Molecular and Applied Plant Sciences majorStudents

 Heidelberg is home to a very active community of plant researchers that are based at the Centre for Organismal Studies (COS). All researchers involved in MAPS are world renowned leaders in their fields and addresses the global challenges of food security, green technology and climate change. The range of topics studied is wide: sulfur biochemistry, cell wall biology, cellular transport and trafficking systems, stem cell behaviour, root development and plant defences. In this research environment, MAPS has developed into an internationally distinguished master program that provides students from around the world with a high-level education at one of the leading universities in Germany. The MAPS curriculum covers a broad spectrum of topics and is integrally taught in English. The program is focused on intensive stays in the labs. Already by the second semester students spend most of their time actively doing research. The lectures and practical allow students to study the biochemistry, cell biology, physiology or developmental biology of plants using advanced equipment for high-end microscopy, genomics, transcriptomics and metabolomics. A key strength of the program is the international network of academic and industrial host labs that the program has built over the years. This offers many opportunities to our students to discover an even wider range of topics and methodologies.

Class of 2020

  • Mariam Ataulla
  • Panagiotis Boumpas
  • Hannah Callenius
  • Katarina Erbstein
  • Helena Greifzu
  • Sarina Jabbusch
  • Kim Janßen
  • Nadja Wunsch

Class of 2019

maps class of 2019

Saskia Triller, Julian Maier, Arvid Hanke, Lea Berg, Lucía Garstka, Magdalena Slawinska,
Anna Voigt, Inés Hidalgo Prados, Marlene Handl, Joshua Lindner, Eric Stein


Our Current Students

Inés Hidalgo Prados


2019-today: MSc Molecular Biosciences, major Molecular and Applied Plant Sciences, Universität Heidelberg, Germany

2015-2019: BSc Biochemistry, Universidad de Sevilla, Spain

Title Bachelor thesis: Synthetic Recapitulation of Polycomb Group (PcG) activity in plants


2019-today: student research assistant at COS, in AG Karin Schumacher

2017-2019: Student research assistant at the Institute of Plant Biochemistry and Photosynthesis in the Plant Development Unit, Sevilla (Spain)

Research Interest/Future Plans/Motivation:

From the very first moment of my Biochemistry studies at the University of Seville, plants really caught my attention. I was amazed by its metabolic pathways and physiology.

Since I started the third year of my bachelor’s, I began to collaborate as a student research assistant at the Institute of Plant Biochemistry and Photosynthesis. Particularly, I entered in the research group ‘Epigenetic control of gene expression during plant development’. That lab focuses its research on PcG proteins, and concretely on the PRC1. PcG proteins are epigenetic regulators of plan development. They repress the genes that are not required in a certain developmental state, and control cell differentiation by modifying the chromatin. I had the opportunity to do my Bachelor’s thesis there, and during that time, I felt fascinated by the gene regulation processes involved in the development of plants. Concretely I tried to decipher the role of a particular transcription factor and of its repressor domain in PcG recruitment, in order to bring a little bit of light on the order of events during PcG repression.

Now, as a MAPS student, I am looking forward to getting to know other fascinating fields of Plant Biology. I think that the rotations in different labs allows students to gain a very good training, as well as a broad perspective of the different amazing things that can be studied in plants. Therefore, I am very open to see what this experience will bring to me.


Joshua Lindner

University Education:
Since WS 19/20: Molecular Biosciences University of Heidelberg
WS 14/15 - SS 18: Bachelor "Biologie", University of Bremen
WS 13/14 - SS 14: "Applied Leisure Studies", University of Applied Sciences, Bremen
WS 12/13 - SS 13: "Antique Cultures", University of Göttingen

Title of Bachelor Thesis:
“Selected Fluorescent Markers for in vivo localization in Tobacco and Poplar”

Interested in:
Light Microscopy, Developmental Regulation, Biotechnological Application and plant growth

Plants make up the largest amount of biomass on our planet. They are of major relevance in our everyday life, as food source, construction material, everyday products and more. Even though they develop just three different organ types, plants show a great plasticity in their phenotype and, regarding multiploidy, even in their genotype. Plants provide a vast, ever changing and increasingly more important research field which contributes vastly to society. With more and more mysteries of plant development being uncovered, they might even hold the key to many of today's global problems such as crop loss and overpopulation. Plants are the foundation of our life and are therefore of very high interest to me. I hope that, in the future, I will be able to contribute to humanity's understanding of these complex and fascinating organisms.


Julian Maier

University education

- 10/2019 - Present     Msc Molecular Bioscience, Major Molecular and Applied Plant Sciences, University of Heidelberg, Germany
- 10/2015 – 09/2019   Bsc Biowissenschaften, University of Heidelberg, Germany

Title of Bachelor thesis

“Regulatory function of protein-protein interactions on SnRK1 signaling under low-energy conditions”

Internships/Professional experience

- 11/2019 – Present    Research assistant, Department of Molecular Biology of Plants, University of Heidelberg, Germany

Motivation/Research Interest/Future Plans:

To begin with I wasn’t interested in plants from the beginning. I started to study biology first and foremost because I was fascinated by bacteria and their potential as bioreactors. However, during the bachelor’s program I got to know how flexible and dynamic plants are and need to be dispirit their seemingly static appearance.

The world of plants science is as intriguing as it is diverse. How do plants fight pathogens without immune cells? How do they sense and adapt to their changing environment? How can they be manipulated in order to serve our requirements? These are just a few of the many exciting questions of this field.

My personal reason for choosing this major program is in part based on the excellent reputation of the university of Heidelberg in the field of bioscience as well as the opportunity to actively engage in current up-to-date science projects in the labs of the different research groups at the Centre for Organismal Studies.

In addition, I want to gain as much experience of theoretical as well as applied nature to be prepared to work on my own projects in the future and hopefully some day be part of a team of motivated and passionate interdisciplinary researches tackling the problems of tomorrow whether in academia or industry.


Magdalena Slawinska

University Education

2019 - present:  Msc Molecular Biosciences, Major Molecular and Applied Plant Sciences, University of Heidelberg, Germany; awarded DAAD Study Scholarship for Graduates of All Disciplines 2019/20 for the whole duration of Master degree

2015 - 2019: BASc Biotechnology, Major Molecular Biotechnology and Technical Biochemistry, Lodz University of Technology, Poland; Bachelor thesis “Cloning of the genes encoding proteins responsible for the biosynthesis of bacterial cellulose with unique properties”

Research Interests/Future Plans/Motivation:

My Bachelor’s Degree gave me an insight into a wide range of topics of modern biotechnology and molecular biology. It was during Erasmus+ Semester at RWTH Aachen when I discovered topic I am now passionate about  - plants: their beauty, complexity and their possible applications in modern biotechnology.

I am particularly fascinated by cell signalling and the way plants communicate with their environment, as well as plants’ ability to adapt to the extreme conditions. I feel that especially now, in the face of climate change, studying plant molecular biology can help in answering many questions related to agriculture, sustainable development, health and environment.

I hope that being a part of MAPS Major I will deepen my theoretical knowledge about plant molecular biology and gain new laboratory skills. My goal for the 2 years of master’s studies is to widen my scientific horizons by participating in the current research projects focused on plant sciences.



Saskia Triller

University/ Education:

10/2019 – Present: M. Sc. Molecular Biosciences (Molecular and Applied Plant Sciences), University of Heidelberg, Germany

10/2015 – 10/2019: B. Sc. Biochemistry, Martin-Luther-University of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany

Title of Bachelor thesis:

Identification of UGT73C6 and lncNATs-UGT73C6 transcription initiation and termination sites and analysis of lncNATs role in leaf growth

Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry, Halle (Saale)


05/2018 – 07/2018 Intern at research group “Plant Quality for Human Consumption”, Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops, Großbeeren (Germany)

12/2018 – 02/2019 Student assistant at research group “Phytoantibodies”, Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research, Gatersleben (Germany)

Research interest/ future goals/ motivation:

I believe that plants are our future. They are one basis for human life as primary producers providing food, raw material and shelter. Additionally, they play a major role in many different types of ecosystems. In terms of climate change and global population growth I see my job as a future scientist to take part of finding a solution to the problems humanity has to face just as global warming, soil degradation and water shortage. Therefore it is necessary to understand molecular processes in plants and to apply the gained knowledge for crop or energy production as well as water or soil protection.

I have always wanted to understand how life works and what has to come together for an organism to function the way it does in its whole complexity. Plants show a lot of different shapes and sizes. The way they react to stimuli and how they adapt to certain environmental conditions differs from animals because they cannot move. Due to this it is very fascinating to work with them.

During my Bachelor studies I mainly focused on plant biochemistry and molecular biology and for my Bachelor thesis I worked with long non-coding RNAs in plants. I decided to start my Master studies in MAPS because I want to learn about new methods, improve my practical skills in the laboratory and gain insight into ongoing plant research in Heidelberg.


Class of 2018

  • Laura Binmöller 
  • Aisha-Alexandra Gerhardt 
  • Kiara Kaeufer 
  • Catharina Larasati 
  • Wiebke Leemhuis 
  • Jia Xuan Leong 
  • Marlena Pozoga 
  • Yunqian Wang 
  • Patricia Weber 
  • Fei Xu

Class of 2017

  • Deniz Bak 
  • Enric Bertran Garcia de Olalla 
  • Nabila El Arbi 
  • Aixa Garriga Penin 
  • Leonie Redt 
  • Alexandra Winizuk

Class of 2016

  • Johanna Möbus, PhD student in Heidelberg
  • Aylin Haas, PhD student in Heidelberg
  • Florian Hinterberger 
  • Noah Kürtös 
  • Leonie Martin 
  • Alexei Schiffner

See “Career and Alumni” for earlier members