Testimonials for Pioneer Member Gloria Coruzzi

Mairead Barry – Gloria Coruzzi is an outstanding scientist and humanitarian.

Angelica Cibrian-Jaramillo – Gloria was instrumental for me to become a PI in STEM. Among many other secrets of the academic trade, she taught me to be structured and organized in terms of supervision of students, and in the organization of large projects. She was inclusive and supportive, as well as direct and honest in her scientific opinions, which I greatly valued. She provided opportunities for me to practice what is required of a PI, all the while allowing me to grow freely. She was trustful and allowed me to propose ideas and methods, yet she was also demanding, achieving a wonderful balance that worked very well for me, and for which I am grateful. I learned a great deal from Gloria and I often recall or remember her words and actions as I confront my own challenges as a PI. As a woman, her character and her personal achievements, her ambitions within NYU and beyond, during her career, are a direct inspiration for me. Gloria was a delight to listen to during academic discussions and a true mentor in the often difficult path of publications and grants, which is rare in other mentors in my experience. She is a smart, experienced researcher, relentless in her career and life. There is no doubt of her merit to be a “Pioneer” of ASPB.

Joanna Chiu – I consider Gloria to be one of the most influential mentors in my life and scientific career. Simply put, I don’t think I would be in my current position, leading a research group as a PI, if not for the opportunities and mentoring imparted to me by Gloria.

Miriam Gifford – Pioneer is an excellent term for Gloria – pioneer of Arabidopsis molecular biology (despite continuing to call herself a ‘yeast geneticist’ to this day!), pioneer of plant systems biology, and pioneer of applying the latest methods in order to understand fundamental questions about how plants make use of the nutrient, nitrogen. A love of research and of learning new methods and techniques is very evident in Gloria’s approach. For example, she organised a student to come weekly and teach her how to use ‘R’ so that she could challenge her postdocs to do the same! She relished the chance to work in the lab, particularly when she could do this in France! She delighted in telling everyone how many Arabidopsis seeds she had personally sown, and enjoyed the connection back to the bench. Another characteristic of her dynamic nature is her ability to form meaningful collaborations for her own work. What she started over coffee or a glass of wine at a meeting would be fostered and developed long after. She is certainly a master regulatory hub in global plant science, but she brings others into her network and enables her students and postdocs to collaborate. For anyone who spent time in her lab, they left with a much wider reach for their research and a broader network of friends across the world. Coruzzi-ites are all over the place (!), encouraged by Gloria to think big, apply for fellowships, take off, but also take away her approach to promote others at every opportunity. A pioneer is not only someone who develops something new, but also someone who readies the way for others to follow – Gloria is a fantastic example of this!

Ying Li – The five years I spent working with Gloria was a transforming and liberating experience. We worked hard together, but also had lots of fun. She led me into the world of systems biology. She also introduced me to my favorite wine. I miss most the time when we completed a version of the manuscript late on Friday night and went to her “secret” Italian restaurant to finish the night with a really nice lamb chop and wine. She helped me see what I can become and what I want to do. Gloria has been, and will continue to be, my role model on how to integrate multiple roles – an impactful scientist, an effective leader, an inspiring mentor, as well as an affectionate friend, a loving wife and mother – in my career and in my life.

Natasha Riakhel – Gloria, I am honored to be part of the group supporting your ASPB Pioneer recognition. It is unquestionable that you are a pioneering plant biologist, and you are known for your integrity, service and dedication to the scientific community. It has been rewarding to watch your fascinating career develop and see you become a named professor in teaching and research. You served as the Chair of the Biology Department at NYU for six years and spearheaded the formation of the “state of the art” NYU Center of Genomics, where 14 new principal investigators were hired and housed.

You began several groundbreaking initiatives that have impacted and will continue to impact the plant biology field for years to come. You are a true leader in Plant Systems Biology! Your seminal work at the interface of plant and systems biology provided the first integrated view of the mechanisms plants use to control the assimilation and use of nitrogen. Your lab developed new computational tools that helped biologists mine high-throughput data to generate testable hypotheses, and you promoted and carried out experiments that changed the way we think about experimental design. You pioneered the use of multi-network tools in plant biology, and your work served as a model for similar studies in other organisms, including another important model system, C. elegans. Your leadership of collaborative efforts, such as the VirtualPlant and BigPlant projects, was key to the development of critical resources for systems biology research in plants. You were among the first to apply evolutionary insight to understanding regulatory networks in plants by spearheading a consortium of researchers that used genomic approaches to produce a robust phylogenetic tree of higher plants, which provided the basis for the evolutionary analysis of metabolic and signaling pathways. You served a six-year term as an Associate Editor for Plant Physiology and were responsible for organizing special issues of the journal devoted to Systems Biology. This was before “Systems Biology” became an accepted frontier in science throughout the world, and, under your leadership, Plant Physiology was the first plant journal that embraced and encouraged this research approach in plants.

People around the world, and especially young researchers, look to you as a role model, because you appear to do it all and have it all: a successful career as an academic scientist and educator, visionary scientific skills, endless energy for scientific service, the embodiment of excellent professional leadership, strong mentoring skills, and a wonderful family. On top of all that, you are a genuinely warm and accessible person. I feel privileged to be your colleague and friend and am thrilled you are recognized as an ASPB Pioneer.
With great respect and admiration,
Natasha Raikhel, US Riverside (retired in Pasadena, CA)

Daniela Ristova – To my science mom, Gloria Coruzzi It was the first week of my graduate studies at New York University. I had just arrived one week earlier and I was terrified about how I would survive in this friendly, yet so competitive environment. It was a Retreat day at the Department of Biology. Someone was on the stage talking about his experience at NYU, and I was sitting in the back at the right corner of the room. I remember I could not hear or understand what the speaker was saying, because the door in the front right corner was open and loud noises from students outside were interfering. It seemed that no one was bothered by this. Finally, I decided to stand up and close the door, and as I was walking towards the door, Gloria, who was sitting in front, headed to the door and she was trying to close it. I thought to go back to my seat, but the door got stuck, so I went and I helped her to close it. We shared a short smile, and I felt that we connected. I believe in first impressions. Later that day I approached her and we talked about the possibility to start my first lab rotation in her lab. She was so easy to talk to. I was so happy that day; she took my fears away, and seeded hope.

Soon I started my lab rotation in her lab. She assigned a great lab mentor to work with, and a few months later I joined her lab as a PhD student. She didn’t give me a ready-to-go project. She encouraged me to learn and to propose my own PhD project. During the first 2-3 years of my studies, Gloria was Chair of the department. She was extremely busy with administrative duties, yet she found time every week to meet with me, to hear my progress and failure, and to guide me. I treasured these weekly meetings, because I learned so much. Very often she would draw something to explain a concept. Gloria was the best teacher I ever had. If you have heard one of her talks, you know what I am talking about. She just explains everything so comprehendible that you will never forget. I am truly grateful I had an opportunity to be her student and to work in her lab with amazing researchers. I gained valuable experience and friendships. I am glad I decided to close that door the first week of my graduate studies.

Carolyn Schultz –  I have so much to thank Gloria for! A great friend, Doctoral supervisor and mentor. As a “girl” from Adelaide, Australia, it was amazing to join Gloria’s lab, first at Rockefeller, before her move to NYU. The lab was such a fun, supportive, and a rigorous place to train as an independent scientist. There were always such great people in the lab. During my time there, I met so many amazing and influential people who were giving seminars and happy to chat to the grad students about genetics, Arabidopsis, and aspartate aminotransferase (AspAT). Her network of contacts helped me land a great Post-Doc in Australia. Well deserved Gloria. You are welcome for a visit to Adelaide anytime!

Dennis Shasha – Gloria, you and I have laughed, explored, disagreed, and converged for nearly 20 years. It has never been a dull moment. May it continue for another 20. Warmly, Dennis

Joseph Swift – When I entered NYU graduate school, I had no clue about the importance of mentorship. I didn’t realize it at the time, but ending up in Gloria’s lab for my PhD. was like winning the lottery. Gloria was artful in her mentorship. She didn’t try to hold my hand and show me a single path forward; but she didn’t let me wander too far off into obscurity either. It’s still a mystery to me how she was able to strike this balance. Indeed, as a student, learning plant genomics was hard – I processed hundreds of samples and analyzed thousands of genes. But as a mentor, Gloria had the harder task. Somehow, she was able to to teach me the language plant genomes speak in. Even now, when I’m not sure which list of genes to intersect next, her voice is in the back of my head, asking me, “how about, try this … “.

Reetu Tuteja – I worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the Plant Systems Biology lab of Professor Gloria Coruzzi at New York University. I am currently working as a Science Informatician at CyVerse, at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Computational and technical skills gained in Professor Coruzzi’s Lab helped me to be successful in my current position. She supported me in all reseach aspects, giving me guidance, providing feedback and boosting my critical thinking as a researcher. Professor Coruzzi not only groomed me as a researcher, but also provided immense support when the stress of being a new mother took its toll. Her enthusiasm is very inspiring and is one of the reasons why I enjoy research so much. I am very very grateful to her.

Kranthi Varala – Gloria was a wonderful mentor to me. The scientific experience I gained by working in her lab as a post-doc was of course invaluable. But even more important were the lessons in focus, integrity and resilience I learned by watching Gloria conduct science, manage people and champion the cause of science. Perhaps the most important trait I learned from watching her operate is how she shines a light on people who worked with her and highlightes their achievements at every opportunity. Her stewardship and generosity are unparalleled, as is her work ethic and the relentless focus on getting the job done.

Charles Zegar – To honor her contribution to plant research and education.