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About Us

The Invertebrate Zoology & Molecular Ecology laboratory at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories consists of Dr. Jonathan Geller, his graduate students, affiliated researchers and post-doctoral associates, and technicians. Our research interests are broadly concerned with the evolution and ecology of marine invertebrates.

Much of our work uses molecular approaches; for example, we use molecular data to investigate study global and local patterns of marine biological invasions, phylogenetic relationships among species, population genetic structure, to identify larvae or members of sibling species complexes, and gene evolution. Our lab has been at the forefront of method development for metagenetic studies of metazoans in varied habitats, from plankton to sediments.

Our studies are motivated by an interest in whole organisms and their natural history;  our projects usually seek to extend our understanding of the adaptation of organisms to their environment. Graduate students are encouraged to develop expertise in both field and laboratory techniques, a general knowledge of the biology of invertebrates, and specific knowledge of the eastern Pacific invertebrate biota.

Lab News:

Alumni and laboratory technician Martin (Jinchen) Guo recently accepted a Ph.D. at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand and will be studying the gut microbiome of blackfoot abalone and green lipped mussels under different diet treatments! Congratulations, Martin!

Photo of Martin Guo
Martin Guo

Two of our students, Felicia Miller and Emily Pierce (middle), along with Dr. Amanda Kahn (right) of the Invertebrate Ecology Laboratory and Holly Doerr (left) of the Ichthyology lab traveled to Austin, Texas to present at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology.

Dr. Geller will be presenting at theInternational Conference on Marine Bioinvasions (ICMB) Oct. 16-18, 2018 in Argentina!

Congrats to lab member Amanda Heidt for winning the KQED-CSUMB Fuhs Science Communication fellowship. View her portfolio of work at KQED.

We are excited to announce that Dr. Amanda Kahn will be joining our lab in Fall of 2019 as a PI. She will be teaching and advising students alongside Dr. Geller as he prepares to retire.

Big News! Our lab was part of the research group to make the cover of Science for the Sept. 2017 edition for our work on tsunami-driven species dispersal. See the paper here as well as the accompanying perspective piece.


Primary projects in the Invertebrate Zoology/Molecular Ecology lab are DNA barcoding and invasive species detection in coastal waters of California, Alaska, Chesapeake Bay, Florida, Panama, and the Galapagos Islands. Coupled to the DNA barcoding projects are metagenetic analyses of benthic and plankton communities, in which bulk DNA from entire assemblages are extracted and sequenced by Next Generation Sequencing technology.