About Me

Embriette Hyde

Freelance Science Writer.
Scientific Research and Communication Consultant.
Managing Partner, Biofluent Communications.

When I was in elementary school growing up in small town Wayland, Michigan, I decided to obtain my PhD so that I could study and figure out why yawns are contagious. While I did eventually get that PhD, it wasn't in yawns. My research career began in 2008, when I clinched a summer fund through the Grand Valley State University's Student Summer Scholars Program my junior year of undergraduate studies. My research was genetics focused, but  it was during a basic microbiology course required for my degree that I fell in love with microbiology. I graduated in 2010 aiming to combine my love for genetics and newfound passion for microbiology while pursuing my doctorate degree at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) in Houston, Texas.

It was at BCM where I first learned about the microbiome-the entirety of microbes (and their gene products) that live in and on the human body. I began to see human diseases as a complex interplay between several factors-both genetic and environmental-rather than as a consequence of a single gene mutation or anomaly. I joined the laboratory of Dr. Joseph Petrosino, director of the Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome research. After earning my PhD, I joined the lab of one of the most elite microbiome researchers in the world, Dr. Rob Knight. It was in his lab where I began to really study the intricate ways the microbiome can affect our health, and what it means to be human. I became especially interested in how our western lifestyles have affected our microbial exposures, and in turn, our health.

After nearly a year and a half as a postdoctoral researcher in Rob Knight’s lab, I took my career to the next level by accepting the role of Project Manager for the American Gut Project, the largest crowd sourced citizen science project in existence, run out of the Knight lab. As Project Manager of Amerian Gut, I was able to further microbiome research while also bringing science to the broader community, facilitating a general appreciation for and understanding of the microbiome and its role in human health and wellbeing. For my work with the project, I was nominated for and received recognition in Forbes magazine's 30 Under 30 in Science in 2016. 

My desire to write as a career grew out of the extreme misinformation that became clear to me the more I interacted with people. I decided to use my writing skills, as well as public speaking and general outreach, to exit academia and become a science writer and science communication consultant. I hope my efforts will help scientists better explain their work to the people to whom it matters most. Anything less would be a disservice to humanity.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story and to visit my site. Please read more about my research and my work, and I’d love to hear from you!


My Research

Doctoral Research:

I entered graduate school at Baylor College of Medicine in August 2011 as part of the Integrative Molecular and Biomedical Sciences graduate program. After five rotations encompassing a broad range of topics from Bacillus anthracis (the causative agent of anthrax) to nociception in bacterially infected Drosophila melanogaster larvae, I finally joined a lab focused on the human microbiome. My thesis work was divided into three main categories: the human microbiome and health, the human microbiome in disease, and the human microbiome and death:

The Human Microbiome and Health-Nitrate Reducing Oral Bacteria and Cardiovascular Health

While the predominate opinion of nitrates and nitrites is negative due to animal studies with no epidemiological backing, my main thesis project emphasized the health benefits of dietary nitrate. The process is simple: you ingest nitrate, bacteria in your mouth break it down to nitrite, and the nitrite enters your blood stream where it can turn into nitric oxide when conditions are right. Nitric oxide is an incredibly important molecule for human health: it relaxes smooth muscle, dilates blood vessels, is toxic to pathogens, and is an important neurotransmitter, among many other physiological roles. Human cells can't turn nitrate into nitrite, emphasizing the role that oral microbes have in contributing nitric oxide, with all it's benefits. My PhD work built upon previous studies suggesting a role for nitrate-reducing oral microbes in supporting cardiovascular health.

The Human Microbiome and Disease-The Pulmonary Microbiome of Children with Bronchiolitis

The stats are sobering: a large proportion of children less than two years of age that are admitted to the hospital with bronchiolitis develop wheezing—and sometimes asthma—later in life. Working with Jonathan Mansbach at Harvard School of Public Health, I explored whether bacteria in the lungs could be associated with the viruses that cause bronchiolitis as well as the potential to develop wheezing disorders later in life. The children in this cohort will be followed until 6 years of age, the age at which most who will develop asthma develop this condition, to get a better picture of the complex relationship between bacteria, viruses, and pulmonary disorders.

The Human Microbiome and Death-The Microbiome Associated with Human Decomposition

Through a collaboration with Drs. Aaron Lynne and Sibyl Bucheli at Sam Houston State University in Houston, TX, I produced some of the very first available information about the microbial communities associated with human decomposition. Through collaboration with the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science Research Facility, a willed-donation center that enables researchers from various fields to study the forensics sciences, we studied how bacterial communities change across time during decomposition. Further work in collaboration with Dr. Rob Knight enabled the development of a method to predict time since death to +/- 3 day error using microbial community signatures.

Postdoctoral Research:

As a postdoctoral researcher in Rob Knight's lab, I had many roles. Not only did I analyze datasets from several unique microbiomes, I also helped establish the lab's capacity for growing anaerobic microbes. Later in my tenure, I transitioned from post-doc to Project Scientist, managing the American Gut Project. The project provided many amazing speaking opportunities and collaborations around the world, and also led to my selection as a Forbes 30 Under 30 in Science and Healthcare. It was through my interactions with project participants that I became inspired to join the effort to improve science communication to non-scientists, and in 2018 I became a full-time freelance science writer and scientific research and communication consultant.

My academic publications are available below. 

My Resume

Academic Education

2014 PhD
Integrative Molecular and Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program

Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
Dissertation title: "The Human Microbiome in Health, Disease, and Death."

2010 B.S.
Biomedical Sciences; microbiology emphasis

Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI

2010 B.A.

Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI

Professional Experience

February 2022 - Present
Managing Partner and Head Writer

Biofluent Communications

July 2018 - Present
Freelance Science Writer and Research Consultant


July 2018 - October 2019
Workshop Leader and Research Mentor

Schmahl Science Workshops

November 2017 - July 2018
Scientist and Editor

January Inc.

April 2016 - October 2017
Assistant Project Scientist

University of California at San Diego, San Diego, CA

Jan 2015 - March 2016
Post-doctoral Scholar

University of California at San Diego, San Diego, CA

May-Dec 2014
Post-doctoral Research Associate

University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO

Scientific Publications