Taproot S3E1: Changing the Shape of Microbes and Mentoring

This season we are busting myths, and in this episode, we discuss the myth that mentoring is a one-way street. We talk with our guest Beronda Montgomery, Ph.D., about a cyanobacterium that changes shape in response to stress, and how mentors and trainees also need to change in response to their mutual needs during a research project.

Beronda Montgomery is a Michigan State University (MSU) Foundation Professor in the Departments of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology – Microbiology & Molecular Genetics. She is also the Assistant Provost for Faculty Development at  MSU. Beronda completed her Ph.D. at the University of California Davis and was a National Science Foundation-funded postdoctoral fellow at Indiana University.

Dr. Montgomery also conducts scholarship and training initiatives on mentoring issues related to diversity, junior scientists, and faculty development. She has received many awards, including recently being elected a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

Beronda’s laboratory is broadly interested in how photosynthetic organisms, and specifically cyanobacteria, respond to light and nutrient availability. In this episode, we discuss one of her lab’s recent publications on the regulation of carboxysome structural proteins and the mentor/mentee dynamics that helped shape the direction of this research. We also talk about Beronda’s inspiring mentoring model and the similarities between plants and people(as well as the differences).

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Rohnke, B. A., Singh, S. P., Pattanaik, B., & Montgomery, B. L. (2018). RcaE-Dependent Regulation of Carboxysome Structural Proteins Has a Central Role in Environmental Determination of Carboxysome Morphology and Abundance in Fremyella diplosiphon. mSphere, 3(1), e00617-17.

Beronda Montgomery: Growing From Advisor to Mentor

Montgomery, B. L. (2017). Mapping a Mentoring Roadmap and Developing a Supportive Network for Strategic Career Advancement. SAGE Open, 7(2), 2158244017710288.


Vincent BJ et al., (2015). Yearly planning meetings: individualized development plans aren’t just more paperwork. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26046646

Of possible interest: JAMA article on ‘mentorship malpractice’: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2512789

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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