Studies at the Department of Botany


Study at the Department of Botany and choose from a wide range of lectures, seminars, lab and field-based practical courses, as well as domestic and international field trips.

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Meet a Student

This is where our students introduce their Master- and PhD projects, and present protocols from excursions and practical courses.

Job Prospects for Alumni

Alumni with Master-, Diploma- and PhD theses from the Department of Botany enjoy a wide range of career opportunities. Their training prepares them for a scientific career as well as other jobs that require scientific education. In addition to R&D, specialists in areas such as nature conservation and landscape management, in the pharmaceutical and chemical industry sector, or in museums and further education, are in high demand. Future teachers also benefit from sound training in the plant sciences. A survey of alumni who completed their Master degree at the Department of Botany between 2013 and 2018, illustrates the spectrum of job prospects.

Career opportunities: Answers to the question "What field are you currently working in?"
Answers to the question: What field are you currently working in?

Word Cloud: Answers to the question "Looking back on your studies, what aspects were most positive and helpful for your career?"
Answers to the question: Looking back on your studies, what aspects were most positive and helpful for your career?

Further results from the survey:

How long did you look for a suitable job? 48 % of interviewees found a position immediately after completing their studies. A further 22 % were looking for a job for less than 6 months, and 13 % found a job within a year. Would you say that your current position bears a strong relation with your botanical training? 9 out of 10 alumni work in a field related to their botanical studies. 58 % say there is a strong relationship, 29 % state a moderate relationship.

Why study Botany?

Plants are the basis of life on earth! Plants are the basis of life on earth! All food is directly or indirectly derived from plants, and they produce the oxygen we breathe. Plants convert solar energy into chemical energy to fix CO2 from the air into carbon-rich compounds, such as carbohydrates and lipids. Human cultural history is also intricately connected to plants. The domestication of plants enabled humans to give up their lifestyle as hunter-gatherers, which signified the beginning of the Neolithic. Even today, plants are at the centre of public interest - how do we feed an ever-increasing world population, and to achieve this, will we need to use genetically modified plants in the future? This is why it is important to understand how plants developed, how they function and how plant biodiversity shapes our landscape and ecosystems.

Plants surround us. Plants do not only provide food. We use countless plant products every day. Just think of wood, paper, cotton clothing, or biofuel. Plants also produce stimulants such as tea, coffee and tobacco, and highly effective substances like opiates, cannabinoids, and digitalis glycosides. Some plants are famous for their deadly poisons, such as the deadly nightshade’s atropine or the poison nut’s strychnine. Others provide valuable cancer treatments, such as the yew tree’s taxol. Even the energy-rich carbohydrates in our fossil fuels originate from plants.

Plants are fascinating! Did you know that pioneering scientific discoveries were made with plants? In the 17th century, Robert Hooke found that cork consists of tiny cells, and coined the name "cell" still used today (cellula is latin for small chamber). In the 19th century, Gregor Mendel conducted his famous experiments on pea plants and decoded the basic laws of heredity, making him the father of modern genetics. Later, Joachim Hämmerling used the green alga Acetabularia to prove that genetic information is contained in the cell nucleus. Viruses were also first discovered in plants: In 1882, Adolf Mayer showed that the tobacco mosaic virus can be transmitted from infected plants to healthy ones.

The filamentous alga species Spirogyra sp. contains helical chloroplasts. Anatomical section of Norway spruce wood. Due to the short vegetation period in the mountains, the glacier buttercup (Ranunculus glacialis) flowers as soon as the snow melts. Vegetation surveys in the Texel Group Nature Park.

Which skills can I gain during my studies? Our students acquire extensive knowledge of the biology of plants, their structure and function, their distribution, and their evolution – from molecules to the ecosystem level. They can specialize in topics such as plant physiology and evolutionary systematics, biochemistry and cell biology, stress- and ecophysiology, biodiversity, vegetation- and population ecology, pollen analysis and archaeobotany, crop plants and forestry, or climate change and nature conservation. As a student, you can especially benefit from our department’s involvement in the university‘s research centres „Mountain Regions“ and „Molecular Biosciences“.

Spectrophotometric measurement in the lab. A 3D-chromatogram from HPLC pigment analysis Phylogenetic relationships among different groups of Euphorbia and evolution of morphological characters in this genus.

Which methods can I learn? In our diverse research groups, you can learn to use a wide range of state-of-the-art scientific instruments and methods:
In our diverse research groups, you can learn to use a wide range of state-of-the-art scientific instruments and methods.

Which soft skills can I learn? Apart from scientific expertise, our students also receive training in various soft skills. Participation in active research projects helps develop, among others, teamwork and communication skills, analytical thinking, presentation techniques, personal responsibility, giving and receiving feedback, problem solving abilities, as well as self-confidence and self-reflection, curiosity and resilience.

For future teachers: In collaboration with other departments of the Faculty of Biology and the Faculty of Teacher Education, we contribute to teachers' training regarding fundamental knowledge of plant sciences and general biological research.

Ultrasound Emission Analysis of a conifer branch in the lab. Algal cultures at the Department of Botany Chlorophyll fluorescence measurement in the lab. Botanical excursion in the Alps.

Why study Botany in Innsbruck?
  • Research training: Academic theses are usually embedded into one of our many research projects, with access to with a broad spectrum of modern lab- and field research methods.
  • Excellent infrastructure: Students benefit from the availability of state-of-the-art laboratory equipment at the Department of Botany, access to experimental gardens and glasshouses in the Botanical Garden and the Alpine Garden Patscherkofel, as well as numerous field stations.
  • Committed mentoring: Students are always in contact with their supervisors and are often co-supervised and supported by colleagues from more than one research group.
  • Research centres: The Department of Botany is an integral part of the University’s research centres „Mountain Regions“ and „Molecular Biosciences“. Through these research centres, we collaborate with other departments and faculties, allowing for interdisciplinarity and multi-facetted training.
  • Seeing the bigger picture: We have large networks of national and international collaborators in science and industry. Through this network, our students have access to inter- and multidisciplinary research approaches, and learn to work together and think openly.
  • Excellent scientific output: Our researchers regularly publish in the most accredited scientific journals like Nature, Science and PNAS.
  • Applied science: We have numerous collaborations with nature conservation organizations and partners in the industry and private sectors.

Department of Botany, Innsbruck Glass houses of the Botanical Garden in Innsbruck Flowering Rhododendron ferrugineum at Patscherkofel, above Innsbruck

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