The TapRoot is the podcast that digs beneath the surface to understand how scientific publications are created. In each episode, we take a paper from the plant biology literature and talk about the story behind the science with one of the authors.

A scientific publication tells a data-driven story about molecules, cells, organisms, processes or mechanisms. But behind every paper are other narratives that aren’t represented in the final manuscript. These are stories of perseverance, serendipity, humor, integrity, and resilience. They are the experiences of individuals and teams, of following your instincts or living your principles, of inspiration and discouragement. At The TapRoot, we think these are stories worth telling!

Each episode focuses on a different primary research paper. Co-hosts Ivan and Liz discuss the science with a guest, an author on the paper. Then we move quickly on to the ‘story behind the science’, a different topic . Our intended audience is young plant scientists (undergraduates through postdocs) and we hope to normalize their experiences, expose them to the real world of science, and help provide some examples of how to navigate it.

About Liz Haswell: 

Dr. (Elizabeth) Liz Haswell earned her PhD in Biochemistry at the University of California, San Francisco with Erin O’Shea, working on chromatin remodeling in yeast. She then switched to plant systems for her postdoctoral work at Caltech with Elliot Meyerowitz. There she fell in love with plants and with mechanobiology and began studying mechanosensitive ion channels in plants. She joined the faculty of the Biology department at WUSTL in 2007. Her group’s work has been published in Science, PNAS, Development, and Current Biology, and is funded by NSF, NIH, NASA, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. She is a member of the inaugural class of HHMI Faculty-Scholars. Connect with Liz on Twitter.

About Ivan Baxter: 

Dr. Ivan Baxter is a Principal Investigator and Associate Member at the Donald Danforth Plant Sciences Center in St. Louis, Missouri and editor-in-chief of  Plant Direct (, a new journal from Wiley. He received a BA in Chemistry from Goucher College and a PhD in Molecular and Cellular Structure and Chemistry from The Scripps Research Institute before moving on to a postdoc at Purdue University. Dr. Baxter studies how plants adapt to their abiotic environment using elemental profiling and image based phenotyping. Connect with Ivan on Twitter.

General Contact Information: Questions, comments, or interested in sharing your story? Email us at We’d love to hear from you! Connect with The Taproot Podcast on Twitter

Season 1 

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4