Giovanni Sena earned a laurea (B.Sc./M.Phys. equivalent) in theoretical physics at the University of Milan (Italy), with a special focus on quantum field theory. After a brief internship at the Mario Negri Institute of Pharmacological Research in Milan, he moved to New York City, where he attended graduate school at New York University and earned a Ph.D. in molecular genetics studying pattern formation in the root of Arabidopsis thaliana. During his Ph.D. in the laboratory of Prof. Philip Benfey, he contributed to the discovery of one of the first transcription factors (SHR, SHORT-ROOT) known to translocate between tissues in plants.
He completed his post-doctoral training in the laboratories of Prof. Stan Leibler at The Rockefeller University and Prof. Ken Birnbaum at New York University, both in New York City. In that period, Dr. Sena led the development of novel live imaging methods specifically adapted for prolonged observations at high spatial and temporal resolution of growing plant roots. He also developed new methods for studying root regeneration, which led to the unexpected discovery of the limited role of stem cells in that process.
Dr. Sena joined Imperial College London in 2012, where he is now a tenured Lecturer and Principal Investigator in the Department of Life Sciences. His diverse group uses Arabidopsis as a model system to study plant-environment physical interactions and their role in plant morphogenesis. Since 2017, Dr. Sena is affiliated with the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University, where he is investigating the role of bioelectric signals in root development.