Professor Doris Wagner is Robert I. Williams Term Professor of Biology and a member of the Epigenetics Institute at the University of Pennsylvania.
Her research focusses on reprogramming of plant cell fate and function in response to developmental and environmental cues. As immobile organisms, plants are masters at changing the fate of cells, tissues and organs and their ability to do so under diverse environmental conditions is important not only for plant survival and reproductive success but also for human sustenance and life on earth. Wagner conducted her undergraduate studies at the Technische Universität München in Germany, her PhD at the University of California in Berkeley and her Helen Hay Whitney foundation sponsored postdoc at Caltech. Dr. Wagner has been instrumental in establishing an international Plant Epigenomics Research Network, has served as elected member and President of the National Association for Arabidopsis research, has organized over 20 national and international symposia and conferences, is editor in chief or Current Opinions in Plant Biology and a fellow of the American Association of Plant Biologists.
At the University of Pennsylvania, her lab studies when and where flowers form, how plants withstand environmental stress and the role of the chromatin state and enzymatic modifiers thereof in enabling or preventing transcriptional reprogramming. Her studies have uncovered underlying regulatory principles, key players and their interactions that together enable changes in the fate or function of cells, tissues or organs. While her previous work has focused on how new programs are put in place to promote floral fate in organ primordia, her recent studies have revealed how alternative or detrimental programs are shut off and how silencers – like Polycomb complexes- find the loci they need to repress. In addition, she is now exploring how alternative fates can established in organ primordia to enable different developmental trajectories for tuning plant architecture to a given environment.