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Kelley Lab Lab members

Joanna L. Kelley, PhD, Principal Investigator

Joanna is currently an Assistant Professor in the School of Biological Sciences and a member of the Center for Reproductive Biology at Washington State University. Her research focuses on the genomic basis of adaptation, with a special emphasis on extreme environments. Joanna is a faculty advisor from the College of Arts and Sciences to the to the WSU Spokane Genomics Core. She is affiliated faculty to the WSU Data Analytics BS degree program. She is a member of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution (SMBE).

She received her AB in Mathematics and Biology from Brown University. She received her PhD in Genome Sciences from University of Washington with advisor Willie Swanson and held postdoctoral positions at University of Chicago in Human Genetics and at Stanford University in the Department of Genetics.

email: joanna.l.kelley-at-wsu-dot-edu

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MC_ScientistMuh-Ching Yee, PhD, Visiting Scientist

Muh-ching (M.C.) has worked as a laboratory researcher at Stanford University in the departments of Genetics, Chemical and Systems Biology, Biology and, most recently, the Carnegie Institution for Science. M.C.’s childhood passion for solving the New York Times crossword has led to her current work playing with the letters of the genetic code in genomics and synthetic biology in human, animal and plant systems. M.C. received an SB in Chemistry at MIT, and a PhD in Chemistry at UC Berkeley, CA.

Corey Quackenbush, Lab Manager

Corey has worked as a research technician at UC Davis and UNC Chapel Hill. His two largest projects at UNC were the coordinated large-scale behavioral phenotyping for a novel mouse systems genetics project examining the pharmacogenomics of antipsychotic medications and the high-throughput library preparation of thousands of samples for deep resequencing of candidate genes derived from addiction genome wide association studies. In addition to those projects he was also responsible for both the hardware and software IT for the labs. Through this work he has come to discover that he really enjoys the computational aspect of biology. During his time at WSU he plans to hone his lab skills while expanding his knowledge in computational biology.

Luana Lins, Postdoctoral Researcher

Luana has received her PhD in Biological Sciences from The University of Sydney in 2015 focusing on the molecular phylogeny of isopods supervised by Nathan Lo, George Wilson and Simon Ho. She has previously attained her M. Sc. and B. Sc. degree in Zoology from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. She is interested in the evolution and diversity of organisms and is particularly excited about using molecular techniques to answer questions about the timeframe of colonization of different environments and to investigating the factors that affect evolutionary rates.



Scott Hotaling, Postdoctoral Researcher, arriving September 2017

Scott will receive his PhD in Biology from the University of Kentucky (UK) in July 2017 and he’ll be joining the Kelley Lab this coming September. For his dissertation, Scott was advised by David Weisrock as he studied biodiversity in alpine streams of North America with a primary focus on conservation genomics of stoneflies living in the meltwater of glaciers. Beyond alpine streams, Scott has used multi-locus genetic tools to reconstruct species boundaries in mouse lemurs (Microcebus) and salamanders (Ambystoma). Previously, he received a B.S. in Zoology from North Carolina State University and worked as an undergraduate research studying salamander ecology in the lab of Nick Haddad. Scott is primarily interested in using genomic tools to better understand both the evolution of adaptation to cold environments as well as fine-scale population genomic patterns. Whenever possible, Scott studies these patterns in the context of the rapid, ongoing global change that all organisms are dealing with in some capacity. Under this general umbrella, his study species of interest include polar fishes, iceworms, and glacially-tied stream insects.

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Paul Wheeler, Fish Guru

Paul graduated from Washington State with a BS in Animal Science in 1984 and has lived in Pullman ever since. After two year stays in a cell biology lab at Washington State and the Fisheries Department at the University of Idaho, Paul was fortunate enough to land in the salmonid fish genetics lab directed by Gary Thorgaard at Washington State where he has worked since 1988. Paul’s core responsibility has been to develop and propagate homozygous clonal lines of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) for use as biomedical and aquacultural models. More recently he has also had the opportunity to learn how to raise and breed the aquatic frog species Xenopus tropicalis in association with Erica Crespi. Paul is currently helping the Kelley lab develop breeding colonies of the live-bearing fish Poecilia mexicana and the hermaphroditic Kryptolebias marmoratus. Paul originally developed his interest in biology and natural history as a child growing up in Kenya and now spends as much time as he can fishing and hiking in the wilderness.

IMG_2634Anthony Brown, PhD Graduate Student (started August 2014)

Before joining the Kelley lab, Anthony received a B.S. in Biochemistry & Molecular and Cellular Biology at UC Davis. He then worked as a lab technician at UC Davis in Dr. Judy Van de Water’s immunology lab. While working for Dr. Van de Water, Anthony contributed to projects on maternal auto-antibody related autism. During his time at UC Davis, Anthony also developed a strong interest in how populations adapt to the environments that they face. While in the Kelley lab, Anthony hopes to learn more about the genomic basis of adaptation. Anthony is the recipient of the 2014 Abelson Fellowship from Washington State University College of Arts and Sciences.

10463861_10152603447710955_1757482521715161638_nAlexandra Fraik, PhD Graduate Student (started August 2015, co-advised with Dr. Andrew Storfer)

Alexandra Fraik graduated from North Carolina State University with a B.S. in Zoology and minors in Genetics and Anthropology. During her undergraduate career at NC State University, Alexandra worked in Dr. Fred Gould’s genetic pest management lab studying the impacts of inbreeding on the life history traits of Culex pipiens molestus and the influence of environmental changes on the Medea element of Red Flour Beetles. In addition, Alex has experiences researching the prey abundance and landscape ecology of the Fisher, the diversity of ant species in urban settings and the influence of climate change on sex determination in Loggerhead Sea Turtles in Australia. While in the Kelley Lab, Alexandra hopes to learn more about the genomic basis of adaptation in response to strong selective forces such as disease.

Michael Saxton, PhD Graduate Student (started August 2014, co-advised with Dr. Charles Robbins)

Michael Saxton graduated from the University of California at Davis with a B.S. in Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology in 2009. After graduation he worked as a wildlife biologist with multiple land management agencies and private consulting companies working to manage and conserve a variety of species ranging from Snowy Plovers (Charadrius nivosus) to California tiger salamanders (Ambystoma californiense) to brown bears (Ursus arctos). While working with bears Michael developed an interest in hibernation physiology. In the Kelley lab, Michael studies genomic and transcriptional changes that occur in bears to allow them to survive annual periods of rapid weight gain and starvation as well as many other physiological changes necessary to survive hibernation.

Shawn Trojahn
, PhD Graduate Student (started January 2017)

Shawn graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a B.S. in Biology in 2012 and from Washington State University in Genetics and Cell Biology in 2016. After graduating, he commissioned as a Naval Officer in 2013 and flew as a Student Naval Aviator. Upon leaving the Navy in 2015, Shawn returned to school at WSU to earn a second bachelors degree, this time studying Genetics and Cell Biology. Currently in the Kelley Lab, Shawn is seeking the genetic cause for coloration variance in Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss).

Kerry McGowan, PhD Graduate Student (started August 2017)

Kerry graduated from Muhlenberg College in 2015 with her B.S. in Biology. While at Muhlenberg, Kerry researched epibiosis on molluscan basibionts in the marine intertidal and the inducible defenses of a freshwater isopod Lirceus sp. in Dr. Erika Iyengar’s lab. After graduating, she studied a cryptic tribe of treehoppers called Darnini at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History as well as the rate of pre-spawn mortality in urban populations of coho salmon at a nonprofit in Seattle. During her time in the Kelley lab, Kerry will research the genetic basis for adaptation in the killifish Kryptolebias marmoratus, a selfing hermaphroditic vertebrate that can tolerate extreme environments. Kerry is a 2017 Abelson Fellow.

Laura Helou, Intern and Master’s Student in Montpellier, France (April 2017 – August 2017)

Laura obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Microbiology at the Montpellier University (France) and now she is in the last year of a Master’s Degree in Bioinformatics at the same university. During her master’s degree she has done two internships and developed a strong interest for comparative genomics and the impact of structural variation on the evolution of species. She worked on benchmarking of several tools for the detection of structural variation in the rice genome. She is now doing an internship in the Kelley Lab working on detection and annotation of transposable elements in extreme species.

Annabelle Vesterman, visiting veterinary student (Summer 2017)

Annabelle graduated from Sweet Briar College in 2016 with a B.S. in Biology and just completed her first year of vet school at the Royal Veterinary College in London. She has also spent two years working as a veterinary assistant in her home state of Virginia. She is volunteering in the Kelley lab for two weeks to gain lab animal husbandry experience.

Allegra Sundstrom, WSU Undergraduate (Fall 2015 – Summer 2017)

Allegra is a sophomore working towards a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She was a Freshman Distinguished Scholar, and is now a part of the National Honor Society of Leadership and Success, and a member of many clubs on campus including Wildlife Society and Raptor Club. Allegra hopes to gain lots of knowledge by joining the Kelley Lab and she looks forward to be able to apply that knowledge in the future. She is interested in animal behavior and evolution among many other undiscovered topics. Allegra loves travelling, National Parks, and animals and she strives to incorporate all of these passions into her career.

Samantha Kallinen, WSU Undergraduate (Spring 2017 – )

Samantha is currently a junior undergraduate working towards a degree in Zoology. She is involved in the Zoology Club and served as an officer for over a year and is also an active member of her sorority where she participates in various community service activities. Working under a veterinarian at a local Animal Hospital has sparked her interest in the health field. Interested in both Pre-Veterinary and Pre-Pharmacy tracks, Samantha is currently trying to decide which career is the best fit and hopes that the genetics experience in Dr. Kelley’s lab will better prepare her for whichever path she chooses.

Courtney Jensen, WSU Undergraduate (Spring 2017 – )

I am a sophomore studying zoology. My goal is to get into WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine after I earn my bachelor’s degree. I love learning about life sciences and working with animals. I hold an executive position in hall government as Public Relations Chair and strive to communicate as much as possible with residents. I am also involved pre-vet club at WSU. I am excited to begin undergraduate research in the Kelley lab and learn more about the computational side of genetics.

Charlotte, WSU Undergraduate (Fall 2017 – )

Charlotte is a sophomore working towards her undergraduate degree in genetics and cell biology. She is an active member of her sorority and holds the position of public relations chair in a club called Scientista which is a national organization dedicated to promoting women in STEM. Charlotte is hoping to attend medical school after completing her undergraduate education and go on and become a reproductive endocrinologist to help people who are struggling to have children. She is excited to get more laboratory experience and knowledge about genetics, in Dr. Kelley’s lab under the supervision of Dr. Lins, and become a more competitive applicant for medical school!


Graduate Students:
Kyle Taylor, Non-thesis Master’s (Fall 2014-Fall 2015)
Luca Giordani, Volunteer (Spring 2014)

Kayla Cribbin, WSU Undergraduate (2013-2016)
Bineeta Veach, WSU Undergraduate (2015-2016)
Julian Bennett Ponsford, WSU Undergraduate (2013-2015), Now graduate student at University of Wyoming with Cynthia Weinig
Breeana Barnes, WSU Undergraduate (Spring 2015)
Samantha Varrelman, WSU Undergraduate (2013-2014), Now at USDA in Wenatchee, WA.
Connor Carrillo, School of Molecular Biosciences STARS student (Fall 2014)