Skip to main content
Menu Icon


July 09, 2019

Sophia Zappia
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Major: Biochemistry

Congratulations to Sophia Zappia, this week’s #WSGCStudentSpotlight! Sophia is the recipient of an Undergraduate Research Award and was a participant in the Collegiate Rocket Launch competition in 2017.

Sophia currently studies Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. She transferred from the University of Wisconsin - Washington County, at which point she became involved in model rocketry through the WSGC Collegiate Rocket Launch competition.

Last fall, Sophia joined Gilroy Lab where she researches gene expression in plants. This summer, Sophia received funding from the WSGC for her project “The effects of high G-force experienced during simulated rocket flight on the activation of pathogen response systems in Arabidopsis thaliana,” which studies how plants respond to high g-forces. The plant she is using is Arabidopsis thaliana, a model organism dubbed “the fruit fly of the plant world” on account of its fully sequenced and extensively studied genome. After using a centrifuge to spin the plants, the plant’s RNA is extracted using QPCR. The RNA will be used to find what genes the plants are turning on in response to the stress of high g-forces. Half of the plants will be kept as a control group in order to see changes in gene expression without the presence of high g-forces.

When she’s not in the laboratory, Sophia enjoys birdwatching, reading, and playing video games.

Congratulations Sophia Zappia, and best of luck to you moving forward!

Background Image of Earth