About PRL Design


The MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory aims to discover how photosynthetic organisms work on the molecular and genetic levels, in order to improve lives. We are a research institute embedded at Michigan State University, with major funding from the US Department of Energy.

What We Stand For

Basic  photosynthesis, metabolism, and defense research in photosynthetic organisms; we apply this knowledge in innovative technologies targeted at renewable energy, agriculture, and medical fields

50 years of training scientists, with significant alumni placements in academic, industry, and government positions

12 internationally recognized researchers, a prolific publication record, major funding from the US Department of Energy

Collaborative and cross-disciplinary research projects that tackle big scientific problems impossible to solve in isolated lab

With around 150 members, we are a friendly and tight-knit group, international and culturally diverse


What We Do

We are both a premiere research institution, focused on basic photosynthesis science and real-world applications, and an  training ground for future scientists, embedded in a strong plant science university.

The core of our interdisciplinary and collaborative work is funded by the US Department of Energy. Our primary investigators also pursue independent research projects funded elsewhere.

Fundamental Research

Basic research into the biology of photosynthetic organisms. Projects include:

  • Studying and modeling photosynthesis in dynamic environments
  • Plant resistance against pathogens, herbivores, and cold temperatures
  • Plant cell metabolism

Applied "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

Future Scientists

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

  • A quality research and education environment
  • A legacy of prominent and award-winning alumni in academia and beyond
  • Strategic institutional goals that allow trainees to pursue well-defined research projects
  • The freedom to pursue individual research interests



“PRL individuals’ personality: PRL individuals are creative, intelligent, dedicated, healthy-living people at the forefront of plant science and synthetic biology.”


Brief History

History of the PRL - The First Fifty Years

Partial Funders List

DOE logo Grant # DE-FG02-91ER20021