Dr. Anne E. Todgham

sF0Wm6Mr7It1rZxnun6XJpEciECTfVohVtWi04TfX4MI am an environmental physiologist with an interest in understanding the molecular, biochemical and physiological mechanisms that underlie an animal’s capacity to cope with environmental change.  I am fascinated by the diversity of physiological specializations (or strategies) used by animals to tolerate particular habitats that others would find very challenging.  This interest has led my research to investigate how an animal’s physiology and environment interact to structure organismal stress tolerance.  My current research program has an eye towards global climate change and addresses the general question of whether contemporary animals have the physiological flexibility necessary to buffer the unprecedented rates of environmental change, specifically their response to changes in multiple environmental variables. My research focuses mainly on aquatic organisms that are distributed along the California coast and estuaries (e.g. limpets, sea urchins, crabs, oysters and intertidal fishes), but extends to Antarctic fishes and aquaculture species.



Joel Van Eenennaam – Staff Research Associate


I have been working in the Department of Animal Science as a research associate, since 1985. Research interests include: techniques for monitoring the reproductive conditions of wild and domestic sturgeon stocks; sturgeon aquaculture development, including broodstock management, spawning induction and husbandry methods; sturgeon gametogenesis and embryological development; and conservation hatchery development for stock enhancement. Current projects are: determining the causes of spontaneous “triploid” production in sturgeon hatcheries, training aquaculture staff on the techniques for broodstock management at new sturgeon farms, and enhancing tank spawning techniques for green sturgeon.


Chessie Cooley-Rieders – Junior Specialist

As a junior specialist and lab manager, I am involved in and facilitate a wide variety of research that encompasses aquatic and marine organismal stress physiology. Examples of projects include white and green sturgeon husbandry, behavior and predation of delta fishes including Delta smelt, Chinook salmon embryo respirometry and physiological tolerances of the California mussel. My research interests include how the stressful and dynamic environments of the Pacific coast rocky intertidal informs the biology and physiological responses of marine invertebrates. Specifically, I am interested in prey and predator relationships between sea stars and the California mussel and the effect of predator presence on mussel’s adductor muscle physiology and biomechanics.


Andrew Naslund – Junior Specialist

My primary research interest is to investigate the plastic and physiological responses of fish to anthropogenic effects such as climate change, hydrologic modifications, and fishing practices. Through laboratory and field based experiments, I seek to understand how vulnerable species respond to these challenges under various management practices and projected environmental conditions. Much of my research experience to date has focused on studying how Antarctic and California native fishes are affected under anthropogenic stressors and how organismal stress can be mitigated.





Milica Mandic, PhD

 I am a comparative physiologist broadly interested in understanding how animals have evolved to function and perform in challenging environments. Most of my research to date has focused on physiological, biochemical and genetic mechanisms underlying plasticity and adaptation of fish to periods of low O 2 in the water, termed hypoxia. In recent years, studying zebrafish has opened my eyes to the remarkable differences in physiology between larval and adult fish, signifying that the mechanisms an individual uses to cope with hypoxia shifts over developmental time. My work in the Todgham lab will continue to explore similar themes in Antarctic notothenioid fish. Using biochemical approaches, I will aim to understand metabolic plasticity of early life stage fishes impacted by elevated temperatures and CO2 levels in the water.



Annelise Del Rio – PhD candidate in Ecology

I am interested in the mechanisms marine and aquatic organisms use to survive in stressful or changing environments, especially in the context of global climate change. I aim to use physiological ecology to inform conservation and management strategies for fishes such as Central Valley salmon. I am currently studying the effects of temperature and hypoxia stressors on the development and physiology of early life stage Chinook salmon from the protein to whole organism level in the lab and field.




Erin Flynn – PhD candidate in Ecology

SONY DSCI am interested in understanding what mechanisms allow animals to cope with changes in their environments (plasticity, acclimation, & adaptation) and why certain taxa and life stages seem especially vulnerable to rapid changes. I am currently studying the effects of ocean climate change on the early life stages of Antarctic fishes using genomics, molecular biology, and organismal techniques. I am also developing future projects applying a landscape and physiological perspective to the conservation of California estuarine species.

Amanda Frazier – PhD student in Ecology

My interests lie in understanding how animals cope with anthropogenic stressors on molecular, organismal, and ecosystem-wide levels. I am especially interested in studying polar species, because their adaptations to stable environments make them particularly vulnerable to a changing climate. My master’s research in the Todgham lab focused on the potential metabolic performance benefits of a cannibal feeding strategy in burbot (freshwater cod) using cellular and organismal indices of metabolic performance. My PhD research in the Todgham lab focuses on how ocean acidification and ocean warming affect the behavior and physiology of multiple Antarctic fish species. I am also                                                                                        a NSF NRT Sustainable Oceans Fellow.

Leah Mellinger – PhD student in Animal Biology

I am interested in how fish respond to environmental stressors ranging from biotic (such as parasites and pathogens) to abiotic (such as poor water quality and toxicants) and using those responses to map population health and potentially develop management tools for assessing population health. With the increasing threat of climate change and other anthropogenic stressors, developing strategies to assess how fish populations are coping is incredibly important. I am specifically interested in assessing Chinook salmon smolt physiological stress levels during their migration and smoltification as well as assessing forage fish species population health. I am also an NSF NRT Sustainable Oceans fellow. 

Michaiah Leal – PhD candidate in Animal Biology

FullSizeRender-3I am interested in understanding how ploidy level impacts an organism’s ability to respond to environmental stressors, specifically elevated temperatures. My research focuses on physiological comparisons between different ploidies of white sturgeon. My aim is to better elucidate the physiological mechanisms underlying the differential performance often demonstrated in fish of different ploidies to be able to better predict the pros and cons associated with rearing different ploidies on farms and hatcheries.


Sarah Nancollas – PhD student in Animal Biology

My interests lie in how marine organisms respond to global environmental change, and what adaptations are utilised at a cellular and organism level to tolerate these changes. Specifically, I am interested in how the plasticity of this response varies across ecosystems and between species. My current research investigates food availability as a major determining factor for the heat tolerance in Mytilus californianus, and whether sirtuins link

the processes mechanistically.



Fred Nelson – PhD student in Ecology

I am interested in studying the effects of predicted climate change on natural and already altered ecosystems and how organisms are adapting to these new extremes. Currently, I’m studying the variation in phenotypic plasticity in response to climatic stressors across temporal scales, using the western mosquitofish, Gambusia affinis, as a model species. 





Tinh Ton – PhD student in Animal Behavior

I study how keystone species shape population and community processes within tide pools. Sea stars consume mussels which allows other larvae species to settle, contributing to species diversity in tide pool ecosystems. My research focuses on how Ochre seastars detect KEYSTONEin, a protein produced by the California mussel, to use as a feeding stimulus. I am exploring the effects of ocean acidification on this chemical cue and its role in predator-prey interactions in order to assess tide pool biodiversity under climate change.




Raven Barbera – Animal Science Undergraduate

I am a fourth-year undergraduate majoring in Animal Science with a passion for wildlife and animal medicine. I am particularly interested in how we can improve conservation efforts by studying physiological and behavioral responses of animals when exposed to environmental stresses. Currently, I am completing an honors thesis and working with Michaiah Leal to investigate the differences in how diploid and triploid white sturgeon respond to hypoxic conditions. I hope to continue exploring the wildlife and conservation field to eventually find a career in wildlife medicine.



Sarah Chavez – Animal Science Undergraduate

 I am a fourth-year undergraduate majoring in Animal Science with a minor in Wildlife, Fish, Conservation Biology. I am interested in the effects of predicted climate change on sex-determination in fishes. This past summer, I assisted Raven Barbera and Michaiah Leal with investigating the difference in how diploid and triploid white sturgeon respond to hypoxic conditions. I hope to conduct a research project in the near future with the help of Annelise Del Rio to study the effects of temperature and hypoxic stressor on the sex-determination of Chinook salmon.

 Erin de Leon Sanchez  – Biological Sciences Undergraduate

 I am a fourth year undergraduate Biological Sciences major. I am interested in differential gene expression of stress induced genes in response to global climate change. I am currently working with Erin Flynn to optimize a protocol for RNA extraction from M. californianus in order to look at the effects of food, temperature, tide cycles, and heat shocks on transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, and whole organism physiology. I hope to become more familiar with fish ecology and whole organism fish physiology while continuing my interests in molecular biology.




Jessica Escamilla – Animal Science Undergraduate

I am a fifth year undergraduate majoring in Animal Science. I have contributed to projects investigating white and green sturgeon energy metabolism, and I am currently working on further optimizing Todgham Lab protocols for measuring tissue enzyme activity. I hope to gain better knowledge of how organisms work and how different aspects can influence the function of physiological systems in animals.





John Amiel Flores – Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity Undergraduate

I am a third year Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity major with an interest in marine and aquatic ecology. Last year, I helped Annelise Del Rio with her project in studying the effects of temperature and oxygen stressors on the early stages of Chinook salmon development. I’m currently working with Frederick Nelson in examining the physiological effects of climate change on mosquitofish, Gambusia affinis. In addition to participating with Fred’s experiment, I am also exploring the effects of varying sex-biased populations on male and female fitness and predicting how this will affect mosquitofish populated ecosystems. Although most of my research is revolved on fish ecophysiology, I believe understanding  changes on the individual level would be helpful in predicting outcomes in higher scales of ecology. I hope to continue to learn and eventually apply the knowledge and experience from the Todgham Lab in coral reef organisms.

Gabriella Mukai – Animal Science Undergraduate

I am interested in how fish respond to stressful environments. This past year, I assisted Annelise Del Rio with her study on the effects of thermal and oxygen stress on Chinook salmon as well as Ken Zillig, from Dr. Fangue’s lab, with his work on heat hardening of Chinook salmon. This upcoming quarter, I will be continuing my work with Chinook salmon. I will be conducting a research project with Lorenzo Ray Olano, where we will be investigating cross tolerance of heat and hypoxic stressors.




Lorenzo Olano – Animal Science Undergraduate

As an Aquatic Animals specialization under the Animal Science major, I am interested in the development of aquaculture systems for different aquatic animals. Currently, my research partner Gabi Mukai and I are looking at the effects of multiple exposures of hypoxic and thermal shock on Chinook salmon. Although I am on the Pre-Vet track, I hope to pursue research in the future in some field of aquaculture so that I can aid in implementing aquaculture systems to communities in need.






Postdoctoral Scholars

Nathan Miller (2013-2015)

Doctoral Students

Brittany (Bjelde) Davis – PhD 2018

 Masters Students

Madeline Drake – MS Thesis 2016: The role of stochastic thermal environments in modulating the thermal physiology of an intertidal limpet, Lottia digitalis

Daniel Chase – MS Thesis 2014: Effect of species assemblage on juvenile growth and condition in three California estuarine fishes.

Erin Flynn – MS Thesis 2014: Ocean acidification exerts negative effects during warming conditions in a developing Antarctic fish.

Sara Boles – MS Thesis 2014: Physiological cost of climate change in the native Olympia oyster, Ostrea lurida.

Christina Pasparakis – MS Thesis 2013: Role of sequential low-tide-period conditions on the thermal physiology of summer and winter laboratory-acclimated fingered limpets, Lottia digitalis.

Katie McLean  – MS Thesis 2013: Effect of food availability on the growth and thermal physiology of juvenile Dungeness crabs (Metacarcinus magister).

Brittany Bjelde – MS Thesis 2013: Thermal physiology of the fingered limpet Lottia digitalis under emersion and immersion.


Undergraduate Students

Bryan Puentes (2017) – Effects of temperature and food restriction on survival, growth and physiological performance of larval green sturgeon

Brigitte Clark (2016, UC LEADS Program) – Developing blood smear analysis for assigning white sturgeon ploidy groups

Monica Serrano (2017) – Physiological responses of native and non-native fishes to warming and salinity stress, Antarctic fish enzyme activity

Emily Perry (2017) – Behavioral responses of rockfish to ocean acidification and hypoxia

Frederick Nelson (2015, 2016, Howard University EEGAP Intern) – Effects of elevated temperature and ocean acidification on the cardiorespiratory physiology of an Antarctic fish

Alexandra Resnick (2016) – Impacts of ocean acidification and warming on activity behavior in juvenile Antarctic emerald rockcod

Janet Garcia (Summer 2013, SFSU REU BREED Program) – Metabolic response of Ilyanassa obsolete egg capsules to increased temperature under immersed and emersed conditions.

Monica Tang (2013) – The combined effects of elevated temperature and low salinity on the physiological performance of adult Olympia oysters, Ostrea lurida.

Arthur Nguyen (2013) – Lipid analysis in juvenile oysters to assess metabolic responses to environmental change

Travis Siapno (2013) – Development of an assay to measure lipids in early developmental stages of oysters.

Karen Bueno (Summer 2012, SFSU REU BREED Program) – Understanding the tolerance of native Olympia oysters to fluctuations in environmental salinity.

Hazel DeVera (2012) – The effects of thermal stress during aerial exposure on protein homeostasis of the owl limpet, Lottia gigantea.

Maxwell Everett (2012) – Oxidative stress and antioxidant defenses in Antarctic fishes.

Corinne Calhoun (Summer 2011, SFSU REU BREED Program) – Distribution and abundance of juvenile Dungeness crabs in the San Francisco Bay.

Emily Blanchard (2011 – 2012) – Cloning and sequencing of candidate genes involved in ion and acid-base regulation in Antarctic fishes.

Janet Nguyen (2011 – 2012) – Cloning and sequencing of candidate genes involved in ion and acid-base regulation in Antarctic fishes.