Introducing BEACON’s New Science Outreach and Communication Postdocs

This post is by MSU postdoc Wendy Smythe.

Wendy Smythe and Minnie Kadake deploying a CTD sensor in Southeast, Alaska.

Dr. Wendy F. Smythe is an environmental scientist who came to BEACON from CMOP who looks at how microbes influence their environment, by examining geochemistry, microbial ecology, microbial diversity, and biomineralization of iron and manganese oxidizing microorganisms. She also directs a Geoscience Education Program within her tribal community located in Southeast Alaska.

One of Wendy’s roles at BEACON will focus on outreach and diversity in STEM disciplines, with specific interest in recruitment and retention of Native American/Alaska Native into STEM. Wendy is Kaigani Haida from the Village of Hydaburg, Alaska and has worked for eight years to couple Traditional Ecological Knowledge with STEM in a culturally competent way to monitor the health of local rivers and coastal ecosystems. (For more info. Visit: and

Wendy will also be continuing her previous research from Yellowstone National Park and Southeast, Alaska, by expanding her research focus to evolutionary biology of microorganisms from different research sites and analyzing metagenomes from two extreme metal rich groundwater ecosystems. This research blends evolution, microbiology, ecology, geochemistry, and education working with Dr. Judi Brown Clarke and Dr. Ashley Shade as her mentors.

Wendy and Minnie sampling from a manganese depositing hot-spring in Yellowstone National Park. Manganese specimen collected from hot-spring and scanning electron microscopy of the surface of the rock showing manganese minerals, microbial cells, and extrapolysaccharide.

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