Karen Kiemnec-Tyburczy

Assistant Professor - Cellular and Molecular Biology and Zoology

Karen Kiemnec-Tyburczy
(707) 826-5550
SciC 104

Karen grew up in northeastern Oregon. She received her bachelor's of science and her Ph.D. from Oregon State University. She spent several years doing research at Cornell University before joining the HSU faculty.

Research Interests: Evolutionary genetics, chemical communication, evolution of amphibian reproductive behavior and development



BS, Biology Oregon State University
PhD, Zoology Oregon State University
Postdoctoral Associate, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University

Courses Taught

Evolution (BIOL307)
Genetics (BIOL340/BIOL340L)
Molecular Genetics Lab (BIOL440)
Principle of Animal Development (ZOOL476)
Becoming a STEM scientist (SCI 100)


My research mainly focuses on the evolution of genotypes and phenotypes in natural populations. In particular, I am interested in amphibians, an early-diverging tetrapod lineage that provides tractable systems for investigating evolutionary questions across multiple scales, from genes to development to behavior. I also study rapidly evolving genes and how selection shapes them over time. Two of my recent projects include analyzing protein pheromones used during salamander courtship and characterizing immune genes in invasive populations of frogs.


  • Staub, N. L., A. B. Stiller and K. M. Kiemnec-Tyburczy. 2020. A new perspective on female-to-male communication in salamander courtship. Integrative and Comparative Biology 60: 722-731.
  • Kiemnec-Tyburczy, K. M., K. E. Tracy, K. R. Lips and K. R. Zamudio. 2018. Genetic variation and selection of MHC class I loci differ in two congeneric frogs. Genetica 146: 125-136
  • Arnold, S. J., K. M. Kiemnec-Tyburczy, and L. D. Houck. 2017. The evolution of courtship behavior in plethodontid salamanders, contrasting patterns of stasis and diversification. Herpetologica 73: 190-205
  • Kiemnec-Tyburczy, K. M. and J. R. Sapp. 2017. Courtship behaviors of two salamander congeners and the evolution of a novel courtship behavior in the genus Aneides. Herpetological Review 48: 6-10
  • Tracy, K.E., K.M. Kiemnec-Tyburczy, J.A. DeWoody, G. Parra-Olea and K.R. Zamudio. 2015. Positive selection drives the evolution of a major histocompatibility complex gene in an endangered Mexican salamander species complex. Immunogenetics 67: 323-335.
  • Savage, A.E., K.M. Kiemnec-Tyburczy, A.R. Ellison, R.C. Fleischer and K.R. Zamudio. 2014. Conservation and divergence in the frog immunome: pyrosequencing and de novo assembly of immune tissue transcriptomes. Gene 542: 98-108.

Graduate students

Stacie Nunes (co-advised with Sharyn Marks), Marilyn Sandova, and Luisa Segovia.