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

Latest lab news....

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.