Robin Kodner, PhD


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 study 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


BS, 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) with Dr. Peter Wimberger. 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.

Nathan Rouche


BS, Western Washington University 2017

Nathan spent several years as a technician for natural resource management agencies before returning to school. His inspiration to restart his education came while mapping tundra fires in the western Arctic and his first exposure to GIS. Ever since childhood his shelves and backpacks were stuffed with maps and field guides so the intersection of ecology/evolution and geography was a natural fit. After receiving his BS in Biology and certificate in GIS at Western in 2017, he enrolled in a graduate certificate program in remote sensing at Penn State University in the hopes of incorporating satellite imagery analysis into his Master’s research. Nathan is eager to explore the phylogeography and climate factors that influence snow algae communities past, present and future.


Suzy Dobkins

Undergraduate Students:

IMG_2531 2
from left to right: Riley, Kristen, and Darby

Kristen Thomas

Darby Finnegan

Darby is a Western undergraduate majoring in Marine Biology. She is originally from Grangeville, Idaho but fell in love with the Pacific Northwest’s incredible mountains and coastal areas. She recently was a Research Experience for Undergraduates Scholar at Friday Harbor Labs studying the adaptive evolution of Cottoid fishes. She is interested in gaining experience in a variety of biological fields, including genetics and microbiology, and the Kodner Lab presents an exciting opportunity to do that.

Riley Marcus

Glenna Dyson-Roberts


Taylor Clement (MSc in Biology 2017, now technician Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center)
Ryan McLaughlin (MSc in Biology 2016, now PhD student at UBC)
Tyler Land (MSc in Comp Sci 2014, now at University of Washington Medical School)


Elsa Balton (BS in Cellular Molecular Biology and Spanish 2017)
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)


2 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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