Savannah Braden is our Senior Biological Scientist on the Biological Sciences team. Originally from St. Petersburg, Florida, Savannah completed her undergraduate and graduate education at UC Santa Barbara, where she studied both biochemistry and molecular biology. Outside of work you can find Savannah at an art museum or running along the trails in the Santa Barbara foothills.
1) Tell us about your job at Apeel Sciences.
I am a Senior Scientist on the Biological Sciences team at Apeel. I use molecular biology techniques to investigate how — at the molecular level — plants (including fruits and vegetables) respond to their environment. By studying these responses, we are able to better understand, quantify and even predict produce traits, such as poor quality due to mold.
2) Did you always want to become a scientist? What drew you to biology specifically?
Yes! I always wanted to be a scientist, even as a kid. Growing up on the Gulf Coast of Florida, I was surrounded by really beautiful and interesting ocean organisms and ecosystems that totally fascinated me. I was always digging around in the sand looking for crabs, swimming around the ocean chasing fish or running around the marsh after lizards.
This obsession with the natural world led me to pursue biology and chemistry as a specialization as early as high school, followed by a bachelor’s and master’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology. My research in both undergraduate and graduate school focused on characterizing how particular structures in the cells of sea slugs, called nudibranchs, interact with light to produce visible color.
This work was inspired by the desire to understand how nature produces efficient pigment-less color, with the goal of applying these learnings in human color production. Here at Apeel Sciences, I now employ this same principle of bio-inspiration to food production and preservation.
3) What is your favorite thing about working at Apeel Sciences?
There are so many great things that it’s hard to choose just one! One of my favorite things is the work environment in the office. The company creates a research and development environment that is both incredibly results-driven and incredibly team-oriented. It’s a balance that is not easy to come by! It makes work so much fun and gives me a sense of purpose to feel invested in others’ work, even as I feel like my teammates are invested in mine.
4) What is the project that you’ve been most excited about while working at Apeel Sciences?
Studying fruit responses to stress is so wild! It’s incredible to me that the fruit we eat is truly a living, breathing organism that responds to the world around it in a way that we can measure.
5) What's the best advice you've ever received?
“Learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s in the space outside of your comfort zone where you can learn your limits, find your shortcomings and grow.”
Want to learn more from Savannah? Check out our interview with her about the secret lives of avocados or keep your eyes on our Instagram story where she will pop up to let us know more about the science behind fruits and vegetables!
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