Tomorrow’s Scientists: Marena Guzman

Marena Guzman in the lab.

Working in School of Molecular Biosciences doctoral candidate Marena Guzman is a long way from her home in Phoenix, Arizona – nearly 1,000 miles as the crow flies – but she has settled right in at WSU, where her accomplishments both in and out of the lab will leave lasting marks.

Dr. Alan Goodman’s lab, Marena’s research focuses on the natural immune response to Coxiella burnetii using fruit flies. C. burnetti causes Q fever in humans and also infects ruminants, ticks, birds and invertebrates.

Outside of the lab, Marena, a first-generation college student and a DACA recipient, is the current student advisor for the Crimson Group, an activist support group for undocumented students at WSU Pullman. She is also the president of the Society for Advancing Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science Student Chapter at WSU, a student organization aimed at supporting minority undergraduate and graduate students in STEM. 

“The society encompasses all of my interests, which are science, equity, social networking and empowerment,” she said. “I look forward to seeing how my academic journey all comes together as I prepare to defend within the next year.” 

When she can find free time, Marena enjoys the company of her young cat, Cami, who also goes by Schmoopsie Poo (from “Monsters Inc.”) and Sweet Potato. Pre-pandemic, she was a fan of get-togethers, going out for food with her friends, traveling, dancing, and going to the gym. 

“I really enjoy that the community around WSU is very close because it’s a small town and everyone knows each other,” she said. “I like to support student groups, different departments in WSU, and local food businesses. It just makes me happy to see people I know thriving.” 

Marena said she is unsure what she will do once she completes her doctoral work, but she hopes to move south to be closer to family.

“I am very open to different ideas — I could do a post-doc in science or slowly transition into a job that involves advocacy for underrepresented minorities and science communication,” she said. “I’m happy that my interests will allow me to apply for a wide range of ‘next-step’ jobs.”