University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy
Initially interested in becoming a veterinarian, Roberta Fiorino’s path was swayed by a high school biology course where she discovered she had a natural aptitude and passion for science.
At the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, in northern Italy, Fiorino worked toward a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and a master’s degree in applied and experimental biology. For her master’s thesis, she utilized the freshwater snail Pomacea canaliculata as an invertebrate model to evaluate nanoparticle-based drug toxicity.
However, Fiorino, a self-described microscopy enthusiast, said the most exciting experiment so far in her training was as a graduate researcher at Stowers working on novel roles of Hox genes in planarian asexual reproduction. After knocking-down gene expression via RNA interference in the planarian flatworm, Fiorino imaged her samples on confocal and scanning electron microscopes.
As a predoctoral researcher at Stowers, she hopes to pursue “the way a single cell can develop into a fully equipped animal, the way cells establish a dialogue to fulfill their fate, and the way the process could be altered by abnormal signals.”