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

Twitter: @A_Nicole_King

Senior Scientist

Monika Abedin Sigg

Monika joined Nicole King’s lab as a graduate student in 2004 where she studied choanoflagellate cadherins. After receiving her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, she moved to Jeremy Reiter’s lab at UCSF for her postdoctoral fellowship studying the evolution of ciliary signaling. Upon completion of her postdoc in 2016, she returned to the King Lab as a Senior Scientist. She now has several projects that range from understanding how choanoflagellates recognize bacteria to determining the functions of cadherins in S. rosetta. She also helps build molecular and cell biological tools for studying choanoflagellates.

Email: masigg at berkeley dot edu

Postdoctoral Scholars

Michael Abrams

coming soon.

David Booth

Developing molecular tools to study cell organization and gene expression in choanoflagellates.

Thibaut Brunet

The evolutionary origin of animal cell and tissue contractility.

Flora Rutaganira

Using chemical tools to decipher key signaling networks in choanoflagellates.


Graduate Students

Max Coyle

The evolution of cellular differentiation: transcriptional regulation in choanoflagellates.

Kayley Hake

A stable association between choanoflagellates and bacteria in Mono Lake.

Ella Ireland

Mixed messages: integration of bacterial cues in S. rosetta.

Ben Larson

Principles of multicellular self-organization in choanoflagellate morphogenesis.

Tess Linden

The evolutionary origin of collagen and the animal extracellular matrix.

Laura Wetzel

The genetic basis of rosette development in S. rosetta.

Lab manager

Stephanie Malinich


Reef Aldeyafleh

Bacterial recognition and transgenics in S. rosetta.


Namecurrent position
Rosie AlegadoAssistant Professor, University of Hawaii
Jenice AreveloMasters student in Genetic Counseling, UC Irvine
Vika BetinGraduate student, Harvard MCB
Emina BegovicProject manager, SPARTA project, University of Colorado-Boulder
Candace Britton Graduate student, UCSF
Pawel BurkhardtGroup leader: Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology, Bergen, Norway
Daniel ChanMedical student, University of Toronto
Mark DayelArchitect at Theranos
Nicolas DerrResearch Assistant, Amacher lab, Ohio State University
Stephen FaircloughData Scientist, Guardant Health
Parinaz FozouniMD/PhD program at UCSF
Blake GeppertOpthalmic technician
Allie Greaney Postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award program, National Institutes of Health
Sherri HuangMD/PhD student, Indiana University
Ryan HulettGraduate student, Department of Organismal and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
Kord KoberGraduate student, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UC Santa Cruz
Tracy LaGrassaIntellectual Property Legal Intern at Jones Day, NY and Fordham Law School student
Jess LyonsGraduate student, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, UC Berkeley
Jen HalbleibLaw School Student, Stanford University
Tera Levin Post-doc with Prof. Harmit Malik, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Conor McCluneGraduate student, MIT
Heather Middleton
Andrea MorrisGraduate student, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, U of Michigan
Jeremy MosherEnzymology Research Associate at Pacific Biosciences
Sruthi Mantri
Sumaiya MubarackUndergraduate, UC Berkeley
Scott NicholsAssistant Professor, University of Denver
KC PayneUndergraduate, UC Berkeley
Daniel RichterPost-doc, Station Biologique de Roscoff
Brock RobertsGraduate student, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, UC Berkeley
Kai ZhangUndergraduate, University of Utah
Rachel RossUndergraduate, UC Berkeley
Jerry Scheidtretired
Tara SulurTeacher with Teach for America
Alison SweeneyAssistant Professor, University of Pennsylvania, Physics and Astronomy
Danny WellsSr. Data Scientist, Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy
Jody WestbrookScientist,Invitae
Susan YoungScience Writer, MIT Tech Review
Rick ZuzowGraduate Student, Department of Biochemistry, Stanford University