I was a budding pianist immersed in music in Leningrad, in the Soviet Union (now Saint Petersburg, Russia), when I started over, giving up sheet music for the study of ciliates. In a second starting-over story, I emigrated to the United States, where I switched to studying carbohydrate-binding plant lectin proteins, dissecting plant vesicular trafficking, and isolating novel glycosyltransferases responsible for making cell wall polysaccharides. I track my journey as a plant biologist from student to principal investigator to founding director of the Center for Plant Cell Biology and then director of the Institute for Integrative Genome Biology at the University of California, Riverside. I discuss implementing a new vision as the first and (so far) only female editor in chief of , as well as how my laboratory helped develop chemical genomics tools to study the functions of essential plant proteins. Always wanting to give back what I received, I discuss my present efforts to develop female scientist leadership in Chinese universities and a constant theme throughout my life: a love of art and travel.


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