What fascinates you most about plant science?
I have always been fascinated by the incredible "hidden" diversity and complexity within plant life. While they may appear as simple organisms from the outside, stationary and silent, plants actually harbor intricate molecular processes that regulate their growth, development, and responses to the environment. It is the exploration of particularly the latter, that drew me to study plant science. Being an enthusiast of "connect-the-dots" and puzzle games, I find the vast array of molecular and biochemical “dots” within plant-environment interaction an endless source of fascination. The more we dig into the subject, the more we realize there is still much to uncover.
Tell us briefly what scientific questions you are pursuing at MPIPZ.
In my work at MPIPZ, my primary focus is on comprehending how plants respond to pathogenic attacks (i.e., plant immunity). Much like humans, plants depend on receptors expressed in individual cells to identify pathogens and combat infections. These receptors are localized either on the surfaces of plant cells or within the cells themselves, detecting various types of pathogenic molecules. This detection initiates a synergistic activation of plant immunity. The central question I am aiming to address revolves around the convergence of molecular signaling between surface and intracellular receptors. Specifically, I aim to identify the key molecular players involved in orchestrating this intricate interplay.
Who has inspired you greatly in your career so far?
Since the beginning of my career, particularly while working in the lab, what has consistently inspired me the most is the great perseverance and resilience exhibited by some of my colleagues. I was lucky enough to be often surrounded by passionate scientists, some of whom exemplify resilience, adaptability, and a dedicated commitment to expanding knowledge through innovative thinking. These people played a crucial role in my personal and professional growth. Additionally, I have always admired the strength of women who successfully balance family life with achieving significant scientific milestones. Despite being a minority in the scientific community, they serve as a remarkable example.
What did you find most challenging in your career so far?
Thus far, I consider the most significant challenges in my career two things: to face failure, especially in the early stages, and later, coping with uncertainty. It's crucial to understand that not all experiments or research questions will lead the expected results. Accepting this in the face of peer pressure is a challenge that every scientist must confront and learn from. Following the completion of my Ph.D., the uncertainty challenge emerged. In my opinion, in a field that rarely offers stability, embracing the uncertainty of the job with perseverance is the key to go on successfully.
How do you see your future in science and why?
Optimistically, I see myself continuing my work in plant science in the future. At present, I am actively trying to establish my research niche with the aspiration of eventually building up my own research group. I see academia as the path where my future lies.