Renee Dale


An Interview with an ESCS travel fellowship winner Renee Dale

In this interview, one of the organizers of #ESCS2020, Pradeep Eranti is talking with Renee Dale, a Travel fellowship winner of the European Student Council Symposium (ESCS) 2018 symposium. Dr. Renee Dale is currently a first-year post-doctoral researcher at Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, USA.


Pradeep Eranti: What are your research interests? What are you currently working on? 

Renee Dale: I am interested in mechanistic modeling and plant biology. My PhD was on mechanistic modeling in enzymes and cell biology, so I’m currently working on applying that perspective to plant phenotype (disentangling the “gene” by “environment” effects that produce different traits) and modeling the development of those traits over time.

PE: How did you decide to make this the focus of your research?

RD: I started this project during my PhD. I worked with mechanistic models and the issues with identifying and estimating parameters gave me a lot of trouble. Often reviewers or other biologists thought the model was too complex or left out too many biological components. I wanted to see if there was a way to take the network predictions from bioinformatic analyses of gene expression and test it with a mechanistic model.

PE: If you were not working on the same project during ESCS 2018, what were you working on then?

RD: I am still working on the project I presented at ESCS. I was working on taking a large drought stress signaling network and modeling it mechanistically using an algorithmic approach. Large mechanistic models have computational and parameter issues, and my idea was to bypass this by focusing on what we already know about that network.

PE: What impact do you hope to make through your work? 

RD: I hope my work can help bridge the gap between bioinformatic prediction of regulatory networks, and experimental testing of the predicted mechanisms and interactions inside those networks, with mechanistic modeling.

PE: Was there something specific about ESCS that drew you to apply?

RD: I was drawn to the idea of a grad-student led symposium. I think people around your career stage are probably the best to identify useful and interesting things, and it would make a great symposium.

PE: What was your key takeaway from the symposium; and how did you plan to apply it to your work?

RD: I enjoyed the poster session and opportunity to engage with everyone with their work. Many people’s work was either up- or down-stream of my work, and it helped me to contextualize and receive feedback of my work.

PE: What feedback or advice would you share with someone considering participating in ESCS?

RD: I’d definitely suggest going! ESCS had a great sense of community and talk lineup. You don’t always get a good sense of community from a gathering of early-career scientists like that. It’s organized and run by the students, and you can definitely see the immediate utility of the selected talks.

Follow Renee on twitter at @b10_m0del1ng . Pradeep tweets as @pradeeperanti! For more content about the #ESCS2020 follow the official account @escs2020 and more Early Career Researchers’ lead activities of the ISCB student council at @iscbsc.