Lab Alumni

Former Graduate Students

Lisl Esherick

Currently a Postdoctoral Associate in the Niles Lab at MIT.

There are countless questions still unanswered about the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis. I am interested in all of them. My current projects range from inducing Aiptasia spawning to perfecting methods of gene knockdown in larvae and adults; I hope to use these methods to investigate mechanisms of symbiosis specificity. I received my introduction to Aiptasia in Jodi Schwarz's lab at Vassar College, where I received my B.A. When I'm not cleaning tanks or doing PCRs, I'm probably on my couch eating cheez-its, or I'm not in the United States.

Meng Wang

Meng loves science and fast cars. For the science part, Meng was studying the molecular mechanisms of cytokinesis using the "Super" yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The ongoing project focuses on the role of a protein complex in plasma membrane invagination and/or septum formation during cytokinesis. Meng was also interested in how protein modifications may regulate localization and interactions among the components of this complex during cytokinesis.

Tamaki Bieri

Currently a Policy Analyst at The Nature Conservancy.

Tamaki received her BSc and MSc in biology from the ETH Zurich and when she came to Stanford she was sure she would do my ph.D. work on protein misfolding and neurodegeneration. However, Tamaki was so fascinated by the sea anemones and the work done in the Pringle lab during her rotation that she decided to change fields. She was studying the cellular mechanism of coral bleaching and working on making transgenic Aiptasia.

Matthew Burriesci

I recently graduated from the Genetics Department, with a minor in Computer Science. I have developed computational tools to count dinoflagellates in low densities, to simplify the analysis of ultra-high--throughput sequence data by collapsing identical and near-identical reads, to discriminate between dinoflagellate and cnidarian sequences in a mixed set, and to allow three-dimensional visualization of traditionally two-dimensional data using OpenGL. I have also used a gas-chromatography/mass-spectrometry approach to analyze the nutrients transferred from dinoflagellate to host during photosynthesis. In addition, I helped develp the laboratory portion of a Plant Genetics class and the Stanford Dahlia Project, which aims to educate students and the public about genetics using this common garden plant.

Liz Hambleton

Currently a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Guse Lab

As a graduate student in the Biology Department, I study the cellular mechanisms underpinning cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis. Currently, I'm culturing clonal strains of Symbiodinium as well as helping develop tools for the Aiptasia model system. I'm also interested in how particular pathways in the host innate immune system may interact with the symbiont during symbiosis establishment. I was born and raised in Texas, received my B.A. in Biology from Williams College, and worked as a technician in the Rappé Lab at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology studying coral-associated bacteria.

Erik Lehnert

My current project is to help generate and analyze the Aiptasia transcriptome.  I will then attempt to identify changes in transcript and protein levels during symbiosis establishment, maintenance, and breakdown.  One of my major interests is determining under what conditions Aiptasia and its symbiont have conflicting resource demands and how the organisms regulate their metabolisms to deal with these situations.   I am currently enrolled in the Genetics PhD program at Stanford.  When I'm not doing lab-related activities, I like to go to the gym, garden, swim, or visit San Francisco.    

Shanshan Tuo

I am working on yeast cell polarity and cytokinesis projects. In the polarity project, we are studying how Ste20p (an activator of MAPK pathway) and a set of endocytosis-related proteins regulate the functions of cortical markers in bipolar bud-site selection. In the cytokinesis project, we are focusing on the potential role of Cdc42p in cytokinesis and screening for new proteins in this process.

Former Postdoctoral Scholars

Lorraine Ling

Research Scientist at SyntheX Labs

Phillip A. Cleves

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, John Hopkins University

Staff, Department of Embryology, Carnegie Institution for Science

Cleves Lab Website

Masayuki Onishi

Assistant Professor of Biology at Duke University.

Onishi Lab Website



Cawa Tran

Assistant Professor at California State University, Chico

Tran Lab Website


Cory Krediet

Assistant Professor of Marine Science and Biology at Eckerd College.

Krediet Lab Website

Lauren Liddell

Scientist at NASA Ames Research Center.



Ben Mason

Scientist at Zymergen.

Jan DeNofrio

Currently at Stanford Center for Professional Development, where she is working with Stanford faculty and industry experts to create online classes in the sciences.

Jan studied the breakdown (bleaching) of the cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis under stress using the Aiptasia model system.  By using different combinations of host animal and Symbiodinium strain type, she was able to distinguish the effects of the host genotype, the algal genotype, and the interactions between them on the stress resistance of the holobiont.  The lab and its collaborators are still working to correlate these tightly controlled laboratory findings with the environmentally critical (but much less tractable experimentally) responses of coral/Symbiodinium holobionts to stress.  Before joining the Pringle lab, Jan received her Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied the proteins involved in platelet activation.

Veena Singla

Post Doctoral Scholar

My projects included developing methods for genetic manipulation of Aiptasia and understanding what aspects of the host, symbiont, and holobiont are important for mediating reactions and resistance to stress. I received my PhD in cell biology from UCSF, where I studied the centrosome, primary cilia, and ciliary signalling. I am also interested in understanding how symbionts repopulate the host and what cellular signals mediate these events.

Santiago Perez

Currently Lecturer at Portland Community College

I am interested in the molecular and cellular biology of cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbioses. Many ecologically important cnidarians, including sea anemones and tropical corals maintain an intracellular mutualism with unicellular dinoflagellate algae (Symbiodinium). Cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbioses provide a fascinating and grossly understudied set of problems in molecular, cell, and developmental biology. For example, we currently lack basic understanding of how host cells coordinate their cell cycles with those of their symbionts. My postdoctoral work focuses on this topic using the sea anemone Aiptasia pallida.  

Former Lab Managers & Researchers

Olivia Barry

Currently a graduate student in the Lemer Lab at University of Guam

Lab Manager

B.S. Biology, emphasis in Marine Science - Humboldt State University

Amanda Tinoco

Currently a graduate student in the Cleves Lab at the Carnegie Institute of Science

Research Technician

I received a M.S. degree in Marine Ecology at Stony Brook University after completing a B.S. at the University of Miami in Marine Science and Biology. Growing up in Miami, FL, I have seen the impact of increasing ocean temperatures on coral reefs first hand. While we have little control over this global threat, I hope to address local threats such as the impact of sunscreen chemicals on coral reefs. The literature supporting “coral-safe” sunscreens is extremely limited. My research in the Pringle Lab focuses on addressing the impacts that sunscreen chemicals such as oxybenzone may have on the sea anemone Aiptasia pallida. I am also examining the effects of minerals such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide which, based on very limited scientific evidence, have been labelled as “coral safe”.

Lorna Mitchison-Field

Research Technician

B.A. Environmental Studies - Mount Holyoke College

Allison Formica

Research Assistant

Lab Lecturer & Manager at College of the Redwoods, CA

As a recent graduate from Humboldt State University in Arcata, Ca., Allison received a double B.S. in Marine Biology and Zoology, with an emphasis in Scientific Diving. It was there that she developed an interest in working with marine invertebrates, especially in developmental and larval biology. Currently, Allison is assisting in developing a reliable spawning protocol for Aiptasia, in an attempt to improve spawning efficiency and predictability in the lab.  Everyday she has had the pleasure of caring for LOTS of anemones, as well as working with a great group of people. In her spare time, Allison volunteers as an eco-diver for the organization Reef Check, which allows her to take an active role in the conservation of the world’s coral and rocky reefs. If Alison isnot working, she is probably hanging out with her husband and two dogs, diving, hiking, or traveling anywhere and everywhere.

Kristen Cella

Lab Manager

Artist and Owner of Siamese Social Club

As a graduate student, I studied the phylogeny of nudibranchs at the California Academy of Sciences where I developed an interest in tropical marine invertebrates and aquarium husbandry. Now I am the lab manager in the Pringle Lab, where I get to work with literally thousands of marine invertebrates (i.e., anemones). Aside from keeping the lab's anemones happy, I take care of the lab's 50 gallon coral reef tank and have begun to test the usefulness of morpholinos as a method for gene knockdown in Aiptasia.

Carlo Caruso

Lab Manager

Graduate student in Ruth Gates Memorial Lab at Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology

Carlo was a mainstay of the lab from 2000 until the end of 2010 and remains connected with us on a part-time basis even as he pursues his current full-time job. His duties as Lab Manager included a bit of everything: handling lab ordering and safety inspections; repairing equipment; overseeing most aspects of the lab move from UNC to Stanford in 2005; performing high-quality experimental work; etc. In his first few years, Carlo helped with a wide variety of yeast studies. But when we decided in 2004 to launch a study of dinoflagellate-cnidarian symbiosis, he became the point person on this project and was primarily responsible for getting it off the ground before we began attracting postdocs and graduate students to the project in 2007. His initials live on in the name for our primary clonal anemone strain (CC7). Carlo's involvement in our collaborative field-work on Ofu Island (American Samoa) led to an offer from the National Park Service to live and work in there full-time, which he began in January 2011. While working full-time at Stanford, Carlo also managed to complete an M.S. in Biology. As a project for one class, he and his friend Josh Meisels (who was then working part-time in the lab) produced a video about the forensic identification of sharks sold on the soup-fin market: Sharks in Hot Water

Natalya Gallo

Research Associate

Currently a graduate student in Biological Oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

I was a member of the Pringle lab during a much-too-brief 7-month period between finishing my undergraduate degree at UMD and before beginning my PhD. As a member of the lab, I worked on developing and testing candidate housekeeping genes for Aiptasia pallida for use in qPCR and on exploring dsRNA uptake for RNAi through agar bead mediated feeding. I was also very interested in and explored the role host cell apoptosis plays in the breakdown of the cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis in response to thermal stress. Working in the Pringle lab also gave me the opportunity to try my hand at producing a lab video with my husband, which was a fun break from typical lab work.

Kenichi Nakashima

Research Associate

Kenichi works on cell polarity and bud-site selection questions. He has left the Pringle Lab to work on a new project for the division of education at Obihiro University in Japan.

Ryuichi Nishihama

Research Associate

I am fascinated by the dynamic nature of cytokinesis and the divergence of its mechanisms through evolution. Previously, I conducted plant cytokinesis research. Currently, I am working on the mechanisms of cleavage-furrow ingression and its coordination with actomyosin-ring contraction in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which, unlike many other cell types, does not require the actomyosin ring for cytokinesis. Using genetic approaches that utilize this property as well as EM observations, interesting things are being revealed!
My Publications

Former Summer Research Assistants

Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program

Yash Lala (2017)

Sean Cho (2015) Union High School

Michelle Chiu (2015) Union High School


RISE High School Fellows

Rodrigo Pichardo (2015)

Michelle Tran (2014)


Stanford Summer Research Program/Amgen Scholars

Sriram Ramamurthy (2019) UC Santa Barbara

Sascha Machulsky (2019) Cal State University, Northridge

Andy Garcia (2019) UC Santa Barbara

Yuji (2019) University of Tokyo

Dimitrios Camacho (2017) Dominican University of California

Taylor Jones (2016) Virginia Commonwealth University

Sabrina Lowe (2013) Swathmore College


Summer Research Program for Teachers

Jun Cai (2019) Oakland Unity Middle School

Joshua Little (2019) Henry M. Gunn High School

Linda Hambrick (2018) South San Francisco High School

Yvonne White (2018) Hayward High School

Elizabeth Doggett (2017) San Mateo High School

Karen Hurst (2016) San Jose Community College District

Daniel Riviera (2015) El Camino High School

Amber Paull (2014) Kennedy Middle School