Welcome to Sarah Cohen's SFSU Evolutionary Ecology Lab in the Biology Department

Latest lab news....

Welcome new lab volunteers, Kris Daum and Stephanie Humphrey

Congratulations to our research colleagues Cecilia Hernandez, Ryan Fergusson, and Randy Fisher for completing their undergraduate degrees! Congratulations to Carl Braun for acceptance into the Mills College premedical degree program. Congratulations graduate student KeChaunte Johnson for an NIH award to attend Seattle Summer Statistical Genetics sessions at the University of Washington.

Anastasia Ennis presented a talk on immunogenetic variation among populations of an endangered mouse at the 

Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse Symposium

Welcome new postdoc, Kevin Leempoel!!

Welcome new graduate students Rebecca Gies, Margaret Johnson, and coming soon, George Czech!

See our notice on the PISCO webpage asking for subtidal Leptasterias observations -- scroll down to UPDATE - APR 24, 2017

And, check out our new flier for divers interested in sea star citizen science (May 2017)

Jeyna Perez and Sam Ayyagari present posters at the SFSU Graduate Showcase on their research in progress on Pacific Northwest sea star phylogeography and endangered river dolphins in SE Asia respectively (April 2017). Thanks for representing us! Sam also showed a poster at the SFSU COSE Poster Workshop on main campus.

Rachel Weinberg won a $1740 Libbie H. Hyman Memorial Scholarship sponsored by the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology to facilitate her participation in the Taxonomy and Biology of Tunicates course at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Bocas Research Station in Panama this summer (2.27.2017). 

Thanks to help from main campus engineering and Physics Department collaborator Dr. Roger Bland along with Peter Verdone, our first 3D printed sea star grabber is being tested on Leptasterias!

Rocky intertidal field conditions have been so interesting lately! Here's a video by Glenda Niven from our Marine Ecology class field trip in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco (2.7.2017).

Congratulations IRA award winners: Benson Chow, KeChaunte Johnson, Rachel Weinberg, Noah Jaffe, Sam Ayyagari, and Daniel Hossfeld

Congratulations to graduate students Sam Ayyagari and Rachel Weinberg for their COAST awards for their graduate research on immunogenetic variation in wild populations (Sam) and chimerism and population genetic variation in tunicates (Rachel)! (February 2017)

Thank you to Lily Fornof and Aidan Greer, Swarthmore College January externs, for assisting us with Leptasterias field and wet lab experiments. Your work on the attachment strength assays with SFSU Physics Professor Roger Bland and the rest of our group was terrific.

Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology presentations in New Orleans in January from our lab including Rachel Weinberg's talk on Dvex fusion outcomes, Benson Chow's poster on colonial growth rates in characterized habitats, Jamie Bucholz's poster on progression of sea star wasting disease in Leptasterias, Ryan Fergusson's poster on botryllid phylogenetics of the Philippines, and Renate Eberl's poster on spatial and temporal variation in Leptasterias population abundance related to SSWD.

Sarah Cohen gave a public lecture for the Marin Chapter of the World Affairs Council on November 16 at Dominican University entitled, "Global Warning: The Accelerating Danger". 

Carl Braun (SRJC) and Randy Fisher (SFSU) presented a poster, "Leptasterias spp. and Sea Star Wasting Disease: A Temperature and Salinity Challenge Experiment" at the 100th Western Society of Naturalists Meeting in Monterey, November 13, 2016.
Coauthors on the poster included San Francisco high school student Marcus D’Avignon, undergraduate students Jamie Bucholz (REU, Univ Wisconsin), Stella Park (SFSU), Michael Langhans (UCSC), Summer Rosa Barnette (UCB), Madeline Salesky (Brown University), Ze Gong (UCB), and Paco Villegas (SRJC), SFSU graduate students Noah Jaffe, Rachel Weinberg and Benson Chow, NSF REU ROA research associate Renate Eberl and PI Sarah Cohen are additional co-authors of this research conducted in the wetlab at RTC.

Welcome new graduate student Daniel Hossfeld from UC Davis and the Watershed Stewards Program.

New collaboration with Dr Susana Caballero of the Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Columbia, and Dr Ellen Hines of SFSU Geography on phylogeography and immunogenetics of the Irrawaddy dolphins of SE Asia, with graduate student Sam Ayyagari.

Graduate student Tim Fuller presented a poster at the 43rd annual Southeastern Population Ecology and Evolutionary Genetics (SEPEEG) in Madison, Florida, October 21-23 2016, on his intriguing patterns of mitochondrial variation in his ongoing work on native populations of the rainwater killifish, Lucania parva.

Congratulations to Rachel Weinberg and Benson Chow on their SFSU IRA travel awards to present their work at a national meeting. 

Dr Meg Daly from Ohio State University visits RTC to present her talk Exploring Parts Unknown: The Biodiversity and Evolution of Sea Anemones in the Rosenberg Institute Seminar Series, with visits also to the SFSU Marine Invertebrate Biology class, the California Academy of Sciences, and local field sites.

Sarah and Mai Ly Cohen Barschall participated in the Bay Day celebration at the Exploration with live tunicates and other local invertebrates for demonstration and discussion of human impacts on San Francisco Bay and beyond (October 1, 2016)

Calvin Lee presented his poster on his Master's research on English sole MHC variation in SF Bay at the BAPG XIV​

Bay Area Population Genomics Meeting held at SFSU on September 17th, 2016

New collaborator Dr Marie Nydam visits from Centre College, Kentucky to work on ascidian genomes.

Welcome to our new Cohen lab grad cohort this fall: Rachel Weinberg (SFSU), Noah Jaffe (Pitzer College), and Geoffrey Schroeder (CDFW and University of Alabama).

New collaboration with Dr. Evan Lau of Menlo College, Atherton, California to work on sea star microbial and viral pathogen surveillance.

New funding from COAST for sea star immunogenetics (July 2016)!

Research presentations by Ryan Fergusson and Rachel Weinberg at the Evolution meeting in Austin, TX and by Anastasia Ennis at the American Society of Mammalogists meeting in Minneapolis, MN (June 2016).

Congratulations to Rachel Weinberg for her award-winning poster on Didemnum fusion at the SFSU College of Science and Engineering Research Showcase! (May 2016).

Congratulations to undergraduate NSF REU researcher Ryan Fergusson for receiving a travel award to attend the national annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Evolution in Austin, TX this June, where he will present a poster on research delineating the remarkable diversity of ascidians in the Philippines, in collaboration with Master's alumna Darragh Clancy, and summer 2015 volunteer Kelly Donahoe.

Congratulations to Anastasia Ennis for her travel award from CSU COAST to attend the Mammalogy society meeting in Minneapolis this June to present her work on immune system variation in SF Bay endangered marsh mice.

Lots of recent lab outreach activities including: talks at the Children's Day School of San Francisco (with assistance from lab volunteers Samantha Prado and Mai Ly Cohen Barschall), the Villa Marin senior community in San Rafael (with assistance from SFSU graduate seminar participants in BIOL 862, Molecular Ecology and Evolution), and a 6th grade field trip to Duxbury Reef with 10 classes from Oak Grove Middle School in Concord, CA, organized by former Cohen lab STAR intern Zachary Sturbaum. Volunteers generously assisting with the field trip included STAR mentors/instructors Dr. Larry Horvath of SFSU Education and Analise Heid, members of the Cal Academy/Marin MPA monitoring network, entering graduate student Noah Jaffe, and more! (April 2016)

New funding from the NSF ROA program for Renate Eberl to continue her sea star research with us as a supplement to the SFSU/RTC REU site program (April 2016)!

Funding for Jeyna Perez to sample Leptasterias in Washington state from the Strathmann fund of Friday Harbor Labs (April 2016)!

Just published online, open access in Ecology and Evolution!

Elizabeth A. Sheets, C. Sarah Cohen, Gregory M. Ruiz and Rosana M. da Rocha

Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

Current estimates of the number and rate of introductions into tropical regions are likely underestimated due to poor systematic and historical data, but molecular tools can help address these gaps. We used a multigene approach to investigate the global spread of Botrylloides nigrum, a tropical marine species in the model botryllid ascidian group of invertebrate chordates. Genetic analyses revealed a single, rather than multispecies, invasion pattern characterized by low genetic diversity across four major ocean basins; mtCOI genotyping also revealed low rates of chimerism. 

Anastasia Ennis presented an invited poster at the CSU Chancellor's meeting COAST/WRPI poster session in Long Beach this week on her research on endangered salt march mouse immunogenetics showing her findings of contrasting MHC diversity among SF Bay regions (March 8, 2016).

Sarah Cohen gave a talk on Feb. 4, at the main campus seminar series, Colloquium in Microbiology, Cell and Molecular Biology, on "Response to disease in coastal environments: Host immunity and susceptibility in fish, mice, and sea stars."

Former REU summer intern Abby Vander Linden is beginning her PhD at UMass, Amherst in Elizabeth Dumont's lab (Fall 2015)!

New funding from SFSU CCLS, mini-grant to initiate transcriptome-based analyses of Leptasterias with collaborator, Pleuni Pennings (winter 2016)!

Sarah presented a mini-seminar on tunicates and molecular recognition systems in the Rosenberg RTC Wednesday seminar series (winter 2016).

First year graduate student Sam Ayyagari presented his Research In Progress talk at RTC in the Rosenberg Seminar series:
"Examining the Major Histocompatibility Complex Class I Functional Diversity in the Rainwater Killifish (Lucania parva)" (winter 2016).