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

Latest lab news....

Best Poster presentation at the 9th Biennial Bay Delta Science Conference in Sacramento, CA this week: Anastasia G. Ennis for her poster: “Developing tools for endangered salt marsh harvest mouse conservation: Genetic identification of species and population variation using functional loci”

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 phytogeography and immunogenetics of the Irrawaddy dolphins of SE Asia, with graduate student Sam Ayyargari.

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).

At the Sea Star Summit organized by the Seattle Aquarium, Sarah presented a talk on dramatic changes in cryptic Leptasterias species distributions on the central California coast (January 2016).

The new 3rd edition of the textbook Invertebrates (Brusca, Moore, and Shuster) is published, with a tunicate section revised by Sarah and including photographs by lab members Vanessa Guerra, Joseph Spaulding, Berta Colom, and Philippines tunicate photos by Sarah from the California Academy of Sciences expeditions.

Two separate posters at the annual meeting in Portland, Oregon this year of the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology featured the tunicate allorecogition and sea star behavior and genetics work of numerous lab members including Berta Colom, Joseph Spaulding, Vanessa Miller-Sims and Sarah Cohen on tunicates and Caleb Shaw, Laura Melroy, Janet Bair, Renate Eberl, Jeyna Perez, and Sarah Cohen on sea stars (January 2016).

Happy Holidays from the Wise Women of the Intertidal!
Summer, Jeyna, and Renate!

KeChaunte Johnson received a $3000 COAST Graduate Student Research Award for her Master's research on: "Comparison of mitochondrial and nuclear genetic variation of copepods in the San Francisco Estuary"

Lab double-header on December 15 at RTC: 
At 10 am, Laura Melroy presents her Master's thesis talk:
Stars: Where are they now? Temporal and spatial variation in population structure and distribution for direct-developing sea stars in the Leptasterias genus
And, at 2 pm, Danielle Desmet presents her Master's thesis talk, 2 pm:
Founding Fish: Gene duplication contributes to immunological diversity in bottlenecked populations of introduced Rainwater killifish​​​
Darragh Clancy presents her Master's thesis on December 7 at RTC: 

Examining Genetic Diversity and Fusion Abilities of an Invasive Colonial Ascidian

Undergraduate Marine Biology major Rachel Weinberg received a CSU COAST award for her continuing work with Darragh Clancy on “Didemnum vexillum Fusion Genetics.”  Congratulations Rachel!

Presentations at CERF, Portland, Oregon in early November: Anastasia Ennis speaking on immunogenetic diversity in endangered marsh mice (supported by a travel award from CSUPERB), Laura Melroy and Joseph Spaulding presenting posters on sea star phylogeographic variation and invasive Botryllus tunicate population genetic variation in new Alaskan populations.

Lots of news!

KeChaunte Johnson and Tim Fuller presented their Research in Progress talks on October 28 in the RTC Wednesday seminar series on copepod genetic diversity and invasive fish immunogenetics, respectively.

New NSF funding for continuing SFSU REU students, including RTC undergraduate Ryan Fergusson!

Poster presentations at the State of the Estuary meeting on immunogenetic variation by Anastasia Ennis (endangered SF Bay salt marsh harvest mice) and Calvin Lee (SF Bay English sole).

Welcome new undergraduate research interns: Stella Park, Gabrielle Reta, Gerardo Aguilar, and Summer Rosa-Barnette.

Sarah, postdoctoral associate Dr. Renate Eberl, and Laura Melroy receive a CSU COAST RAPID award to follow up on the impacts of wasting on Leptasterias populations and clade distributions in central California and Mendocino county in a partnership with Santa Rosa Junior College and SFSU undergraduates.

 Master's graduate Vanessa Guerra begins a PhD in Mike Hart's lab at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, B.C.