International CEPLAS Summer School 2019

Transatlantic Summer School - Frontiers in Plant Sciences

May 27 - 31, 2019, Maria in der Aue, Wermelskirchen, Germany

Find out about new developments in plant science, explore science related topics in challenging workshops and engage with internationally renowned plant scientists. 

The international CEPLAS Summer School offers you an opportunity to learn about current topics, to delve into state-of-the-art plant science and to network with fellow early career scientists and well known experts in the field.

You will have the opportunity to present your results to a wide scientific audience and to participate in stimulating exchanges with leading international plant scientists.

The programme is complemented by workshops on science related subjects such as science communication, or resilience for scientists. Additionally, the competence area “Food Security” of the University of Cologne offers a special workshop on global food security with enriching discussions on current challenges to achieve and sustain food security.

[Detailed program]

Workshop Topics

Within the registration form, you can choose between the 3 workshops listed below:

Trainer: Ben Hartwig, Neuroblitz

When Emmy Werner began her long-term studies with close to 700 children on the Hawaiian island Kauai, she did not know that she would uncover secrets of psychological elasticity. She was surprised to find that about one third of the children, who experienced unfavorable living conditions in their youth, grew up to be happy, confident and successful adults. Resilience literally means to bounce back after experiencing failure, loss of confidence, illness or unhappiness.
Scientists often work on complicated problems in highly stressful environments. It is a challenging task to find a good balance between your family, your career and your social life. Short-term contracts, living apart from your partner and traveling may take additional toll on you. This workshop is designed to help you with your challenges to bounce back to success. On a journey through self-confidence, humor, connection and optimism we will explore your personal tools and resources to turn setbacks into helpful learning experiences.

Trainer: Ric Oquita, Impulsplus

A “pitch” answers the question, “What do you do?” economically and vividly. Understandably, with complicated research this is challenging to do but well worth the effort and preparation. In a networking situation, it’s important to contextualize and encapsulate a response to the question in a manner that tells the story, captures the listener’s attention, positions the individual accurately, communicates passion for the topic and motivates the listener to want to hear more.
This invigorating 1.5 hour workshop is designed to help participants of the PhD community get to know each other on a personal and professional level in a pleasant atmosphere. A trainer with a theatre background will lead motivating activities to facilitate the workshop goal, which is for participants to develop an “elevator pitch” for professional contexts, such as at conferences. The idea is that the participating PhDs learn and practice how to give a short description about their PhD projects and themselves in a short period of time.
The session is designed with interactive activities and exercises, allowing the participants to engage with one another in various constellations. Some tasks will be solved with a partner, some with a small group and also with a team in a creative and lively session.These include working with a partner to “pitch” one’s research topic, identifying professional connections in the network, and sharing best practices for effective networking.

Trainer: Anna Armstrong, Nature

The workshop will give an introduction into publishing with a focus on high impact journals. Moreover you will discuss about the do's and dont's concerning publishing in general and get first-hand experience from a senior editor.


In addition, we will offer one joint workshop open for everybody.

Trainer: Michaela Klein, initio

Current ideas and perspectives on food and nutrition security will be discussed.


PhD students and first year post docs in plant sciences are invited to apply. Applications to the CEPLAS Summer School are assessed on the basis of an abstract of your research project, a short motivation statement and your CV. All successful applicants are also required to present their project. A number of projects will be selected for a short talk. All other successful applicants are required to present a poster.

How to apply

Applicants are required to register using the registration form 2019. After successful registration the applicant will receive an email with the request to submit an abstract of your research project, a short motivation statement and a CV.
Applicants will be selected by the CEPLAS Summer School Committee.


The conference hotel “Maria in der Aue” is situated in a quiet and idyllic location in the region Bergisches Land nearby Cologne. Besides comfortable rooms, it offers swimming pool, sauna, steam bath and bowling alley 
which you can make use of after the sessions.

We start the program on Monday, 27th of May, at noon with a guided tour through CEPLAS labs and facilities at the University of Cologne. If you would like to take the opportunity to visit the metropolis Cologne at the weekend, please click here for more information. 


The Summer School fee for PhD students/first year postdocs is EUR 145 .

The fee includes tuition, a social and cultural program, workshops, full board and accommodation in a double room at the conference hotel “Maria in der Aue” from 27th to 31st May 2019. Travel costs are not included.

Payment instructions will be provided with the registration confirmation.

Travel Awards

We award 9 Travel Grants to support students. One grant will be provided to support a young researcher from developing or emerging countries (up to 1500 Euro), up to 3 grants will be awarded to excellent female scientists (up to 1500 Euro) and 5 grants are designed as a fixed allowance for travelling costs (free registration fee plus 100 Euro subsidy). To apply for the grant, you need to indicate the respective grant in the registration form.

Application closed!


Organizing Committee


Botanical Institute

Zülpicher Straße 47b

50674 Cologne

Heinrich Heine University
University of Cologne
Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research
Forschungszentrum Jülich