Sierra Simmerman


Sierra was born in Colorado but spent most of her life in the biodiverse hotbeds of Indonesia and Thailand. Sierra’s interest in Biology started at a young age, this manifested first as coral reef regeneration projects and later through a public health initiative based on something many of us take for granted - iodized salt.

In 2015, Sierra moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington and graduated with a B.S. in Cellular, Molecular and Developmental Biology and a minor in Art History. She worked all 4 years of her undergraduate in the Goering Lab at the Center for Neurotechnology studying the ethical implications of Brain Computer Interfaces. She worked on several projects while in the lab but was particularly interested in studying how the analogies used in research largely affect society's understanding of the risk, effectiveness and complexity of new science, leading to significant long-term implications. While at the Goering lab Sierra was nominated for the National Science Foundation Undergraduate Research Program as a UW Fellow. As a fellow she conducted research that she later presented at the International Neuroethics Society Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. Her work in this field and passion for the topic resulted in the publication of her first paper in the Penn Bioethics Journal.

Post-graduation, Sierra joined the Malik lab to continue developing her skills in molecular and genomic techniques. Her current work involves studying rapidly evolving centromeric genes like Umbrea in different Drosophila species. Sierra is particularly interested in cases where we see young genes arising and cases of neofunctionalization. Through her research she hopes to piece together an understanding of the functional consequences in these genes. 

When not in the lab, Sierra is studying for the MCAT and plans to attend medical school in 2022. Sierra is eager to focus on the intersection of public health, ethics and the functional consequences of rapid evolution. Sierra also enjoys exploring the great Pacific Northwest with her dog, Brie, whom she is training to become a therapy dog.


Tubig, P., Simmerman, S. (2019) Cognitive Enhancement and Metaphor Choice as Moral Choice, AJOB Neuroscience, 10:1, 50-51, DOI: 10.1080/21507740.2019.1595780

Simmerman, S. “A Technology Unlike Any Other: BCIs and the Analogies to Understand Its Ethical Implications.” Penn Bioethics Journal., vol. 14, no. 1, 2018, p. 11.