Rebecca Schmidt

Northern lights

Rebecca SchmidtEducation

• BS in Biology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA (1998)

• MS in Epidemiology, University of Iowa College of Public Health, Iowa City, IA (2000)

• PhD in Epidemiology, University of Iowa College of Public Health, Iowa City, IA; Dissertation Title: “Maternal Caffeine Intake, Selected Metabolic Gene Variants, and Neural Tube Defects” (2007)

• Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Autism Research Training Program at the MIND Institute, Sacramento, CA (2008 – 2010)

What’s your expertise?

I study how exposure to nutrition and the environment interact with the genome to influence the development of the brain or central nervous system of children from a mechanistic and pathways perspective, especially when a baby is developing during pregnancy.

What was your childhood nickname?

Sweet Pea.

What did you dream of being when you were a kid?

An astronaut or an art teacher.

What was your favorite band in high school?

Red Hot Chili Peppers.

How did you fall in love with science?

I was born being in love with science! I was always curious about how things ticked. 

What was your greatest scientific triumph?

I hope it’s yet to come!  We made progress when we learned that prenatal vitamins at the start of pregnancy were associated with a reduced risk for autism, especially in people who were genetically and environmentally susceptible. Now we just need to figure out how this might work.

What was your greatest scientific tragedy?

For my school project when I was a kid, I never got out of the golf course manager what chemicals they used on the greens that washed into the neighborhood pond causing eutrophication.  

What’s your retirement career?

Space or eclipse photographer.