Assistant Professor (Microbiome Initiative Hire)


  • Office Hours:

    As posted and by appointment
  • Role:

  • Position:

    • Assistant Professor (Microbiome Initiative Hire)
  • Concentration:

    • Rhetoric and composition
  • Department:

    • English
  • Education:

    • Post-doctoral fellow, Science, Technology, and Innovation Studies, University of Edinburgh
    • Ph.D., science communication, University of Otago
    • MA, rhetoric and composition, Washington State University
    • MS, microbiology, University of Rochester


Erika Szymanski studies discourse as a scientific construction tool, human-microbe relations, and multispecies questions raised by contemporary genetic/genomic biotechnologies and microbiome research. Her teaching interests include disciplinary and popular science writing, science communication, science-and-technology studies (STS), environmental humanities, and humanities scholars' roles in interdisciplinary teams. From 2016 to mid-2019, Dr. Szymanski was a research fellow in science and technology studies at the University of Edinburgh working with the synthetic yeast project, an international synthetic biology effort to construct a completely redesigned brewer’s yeast genome. She continues to work with researchers in the UK, Japan, Australia, and Europe on what happens when scientific accomplishments are also social phenomena. Her articles have been published in journals for diverse audiences including Environmental Humanities, Science Communication, BioSocieties, Written Communication, and Nature Communications. She has also received several awards for her popular wine science writing.


Selected publications

Szymanski, E., Bates, T., Cachat, E., Calvert, J., Catts, O., Nelson, L.J., Rosser, S.J., Smith, R.D.J., & Zurr, I. (2020). Crossing Kingdoms: How can art open up new ways of thinking about science? Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology.

Calvert, J., and Szymanski, E. A. (2020). A feeling for the (micro)organism? Yeastiness, organism agnosticism and whole genome synthesis. New Genetics & Society

Szymanski, E. A. (2020). Synthesizing yeast in popular media accounts of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae 2.0 project. In Sarah Davies & Ulrike Felt (Eds.), Exploring science communication: A science and technology studies approach. SAGE.

Greenhough, B., … Szymanski, E., & Wills, J. (2020). Setting the agenda for social science research on the human microbiome. Palgrave Communications.

Szymanski, E. A., & Scher, E. (2019). Models for DNA design tools: The problem with metaphors is that they don't go away. ACS Synthetic Biology.

Szymanski, E.A., Vermeulen, N., & Wong, M. (2019). Yeast: One cell, one reference sequence, many genomes? New Genetics & Society. 38(4), 430-450.

Szymanski, E. A., & Calvert, J. (2018). Designing with living systems in the synthetic yeast project. Nature Communications. doi:10.1038/s41467-018-05332-z

Szymanski, E. A. (2018) Remaking yeast: Metaphors as scientific tools in S. cerevisiae 2.0. BioSocieties. doi:10.1057/s41292-018-0134-z

Szymanski, E. A. (2018). What is the terroir of synthetic yeast? Environmental Humanities, 10(1), 40-62.

Szymanski, E. A. (2018). Who are the users of synthetic DNA? Using metaphors to activate microorganisms at the center of synthetic biology. Life Sciences, Society, and Policy. 14(15). doi:10.1186/s40504-018-0080-3

Szymanski, E.A. (2016). Enacting multiple audiences: Science communication texts and research-industry relationships in the New Zealand wine industry. Science Communication. 38(6), 724-745.

Szymanski, E.A. (2016). Constructing relationships between science and practice in the written science communication of the Washington state wine industry. Written Communication. 33(2), 184-215.

De Olde, E.M., Moller, H., Marchand, F., … Szymanski, E.A.,… & Manhire, J. (2016). When experts disagree: The need to rethink indicator selection for assessing sustainability of agriculture. Environment, Development, and Sustainability. doi:10.1007/s10668-016-9803-x.

Szymanski, E.A. (2016). Extension resource use among Washington State winemakers and growers: A case for focusing on relevance. Journal of Extension. 54(1), 1FEA2.

Szymanski, E.A., & Davis, L. (2015). Wine science in the Wild West: Information-seeking behaviors and attitudes among Washington state winemakers and growers. Journal of Wine Research. 26(4), 270-286.

Szymanski, E.A. (2014). Instructor feedback in upper-division biology courses: Moving from spelling and syntax to scientific discourse. Across the Disciplines. 11(2).

Selected for The Best of the Independent Journals in Rhetoric and Composition 2015, Parlor Press.

Szymanski, E.A. (2013). Synthesis notes: Working with sources to create a first draft. Writing Commons.