Stephanie Schnorr, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, discusses her work studying digestion and the gut microbiome.
Schnorr is fascinated with diet, digestion, and what’s going on in our guts. She is a biological anthropologist who studies the human diet and gut microbiome as they pertain to human evolution. Of particular interest is how humans have such large brains. Schnorr studies dietary behavior, physiological adaptations, as well as the complete gut microbiome in relation to various environments humans have occupied. She takes a scientific eye to the study of these elements and environments, seeking evidence of the basic components that ultimately enable the existence of large-brained hominins.
As a trained biological anthropologist, Schnorr talks about the path she took from early education to her current advanced study and research. As she explains, her interest in sports performance, as well as muscle function and metabolism, made her more curious about what it takes to sustain a human organism. And her graduate dissertation work existed within this area of study. Her fascination with the gut microbiome pushed her to expand her research and look at what may be the greatest contributions it provides.
She discusses human development historically and poses the questions: what are we specialized to do, to eat, etc. Answering her question, she states that we actually have no specialization historically, that we are extremely adaptable. These questions pushed her to dig deeper into the power of the gut microbiome, metabolism, etc. Everyone, to some degree, has allergic reactions she states, which indicates there is a reaction to the environment. She discusses antibiotics, sleep, foods we eat, sanitation, stress, and pesticides, etc., and how it all affects us. She explains the connection to a healthier life via a mineral-fueled, more nutritious diet. And ultimately, the higher nutritional value in a diet helps one’s body to better adjust or combat allergies and other things that our bodies must contend with. Our immune system, as she states, is there to keep the microbial community in line.
Schnorr has worked in a wide variety of locations and laboratories, from deep within the beauty of East Africa, to specialized, ultra clean lab spaces designed for the study of ancient DNA, and many other kinds of labs and environments in between. Her detailed research and analyses have been published in many academic journals and noted in some of the most well known scientific periodicals and papers.