Sydney Smyer, Oakes Scientist in Residence


I was born in Long Beach, California but raised in Goodyear, AZ before I entered the University of San Diego as an independent student. As a queer, black woman pursing a profession in the science field, I am actively aware of the challenges and implications of the intersectionality of marginalized groups in academia. Upon culminating at USD, I enjoyed mentoring, volunteering, and attending clubs, events, and talks to help navigate my identity on a predominantly white campus, and create a more diverse and inclusive environment. The connections I made and the activities in which I took part in are formative to my identity today. Since, my passion and goal is to advocate for the inclusion of underserved populations in STEM and offer mentorship that will provide them with the tools and resources to pursue careers that are transformative for them. Following my graduation in May 2020 I took a gap year where I worked at a biotech company as a production chemist where I manufactured bulk solutions for various diagnostic kits for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 and sexually transmitted diseases. It was during this time that I developed my passion for studying infectious disease. After my gap year, I was fortunate to have been admitted into the microbiology and environmental toxicology program here. I’m excited to be at UCSC!


I am currently a PhD student in the Ottemann lab where we study the gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori. My project works to improve our understanding of the role of the chemoreceptor TlpC in host colonization and how it impacts disease outcome. My long term goal is to conduct research in the development of therapeutics to combat infectious disease, and one day serve as chief scientist of a biotech company. 


I enjoy being outdoors, growing my own food, playing my lyre, and solving my Rubik’s cube.