Ross Sozzani joined NC State in 2013 as a Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program cluster hire in Synthetic and Systems Biology. An assistant professor in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, Sozzani researches the molecular mechanisms that regulate stem cell fate specification and maintenance within the Arabidopsis root, and translates this knowledge to engineering plants with enhanced agronomic function using the tools of synthetic biology. Her goal is to gain a coherent qualitative and quantitative understanding of stem cell maintenance at the system level. In addition to revealing the molecular pathways that stem cells employ, this research will help to better understand why stem cells, in both plants and animals, give rise to specialized cells at all. Adapting plants to address ever-changing human needs is a necessary strategy to create sustainable energy, nutritional and energy solutions.
After completing her post-doctoral studies at Duke University, Sozzani joined the Department of Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Pavia, Italy, as an assistant professor. There, her international collaborations with mathematicians, physicists and computational biologists led to new ways of integrating imaging tools with genome-wide approaches, along with the modeling of regulatory networks to monitor the function of biological circuits over time at a cellular resolution. Her work was supported by the Armenise-Harvard Carrier Developmental Award, which is presented to outstanding, early-career scientists with special skills, enabling them to make significant contributions to their fields of research in Italy.