MEET THE DIBIO SCIENTIST SERIES : Paola Cusumano
Pubblicato il: 16.06.2020 16:13
Paola is a young researcher (RTDa) at DiBio
Can you summarize in few words your research?
My research activity is in Chronobiology, the study of intrinsically cyclic biological phenomena. Like most living organisms, we are equipped with an inner biological clock that ticks incessantly and drives circadian (about a day) rhythms in physiology and behaviour. Among these, the circadian clock regulates our daily sleep-wake rhythm, which is synchronized with the environmental light-dark cycle, keeping us awake during the day and allowing us to fall asleep during the night. By using fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) as a model organism, I try to uncover the molecular mechanisms that set the speed of this clock, by advancing, delaying or completely disrupting the timing of these rhythmic behaviours.
What is the most rewarding and the most challenging part of your work?
For me, the most rewarding part is seeing the joy and enthusiasm of my students when they realize their data fit their initial hypothesis, which proves to be correct. The most challenging one is succeeding in publishing before others do! There is a lot of competition in this field right now.
Tell us your story: what brings you to DiBio?
I obtained my Master degree in Molecular Biology here in Padova, after spending one year in Paris on the Erasmus programme. It was during this year that I became fascinated with circadian clocks and fly behaviour. After three more years in Paris, I moved back to Padova with a PhD in Neuroscience and extensive experience in chronobiology. Here I started my post-doctoral experience, carrying out further research in Chronobiology; a few years ago I obtained an RTDa position at the Department of Biology.
What’s your favourite “toy” for research – and what can it do?
The Gal4/UAS system. The Gal4 transcriptional factor was identified in the yeast and it has been widely used in flies to manipulate the expression of genes both spatially and temporally. It is a relatively dated tool but it remains both powerful and fashionable.
What are your interests outside science?
I love spending time with my family, being outdoors, playing with my kids in the garden. I also really enjoy reading books and being with my old friends.
Paola's website: http://www.sleeprhythm.org/