Jacob Steenwyk grew up Pasadena, California, and is currently a graduate student at Vanderbilt University, working with Dr. Antonis Roka!

Tell us about your project!

My research focuses on the extensive loss of cell-cycle and DNA repair genes in an ancient lineage of bipolar budding yeasts.

Which awards do you like to brag about?

My most recent awards include an Honorable mention in the Next Generation Faculty Symposium at Stanford.Berkeley.UCSF, a presentation award in the Canadian Fungal Research Network and Great Lakes Mycology Conference, a Graduate Research Excellence Award in Biological Sciences, and a Smriti Bardhan Scholarship from Vanderbilt University.

What are your career goals/plans for after your current position?

I would like to be a professor at a research institution.

What is your favorite fungus and why?

The yeast genus Hanseniaspora because they can be used to diversify wine-flavors profiles but, more importantly, may be a treasure trove of novel biology of fundamental biological processes due to the massive loss of cell-cycle and DNA repair genes.

Hanseniaspora uvarumVanderbilt University

What is your favorite fact/thing about fungi?

My favorite thing about fungi is that they are amazingly diverse genomically, ecologically, and economically. Additionally, they seem to have superpowers ranging from being the largest organism on earth, their amazing bioluminescent glow, and much much more!

Who is your mycology role model?

Cletus Kurtzman

What do you like to do in your free time? What are your hobbies?

I love making graphic art, play the guitar, and produce music. Additionally, I love to rock climb with my friends and go running.

Anything else you’d like us to know about you?

I am heavily involved in service within and beyond the Vanderbilt community. Here are some of the things I’m currently involved in:
2020-Pres. Founder and Chief Officer, SciArt with Purpose
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
2017-Pres. Educational outreach booth design and execution, MEGAMicrobe, Nashville, TN