“Besides getting sweat on me at times, I have enjoyed the experience”

5 questions with PepsiCo’s Shyretha Brown
Laurel Oldach
Dec. 11, 2020

Shyretha Brown had an academic postdoc lined up prior to attending Experimental Biology 2017. In the EB exhibit hall, she came across a postdoc opportunity at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute and learned that it takes a lot of physiology research to make a good workout recovery drink. Now a senior scientist at PepsiCo, Brown works on products like a wearable sweat sensor that gives athletes personalized hydration instructions. Reached by phone, Brown told ASBMB Today about her career path and her educational outreach. This interview has been condensed.


Name: Shyretha Brown

Current position: Senior scientist, PepsiCo

Degree: Ph.D., biological sciences, Tennessee State University, 2017

Postdoc: Gatorade Sports Science Institute

Favorite protein: Interleukin-6

What did you study in graduate school?

I studied how environmental contaminants, such as butyltins, affect immune cell function — specifically interleukins IL-1β and IL-6. I didn't know that my graduate school work could be applied to industry. Now that I think back on it, I wish that more opportunities related to science and how applicable it is to industry had been discussed in grad school.

What did a normal day look like for you pre-COVID-19?

I conduct human clinical trials with athletes. On a normal day, I would monitor the athlete during a stationary bike ride or treadmill run, collect sweat samples and analyze those samples in our biochemistry lab. Besides getting sweat on me at times, I have enjoyed the experience.

My normal day without scrubs involved paperwork around those trials. I also work on a few innovation and education related projects.

You also founded an education nonprofit?

I founded a nonprofit called Building Bridges Inc. to expose, equip and empower young girls to pursue STEM through self-awareness education. The main goal is to fill in gaps by building bridges that will empower young girls to embrace creative thinking and endless possibilities. Our most popular program pre–COVID-19 was "The Science Behind Hair." Students learned the hair growth cycle and then made their own conditioner and shampoo.

Why is education important to you?

Growing up, my mind was first set on becoming a nurse, then a medical doctor. Those things didn't happen. It was through education that I got exposed to research in undergrad, which led to other opportunities. Opportunity after opportunity has exposed me to what else is out there that I didn't know about previously. If you don't know, you just don't know!

I'm very passionate about mentoring and exposing youth to different opportunities so they can spend less time jumping the hurdles. If I can be a stepping stone to help someone get there quicker than I did, then I'm OK with that.

Any advice you wish you'd gotten?

Enjoy the ride; however, know the destination. Meaning set the pace and enjoy the journey, but know exactly what you're trying to accomplish.

(This story was updated Jan. 7, 2021 to correct Brown’s graduation date and remove an erroneous reference to Johnson & Johnson.)

Would you like to suggest an ASBMB member who works in industry for a Five Questions interview? Send an email to ASBMB Today.

Enjoy reading ASBMB Today?

Become a member to receive the print edition monthly and the digital edition weekly.

Learn more
Laurel Oldach

Laurel Oldach is a former science writer for the ASBMB.

Featured jobs

from the ASBMB career center

Get the latest from ASBMB Today

Enter your email address, and we’ll send you a weekly email with recent articles, interviews and more.

Latest in Industry

Industry highlights or most popular articles

'Keep developing your expertise'

'Keep developing your expertise'

Sept. 16, 2022

Anand Balakrishnan is a biochemist at Enanta Pharmaceuticals. He leads a team that has worked on respiratory syncytial virus, SARS-CoV-2 and hepatitis B virus.

Turning points

Turning points

Aug. 24, 2022

Eight scientists from academia and industry reflect on how mentors have impacted their lives.

Why are drug names so long and complicated?

Why are drug names so long and complicated?

Aug. 20, 2022

A pharmacist explains the logic behind the nomenclature.

‘I wanted to go where I was needed’

‘I wanted to go where I was needed’

Aug. 19, 2022

Yuliya McAnany, a senior associate scientist at Amicus Therapeutics, talked to our industry careers columnist about her work.

Parents become drug developers to save their children’s lives

Parents become drug developers to save their children’s lives

Aug. 14, 2022

Half of all rare-disease patients are children, and their families have long pushed to speed up cures. Now, some families are forming their own biotech businesses.

As pharma loses interest in new antibiotics, infections grow stronger

As pharma loses interest in new antibiotics, infections grow stronger

July 22, 2022

CDC reports that infections unfazed by oral antibiotics expanded their range during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.