Taproot S4E7: Milestone-Based Decision-Making In and Out of the Lab

This episode, we continue our discussions about cultivating a career with guest Kelly Gillespie, Nursery Solutions Lead at Bayer Crop Science. Kelly got her bachelor’s degree at Knox College, a small liberal arts college in Illinois. She then moved on to do a PhD with Lisa Ainsworth at the University of Illinois. She did a short postdoc with Dick Sayre at the Danforth Center before moving to Monsanto, where she has worked for 9 years, staying with the company through the merger with Bayer. 

We talk with Kelly about her publication, “Greater antioxidant and respiratory metabolism in field‐grown soybean exposed to elevated ozone under both ambient and elevated CO2”, which was published in 2011 in Plant Cell & Environment. She talks about what it was like to work at the USDA Free Air Concentration Enrichment (FACE) site, the teamwork that was needed to collect her data, and how this experience taught her to work in highly collaborative environments.  

Kelly also shares her career journey and the factors she considered when choosing to make the transition from academia to industry. Kelly emphasizes a “milestone-based” approach, where each decision is broken into small steps and evaluated at checkpoints along the way. She talks about what it takes to succeed in a science career in industry, what might be familiar and what might be surprising to someone with an academic background, and emphasizes the value of making connections with other professionals.

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Gillespie, K. M., Xu, F., Richter, K. T., Mcgrath, J. M., Markelz, R. C., Ort, D. R., … & Ainsworth, E. A. (2012). Greater antioxidant and respiratory metabolism in field‐grown soybean exposed to elevated O3 under both ambient and elevated CO2. Plant, Cell & Environment, 35(1), 169-184.


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The Taproot is the podcast that digs beneath the surface to understand how scientific publications in plant biology are created. In each episode, co-hosts Liz Haswell and Ivan Baxter take a paper from the literature and talk about the story behind the science with one of its authors.

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Questions, feedback, suggestions?  Contact us at taproot@plantae.org.


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