Taproot S2E4: Understanding Biological Networks and When to Break the Circuit with Ross Sozzani

In this episode, Ivan and Liz talk with Rosangela (Ross) Sozzani about her research and career path. Ross received her Ph.D. at the University of Pavia. After her post-doctoral studies at Duke University, Ross received the Armenise-Harvard Career Development Award for outstanding early-career scientists and moved back to Italy as an assistant professor, also at the University of Pavia. In 2013, Ross joined North Carolina State University’s Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, where she currently resides. Her research incorporates gene expression, genetics, mathematics, and computational biology to understand the function of biological circuits involving Arabidopsis root stem cells.

We discuss a recent paper from Sozzani’s lab, “Predicting gene regulatory networks by combining spatial and temporal gene expression data in Arabidopsis root stem cells” (Balaguer et al., PNAS, 2017). We talk about how perspectives from outside plant sciences enabled this work (interestingly, the first author on this paper is an electrical engineer!) as well the limitations of technology and the importance of understanding what you can and cannot measure with tools available.

In this episode, we also discuss some of the many struggles associated with being an early career scientist, such as choosing where to work, starting a lab, and figuring out when to try to fix a problem, when to accept it, and when to go a different direction. We talk about Ross’ experiences setting up her first lab at the University of Pavia and the factors she had to consider before she ultimately chose to “break the circuit” and start again elsewhere.

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de Luis Balaguer, M. A., Fisher, A. P., Clark, N. M., Fernandez-Espinosa, M. G., Möller, B. K., Weijers, D., … & Sozzani, R. (2017). Predicting gene regulatory networks by combining spatial and temporal gene expression data in Arabidopsis root stem cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(36), E7632-E7640.


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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.

Subscribe to The Taproot podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

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


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