The Lab Notebook of Yaamini R. Venkataraman, a graduate student in the Roberts Lab at the University of Washington, Seattle.

The short version:

I’m primarily interested in how climate change is going to affect the organisms in our current and future oceans. I currently study how ocean acidification affects oysters using “-omic” techniques. I’m also interested in projects at the intersection of science, policy and communication!

The long version:

As a California Bay Area native, I grew up going to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I was always floored by the intricacies of the organisms themselves, but also how complex their environments were. These experiences pushed me to get my B.S. in General Biology and B.A. in Environmental Policy at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). I studied several different species-environment interactions, including copepods and copper toxicity at the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, marsh plants species and increased carbon inputs at the Smithsonian Institute for Environmental Studies and limpet-surfgrass interactions under acidified conditions at UCSD. At the Roberts Lab, I study how climate change is going to affect the organisms in our current and future oceans. My current projects involve examining ocean acidification’s effects oysters using “-omic” techniques.

I’m also interested in projects at the intersection of science, policy and communication! I currently serve as the Social Media Intern at the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, where I spearheaded a profile series featuring graduate students in the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program. I interned at the Tropical Forest Group and served on the editorial board of the undergraduate biology research journal, Saltman Quarterly. I have also participated in several education and outreach experiences through the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where I assisted with developing a teen social media brand and was a part of the aquarium’s youth delegation for the 2012 International Aquarium Congress.



University of Washington, Seattle (September 2016-Present)

  • Master’s in Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

University of California, San Diego (Summa Cum Laude; September 2012-June 2016)

  • B.S. General Biology
  • B.A. Environmental Systems: Environmental Policy

Research experience

Undergraduate Researcher: Taylor Lab, Scripps Institution of Oceanography (September 2015-June 2016)

  • Studied ocean acidification’s effect on feeding patterns in the surfgrass limpet, Tectura palacea

Research Experiences for Undergraduates: Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (June 2015-August 2015)

  • Investigated mean residence time of new recalcitrant carbon inputs at the Global Change Research Wetland (G-CREW) using stable isotope analysis

Research Experience for Undergraduates: Coastal Ocean Systems and Sustainability (June 2014-August 2014)

  • Examined impact of shade on copepod (Tigriopus californicus) mortality and copper toxin tolerance

Undergraduate Researcher: Burton Lab, Scripps Institution of Oceanography (April 2013-December 2013)

  • Ran experiments to understand life history traits of Tigriopus californicus linked to mitochondrial DNA to discern if speciation had occurred between different populations

Phage Genomics Research Initiative (September 2012-June 2013)

  • Characterized genome of newly-isolated bacteriophage


  • Venkataraman Y, Spencer L, Roberts S, Adult low pH Exposure Influences Larval Abundance in Pacific Oysters (Crassostrea gigas) (Journal of Shellfish Research, in press)
  • Venkataraman Y, Timmins-Schiffman E, Horwith M, Lowe A, Nunn B, Vadopalas B, Spencer L, Roberts S, Characterization of proteomic response to natural environmental differences in the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) (Marine Ecology Progress Series, in press). bioRXiv preprint


  • Venkataraman Y, Spencer L, Roberts S, Adult low pH Exposure Influences Larval Abundance in Pacific Oysters (Crassostrea gigas) (Western Society of Naturalists, November 2018)
  • Venkataraman Y, Roberts S, Influence of Ocean Acidification on Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) reproductive tissue (Pacific Growers Shellfish Growers Association 2018)
  • Venkataraman Y, Roberts S, Pre-Gametogenic pH Exposure Induces Larval Carryover Effect (National Shellfisheries Association, March 2018)
  • Venkataraman Y, Roberts S, Timmins-Schiffman E Exploring Proteomic Variation in Pacific Oysters (Western Society of Naturalists, November 2017)
  • Venkataraman Y, Lowder K, Taylor J Effect of Low pH on Growth and Feeding Quantity in the Surfgrass Limpet (University of California, San Diego, May 2016)
  • Venkataraman Y, Cage P, Niles J Social Media for a Global Movement: How Can Social Media Influence an International Climate Change Negotiation? (University of California, San Diego, June 2016)
  • Venkataraman Y, Sun P, Edmands S, Effects of Shading on Environmental Parameters, Tigriopus californicus population dynamics, and copper tolerance (Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, February 2016)
  • Venkataraman Y, Bernal B, Megonigal P Mean Residence Time of Carbon in an Experimental Tidal Wetland (Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, August 2015)
  • Ajaz B, Neelakantan M, Venkataraman Y, Zalan A, Nguyen K, Pogliano J, Pogliano K Genes associated with lysogeny in the “lytic” mycobateriophage Qbert (University of California, San Diego, May 2013)


  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships Program (May 2018-Present)
  • Hall Conservation Genetics Research Award (March 2017)


  • Division of Biological Sciences Distinction (June 2016)
  • Physical Sciences Dean’s Undergraduate Award of Excellence (May 2015)
  • Muir College Caledonian Honor Society Member (November 2014)


Outreach activities marked with an asterisk are related to my research on oysters and ocean acidification.

Students Exploring Aquatic Sciences: Curriculum Developer (August 2017-Present)

  • Co-planning a Spring 2018 FISH 508 class to empower graduate students to cater their outreach activities to diverse classrooms
  • Working with teachers from Jane Addams Middle School to teach a week-long science course May 2019 *

National Center for Science Education: Scientist in the Classroom (January 2017-June 2017)

  • Worked with middle school science teacher to develop lessons about climate change in the Pacific Northwest, specifically ocean acidification. Taught two lessons in person *

One-day events

  • North Cascades Institute: Graduate Student Panelist (February 10, 2017)
  • Scientist of the Month: The Evergreen School (December 14, 2017; December 13, 2018) *
  • Seattle Youth Climate Action Summit: Graduate Student Panelist (October 28, 2017)
  • Seattle Climate Action Now: Lab Tour Host (July 26, 2017) *
  • Robert Eagle Staff Middle School: Guest Teacher (February 6, 2018)
  • UW Botanical Gardens Summer Camp: Activity Facilitator (August 22, 2018)
  • Refugee Women’s Alliance Summer Camp: Activity Facilitator (August 24, 2018)
  • Climate Science on Tap: Guest Scientist (August 28, 2018) *
  • Skype-a-Scientist (October 24, 2018) *
  • EarthTones Podcast: Guest (January 2019) *
  • Sound Waters University: Invited Teacher (February 2, 2019) *

Science communication

NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries: Social Media Volunteer Intern (April 2017-Present)

  • Create social media content for the Earth Is Blue campaign in addition to spearheadeding a series highlighting the graduate students in the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program
  • Write scripts and cut together Earth Is Blue videos
  • Curate social media posts

ComSciCon-PNW: Various roles

  • Organizer (September 2017-Present): Responsible for recruiting panelists, organizing workshops, and coordinating day-of logistics
  • Attendee (March 2017): Conference focused on bolstering science communication skills for graduate students

Saltman Quarterly: Various roles

  • Executive Editor (May 2015-May 2016): Created narratives between stories in two different publications (Saltman Quarterly (undergraduate biology research journal) and Under the Scope (biology magazine intended for a broader audience)) to frame overall mission: making biology research more accessible for all
  • Head Production Editor (May 2014-May 2015): Learned how to convey stories visually, and taught my team to do the same for both publications
  • Blogger (September 2013-June 2014): One of the first bloggers for our website, SQ Online. Detailed journey of self-discovery as one of several biology majors who did not intend to pursue a health-related career in my blog, “No, I’m not Pre-Med”

Science policy

Graduate Student and Professional Senate: Science and Policy Steering Committee Member (Septmeber 2016-Present)

  • Address professional development needs for graduate students relating to science policy, including science communication trainings, ethics discussions, and white paper workshops

ParisAgreement.org: Affiliate (September 2015-June 2016)

  • Examined effect of social media on perceptions of Paris Agreement and COP23

Other involvements

Western Society of Naturalists Student Committee: Member (October 2018-Present)

  • Helping plan the 2019 and 2020 meetings

Research Coordinated Network for Evolution in Changing Seas: Member (October 2018-Present)

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) Application Workshop: Mentor (Fall 2018)

  • Helped graduate students write and apply for the NSF GRFP

Fisheries Interdisciplinary Network of Students: Various roles

  • President (June 2017-Present): Organizational head, liaison between graduate students, faculty, and administration
  • Diversity and Equity Forum Leader (September 2016-June 2017): Hosted events to start dialogue about diversity, equity, and inclusion within the department
  • Spring Picnic Planning Committee (February 2017-May 2017)
  • Graduate Student Retreat Planning Committee (October 2016-January 2017)

Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program Application Reviewer: March 2018

Graduate Recruitment, Retention, and Diversity Committee: Member (April 2017-December 2017)

  • Provided feedback on College of the Environment’s recruitment and retention efforts

Contact me

yaaminiv@uw.edu Twitter: @YaaminiV