Lab Members

Principal Investigator

Steven Roberts


Professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington where his research focuses on characterizing physiological response of aquatic species to environmental change with a particular focus on the relationship of transcriptomics, genetics, and epigenetic modifications. Current research efforts include characterizing the adaptive potential of native bivalves in Puget Sound and the functional role of DNA methylation in marine invertebrates.

Graduate Students

Aspen Coyle

Growing up in coastal Alaska, I spent most of my youth being poked by sea urchins and stung by jellyfish. Undeterred, I dove into marine research at Bowdoin College, where I found a linkage between cold tolerance and mitochondrial genotype within the invasive European green crab. I then joined the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, where I worked on Bering Sea crab surveys, Tanner crab fecundity and movement studies, and fishery monitoring projects. After moving down to Seattle, I joined the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, where I researched forage fish spawning and development. At the Roberts lab, I joined my interests in disease and crabs by studying gene expression in southeast Alaskan Tanner crabs and in Hematodinium, the parasitic dinoflagellate that causes Bitter Crab Syndrome. In my free time, I love long-distance cycling, making coffee, and thrifting. If you’d like to chat about anything at all (particularly if it happens to be crab-related), feel free to email me!

Zach Bengtsson

I grew up in the beautiful, landlocked city of Colorado Springs, CO, but I have always been fascinated by the ocean and marine life. In my undergraduate studies at Boston University, I developed a passion for marine invertebrates and studied coral epibionts living on mangrove prop roots in Belize. After graduating in 2015, I developed my skills in science and research through positions in medical molecular biology, seasonal environmental DNA work at The Nature Conservancy, and various environmental remote sensing roles in the NASA Earth Applied Sciences Program. I joined the Roberts Lab in Fall 2021, where I work on the E5 Coral Project. My research focuses on assessing the response of corals to changing environmental conditions in Moorea using epigenetic techniques. I am also interested in incorporating remotely-sensed datasets as model inputs to better understand the relationship between environmental stressors and organismal response. Please feel free to get in touch with me via email or through my LinkedIn!

Chris Mantegna

Chris Mantegna

Chasing my love of Orcas, coffee, and grunge to the Pacific Northwest has yielded this Baltimore, MD transplant an opportunity to become a double University of Washington alumna. I graduated with my B.S. in Marine Biology in 2021 and am continuing my academic pursuits as a SAFS and NSF Graduate Fellow. I am currently using -omics techniques to evaluate the relationship between environmental influences, ecotoxins, and organism physiology in the Pacific Northwest using bivalves as the target organisms. Moving through my graduate work I’d like to expand into warmer waters and study those relationships with Syngnathids as the target organisms. When not working in the lab I happily pepper my daughter with dad jokes, build community as a member of BWEEMS and BIMS, and spend my free time moonlighting as a wannabe Chihuly in beginners glass blowing classes.

Celeste Valdivia

Celeste Valdivia

Although growing up in San Diego, CA meant that I spent many days of my youth out in the ocean, my scientific interest in the aquatic environment and it’s species wasn’t fully realized until I began a position in 2018 as an undergraduate research assistant in an aquatic ecotoxicology lab the University of California, Davis. During that time, I completed my undergraduate capstone project analyzing the effects of bifenthrin exposure on the behavior of the federally endangered Delta Smelt. After graduating with a bachelor of science in Animal Biology in 2020, I continued my research work in that same lab for an additional two years and further explored the developmental, behavioral, and reproductive impacts several commonly employed urban and agricultural pyrethroids had on native Californian estuarine fish species. In 2022, I dually joined the Gardell Lab at the University of Washington, Tacoma and the Roberts Lab housed in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences (SAFS) at the University of Washington, Seattle. As a graduate student at SAFS, I am now focused on identifying the constraints on in vitro cellular immortality in the marine model invertebrate, Botryllus schlosseri. This exploratory process will primarily involve the implementation of procedures for systematic primary cell culture optimization, stress-induced mutagenesis, and bioinformatic network analysis. In my free time I enjoy cooking, tending to my mini indoor garden, and playing guitar. Feel free to get in touch with me through email if you have any questions!

Postdoctoral Research Associates

Ariana S. Huffmyer, PhD

  • Lab notebook
  • CV
  • Twitter: @Dr_Cnidariana
  • ORCID iD
  • Email:
  • National Science Foundation Ocean Sciences Postdoctoral Fellow
  • UW eScience Data Science Postdoctoral Fellow

I am a postdoctoral researcher working with Dr. Hollie Putnam at the University of Rhode Island and Dr. Steven Roberts at the University of Washington studying the effects of climate change on marine invertebrate early life history, with a particular interest in the formation of coral-algal symbiosis during coral development.

My current research interests are in understanding how climate change affects coral performance and survival using multi-omic approaches. Increased frequency and severtity of marine heat waves is causing coral bleaching - the breakdown of the nutritional symbiosis between tropical corals and their algal endosymbionts. My research inveistigates the formation of symbiosis between corals and their algal symbionts during early development in coral species in Hawaii, USA and Moorea, French Polynesia by utilizing energetic, metabolomic, and transcriptomic approaches.

I am working with the E5 Coral team to examine coral physiological, metabolic, and epigenetic responses across nutrient gradients in Moorea. I use online notebooks and GitHub to publicly share my data and analyses.

I completed my Ph.D. in marine biology at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology in the Coral Resilience Lab - The Legacy of Ruth Gates and Lemus Labs where I studied how early life stages of corals respond to climate change driven thermal stress. My work investigated the influence of nutrition and thermal conditioning, and intraspecific interactions on thermal tolerance of coral recruits and how we can leverage this knowledge to enhance coral propagation. My collaborators and I used approaches ranging from field observations to confocal microscopy and energetics and phsyiology. Seeing a need for scientists to also be translators and educators, I conducted research in science education to understand how participation in research influences science identity development.

Outside the lab, I enjoy hiking, mountain biking, fly fishing, and exploring with my two dogs the Pacific Northwest.

Larken Root

I am currently working as a Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean, & Ecosystem Studies (CICOES) Fellow in the Roberts Lab in collaboration with Mackenzie Gavery at the NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center and Ryan Crim at the Puget Sound Restoration Fund to assess the potential impacts of ocean acidification (OA) on native Pacific Littleneck Clams and naturalized Manila Clams. Specifically, we will determine the physiological impact of OA conditions on adult clams and determine how this impacts reproduction by assessing reproductive success as well as gene expression in gametes. Larvae collected from clams will also be used to determine transgenerational effects on the capacity of larvae to tolerate the same OA conditions by assessing growth performance and gene expression. Results from these experiments are intentionally aimed at expanding the portfolio of options for Puget Sound shellfish growers, and I will be involved in surveying growers to determine the applicability of the methods we develop on clam production. I am also active in a separate project to identify and then silence genes expressed in the development of germ line cells in shellfish embryos, with the ultimate goal of establishing a method for producing sterile shellfish for use in aquaculture.

I have a background in comparative physiology having completed a dissertation comparing the molecular response of two species of tilapia to increased environmental salinity levels. This research including transcriptomic and proteomic analysis of the main tissues responsible for ion balance (gill and kidney). This work was also aimed at aiding aquaculture producers by allowing them to use partial seawater in tilapia ponds and reduce the use of freshwater, especially in areas which have scarce freshwater resources.

When not doing research, I am an avid hiker, and I enjoy a number of hobbies including woodworking, playing musical instruments, baking, and playing with my dogs Nimbus and Pepita.

Laura Spencer

Research Scientists

Sam White

I am a research scientist in the lab since the lab’s inception in 2007 and am jack-of-all-trades lab member. I dabble in all aspects of helping the lab run efficiently (bionformatics, computer/server maintenance, training new personnel, purchasing/reconciliation, safety documentation/training, etc), but as a molecular biologist by training (B.S. Univ. of Illinois @ Urbana-Champaign - Plant Biology; M.S. Arizona State Univerity - Plant Biology), I excel at bench work.

Outside of lab-related work, I dig playing video games and listening to Phish (and, to placate the haters, I also like other good bands/musicians like Queens of the Stone Age, Uriah Heep, and Kacey Musgraves). I guess I also enjoy spending time with my spouse, kid, and dog, too.

Brent Vadopalas

Giles Goetz

Undergraduate Students

Noah Krebs

Henry Berg

Eric Essington

Dorothy Lartey


Postdoctoral Research Associates

Matt George

Shelly Wanamaker

Hollie Putnam

Research Scientists

Delaney Lawson

Kaitlyn Mitchell

Crystal Simchick

Graduate Students

Olivia Cattau

Yaamini Venkataraman

Laura Spencer

Grace Crandall

Jay Dimond

Megan Hintz

Rhonda Elliot

Jake Heare

Andy Jasonowicz

Claire Olson

Mackenzie Gavery

Emma Timmins-Schiffman

Doug Immerman

Caroline Storer

Dave Metzger


Delaney Lawson (2022) proposal paper presentation

Hana Ra (2020)

Ronit (pre-college) (2019)

Alanna Greene (2019)

Grace Crandall (2016) proposal paper slides presentation notebook

Jonathan Allen UW (2016) proposal paper slides presentation notebook

Mrunmayee Manohar Shete (2015) notebook

Katie Jackson UW SAFS (2015)

Joelle Blaise UW SAFS (2014)

Hannah Wear; UW SAFS (2013-2014) proposal paper poster notebook

Charles Duber; UW SAFS (2013-2014) proposal paper slides notebook

Jessica Blanchette; UW SAFS (2013-2014) proposal paper slides notebook

Bradley Chi; UW SAFS proposal paper slides

Paul Ehlen; UW FISH499 blog slides

Harry Podschwit; UW notebook

Derek Brady; UW SAFS proposal paper slides

Manel Khan; UW notebook

David Berman; UW SAFS proposal paper

Herschel Cox; UW SAFS proposal paper

Lexie Miller; UW FISH499 paper

Jason Tayag; UW SAFS proposal paper slides

Sonia Albin; UW SAFS proposal paper slides

Zac Halls; UW notebook

Amanda Davis FISH499; UW paper

Christina Miller FISH498; UW notebook

Rony Thi; UW notebook

Anna Fabrizio; UW SAFS proposal | paper | presentation

Kevin Jeong; UW FISH499 notebook

Rachel Thompson; UW SAFS proposal | paper | slides

Leslie Jensen; UW SAFS proposal | paper | slides | video

Christin McLemore; UW SAFS proposal | paper | slides | video

Tatyana Marushchak; UW Chemistry project

Stephannie Spurr; UW SAFS paper | 499

Katie Fulkerson; UW SAFS proposal | paper | presentation

Cullen Taplin; UW SAFS proposal | paper | presentation

Juliann Clark; UW project

Tushara Saint Vitus; UW SAFS project

Lindsay Braun; Santa Clara University project

Mairead Bermingham; N Univ of Ireland, Cork project

Zachary Schiller; Tufts University project

Visiting Scientists

Shanelle Haughton; PhD student in the Marine-Estuarine-Environmental Science program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore - 2021

Javier A. Rodriguez-Casariego; Florida International University
August 2019

Roberto Carlos Arredondo Espinoza; Mexico Spring 2019

Marcos Espinel; Universidad Científica del Sur, Peru April 2017

Dr. Cristian Gallardo; University of Concepcion Autumn 2016

Dr. Hollie Putnam; Research Associate Autumn 2016

Jose Angel Hidalgo de la Toba; CIBNOR PhD student
April 2016 New method for determining size at age in individuals to inform geoduck population models.

Timothy Green; University of Queensland

Adelaide Rhodes; Visiting Scholar