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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


Erika Szymanski

Erika Szymanski
Erika Szymanski
Research Fellow
G.01 Chisholm House High School Yards Edinburgh UK EH1 1LZ
+44 (0)131 650 4258
Research Interests
Synthetic biology, yeast, science communication, rhetoric, wine, Interdisciplinary collaboration

I'm a research fellow on the "Engineering Life" team led by Jane Calvert to investigate synthetic biology in broadly interdisciplinary ways. My work particularly concerns the Sc2.0 project, the first attempt to reengineer and construct the full genome of a eukaryotic organism, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. I'm interested in how synthetic biology sits in the long trajectory of human-yeast co-working, in how we understand relationships amongst humans and yeasts, and in how synthetic biology knowledge arises as the product of many people from diverse disciplines and multiple microbial and macrobial species working together. 

My research interests include human-microbe interactions, rhetorical tools for knowledge coproduction, and wine as a subject of and model for interdisciplinarity, largely from material semiotic perspectives. 

I grew up in the United States in the Pacific Northwest and upstate New York, did my undergraduate (B.S.) work in molecular biology, and took graduate degrees in microbiology (M.S.) and rhetoric and composition (M.A.) before moving to New Zealand to complete my PhD in science communication, investigating rhetorics of multi-directional, collaboration-promoting communication in the wine industry. I continue to write about wine science for popular and industry audiences in parallel with my academic work. 

Find more information about "Engineering Life" and our work in synthetic biology on the project website


Szymanski, E. A. Enacting multiple audiences: Science communication texts and research-industry relationships in the New Zealand wine industry. 2016. Science Communication. In press.

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

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

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

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

Szymanski, E. A. Instructor feedback in upper-division biology courses: Moving from spelling and syntax to scientific discourse. 2014. Across the Disciplines, 11(2). Selected for The Best of the Independent Journals in Rhetoric and Composition 2015, Parlor Press.

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

Jamburuthugoda VK, Skasko M, Operario DJ,Purohit V, Chugh P, Szymanski EA, Wedekind JE, Bambara RA, & Kim B. Reduced dNTP binding affinity of 3TC-resistant M184I HIV-1 reverse transcriptase variants responsible for viral infection failure to macrophage. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2008. 283(14): 9206-16.

Sakai A, Koga T, Lim JH, Jono H, Harada K, Szymanski E, Xu H, Kai H, Li JD. The bacterium, nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae, enhances host antiviral response by inducing Toll-like receptor 7 expression: evidence for negative regulation of host anti-viral response by CYLD. FEBS Journal. 2007. 274(14): 3655-68.

Wine writing

I blog about wine science and technology, broadly writ, at The Wineoscope.

I've written a regular column for Palate Press since 2010. You can find my Palate Press articles here

I write occasional pieces for the trade publication Wine Business Monthly

Awards for my wine writing include the 2012 Louis Roederer Emerging Wine Writer of the Year, the 2012 Shafer Vineyards Fellowship at the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers, and the 2016 Born Digital Wine Award for "Best Investigative/Journalistic Story."