Members

Mónica Medina

Principal Investigator, mum55 at psu dot edu  

I am interested in a wide range of topics dealing with the ecology and evolution of marine organisms including charismatic invertebrates like corals and molluscs, as well as other less known but equally fun critters like algae, fungi and microbes. My Google Scholar profile is available here.

Allison Kerwin 

Postdoctoral Fellow, ahk135 at psu dot edu      

I research host-microbe interactions in corals and the jellyfish Cassiopea xamachana, using next-generation sequencing and microscopy as well as experimental ecology studies to address a wide range of questions.

Sofia Roitman

Ph.D candidate, , sxr410 at psu dot edu

I am interested in coral microbiology, microbial ecology, and host-microbe interactions. I am currently pursuing research projects that focus on the coral microbiome and how microbial diversity and community structure affect coral health and vulnerability to disease.

 Viridiana Avila Magaña

Ph.D. candidate, vxa146 at psu dot edu

My research is focused on comparative marine genomics of cnidarian-algae symbiosis. I am interested in combining bioinformatics and field research; in particular, the molecular recognition and cell-cell communication during the establishment of symbiosis between cnidarians (Corals and Jellyfish) and Symbiodinium. Thus, understanding how these mechanisms evolved in different species. Ultimately, I aim to describe coral bleaching in terms of the disruption of communication that takes place between the different members in the holobiont.

  Ana María González Angel

Ph.D candidate, amg449 at psu dot edu

I am interested in coral reproduction, ecology and evolution; and I have focused on reproduction in the Orbicella species complex. I am studying the reproductive isolation mechanisms that prevent these organisms from interbreeding including pre-zygotic temporal isolation and pre-zygotic gamete recognition. (I am also the webmaster. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions!)

Victoria Sharp

Ph.D student vzs95 at psu dot edu

I am exploring how symbiosis in the model organism Cassiopea xamachana influences its regeneration success across its entire life cycle. By narrowing down the developmental gene pathways associated with regeneration, our lab can discover to what extent symbiosis aids general life expectancy in cnidarians and potentially find conserved regeneration-associated genes across Phylum Cnidaria.

Julia Stewart

Ph.D. student, jus1828 at psu dot edu

I am interested in coral immunity and discovering bioindicators of coral health that can be used for coral conservation. As part of the EMP500, I am studying coral health by analyzing the metabolomes, metagenomes, and microbiomes of the biological compartments of coral tissue, mucus and skeleton. I am also comparing the metabolomes and microbiomes of healthy and diseased corals to describe the pathogenicity of the lethal stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD).

Sarah Duncan

Undergraduate student, sed5414 at psu dot edu

I am a Biology major focusing on the Vertebrate Physiology track with a minor in Marine Science. I was excited to be able to join this lab because of my interests in marine biology and coral microbiology. My career goals include either attending graduate school to focus on marine biology or attending veterinarian school with hopes of becoming an aquatic veterinarian one day. Currently, I am being trained to perform PCR analysis and Electrophoresis Gel runs as well. I am helping to assist on the Global Coral Microbiome Project, under the supervision of Sofia Roitman. I look forward to learning new information and acquiring new research techniques as I grow throughout the years in this lab.

Alexa Plisiewicz

Undergraduate student, arp5625 at psu dot edu

I am a Biology major with the Vertebrate Physiology option and a business minor. I am interested in exploring coral symbiosis with bacteria and other marine life. As an undergraduate student in the Medina lab, I am currently working with multiple Symbiodiniceae species to develop growth curves for them. My work is under the supervision of Allison Kerwin, our postdoctoral fellow, and Victoria Sharp, a Ph.D. student. I hope to be an integral part of the research team throughout my remaining time at Penn State, and further my knowledge of the ecology of coral and the fundamentals of research techniques.

Kate Karlen

Undergraduate student, kmk6312 at psu dot edu

I am a Biology major with an Ecology emphasis. Because I have always been interested in marine biology, I am incredibly grateful to be a part of this lab! I am currently conducting research under Dr. Allison Kerwin, studying the effects of metamorphosis and symbiosis on the microbiome of Cassiopea xamachana, better known as the “Upside-Down Jellyfish”. I have future hopes to pursue a career in wildlife conservation, and I look forward to all the opportunities and knowledge I will gain from the Medina Lab!

Alesandra Echeandia

Undergraduate student, ase5152 psu dot edu

I am a Biology major with a concentration in Neuroscience and a minor in Italian. I am currently conducting research under Dr. Allison Kerwin, working in characterizing the physiological potential of symbiotic bacterial strains. I’ve always had a passion for Marine Biology and through my research I am able to explore different realms of the field. I’m excited in continuing my work and gaining knowledge along the way!


Former lab members

Graduate students

Aki Ohdera, post-doc at Cal Tech (Ph.D. student, class of 2018)

Styles Smith (Master’s student, class of 2018)

Bishoy Hanna, Research Assistant Professor at the University of New Mexico (Ph.D. student, class of 2016)

Erika Diaz, Assistant Professor at the New College of Florida (Ph.D. student, class of 2015)

Collin Closek, post-doc at Stanford University (Ph.D. student, class of 2014)

Elizabeth Green (Master’s student, class of 2014)

Aubrie O’Rourke (Master’s student, class of 2011)

Zer Vue, post-doc at UCSF (Master’s student, class of 2010)

Shinichi Sunagawa, Principal Investigator at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (Ph.D. student, class of 2008)

Michael DeSalvo, Phalanx Biotech Group (Ph.D. student, class of 2008).

Postdocs

Joseph Pollock, Director of Coral Strategy for The Nature Conservancy Caribbean Division (postdoc 2015 – 2017)

Carlos Prada, Assistant Professor at the University of Rhode Island (postdoc 2014-2016)

Michele Weber (postdoc 2012-2014)

Kristen Marhaver, Principal Investigator at CARMABI Foundation (postdoc 2011-2013)

Emmanuel Buschiazzo (postdoc 2010-2012)

Kevin Portune (postdoc 2008)

Christian Voolstra, Associate Professor at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (postdoc 2006-2008)

Alejandro Reyes-Bermudez, Principal Investigator at the Universidad de la Amazonia in Colombia (postdoc 2007)

Jodi Schwarz, Professor at Vassar (postdoc 2004-2005)

Undergraduate students

Daniel Winstead, Biology major with minors in Marine Science, and Wildlife and Fisheries; studied the process of host-symbiont specificity between multiple Symbiodinium species and Cassiopea xamachana. Daniel is now working in fish conservation.

Leslie Johnson, Biology major; characterized the physiology of symbiotic bacterial strains associated with Orbicella faveolata. Leslie is now a Master’s student at San Diego State University.

Tori Takaoka, Marcos Espinoza, Shay Moonsor, Lewis Gotico, Zer Vue, Claudia Velazquez, Angelina Velazquez, Martha Gallegos, Bryan Water, Matthew Kellom, Stephany Escalante, Nicole Masuoka, Andres Estrada, Julia Schnetzer, Taranjeet Dhatt, Yogesh Narayan, Yuriana Aguilar, Andrew Col, Joshua Kan, Miriam Zavalza, Pang Kuo Chang, Julianne Liberto, Siobhan Kelly, Christopher Clark, Kristen Valentine, Heather Moran, Ashley Porter, Caroline Baldwin, Lyndzy Gazda, Alaina Weinheimer, Maikel Mansour, Morgan Gannon, Khushboo Attarwala, Victoria Wu, Jamie Proffit, Andrea Gade, Fabiola Maldonado, Kelly Watson, Gabrielle Swain, Sonia Donskaya

Back To Top