Publications and achievements submitted by our faculty, staff, and students.

Faculty Mihai Tomescu Biological Sciences

Dr. Tomescu Co-edited a special issue of American Journal of Botany: “Tree of Death: The Role of Fossils in Resolving the Overall Pattern of Plant Phylogeny” (with G.W. Rothwell and I.H. Escapa). You can see the full article here:

Submitted: October 17, 2018

Student John M. Mola, Rachael L. Olliff, Christopher M. Steenbock Biological Sciences

Biology graduate students John Mola and Rachael Olliff and Botany/Biology-Ecology undergraduate student Christopher Steenbock received the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship on March 29th.

Submitted: April 1, 2013

Faculty Jianmin Zhong Biological Sciences

Professor Jianmin Zhong in the Department of Biological Sciences has been awarded a $353,500 R15 grant from the National Institutes of Health. The title of Professor Zhong’s project is Symbiotic Rickettsia Species as a Model System for the Study of Folate Biosynthesis.

Submitted: August 21, 2012

Student Du Cheng Biological Sciences

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) has selected Du Cheng from Humboldt State University as a 2010 award recipient of the ASM Undergraduate Research Fellowship. This fellowship is aimed at highly competitive students who wish to pursue graduate careers (Ph.D. or MD/Ph.D.) in microbiology. Dr. Jianmin Zhong from HSU is Du Cheng’s mentor. The research title is: Study of Prevalence and Transmission Routes of Rickettsia species in Ixodes pacificus by Real-time PCR.

Submitted: September 15, 2010

Student Frank Shaughnessy, Susannah Ferson, Adam Frimodig, Daniel Barton, Mathew Hurst, Jeffrey Black Biological Sciences

Students and faculty from several departments have been studying the effects that grazing by brant geese have on a widespread marine plant, eelgrass, which provides numerous ecosystem services within estuaries. Using an experimental approach, they found that brant enable greater productivity and sexual reproduction of eelgrass, therefore potentially contributing to ecosystem resilience.

Submitted: August 31, 2021

Faculty John Reiss and Karen Kiemnec-Tyburczy Biological Sciences

John Reiss and Karen Kiemnec-Tyburczy have been awarded a 3-year National Science Foundation (Division of Integrative Organismal Systems) grant to study the evolution of olfaction across multiple species of lungless salamanders with different developmental modes.

Submitted: March 15, 2021

Faculty Catalina Cuellar-Gempeler Biological Sciences

Catalina Cuellar-Gempeler earned the NSF Career award, one of the most prestigious awards offered by NSF.

Submitted: February 15, 2021

Student Karley Rojas Biological Sciences

Undergraduate Karley Rojas (Botany) has received a science fellowship from the Agricultural Research Institute for their proposed study of native plants that have the potential to be utilized in the context of agroecosystem building as consistent with regional TEK. They will be working with their mentors Dr.Buddhika Madurapperuma and Craig Benson.

Submitted: February 15, 2021

Faculty Karen Kiemnec-Tyburczy Biological Sciences

Karen Kiemnec-Tyburczy and co-authors published a paper “A New Perspective on Female-to-Male Communication in Salamander Courtship” in Integrative and Comparative Biology. The paper can be viewed at

Submitted: October 22, 2020

Faculty Eve Robinson and Nicholas Som Biological Sciences

Eve Robinson (Department of Biological Sciences) and Nicholas Som (Department of Fisheries Biology; USFWS) co-authored an article in the North American Journal of Fisheries Management, titled “Prevalence of infection in hatchery-origin Chinook Salmon correlates with abundance of Ceratonova shasta spores: implications for management and disease risk”.  Their research was motivated by questions the State raised about potential linkages between hatchery fish and disease risk, and results from this work were published earlier this year in time to be used by decision-makers in timing the release of hatchery smolts in the Klamath River.

Submitted: October 22, 2020

Faculty Oscar Vargas Biological Sciences

Oscar Vargas, Assistant Professor at the Department of Biological Sciences, published a paper in the journal Evolution:“Patterns of speciation are similar across mountainous and lowland regions for a Neotropical plant radiation (Costaceae: Costus)”

Submitted: October 14, 2020

Student Adolfina Savoretti (visiting student from Argentina), Alexander Bippus, Mihai Tomescu (with R.A. Stockey and G.W. Rothwell) Biological Sciences

Peer-reviewed article in Annals of Botany: “Grimmiaceae in the Early Cretaceous: Tricarinella crassiphylla gen. et sp. nov. and the value of anatomically preserved bryophytes”

Submitted: December 14, 2018

Faculty Bruce O'Gara Biological Sciences

Bruce A. O’Gara, Professor of Zoology and Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, was recently profiled in the Member Spotlight section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) website. Read the full text here:

The AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the prestigious scientific journal, Science. The profile entitled “Bruce O’Gara teaches his students how to find an answer” details how Prof. O’Gara works with students in his research laboratory to provide practical training to help them advance in their scientific careers. Featured in the profile is the research of senior Cellular and Molecular Biology major Araik Sinanyan on the endocrine disrupting chemical bisphenol A (BPA) and its effects on the regeneration of lost body parts of an annelid worm. Also featured in the profile are quotes from HSU graduate Michael Smeaton, who attributes his experiences in O’Gara’s laboratory as being an important factor in giving him the confidence to earn a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins and perform postdoctoral work at Cal-Tech and Stanford.

Submitted: May 8, 2014

Student Du Cheng, Jianmin Zhong Biological Sciences

Du Cheng, a HSU Cellular/Molecular Biology major undergraduate student attended the 111th American Society for Microbiology General Meeting as an invited speaker. He gave an oral presentation titled:“The Rickettsia Species in Ixodes pacificus is Transmitted by Transovarial and Transstadial Transmissions” in session “The Best and Brightest in Diagnostic Microbiology and Epidemiology I” at 5:00pm, May 23,2011 in New Orleans. Du’s mentor Dr. Jianmin Zhong of Department of Biological Sciences also attended this meeting.

Submitted: May 26, 2011

Faculty Catalina Cuellar-Gempeler, Marissa Monaco, Eric Malekos, Dan Perez-Sornia, Jose Alejandro Bravo Biological Sciences

Presented at American Naturalist Meeting 2020 in Monterey, CA.

Submitted: March 5, 2020

Student Sandra Strayer, Mihai Tomescu (with S. Noetinger) Biological Sciences

Peer-reviewed article in American Journal of Botany: “Origin of Equisetum: Evolution of horsetails (Equisetales) within the major euphyllophyte clade Sphenopsida”

Submitted: December 14, 2018

Student Reggie Blackwell Biological Sciences

Reggie Blackwell (‘14) has landed an NSF Graduate Fellowship to pursue a PhD at Scripps Institute beginning in fall 2014. His project is titled “Invasions within Humboldt Bay California by cryptic species of bryozoans (watersipora spp.) spatial and temporal dominance by three clades.”

Submitted: May 7, 2014

Faculty Matt Nelson (grad student) and Sean Craig (faculty) Biological Sciences

Published a paper in Marine Ecology Progress Series this week entitled:

“Role of the sea anemone Metridium senile in structuring a developing subtidal fouling community”

Vol. 421: 139–149, Jan 17th, 2011

link to full paper (open access):

Submitted: January 21, 2011

Faculty Karen Kiemnec-Tyburczy Biological Sciences

Received a Bureau of Land Management CESU Award to study the impact of newt predation on endangered California Red-legged frogs.

Submitted: February 6, 2020

Faculty Kelly Pfeiler, Mihai Tomescu Biological Sciences

Peer-reviewed article in Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society: “An Early Devonian permineralized rhyniopsid from the Battery Point Formation of Gaspé (Canada)”

Submitted: November 26, 2018