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Goldberg Lab Spatial Ecology and Conservation Genetics

Principal Investigator





Caren is an assistant professor in the School of the Environment at Washington State University. She trained as a field biologist and started applying genetic techniques after earning her MS in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences at the University of Arizona. She worked on modeling landscape change, habitat, and gene flow of amphibians for her PhD in Fish and Wildlife Resources at the University of Idaho. Caren’s current research focuses on developing and applying environmental DNA techniques to detect species of management concern and modeling connectivity for amphibians using landscape genomics.

Google scholar profile


Courses taught:

SOE 318 Wildlife Genetics (next offered Spring 2021)

SOE 446 Wildlife Habitat Ecology (Fall course)

SOE 548 Applied Spatial Ecology (offered Spring 2020)



Lab members




Meghan started as a PhD student in School of the Environment in the fall of 2017. She received her BS in wildlife science from the Ohio State University and her MS in biology from Western Kentucky University. Previously, Meghan has studied evolutionary genetics of unisexual Ambystoma salamanders and adaptive genetic variation in California tiger salamanders. For her PhD, Meghan is working on  landscape genomics of Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs, hybridization between barred and Sonoran tiger salamanders, and developing eDNA methods to further understand population demographics. Meghan led on a paper with an amazing team from the 2018 Landscape Genetics Distributed Graduate Seminar analyzing gene flow of Arizona treefrogs that has now been published in Landscape Ecology! You can check out the paper here and her Google Scholar profile here.




Kelsey joined the lab in Fall 2018 to pursue her MS degree in Natural Resources. For her thesis project, she is using visual encounter surveys and environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling to determine the distribution of amphibians of conservation concern on Jackson Demonstration State Forest in California. She is interested in the utility of eDNA methods for the conservation of aquatic species.



Alex is joining the lab in Fall 2019 and returning to WSU after having earned her BS in earth and environmental science to pursue her MS degree in natural resources. She has completed her pilot study here on her project developing eDNA detection methods for Smooth-coated otters in Goa, India. With the success of her pilot study, she aims to map the distribution of Smooth-coated otters throughout Goa, India using eDNA. However, the pandemic has temporarily delayed this goal. She is currently working on a project to understand eDNA detection and ecological responses of beaver used in stream restorations in Washington.  Generally, Alex is interested in the use of eDNA to monitor rare and elusive mammals.


Mitch joined the Goldberg Lab during Spring 2020 to pursue a M.S. in Natural Resource Sciences. In collaboration with natural resource managers, he is conducting eDNA-based surveys to identify the distributions of three threatened amphibian species along the central Californian coast. He is also assisting with the development of genetic methods to distinguish between native, hybrid, and introduced tiger salamanders in southern Arizona. Mitch is excited to continue amphibian eDNA research with the Goldberg Lab and to contribute to the conservation of aquatic ecosystems and the species within them.


Sandra joined the lab in the spring of 2020 to pursue an MS degree in Natural Resource Sciences. She is excited to continue her education and is interested in learning eDNA methods for the conservation of freshwater biodiversity in montane ecosystems. She is currently studying the dispersion patterns of amphibian eDNA in wetlands to help improve methods for the detection of rare and endangered species.


Christina is an undergraduate studying Wildlife Ecology Conservation Science and is hoping to graduate spring or fall of 2021. Christina has enjoyed working in the lab doing general eDNA extractions and learning to do qPCR. Learning about eDNA has opened her mind to the various fascinating ways to detect different species and she has appreciated the opportunity to gain experience with the Goldberg lab.


Jessica is an undergraduate studying Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science. Having joined the lab as an intern in January 2020, she has thoroughly enjoyed learning about eDNA and amphibians. She has assisted in field work and is currently researching gene products that can be useful targets for future eDNA research. Expecting to graduate in fall of 2020, she has aspirations to go to graduate school in a similar or related field.



Mary graduated from University of Idaho with a BS in Wildlife Management. She leads the labwork on all our contract projects and keeps everything in the lab working great in addition to enjoying running, camping, and being a mom.

Our awesome lab alumni


Colleen finished her M.S. in the School of the Environment in Fall 2016. For her thesis, she worked on adapting environmental DNA (eDNA) methods to be used in lake restoration projects across the Sierra Nevada in California. Specifically, she addressed the issue of discerning live from dead specimen detections using eDNA techniques. Colleen is currently working for Yosemite National Park as a Wildlife Biologist. You can find Colleen’s work here in Diseases of Aquatic Organisms and in Freshwater Science and Limnology.


Matt earned his M.S. in the School of the Environment in Spring 2017. His work focused on investigating detection and occupancy of Columbia spotted frogs across the Great Basin using eDNA and field sampling in a multi-scale and multi-species modeling framework. During his time at WSU, Matt also developed eDNA assays for California tiger salamanders and western pond turtles. Matt is working on his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. You can find Matt’s great eDNA work accounting for false positives and false negatives for Columbia spotted frog detection in Ecography here.



Mallory earned her M.S. in the School of the Environment in Spring 2018. Her project focused on using non-invasive genetic methods to understand populations and inform management decisions. She used environmental DNA (eDNA) to create a sampling protocol for Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs and foothill yellow-legged frogs in Plumas National Forest in California. Mallory also used eDNA to check historical records of Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog below their elevation range. Mallory now works as an Environmental Scientist for the California Department of Water Resources. The first part of Mallory’s work has been published in Ecology & Evolution. Mallory’s website: