Lab Members


Trevor Tivey

Graduate Student

I came to Virginia’s lab in 2013 to study the cellular and molecular aspects of symbiosis, an area I find fascinating in its scope and complexity. In the Weis lab we work with symbiotic cnidarian systems, comprised of host cnidarians (Aiptasia, Anthopleura, Fungia, etc.) and their photosynthetic algal symbionts. My current work examines the coordination of Aiptasia host cells and their symbionts Symbiodinium spp. using cell cycle markers combined with confocal microscopy and flow cytometry. I am pairing this work with bioinformatic characterization of the cnidarian cell cycle. I am also interested in the host cnidarian response to algal colonization (i.e. the mechanism of how dinoflagellates grow from one host cell to two host cells to an entire organism). Finally, I am examining the role of lectin-glycan interactions during onset of symbiosis. We are currently characterizing and modifying Symbiodinium cell surface glycans to understand symbiotic recognition and uptake.


I graduated from Brown University in 2010 with a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Music, where I studied TGFβ signaling in Kristi Wharton’s developmental fly lab. Afterwards I worked as a technician in immunology and oncology at the Humanized Mouse Model Core (MGH) and the Weinstock Lab (DFCI) respectively, where I learned many different systems and techniques. When I was looking for graduate school options, Virginia’s lab immediately jumped out as one of the few that combined marine biology with a cellular and molecular approach.


Jack Koch

Graduate Student

I am a second year PhD student in the Weis Lab at Oregon State University. I am interested in the effects of climate change and ocean acidification on the symbiosis between the temperate sea anemone Anthopleura elegantissima, its bacterial community, and its microalgal symbionts, Symbiodinium muscatinei and Elliptochloris marina (collectively referred to as a holobiont). Currently, I am studying carbonic anhydrase and the role it plays in internal pH regulation and symbiosis maintenance. I am also working on several projects using stable isotope analysis and q-PCR to examine differences in symbiosis across a latitudinal and environmental gradients.


I completed my B.S. in Marine Biology with Honors from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 2015, where I studied the importance of heterotrophy and photoautotrophic symbiosis for growth of the sea anemone Aiptasia pallida. I completed my honors project under the direction of Dr. Joseph Pawlik, who had an influential impact on my goals and ideas about science and my career.


Personal Website

John Parkinson

Postdoctoral Researcher

I study several aspects of the associations between Cnidarians (e.g. corals, anemones, and jellyfish) and the photosynthetic algae that can live in their tissues (Symbiodinium). My work includes research into marine symbiosis ecology, evolution, molecular biology, taxonomy, genomics, conservation, and climate change impacts. In the Weis lab, I focus primarily on characterizing cell surface protein interactions that mediate host-symbiont recognition, symbiosis initiation, and stress-induced bleaching.  I earned my PhD in 2014 from Penn State University, where I worked with Iliana Baums and Todd LaJeunesse.

Nathan Kirk



Sanket Chiplunkar

Graduate Student

I am in my first year of PhD at Oregon State University in the Weis Lab. During my schooldays, I developed an interest in the oceans and marine life. This led me to move from my home in India to Plymouth, England to study marine biology. I graduated with a bachelor of science in marine biology with first class honours from Plymouth University, UK. I began studying marine biology with a fascination for coral reefs. I enjoyed studying ecological, physiological, evolutionary, microbiological, and biochemical/molecular aspects of coral reefs and cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis, while at Plymouth. Particularly, I became extremely interested in the topic of oxidative stress and stress-induced coral bleaching. Of course, my undergraduate dissertation addressed this topic. As part of the dissertation, I did a literature review, using around 114 references (as of Dec-2013) titled “Cellular and molecular processes underlying cnidarian bleaching”. The second part of the dissertation was an independent research project, in which I showed the potential role of catalase in preconditioning induced-thermal acclimation of a temperate symbiotic anemone Anemonia viridis.


This research experience highly motivated me in gaining further understanding of what is happening at the molecular and cellular level in thermally stressed cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis and I joined Weis Lab in 2016. Here, I am in the process of finding specific research hypotheses/projects; nevertheless, broadly speaking, I am interested in stress-induced pathways activated by reactive oxygen species that culminate in apoptosis, autophagy and/or other cellular events through which bleaching occurs.

Shumpei Maruyama

Graduate Student

I am in my first year as a PhD student at the Weis Lab. I graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz with a B.S. in Marine Biology. There I worked in the Potts Lab where we studied the effects of ocean acidification on the North Pacific krill, Euphasia pacifica. I also went abroad to the University of Queensland where I studied feeding patterns of the soldier crab, Mictyris longicarpus, and the effects of the sea cucumber, Holothuria atra, on free-living Symbiodinium sp. After my bachelors, I worked at Abwiz Bio as a research associate in the development of monoclonal antibodies via phage display. I also worked at Univerisity of California Davis’s Fish Conservation and Culture Lab as a lab assistant in the culture of the critically endangered Delta Smelt, Hypomethus transpacificus.


I joined the Weis Lab because of my deep interest in studying cnidarian-algae symbiosis. Currently my interests remain broad, and I hope to amalgamate my past experiences into a new project at the Weis Lab.



Position at OSU

Current Position



Camerron Crowder

PhD awarded 2016

Postdoc, University of Birmingham at Alabama, Alabama


Sheila Kitchen

PhD awarded 2016

Postdoc, Pennsylvania State University, Pennsylvania


Angela Poole

PhD awarded 2015

Instructor, Western Oregon University


Jeremie Vidal-Dupiol

Postdoc 2013

IFREMER / Centre du Pacifique, Départment Resources Biologiques Environement Unité Resources Marines en Polynésie Française


Camille Paxton

Postdoc Fellow 2010-2012


Christy Schnitzler

PhD awarded 2010

Assistant Professor, Whitney Labs, University of Florida


Wendy Phillips

Faculty Research Assistant 1996-2005, Graduate Student 2009-2012

Postdoc, USDA Corvallis, Oregon


Emilie Neubauer

Visiting graduate student 2008-2011

Graduate student Victoria University at Wellington, New Zealand


Elisha Wood-Charlson

PhD awarded 2008

Research/Communications Program Manager at

Simons Collaboration on Ocean Processes and Ecology (SCOPE), Honolulu, HI


Olivier Detournay

Postdoc 2007-2009

Chief Scientific Officer, Coral Biome, France


Laura Hauck

PhD awarded 2007

Research Scientist, US Forest Service


Santiago Perez

PhD awarded 2007

Assistant Professor, College of San Mateo, California


Sophi Richier

Postdoc 2005-2006

Researcher, National Oceanography Centre, UK



Melissa deBoer

PhD awarded 2004


Simon Dunn

Postdoc 2002-2007


Mauricio Rodriguez-Lanetty

Postdoc 2002-2005

 Assistant Professor, Florida International University



Jodi Schwarz

PhD awarded 2002

Associate Professor, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY



Orit Barneah

Visiting graduate student from Tel Aviv University 2001-2003

Marine Biologist Consultant



Carys Mitchelmore

Postdoc 1999-2002

Associate Professor, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, U. of Maryland



Alan Verde

Postdoc 1998-2002

Professor, Marine Maritime Academy