Robin Kodner, PhD


BS, University of Wisconsin – Madison 2000

PhD, Harvard University 2007

Robin Kodner has been an assistant professor of Biology at Western Washington University since 2012. She earned her PhD at Harvard University studying with Andrew Knoll in the department of Organismal and Evolutionary Biology, followed by a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Washington Friday Harbor Labs and School of Oceanography working with Ginger Armbrust.  Robin started her research career studying algal evolution in over geologic time and moved to studying modern marine algal communities so that we could learn how they are responding to/impacting climate change. Her current research uses environmental genomic techniques to take snapshots of microbial community structure to explore biodiversity, phylogeography, and evolution.

Her passion for being in the mountains have led Robin to expand her marine-based research into the mountains, applying the same environmental genomic techniques to study snow algae communities. She is using the snow microbiome as a model to understand how communities evolve in response to climate change. In addition to her work, Robin has been an outdoor educator for over 15 years in the mountains and on sailboats. She uses both the ocean and mountain environments as platforms for teaching basic sciences.


email   office phone 360 650 7467


graduate students:

Eric Hervol

Eric has a BS in Math and Computer Science and a minor in Biology from Washington University.  Eric is a MS student and a computer scientist.  Eric is a master of many things and our lab go to guy for all kinds of advice on computers, building boats, being organized, and basically everything!  He is working on new algorithms to help quantify microbial community diversity for this thesis.

Taylor Clement

Taylor Clement grew up in New England, and received a Bachelors of Science in Marine Biology at the University of Rhode Island in the spring of 2014. While completing her undergraduate studies, she worked in Dr. Chris Lane’s lab, where she performed population genetics research on a red algal parasite Choreocolax polysiphoniae, and its host Vertebrata lanosa.  Taylor did her thesis work on phytoplankton diversity studies in Bellingham Bay.

Rachael Mallon

img_2691-jpg-2BS, University of Puget Sound, 2012

While studying biology at the University of Puget Sound, Rachael spent two summers hiking on glaciers throughout the Pacific Northwest researching the phylogeography and ecology of ice worms (Mesenchytraeus solifugus). Since her undergrad, Rachael has worked as a biology field technician and outdoor educator across the U.S. Currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Biology at Western, Rachael is excited to explore the North Cascades in her new backyard as she researches the phylogeography of snow algae in Cascade mountain range. Rachael is also interested in enhancing the Kodner lab’s citizen science snow algae collection program to educate locals about the snow ecosystem in their backyard.

undergraduate students

Elsa Balton

elsaElsa grew up in Bellingham, WA and is currently studying Cellular Molecular Biology and Spanish at WWU with a pre-health emphasis. Elsa traveled to Peru over the summer of 2016 to collect samples for sequencing in the Kodner lab, including snow algae samples. Now, her work in the lab includes sample processing (DNA extractions, PCR, sequencing), as well as microscopy work to identify the organisms found stream and lake samples from Peru. She will also be working with the Kodner Lab’s citizen science program to teach local students about snow biology and sampling.

Ashley Heuchert

part000000-2Ashley is a recent graduate of the  Cell & Molecular Biology program at WWU, and intends to pursue a masters degree in Microbiology or Pathology. She has previous experience working in agriculture from an internship with WSU, and with algae conducting research at WVC on UV-damaged Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Ashley’s role as an undergraduate research assistant includes sample processing (DNA extractions, PCR, sequencing), as well as microscopy work to identify the organisms found in the lab’s Peru stream samples. Ashley is also very excited about the future opportunity to have hands on experience teaching students about snow ecology at the Mt. Baker Snow School in 2017!

Neha Malhan
neha-2Neha is majoring in Environmental Science with a pre-health/chemistry emphasis at WWU in hopes of someday pursuing a Master’s degree in Biology or Doctorate in Dental Surgery. She has field work experience from going on a research expedition in the Cordillera Blanca region of the Peruvian Andes where alpine microbial DNA samples were taken and are now being used for this research group. Neha is excited to take part in the Kodner lab’s citizen science snow algae collection program taking place at Mt. Baker’s snow school this winter season where the group will be educating local children in grades K-12 on the science of snow ecosystems of the North Cascades.

Maggie Waugaman

Maggie is a recently graduate in Environmental Science through the Huxley College of the Environment. She participated in a WWU study abroad program where she worked in alpine environments throughout the Peruvian Andes collecting water samples from snow and glacial runoff and snow algae samples. Maggie is excited to be participating in the first undergraduate driven DNA sequencing effort at WWU. Her personal involvement with the collection and analysis of samples has given her a strong connection to the project and an enthusiasm for future research. Maggie aspires to work towards her Ph.D. studying plants in arctic and alpine environments and this project provides her with valuable experience and inspiration.

Nolan Exe

nolanNolan is a recent biology graduate of Western Washington University. While there he was inspired by Dr. Kodner’s algae class to pursue a Master’s degree studying marine algae. He is primarily interested in the species Halosphaera dubeii, a poorly understood green algae that lives in Bellingham bay. Nolan also participates in North Cascade Institute’s snow science program, teaching middle and high schoolers from local school districts about the diverse assortment of organisms living in the snow, including snow algae.


Ryan McLaughlin

Tyler Land (MSci in Comp Sci 2014), now at UW Medical School

Ciara Asamoto, now Technician a

Marcus Naymik (BS 2014),  MSc student at University of Arizona

Maggie Krause (BS 2014)


3 thoughts on “People

  1. Dan Mosby September 16, 2014 / 4:08 pm

    Dear Robin,
    It was so nice to meet you and “red and white” dogs on the trail at Glacier peak. We appreciate you taking the time to answer some of our questions about star fish wasting and bio lumenessence We are very interested in your research and will look forward to reading more on your website. Sincerely, Kathy and Dan

    • Robin Kodner September 17, 2014 / 5:27 am

      Dan and Kathy
      Thanks so much for getting in touch. I’ll be posting pictures from all my summer research soon! Glad we all had such a great trip to a beautiful place.


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