Curriculum vitae (last updated June 2020)


Biography

I have eclectic interests spanning the sciences and arts including music, graphic art, and poetry. My scientific work blends the fields of computer science and evolution to better understand biomedically and biotechnologically significant fungi. For example, what causes some species of fungi to be pathogenic while close relatives are harmless? Or what is the evolutionary signature of domestication among yeast associated with wine-making? My artistic endeavors explore aspects of modern life experienced on global and personal levels such as raising awareness to critically endangered animals, shedding light on the everyday task of teasing apart reality from false facts, and the meaning of life itself.

My overarching goals include making education more accessible to all, facilitate student learning, and participate in artistic and scientific community engagement. To this end, I am the chair of the Early Career Scientist Communication and Outreach Subcommittee (a group that aims to bridge the gap between scientific disciplines, scientists and the public), serve on committees across Vanderbilt University that aim to enhance diversity and inclusion, am a science fair judge for the Middle Tennessee Science and Engineering Fair, participant in ArtLab (an artistic exploration of the intersection between art and science), and much more.


Research Interests

Recent representative publications:
Steenwyk and Lind et al. (2020) Current Biology
Steenwyk et al. (2019) mBio
Steenwyk et al. (2019) PLoS Biology
Steenwyk and Rokas (2018) Frontiers in Microbiology


In brief, my research interests include evolution, genomics, and phylogenetics, with a particular interest in fungi (esp. molds and yeasts).

Current research objectives use the (A) diverse fungal kingdom as a model to understand (B) genome stability and (C) the genomics of domestication.

images/Research_summary.jpg

(B) A hallmark of life is the fundamental importance of DNA replication and repair. These processes contribute to maintaining the integrity of our genomes, the blueprints to our lives. Thus, I aim to understand the consequences of losing DNA repair genes and how that has shaped fungal genome evolution.

Steenwyk et al. (2019) PLoS Biology

(C) Fungi are at the cornerstone of biotechnology. For example, fungi help produce fermented foods such as beer, wine, cheese, and bread. However, not all fungi are able too properly ferment grape juice into wine or produce a beautiful bloomy cheese rind. Instead, fungi have been domesticated much like dogs are domesticated forms of their wild counterparts, the wolves. I aim to pinpoint and understand the fingerprints of domestication on fungal genomes and their function.
Steenwyk and Rokas (2018) Frontiers in Microbiology
Bodinaku et al. (2019) mBio

To address these research questions, I employ comparative genomic and phylogenomic techniques under a evolution-based framework.Numerous scripts that I have written to tackle these broad questions are publicly available among my github repositories. These respositories aim to enable the analysis phylogenetic, molecular, and related analyses.

Lastly, much of my scientific work has been enhanced thanks to collaborative efforts. A non-exhaustive list of collaborator/friend labs include the following: Rokas Lab, Xing-Xing Shen, and Hittinger Lab. I am always interested in collaboration because what we can achieve together is far greater than what we can achieve alone - please feel free to get in touch.



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Reduced Curriculum Vitae

Curriculum vitae


Education

Pres.   Graduate Student, Biological Sciences, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
2016   M.S. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Clark University, Worcester, MA
2015   B.A. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Clark University, Worcester, MA

Select Invited Talks

2020   Graduate trainee-of-the-year talk, Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology and Inflammation Annual Symposium
2020   Day of Wond’ry, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
2019   Genetics Society of America, Science in a Snapshot Seminar Series
2019   Gordon Research Conference, Molecular Mechanisms in Evolution, Easton, MA
2019   Gordon Research Seminar, Molecular Mechanisms in Evolution, Easton, MA (declined)
2019   Focal Point, ArtLab, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
2019   30th Fungal Genetics Conference at Asilomar, Pacific Grove, CA
2019   Phylogenomics and Evolution Group of North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC

Select Awards

2020   Trainee-of-the-Year, Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology and Inflammation
2019   Gilliam Predoctoral Fellowship, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
2019   Ann Bernard Martin Award for Excellence in Graduate Research, Vanderbilt University
2019   Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award, National Institutes of Health
2019   Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship, Ford Foundation
2019   Curb Center Fellow, ArtLab, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
2018   Best poster award, Gordon Research Conference, Holderness, NH

Select Service

2020      Panelist at the Communication and Outreach Workshop, The Allied Genetics Conference, Genetics Society of America
2019-Pres.   Co-chair, Communication and Outreach Subcommittee, Genetics Society of America
2019-Pres.   Inclusion Coordinator, The Evolutionary Studies Initiative at Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
2019-Pres.   Graphic Illustrator, The Evolutionary Studies Initiative at Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
2019-Pres.   President, Inclusivity in Biosciences Association, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
2018-Pres.   Volunteer Deputy, American Society of Microbiology Vanderbilt University Chapter, Nashville, TN
2017-Pres.   Educational outreach booth design and execution, MEGAMicrobe, Nashville, TN
2017-Pres.   Communications chair, Inclusivity in Biosciences Association, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
2017-Pres.   Member of the Dean of Graduate Student’s survey quantitative analysis subgroup, Graduate Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
2017-Pres.   Judge, Middle Tennessee Science and Engineering Fair, Belmont University, Nashville, TN

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