Erin grew up questioning everything—and just, never stopped. In choosing to study science she thought she’d finally found a tool with which to ‘know’ the world, only for science to swiftly teach her that knowledge is a mirage. Then again, it showed her that the scientific quest for understanding may be the most worthwhile endeavor of all. That was a thrilling disappointment.
Erin holds a degree in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology from UC Santa Barbara. Her research career has ranged from work on DNA-based biosensors and viral gene therapy vectors to thermostabilization and needle-free delivery of biologics. She has always enjoyed science’s ability to help us think on different scales, to zoom out and zoom in. You’ll often find her out in nature with a microscope or binoculars, studying each individual component and then stepping back to consider its role in the larger ecosystem. This is how she became enthralled with the concept of the microbiota; this little cosmos of microorganisms with indispensable roles in our functioning as superorganisms.
She has brought this inquisitiveness of the microbiome to Seed, where she works as the Project Lead for the Research and Development team. She helps to guide Seed’s wide range of projects in women’s health, SeedLabs, product development, and more. At home in San Diego, Erin loves to explore the microbial components of her other hobbies of cooking and gardening. Her kitchen often looks like a laboratory, where you might find fermenting concoctions of sauerkraut, craft beer, kimchi, or kombucha.
In conversation with Erin:
Six word story of your life. Seeking answers, just finding more questions.
What was your first brush with science? Staring up at the stars, pondering the vast universe and how we came to know about it.
Why do you think bacteria are important? They were among the first organisms on this planet, have been essential to our evolution, are integral to our human and planetary health, and when we cease functioning they will break down our molecules to be integrated back into the ecosystem—so I’m not sure there’s a situation in which bacteria aren’t important!
How do you define science? Question > Hypothesis > Experiment > Outcome > Analysis >>> Repeat ad infinitum.
How do you define health? Harmony among what you consume, think, feel, and do.
What are you currently reading / listening / watching? The Microcosm Within, by Dr. William B. Miller, Jr.; The Perfect Stool podcast with Lindsey Parsons.
Favorite microbiome-nurturing food? Garlic, and asparagus.
Scientist, dead or alive, you’d like to eat with? Nikola Tesla
Microbiome perturbation you’re trying to give up. Late-night snacking.
Favorite science joke or best mindgasm fact? Endosymbiotic Theory: The organelles that power eukaryotic cells were once primitive bacteria that were engulfed by another cell, and that relationship was so beneficial that they decided to live happily ever after for the rest of evolution.
One fact most people don’t know about you. I have been taking probiotics since I was a kid, and was intrigued by Lactobacillus acidophilus because it sounded like a dinosaur. I would have been so excited to know that bacteria are much older than dinosaurs!