Robin Kodner, PhD

IMG_1175 (1)

PhD, Harvard University   2007 

BS, University of Wisconsin – Madison   2000

Robin Kodner has been an assistant professor of Biology at Western Washington University since 2012. She earned her PhD at Harvard University studying with Dr. 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 Dr. Ginger Armbrust.  Robin started her research career studying algal evolution 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 has 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.



Graduate Students:

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 United States. 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 biogeography of snow algae in the 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.

Nolan Exe

nolanBS, Western Washington University, 2016

Nolan 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 live 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.


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.




Eric Hervol (MSc jointly in Biology and Computer Science)
Taylor Clement (MSc in Biology 2017)
Ryan McLaughlin (MSc in Biology 2016)
Tyler Land (MSc in Comp Sci 2014, now at UW Medical School)


Ashley Heuchert (BS in Biology 2017)
Neha Malhan (BS in Environmental Science 2017)
Maggie Waugaman (BS in Environmental Science 2017)
Ciara Asamoto (BS in Biology, now MSC candidate at USC Boulder)
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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