We are a premiere research institute embedded at Michigan State University and funded by the US Department of Energy. Our mission is to discover how photosynthetic organisms work on the molecular level, in order to ultimately improve human lives.

What We Stand For

Many solutions for 21st century problems will come from photosynthetic organisms. We need to understand how their components work together and how they thrive in natural environments, so we can harness them for sustainable applications.

PHOTOSYNTHESIS FOCUS Basic research on photosynthesis, metabolism, and defense; creating new technologies targeting renewables, agriculture, and medical fields
EXCELLENT TRAINING 50 years of training successful scientists; legacy of awards and job placements in academia, industry, and government
SCIENTIFIC IMPACT 12 internationally recognized researchers; a prolific publication record; major funding from the US Department of Energy
COLLECTIVE POWER Cross-disciplinary research that tackles big scientific problems impossible to solve in isolated labs
INTIMATE COMMUNITY A friendly and tight-knit group of 150 members; international and culturally diverse

“PRL members are creative, intelligent, dedicated, healthy-living people at the forefront of plant science and synthetic biology.”
Eric Young, graduate student

What We Do

We focus on basic science of photosynthetic organisms, develop real-world applications, and provide a training ground for future scientists.

Scientist working with a plant

Fundamental Research

Basic research into the biology of plants, cyanobacteria, and algae. Projects include:

  • Modeling plant photosynthesis in dynamic environments
  • Plant resistance against pathogens, herbivores, and environmental stress
  • Plant cell organization and metabolism
view projects

Green Solutions

Innovative, ground-breaking applied research for the betterment of human lives:

  • New technologies, used in over 26 countries, to diagnose plant health and performance
  • Engineering bacteria for industrial and medical applications
  • Green economy: biofuels and renewables through algae and microbial communities
View Projects Our Tech
Science instrument clipping over a plant leaf
Two scientists at a lab bench

Future Scientists

We pride ourselves in providing graduate students and post-docs with:

  • Quality research and education environment
  • Strategic institutional goals that allow trainees to pursue well-defined research projects
  • Freedom to pursue individual research interests
  • Legacy of prominent and award-winning alumni in academia and beyond
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Brief History Of Our Time


Some Of Our Main Funders

Our core interdisciplinary research is funded by the US Department of Energy. Our labs also pursue independent research projects funded by other organizations.

DOE logo Grant # DE-FG02-91ER20021