Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Kelley Lab joanna.l.kelley

Scott Hotaling receives Mazamas grant for ice worm genome!

The Mazamas ( have generously provided new funding to support our efforts to sequence the ice worm (Mesenchytraeus solifugus) genome! Ice worms are segmented worms in the Phylum Annelida and their curious, ice-obligate lifestyle has long-fascinated biologists and climbers alike. The goal of our research is to uncover the genomic basis of their extreme adaptation. As part of this effort, we will also use our developing genomic resources to develop a tool to detect environmental DNA (“eDNA”) of ice worms which will allow researchers to refine our collective understanding of the geographic distribution of ice worms.

Courtney Jensen receives School of Biological Sciences Herbert L. Eastlick scholarship

Courtney Jensen – an undergraduate in our laboratory – received the School of Biological Sciences Herbert L. Eastlick scholarship. You can learn more about Herbert L. Eastlick here. Courtney also received the College of Arts and Sciences Minigrant to continue her research on brown bear hibernation during the summer! The award allows her to continue her investigation of genetic changes in genes that are differentially expressed between active season and hibernating bears. The award will also cover a portion of her research expenses.

Congratulations Courtney!


Scott Hotaling and others receive Evolution Education Outreach grant

The Society for the Study of the Evolution ( has awarded us a small grant to create an outreach workshop (and educator network) to promote evolution education in rural Idaho and Washington. We’ll be working directly with teachers (Grades 7-12) to learn how we (the research community) can support their efforts while also organizing visits by evolutionary biologists to their classrooms in the coming academic year.

Kryptolebias marmoratus lineages in Genome

Our paper describing the resequencing and comparison of 15 different mangrove rivulus Kryptolebias marmoratus lineages. The rivulus is preferentially self-fertilizing and yet we  found a remarkable amount of genetic diversity across the species even in lineages that have been selfing in the lab for over 10 generations. Here’s some press about the article.

Lins, L.S.F, Trojahn, S., Sockell, A., Yee, M-C, Tatarenkov, A., Bustamante, C.D., Earley, R.L., Kelley, J.L. Whole-genome sequencing reveals the extent of heterozygosity in a preferentially self-fertilizing hermaphroditic vertebrate. Genome.


Leatherback turtle publication by Luana Lins

A paper Luana co-author was recently published in the Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom titled: “Revisiting the genetic diversity and population structure of the critically endangered leatherback turtles in the South-west Atlantic Ocean: insights for species conservation” Congratulations Luana!

The worldwide population of the leatherback sea turtle is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List. The study found that the Brazilian rookery has individuals from different areas in the world including turtles form the West Atlantic, despite recording low nest numbers per year. This study provides a baseline to understand population dynamics in the Atlantic, and to build comprehensive population assessments to support and develop management strategies. Additionally, this study highlights the importance of Brazilian in the conservation of the leatherback sea turtle. Brazil has both the only known regular rookery in the South-west Atlantic, and a mixed-origin foraging area for the species along its coast.

Luana is going to Antarctica!

We are all very excited that Luana Lins, a postdoctoral researcher in our lab, has been selected to be part the NSF Advanced Training Program in Antarctica for Early Career Scientists (

She will spend a month in Antarctica as part of the program where researchers will get involved in research projects and will be more knowledgeable of the logistics of conducting studies in this unique environment. Luana Lins is following on the footsteps of our PI Joanna Kelley who participated in the same program in 2008, and her PI Willie Swanson who participated several years before that.

Our lab is very interested in adaptations to extreme environments and Luana is working in a project focused on the adaptations of fish to polar environments, Luana’s training will be great to the development of our polar adaptations project. She will be posting about her preparations and experiences in Antarctica at her blog (

Here’s a nice write-up from WSU (

Scott Hotaling joins the lab

Scott Hotaling has arrived in Pullman! We are very happy Scott has decided to join the lab as a postdoctoral researcher. He has already started wading through the vast amounts of data we have been hoarding in the lab and making great progress!


We’re going to Evolution 2017!

The lab (and many labs from WSU) are going to Evolution 2017! See you there? If you’re interested in finding out more about our research we have several talks and posters. You can find us at the following:

Name Day Time Session name Room
Laura Helou (poster) Saturday 6:30-8:30 PM Bioinformatics EHA-04
Shawn Trojahn (poster) Saturday 6:30-8:30 PM Phylogenomics EHA-31
Anthony Brown Sunday 8:45 AM Inbreeding / conservation biology B114-115
Enrique J-S Sunday 3:30 PM Sex / recombination 3 Ball204
Alex Fraik Sunday 3:45 PM Adaptation / genomics 4 B117-119
Omar Cornejo Sunday 4:00 PM Disease A106
Carlie Harding (poster) Sunday 6:30-8:30 PM Genomics EHA-14
Luana Lins Monday 10:30 AM Molecular ecology / genomics C124
Joel Nelson Monday 11:00 AM Molecular ecology / genomics C124
Joanna Kelley Monday 3:15 PM SSE Symposium – The impact of stress on genetic variation 2 Ball203

Note, I have added links to YouTube videos from the Evolution Meeting channel for the talks that were recorded, just click on the presenter’s name.

Poeciliid 2017

Just returned from Poeciliid 2017 in Norman, OK. It was a fantastic meeting! The organizers Ingo Schlupp and Edie Marsh-Matthews did a fantastic job planning the meeting. The meeting was small and intimate, with only one session at a time, which was the perfect opportunity to connect with other poeciliid biologists. The topics were varied and ranged from genomics to behavior to phylogenetics to nutrient transfer. The participants ranged from new graduate students to senior faculty members, which made for a great mix of experiences, ideas and knowledge. There was ample time for sharing ideas and, at least for me, it was one of the best meetings I have attended in a while! I will definitely attended the next meeting (likely 2019) and I encourage everyone who is tangentially involved in poeciliid research to attend too!


Exciting spring for awards

It has been an exciting spring in the lab! We wanted to acknowledge the awards that several students and postdocs received this spring.

Anthony Brown received the James R. King Graduate Fellowship from the School of Biological Sciences to fund his research and part of his stipend this summer!

Joanna Kelley received the College of Arts and Sciences Early Career Award!

Luana Lins received a scholarship to the Summer Institute in Statistical Genetics at University of Washington this summer and a travel award from the Society for the Study of Evolution to attend Evolution 2017!

Samantha Kallinen received the Undergraduate Summer Minigrant from the College of Arts and Sciences to support her research over the summer!

Allegra Sundstrom received the Youth Activity Fund award from the Explorer’s Club and a School of Biological Sciences research award to conduct research in Alaska this summer!