At Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU), two new international graduate schools in agricultural and polymer sciences are being created under the name “Agripoly”. The aim of the two programs is to strengthen the university education of doctoral students in application-oriented research fields. The University of Halle has around four million euros at its disposal from the European Structural and Investment Fund (ESF). The ESF funds will finance over 30 PhD students in the coming years.

The first graduate school deals with plant and agricultural sciences. Future doctoral theses focus on how plants respond to different pressures – such as pathogenic micro-organisms and animals, drought and heat – and how these reactions affect crop performance. In times of global climate change, looking at different stress factors is inevitable. The second graduate school focuses on a special class of substances: functional polymers. Polymers are long-chain molecules that make up, for example, plastics, as well as the human genome and plant fibers. Both graduate schools are open to conducting doctoral projects in cooperation with universities of applied sciences. In addition, the central component of the projects is the technical exchange between MLU, Anhalt University of Applied Sciences, Merseburg University of Applied Sciences, and local non-university research institutions.


International Leibniz Graduate School

Currently, two international Leibniz Graduate Schools promote the structured doctoral training under the umbrella of the ScienceCampus Halle. The Leibniz Graduate Schools provide young scientists and young researchers with optimal and best conditions for writing a doctoral thesis. The students have the opportunity to participate in structured doctoral programs and get intensive support from both the university and the respective Leibniz institute. Thus, young researchers have the best chances to make their thesis, under the best possible conditions in an excellent atmosphere of collaboration and trans-disciplinary research. The Graduate schools are explained as follows.

Two international Leibniz Graduate Schools promote the structured doctoral training under the umbrella of the ScienceCampus Halle

Yield Formation in cereals – overcoming yield-limiting factors

(Coop. between the University of Halle (K. Pillen und K. Humbeck) and the IPK (N. von Wirén, Coordinator)

The main efforts of the Leibniz Graduate School for Yield Formation in Cereals concentrate on the identification of genetic and physiological factors limiting the yield potential in barley and wheat. In a close cooperation of researchers from the IPK and the MLU, association and QTL mapping in diverse barley and wheat populations will be conducted to identify quantitative trait loci and underlying genes determining floret fertility or yield components. Transgenic approaches will be employed to stabilize the hybrid vigor, to manipulate the phytohormone and assimilate translocation to elevate the tiller formation and to increase root development. In a physiological approach, the coordination of senescence processes in roots and leaves will be investigated to uncover potential factors which are of key importance for improving the yield components. Thus, eight PhD students are funded for this school, and all students are incorporated into the PhD graduate program at the IPK.

Prospects for small-scale farm structures in the new member states of the European Union

(Coop. between University of Halle und the IAMO (Martin Petrick, Coordinator

The IAMO Graduate School offers a structured doctoral training in the field of agricultural and food economics. PhD students at IAMO become members of the IAMO Graduate School and participate in the national Doctoral Certificate Program in Agricultural Economics. The members of the Graduate School enroll in the study program of the Doctoral Certificate Program, which is offered as a third step subsequent to the bachelor and master study courses in agricultural, food and environmental disciplines. Resulting from a systematic teaching of theoretical principles and methods the quality of education and the efficiency in the processing of dissertation topics have been improved. In addition, the graduate school offers tailored seminars, access to international research networks, and participation in conferences and workshops.