The Taproot is the podcast that digs beneath the surface to understand how scientific publications are created. In each episode, we take a paper from the plant biology literature and talk about the story behind the science with one of the authors.
S5E5: STARTing Out as a PI, Pivoting During COVID, and Advocating for Change
In this episode, our guest is Aman Husbands. Aman is originally from Canada and got his undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto. After completing his PhD at the University of California Riverside, he moved to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories. In 2018, he moved to The Department of Molecular Genetics at the Ohio State University where he is an Assistant Professor. Aman’s research group focuses on uncovering the properties that allow complex biological processes, like development, to occur reproducibly.
Aman shares the story behind a recent publication from his lab entitled “Identifying Cancer-Relevant Mutations in the DLC START Domain Using Evolutionary and Structure-Function Analyses” by Holub et al. 2020 in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences. He describes how his lab was able to identify new funding opportunities outside of plant sciences--and the different cultures of cancer research.
We talk about why it is important to tune in to the projects you enjoy doing and discuss the responsibilities PI’s have to their labs and the people that come next. Aman says that it is important to deliberately create an atmosphere within the lab, clearly communicate priorities, and foster collaboration and communication with the group. We also talk about the value of connecting with and getting feedback from those outside your immediate research area.
Aman also shares some of the ways he is working to address racism and equality, both on individual and systemic levels.
A transcript of this episode was generously provided by Jo Stormer http://bit.ly/S5E5_Taproot
Holub AS, Bouley RA, Petreaca RC, Husbands AY. Identifying Cancer-Relevant Mutations in the DLC START Domain Using Evolutionary and Structure-Function Analyses. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2020; 21(21):8175. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21218175
Community TV show pizza fire GIF http://gph.is/VwCaKS
Aman's Email: Husbands.email@example.com
S5E4: Interacting with Plants, Pathogens, and the Public
This week’s podcast is a conversation with Dr. Kevin Cox. Kevin earned his PhD at Texas A&M University before returning to his hometown of St Louis, Missouri to do a postdoc with Blake Meyers at The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. Kevin has won numerous awards and grants and was recently awarded an HHMI Hanna H. Gray fellowship.
We talk about Kevin’s work “TAL effector driven induction of a SWEET gene confers susceptibility to bacterial blight of cotton” by Cox et al. 2017 in Nature Communications. He tells us about the molecular mechanisms of bacterial blight on cotton as well as the technologies and collaborations that made this work possible.
Kevin shares his path to plant science and how his exposure to new courses and research experiences led him to a career studying plant pathology. We talk about how he now uses multiple online and in-person platforms to share his passion and bridge communication gaps between the science community and the public. We also talk about how the pandemic has affected Kevin’s work as a postdoc and how he was able to balance work responsibilities while supporting his young daughter’s sudden online schooling during the early stages of the pandemic.
A transcript for this episode was generously provided by Jo Stormer http://bit.ly/S5E4_KC
Cox, K., Meng, F., Wilkins, K. et al. TAL effector driven induction of a SWEET gene confers susceptibility to bacterial blight of cotton. Nat Commun 8, 15588 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms15588
Kevin's YouTube Channel @Bioguy
Kevin's Twitch Account @Bioguy
S5E3: Pre-stressed Conditions: Epigenetics and Life as a Black Academic
In this episode, we talk with Dr. Thelma Madzima, Assistant Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Washington, Bothell. A native of Zimbabwe, she received her Ph.D. in Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Florida and went on to complete a postdoc with Karen McGinnis in the Department of Biological Science at Florida State University. Her research currently focuses on epigenetic regulation of gene expression in plants using maize (Zea mays) as a model organism.
We talk with Thelma about her recent publication in G3 “Epigenetic Regulation of ABA-Induced Transcriptional Responses in Maize”, complete citation. She tells us about characterising a specific epigenetic pathway in maize and how this work identified transposons that induce specific DNA methylations. Perhaps not unexpectedly, she and her authors found that plants that were “pre-stressed” by the loss of epigenetic silencing were also more likely to.
Thelma talks about living in the US epicentre of the pandemic and how she is coping with the new “normal” as a Professor at a primarily undergraduate institute. She discusses the setbacks that the pandemic have created for tenure track professors, including those that are specific to PUIs. Additionally, as an immigrant from Zimbabwe, she knows firsthand the hardships an immigrant student faces and what recentchanges have meant to international students. As one of the few Black professors working in academic plant molecular biology in the US, she discusses the changes that need to come about in order to encourage the inclusion of black scientists in the scientific community.
A transcript for this episode was generously provided by Jo Stormer http://bit.ly/S5E3_TM
Vendramin S, Huang J, Crisp PA, Madzima TF, McGinnis KM (2020) Epigenetic Regulation of ABA-Induced Transcriptional Responses in Maize. G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics 10: 1727-1743
S5E2: Multiculturalism Matters in the Rhizosphere - and in Academia
This week’s podcast is a conversation with Dr. Adán Colón-Carmona, Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Adán received his PhD from the University of California, Irvine and he did postdoctoral research at the Salk Institute and at the University of California, Davis. His research currently focuses on plant rhizosphere interactions, abiotic stress response, and cell cycle.
We talk with Adán about a recent publication in the Journal of Experimental Botany - “Influence of Arabidopsis thaliana accessions on rhizobacterial communities and natural variation in root exudates” (Micallef et al., 2009). He explains that different accessions of Arabidopsis, even when grown in the same starting soil, eventually have unique bacterial communities, and discusses why he thinks their exudates may be the reason.
As a Mexican-born immigrant to the USA, Adán describes how the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) has positively impacted his life. Additionally, he points out the value of multiculturalism. He explains how he has relied on his own multiple identities to empathize with, teach, and mentor students whose lives have become increasingly challenging during the COVID lockdowns.
A transcript for this episode was generously provided by Jo Stormer http://bit.ly/TaprootS5E2_Transcript
Adán's email: firstname.lastname@example.org
@AColonCarmona Adán's Twitter
@ehaswell Elizabeth’s Twitter
@baxtertwi Ivan’s Twitter
@taprootpodcast Taproot Twitter
Micallef SA, Shiaris MP, Colón-Carmona A (2009) Influence of Arabidopsis thaliana accessions on rhizobacterial communities and natural variation in root exudates. Journal of Experimental Botany 60: 1729-1742
S5E1: Finding Strength in Diverse Scientific Communities
This week’s Taproot podcast episode is a conversation with Dr. Tanisha Williams A plant researcher, she was inspired this summer by the simultaneous rise of the pandemic and the civil uprising against police brutality to draw Black botanists together for a social media event called #BlackBotanistsWeek. Tanisha is an impressively accomplished early career researcher whose work has ranged from population genomics to the use of herbarium specimens to track climate induced changes in flowering phenology, all with a central thread of preserving plant diversity. She received her PhD from the University of Connecticut Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and now she is the David Burpee Postdoctoral Fellow in the Conservation, Genetics, and Ecology & Evolution of Plant Reproduction Group at Bucknell University. Currently, Tanisha works with Dr. Chris Martine on rare Pennsylvanian plant conservation, Australian Solanum taxonomy, and the way the Martu people of Australia interact with plants.
Tanisha takes us on an inspiring journey through her research projects. She has persevered despite numerous setbacks, including those we are all familiar with like the pandemic, and those that are more specific to her experience, such as the dangers of spending time in nature while black and the lack of BIPOC representation in academia. Her social media campaign to provide black plant-lovers with a space to connect and share experiences quickly went viral when it first launched in July and has since expanded into a free virtual lecture series to highlight the work of black botanists. The series is called “Growing Black Roots: The Black Botanical Legacy,” and is hosted virtually by the Holden Arboretum every second Wednesday until September 2021.
A transcript for this episode was generously provided by Jo Stormer http://bit.ly/TaprootS5E1_Transcript
Tanisha’s website: https://naturesplasticity.weebly.com/research.html
@t_marie_wms Tanisha’s Instagram and Twitter
Beronda’s website and blog: http://www.berondamontgomery.com/reflect/my-black-botanical-legacy/
@BerondaM Beronda’s Twitter
@ehaswell Elizabeth’s Twitter
@baxtertwi Ivan’s Twitter
@taprootpodcast Taproot Twitter
Link to Holden Arboretum Black Botanists Lecture Series https://holdenarb.org/visit/events-lectures/scientist-lecture/
Join the Black Botanist’s Week community:
A story on Dr. Tiffany Knight’s work: https://source.wustl.edu/2013/02/walking-in-the-footsteps-of-19th-and-20thcentury-naturalists-scientists-find-battered-plantpollinator-network/
Burkle, L.A., Marlin, J.C. and T.M. Knight. 2013. Plant-Pollinator Interactions over 120 Years: Loss of Species, Co-Occurrence and Function. Science 339: 1611-1615.
S5E0: Season 5 Teaser
It has been quite a few months since our last episode! We intended to have a new season out by now, but as you might imagine, a few things got in the way. We are, however, back to working on topics and guests for Season 5 so stay tuned for new episodes this Fall!
In the meantime, we want to hear from you! Tell us how you're navigating these chaotic and unusual times. Or... if what you're doing can't really be characterized as navigating, tell us about that instead!
Let us know how you're trying to work right now, how you're navigating the next step in your career, or how the renewed attention on systemic racism in science and the world around us has affected you.
We're planning on playing a few of these in every episode. So tell us a little bit about yourself by recording a short voicemail on your phone and email it to us at Tapoot@Plantae.org.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Be sure to listen to our previous seasons while you wait and stay tuned
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More than a lit review!
This podcast provides a truly engaging way to understand plant biology literature, and puts scientific progress in a wholistic and honest light. It is insightful and useful as a young scientist.
I like the theme song :)
- ❤️ you dad😛
Loving the Taproot
Award winning podcast. Truly inspiring!!! It isn't just about how scientific papers are produced but also about life. Loving the combination of science and the people behind the science, their struggles, background, ideas... Always offering entertaining and interesting content.