Current Lab Members




Feel like you're drifting though life? A long way from home? Misunderstood? Odds stacked against you? Maybe you're a marine plankter. If so, Mike has a place you can stay; it's small, cold, and dark, but it's got a door and we'll get you liquored up for free. If that kills you (which it will), we'll give you PCR. It won't bring you back to life, but it will immortalize you in one of a series of fabulous studies of scyphozoan systematics, comparative biogeography and phylogeography, rapid evolutionary radiation in marine zooplankton, conservation genetics of marine fishes, or the community ecology of marine lakes. Learn more here.
twitter: @m0dawson


Michael N Dawson           P.I.          [CV]


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Post-doctoral Scholars  

For Future Lab Members: Postdoctoral opportunities


Dr. Dannise Ruiz (beginning February 2017)


Position available in spatial & temporal modelling of community assembly and dynamics in marine lakes, Palau. For more information:







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Graduate Students  

For Future Lab Members: Graduate opportunities


Lauren Schiebelhut

Lauren Schiebelhut

B.S. - University of California, Merced, USA
website -
thesis - How dispersal, selection, and drift influence population genetic structure in the eastern North Pacific



Positions open.




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Undergraduate Students  

For Future Lab Members: Undergraduate opportunities

Carolina Karuppiah


Su2016-F2016: Curation & lab practices




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Laboratory Staff

No positions open at this time.








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Marine lakes team

Lori J. Bell
Laboratory Manager
& Research Scientist

Coral Reef Research Foundation





Laura E. Martin
Lecturer, Researcher, and
Faculty Development & Assessment Coordinator
UC Merced





Gerda Ucharm
Marine biologist
Coral Reef Research Foundation





Sharon Patris
Marine biologist
Coral Reef Research Foundation

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Judith Bayardo-Guzman

F2016-Sp2017: Spatial structure of scyphozoan polyps in Goby Lake, Palau


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L A B     A L U M N I

Postdoctoral Scholars



Cynthia Hays (2010 & 2011)
Current position: Keene State College


B.S. - Duke University, USA
M.S. - Florida State University, USA
Ph.D. - University of California, Santa Cruz, USA


I'm an evolutionary ecologist, and most of my research focuses on the interplay between ecological genetics (e.g. local adaptation, rates of inbreeding) and the distributions of marine 'plants', mostly macroalgae and seagrasses. In the Dawson lab, I am contributing to a multicampus collaboration with University of California PIs Mike Dawson, Rick Grosberg, Pete Raimondi, Brian Gaylord and John Largier funded by the University of California's Coastal Environmental Quality Initiative. The goal of this project is to begin to explore the links between (1) community characteristics such as species diversity, abundance patterns, and similarity in composition across sites, (2) population genetic characteristics, including genetic diversity, patterns of allelic richness, and genetic structure across sites, of common invertebrate and algal species found in rocky intertidal habitats along the California coastline, and to examine those links in light of (3) the nearshore physical oceanography of this region and hypothesized patterns of connectivity among sites.




Keith Bayha (2008-2010)
Current position: Dauphin Island Sea Lab

Keith and wallaby


I am interested in the molecular systematics, phylogeography, population genetics and invasion genetics of scyphozoan jellyfish and ctenophores. I am working on the NSF funded REVSYS project (a collaboration between the Dawson Lab and Allen Collins at the Smithsonian Institution) examining the phylogenetic relationships, both molecular and morphological, among the semaeostome jellyfish (Cnidaria: Scyphozoa), a group that includes moon jellies, sea nettles and the lion’s mane jellyfish of Sherlock Holmes' fame. Although these jellyfish cause extensive problems worldwide as blooming and invasive species, taxonomic knowledge of this group (as is true of jellyfish in general) is relatively poor. By combining morphological and genetic data, we will greatly contribute to knowledge of species diversity within the group, morphological characters that delineate species and evolutionary relationships among species.






Sharon Patris


M.S. 2015 - The expansion and impact on native species of a sea anemone introduced into a tropical marine lake (Jellyfish Lake, Palau)


Liza Gomez Daglio


Liza Gomez-Daglio

website -
PhD - Phylogeography of shallow water jellyfish (Discomedusae) of the Eastern Pacific



Holly Swift

Holly Swift

website -
PhD - The ecological and evolutionary effects of
environmental perturbations on populations and


Sarah Abboud

Sarah Abboud

website -
MS - A global assessment of genetic diversity and distributions of medusozoans

Joan Lehman (2008-2010)


M.S. 2010 - Population genetic analysis of the intertidal limpet Lottia scabra and inference of the causes and mechanisms of range limits




Laboratory Managers



Mira Parekh
Summer 2013 - Fall 2016



Adam Rosso





Anh Nguyen (AY2012-2013)
(formerly undergrad researcher
and volunteer)


Biz Green (AY2015)


Sarah Abboud (2010)
(enrolled as graduate student in 2011)


Lauren Schiebelhut (2009-2010)
(enrolled as graduate student in 2010)


Julia Vo (2007-2009)
(enrolled as CSULA grad student)


Joan Lehman (2008)
(enrolled as graduate student in 2009)






Mariana Rocha de Souza
(F2014-Su2016 >> U. Hawai'i)

Madlen Friedrich
Christian-Albrechts-University, Kiel, Germany
Spring 2015 (8 months)

Sabah Ul-Hasan
(S2015-F2016 >> Sistrom lab)

Gerlien Verhaegen
Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium
Spring 2014 (4 months)

Sofie Rutsaert
ERASMUS MUNDUS programme, Galway, Ireland
Spring 2014 (4 months)

Giorgio Aglieri
Università del Salento, Italy
Fall 2010 (2 months)

Celia Churchill
University of Michigan, USA
Spring 2012 (1 week)

Barbara Scholz
LMU München, Germany
Spring 2013 (5 months)

Mariana Souza
University of Aix en Marseille, France
Spring 2013 (4 months)

Miguel Fernandez
(F2007-S2011 >> Kueppers lab)
Ph.D. 2013 - Consequences of spatial and temporal climate variability for species distribution modeling








Judith Bayardo-Guzman

F2016-Sp2017: Mastigias polyp spatial relationships

Serafino Bodavos
High school volunteer

Summer 2008.
Research: Compiling data on the fecundity advantage hypothesis in jellyfish.

Annie Schimon
Kalamazoo College undergraduate

Summer 2009.
Research: Population dynamics of marine lake zooplankton in response to environmental change.







Sravani Mylavarapu

F2016: Curation & lab practices

Judith Bayardo-Guzman

Sp2015-Sp2016: Curation & lab practices

Kameron Jones

Sp2015-Su2016: Curation & lab practices

Angelica Nava

Sp2014-Sp2015: Population genetics, Palau

Victoria Onwu

Sp2014-Sp2015: Curation & morphometrics, Palau

Kiran Chauhan

F2011-Sp2014: Global change and jellyfish blooms

Jason Doornenbal

F2011-Sp2014: Population genetics of jellyfishes (Scyphozoa)

Bryanna Ludwig

F2012-Sp2014: Marine lake plankton dynamics

Aman Ahuja

F2012-Sp2013: Jellyfish blooms

Moon Park
F2011-F2012: Foraminifera diversity in marine lakes

Kirandeep Bains

F2010-Sp2012: Nerita curation

Garret Arauz
F2010-S2012: Marine lakes zooplankton dynamics
Lubna Aman
Sp2011-Su2012: Environmental diversity of marine lakes for foraminifera
Carly Stilphen
F2011-S2012: The role of long distance dispersal
Alfredo Villicana-Bedolla
F2010-S2011: Phylogeography of marine algae. Systematics of jellyfishes
David Ona
F2010: Comparative phylogeography of California marine algae

Vera Diaz

Fall 2009 - Spring 2010: Undergraduate
Fall 2010: Laboratory Assistant
Research: Jellyfish biodiversity.

Elain Nguyen

Fall 2008 - Spring 2010.
Research: Compiling data on the fecundity advantage hypothesis in jellyfish.

Emily Wilson

Fall 2008.
Research: Compiling data on the fecundity advantage hypothesis in jellyfish.

Kimberly Yan

Summer 2008.
Compiling data on gene flow correlated with different fluid regimes.