Taproot Podcast S1E2: Normalizing Nomenclature and The Idealism of Youth with Carolyn Lawrence-Dill

In this episode, Ivan and Liz talk with Carolyn Lawrence-Dill, an Associate Professor of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology as well as Agronomy at Iowa State University. We discuss a paper from her grad school days that has a great back story about how to bring a large number of people together to agree on a common system of nomenclature. It turns out that it’s both important and challenging to do and we had a great conversation touching on egos, politics and grad student projects. The paper is (Lawrence et al.,2004).

Imagine wrangling over 20 authors, from different institutions, countries, and even model systems to change the way a family of genes is named. Now, imagine doing this as a graduate student! Listen to this episode to hear Carolyn explain why she felt compelled to take on this “kind of crazy” project and how she navigated conventions, egos, and standard protocol to make the changes in her field that she knew needed to be made. (We might talk a bit about scientific “impact” again, too.)

How to listen, download and subscribe to The Taproot podcast


Lawrence et al., 2004

Maize GDB

Carolyn’s lab website

Ron Vale shows animation of kinesin walking (start at 25:00)


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.

Subscribe to The Taproot podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

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


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