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

Latest lab news....

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. 

Good bye to wonderful interns who are departing, high school students Samantha and Erin, teacher researcher intern Caleb, and undergraduate interns Monica, Kelly, and also Berta...we'll miss you! come back and visit us soon!

Welcome new graduate students Sam Ayyagari and Jeyna Perez joining us from UCSC and UCLA, respectively!

Caleb Shaw, CeSAME STAR teacher intern, gives invited talk at the end of the summer STAR research symposium in the south bay on his work with us on Leptasterias behavioral variation related to phylogenetic clade identity and intertidal habitat variation.

Undergraduate interns present talks at SFSU summer research symposia on main campus (Ryan and Monica) and at RTC (Ryan, Monica, Kelly, Caleb, and Berta).

Welcome new high school summer interns: Samantha Prado (Lowell High School, San Francisco) and Erin Hollander (Drake High School, Marin)!

Congratulations to Laura Melroy on her second place award within the Evolution, Organismal Biology and Biodiversity session at the AAAS Pacific Division Meeting for her poster entitled “Stars: Where Are They Now? Delineating Species Boundaries In Space and Time for the Leptasterias Genus”.

Welcome new CeSAME STAR summer intern Caleb Shaw, from New Hampshire!

Welcome new Cohen lab NSF REU summer interns: Ryan Fergusson (SFSU) and Monica Elizondo (Diablo Valley College and UC, Berkeley)!

Welcome to new Cohen lab volunteers: Janet Bair, Kelly Donahoe (Tufts University), and Bing Huey!

Anastasia Ennis's blog on the BAASICS site about her salt march harvest mouse thesis work in San Francisco Bay: http://buff.ly/1HA4tBq 

Congratulations to the 2015 RTC SFSU graduates! Congratulations to Peter Drell and Nyri Scanlon for finishing their undergraduate degrees while participating in research at RTC.

Sarah returned from a month of fieldwork and outreach sponsored by the California Academy of Sciences NSF Biotic Survey in the center of the center of marine biodiversity, the Verde Island Passage in the Philippines. See photos and more at Steven Bedard's blog: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/expeditions/2015/04/22/the-richest-reef-life-in-layers/

Laura Melroy presented a research poster at the SFSU Graduate Showcase: "Stars: Where Are They Now? Delineating Species Boundaries In Space and Time for the Genus Leptasterias"

Danielle Desmet presented a research poster at the Bay Area Student Conservation Biology meeting at UCB in April, "Founding fish: Assessing bottlenecked Rainwater killifish populations using a functional locus." 

Sarah joined colleagues in lightning talks at the RTC inaugural Bay Science Collaborative, with a talk entitled: Connectivity Defines Bay and Coastal Population Changes and Responses to Stress. 

Undergraduate U.K. exchange student Alice Dore received a CSU COAST award to fund field and genetic research on acanthocephalan parasites of mole crabs in collaboration with the LiMPETs beach monitoring project, with Dr. Karina Nielsen's beach health Sea Grant research, and in collaboration with Dr. Abigail Zoger at Santa Rosa Junior College, and with assistance from Janet Bair and Darragh Clancy.

Great news from former REU summer intern, Catie Alves, accepting a PhD position at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill to study coral reef fish conservation in John Bruno's lab.

Congratulations to Laura Melroy and Calvin Lee on their talks March 18th in the Rosenberg RTC Seminar series on their graduate work in progress. Laura presented on, Spatial and Temporal Variation in Population Structure of the Direct-Developing Sea Stars in the Leptasterias Species Complex, and Calvin presented his research in a talk entitledImmunogenetic variation and tumor incidence of juvenile English sole across an estuarine gradient of contaminants

Welcome to visiting undergraduate researcher Berta Colom from the University of Barcelona, Spain! Berta is here thanks to an NSF EcoEvoDevo Research Coordination Network grant.

Calvin Lee received the Walter Carr Award for a talk on his master thesis work titled "X-cell tumors in juvenile English sole (Parophrys vetulus) and Immunogenetic Variation" at the Northern California Parasitology meeting at UCSF on 2/7/2015. 

EcoEvoDevo review paper from NSF NESCENT workshop accepted for publication in Evolution and Development: 

Moczek AP, Sears, KE, Stollewerk A, Wittkopp PJ, Diggle P, Dworkin I, Ledon-Rettig C, Matus DQ, Roth S, Abouheif E, Brown FD, Chiu C, Cohen CS, De Tomaso AW, Gilbert SF, Hall B, Love A, Lyons DC, Sanger T, Smith J, Specht C, Vallejo-Marin M, Extavour CG (2015). The significance and scope of evolutionary developmental biology: a vision for the 21st century. Accepted for publication, February 2015.