: 

  • Photooxidative stress and antioxidative defense
  • Intrinsic and extrinsic control of plant growth in response to environmental cues
  • C4 photosynthesis as an adaptation to abiotic and biotic stress 

For more information about the HHUD and MSU faculty, go to: www.igrad-plant.hhu.de/people.html