We are a collaborative and creative group of scientists with diverse backgrounds and interests, united by our drive to reconstruct animal origins and mechanisms underlying host-microbe interactions. Our expertise spans from evolution, ecology, and comparative genomics to microbiology, cell biology, and biochemistry.

Principal Investigator

Nicole King

Nicole King received her B.S. in Biology from Indiana University and her Ph.D. from Harvard University under the mentorship of Prof. Rich Losick.  In 2000, she began studying choanoflagellates as a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Prof. Sean Carroll at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  She started her lab at the University of California, Berkeley in 2003, where she is a Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.  She is interested in gaining mechanistic insights into the origin of animals.

Email: nking at berkeley dot edu

Lab Manager

Becca Arruda

Postdoctoral Scholars

Alain Garcia De Las Bayonas

Choanoflagellate morphogenesis, microbiome, and GPCR evolution.

Jacob L. Steenwyk

The evolution and function of genes and genomes.

Graduate Students

Max Coyle

The evolution of cellular differentiation: transcriptional regulation in choanoflagellates.

Josean Reyes-Rivera

NO-signaling in choanoflagellates.

Michael Carver

Origin of Hedgehog signaling.


Adia Tajima

Transcriptional regulation and epitope tagging in choanoflagellates.

Jaime Ramirez

Studying the choanoeca flexa as a fascinating model of multicellularity.


Stefany Gonzalez

Evaluating bacterial growth in choanoflagellate media.

Administrative Coordinator

Chrisa Staikou



NameCurrent positionOriginal position in lab
Rosie AlegadoAssociate Professor, University of HawaiiPost-doc
Jenice AreveloMasters student in Genetic Counseling, UC IrvineUndergraduate researcher
Vika BetinDoctoral student, Hung Lab, Harvard/MGHUndergraduate researcher
Emina BegovicFinance, Accounting and Operations Director, University of Colorado-Boulder Sustainability, Energy and Environment CommunityPost-doc
Candace Britton Doctoral student, UCSFUndergraduate researcher
Pawel BurkhardtGroup leader: Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology, Bergen, NorwayPost-doc
Daniel ChanEmergency Medicine Resident PhysicianResearch technician
Mark DayelPrinicipal Engineer at NeoPhotonicsMiller Institute Post-doc
Nicolas DerrResident Physician; UCSFUndergraduate; Research assistant
Hannah ElzingaEnvironment Research Intern, Work With Nature FoundationResearch assistant
Stephen FaircloughData Scientist, Guardant HealthDoctoral student
Parinaz FozouniMD/PhD program at UCSFUndergraduate researcher
Blake GeppertResearch technologist, Washington State UniversityResearch associate
Allie Greaney MD/PhD program, University of WashingtonUndergraduate researcher
Lily HelfrichMarketing Associate at BenchlingResearch Technician
Tarja HoffmeyerDoctoral student, Sars/University of ExeterUndergraduate researcher
Sherri HuangMD/PhD student, Indiana UniversityUndergraduate researcher
Ryan HulettDoctoral student, Department of Organismal and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard UniversityResearch assistant
Kord KoberAssistant Professor, UCSFResearch assistant
Jacquie KudoloQC Inspector, HenkelLab manager
Tracy LaGrassaBiology Teacher, Bronx High SchoolPost-doc
Jess LyonsAssistant Project Scientist, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, UC BerkeleyStaff Research Associate
Jen HalbleibIntellectual Property AttorneyPost-doc
Tera Levin Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh (starting 2020)Doctoral student
Conor McCluneDoctoral student, MITUndergraduate researcher
Jasmine MahDoctoral Student, Yale University (Dunn lab)Research Technician
Heather MiddletonLaboratory Operations Manager at SutroVax Inc.Lab manager
Andrea (Morris) SpencerResearch Fellow, Boston Children's Hospital/Harvard MedLab manager
Jeremy MosherFamily Medicine Resident Physician, University of Illinois at Chicago Medical CenterUndergraduate Researcher
Sruthi MantriMedical Student, Stanford University Medical SchoolUndergraduate Researcher
Sumaiya MubarackClinical Research Coordinator, UCSF Medical CenterUndergraduate Researcher
Scott NicholsAssociate Professor, University of DenverPost-doc
KC PayneUndergraduate Researcher
Daniel RichterPost-doc, Ruiz-Trillo lab, Institute of Evolutionary Biology, BarcelonaDoctoral student
Brock RobertsScientist, Allen Institute for Brain ScienceDoctoral student
Kai ZhangUndergraduate researcher
Rachel RossUndergraduate researcher
Jerry ScheidtRetiredLab manager
Tara SulurMedical Student, University of MichiganUndergraduate researcher
Alison SweeneyAssistant Professor, University of Pennsylvania, Physics and AstronomyPost-doc
Danny WellsSr. Data Scientist, Parker Institute for Cancer ImmunotherapyPost-doc
Jody WestbrookScientist, InvitaeDoctoral student
Arielle WoznicaPost-doc with Prof. Julie Pfeiffer, UT Southwestern Medical Center Doctoral student
Susan YoungResearch Communications Manager, Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women's Health, UTMBDoctoral student
Rick ZuzowChief Chemist, EarthEnable; CSO, Green LogicUndergraduate researcher