Isaiah Smith



Address: University of Southern California, Department of Earth Sciences

825 Bloom Walk, ACB 302

Los Angeles, California 90089-0740



     I am interested in understanding how living things interact in extreme environments and evolve over long periods of time. Currently, my work focuses on bioinformatic analyses of genetic information obtained from Icelandic sub-glacial microbial communities.


USC Department of Earth Sciences, Amend Lab, Undergraduate Researcher (2018-present)

  • Characterized novel microbes from a glacial subsurface lake, processed and analyzed genetic sequencing data, and assisted with a variety of geochemical and microbiological assays and projects.


USC Department of Biological Sciences, Caron Lab, Undergraduate Researcher (2017– present)

  • Examined how dissolved nutrient concentrations affect organismal growth rate and ecosystem composition, and tested the effect of variations in salinity on the toxicity of algal blooms.


Independent Study in Environmental Philosophy (ENST 490) (Spring 2018)

  • Examined the socioeconomic and environmental aspects of urban green space in Los Angeles, California[JF3]  through in depth analysis of various peer-reviewed publications.


Paleontology Field Assistant – British Columbia, Canada (August 2018)

  • Assisted paleontologists studying mass extinctions and biodiversity fluctuations in the Cache Creek and Porcupine Creek regions of the Canadian Rockies.


Field Geology Maymester – Southern Spain (May 2018)

  • Learned structural geology and basic field geology techniques during two weeks spent in the Betic Mountains of southern Spain.


Southern California Lake Sampling – Los Angeles County, California (Summer 2017)

  • Collected water from local lakes and streams in southern California for geochemical and ecological analysis in the David Caron Lab.



University of Southern California, B.S. in Earth Sciences, B.A. in Human Evolutionary Biology 2020




Dean’s List (Fall 2016 – Present)

  • Awarded each semester to students earning a GPA of 3.5 or higher

Provost Undergraduate Research Fellowship (Spring 2018)

Robert O. Stone Scholarship (July 2018)

  • Awarded to outstanding undergraduates pursuing studies in the earth sciences.


Del Amo Award (January 2018)

  • Provides funding for students pursuing scholarly activities in Spain.


USC Academic Achievement Award (December 2017)

  • Provides funding for high-achieving undergraduates to enroll in extra units during a given academic semester. 


USC Spanish and Portuguese JEP Mentoring Award (December 2016)

  • Awarded to one student each semester for showing outstanding scholarship and dedication to community service in the local Spanish-speaking community.


Valparaiso Schools Foundation Incoming Freshman Scholarship (May 2016)

  • Awarded each spring to highly achieving students entering their freshman year of college the following fall.


Emilie J. Skoog, Jayme Feyhl-Buska, Isaiah E. Smith, Annette R. Rowe, Jan P. Amend (2018). Assessing the physiology of sulfur oxidizing bacteria in an Icelandic volcanic subglacial lake. Southern California Geobiology Symposium, University of California at Riverside, Riverside, CA.


SC Outfitters Wilderness Guide (April 2018 – present)

  • Organized and led wilderness trips designed to introduce members of the USC community to safe and sustainable backcountry practices.


USC Joint Education Project (Fall 2016)

  • Volunteered at John W. Mack Elementary School in Los Angeles, California each week during the fall of 2016.


Sigma Gamma Epsilon Geology Honor Society (August 2017 – Present)

USC Rock Climbing Team (Gear Manager) (August 2016 – Present)

USC Environmental Core (August 2016 – Present)



  • Petrology

  • Mineralogy

  • Introduction to Geosystems

  • Field Geology

  • Paleontology


Data Analysis

  • Biological Statistics

  • Analysis of Biological Data in R



  • Evolution and Population Genetics

  • Molecular Biology

  • Cell and Organismal Biology

  • The Human Animal (Biological Anthropology)