The Lab Notebook of Dr. Yaamini R. Venkataraman, an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Biology (NSF PRFB) at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

The short version:

I’m interested in how climate change is going to affect the organisms in our current and future oceans. I integrate -omics and whole-organism physiology techniques to investigate phenotypic plasticity’s role in marine invertebrate responses to climate change, specifically using sub- and nonlethal stressors. My Ph.D work used oysters as models to understand methylation responses to ocean acidification. Currently, I study how hypoxia impacts Caribbean corals and killifish, and how temperature influences crab metabolism using “-omic” techniques.

The long version:

Originally from the California Bay Area, 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.

For my Ph.D at the Roberts Lab, I studied ocean acidification’s effects on Pacific and Eastern oysters using epigenomic techniques. In addition to being the first to describe pH-sensitive methylation in oysters, my work furthered the use of oysters and models by highlighting tissue- and species-specificity. I am continuing this work by elucidating connections between genetic variation, DNA methylation, gene expression, and non-coding RNA in low pH conditions to understand how methylation may interact with other mechanisms to regulate gene expression and physiological phenotype. This information will be applied towards understanding intergenerational plasticity.

For my postdoctoral work at WHOI, I use Atlantic killifish, Caribbean corals, and European green crabs as focal species to understand responses to hypoxia and temperature at the whole-organism and molecular levels.

I’m also interested in projects at the intersection of science, policy, communication, and equity! I co-developed and taught a graduate seminar about settler-colonialism and white supremacy in aquatic and fishery sciences. I helped create a professional development certificate program to not only provide institutional recognition for JEDI, outreach, mentorship, and leadership work, but to also create structured training for these valuable transferable skills. By spearheading town hall discussions and demand letters as a graduate student leader, I pushed our department to create a code of conduct and pursue a racial equity audit. I currently advocate for postdoctoral researchers across WHOI Postdoctoral Association representative. After learning that postdoc mentoring needs are often unmet at WHOI, I revived a peer mentoring program for incoming postdocs. I co-founded my graduate department’s outreach organization to provide marine science lessons to K-12 students in under-resourced Seattle schools and build connections with local communities. I work with similar groups at WHOI, including the Broader Impacts Group and Undergraduate Recruitment Working Group. In graduate school, I served on the Engage Science Board of Directors and ComSciCon-PNW board, which are both student-led science communication initiatives. I was a 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.

Contact Me!



University of Washington, Seattle (September 2016-August 2021)

  • Ph.D in Aquatic and Fishery Sciences with Data Science Option
  • Advisor: Dr. Steven B. Roberts University of California, San Diego (Summa Cum Laude; September 2012-June 2016)
  • B.S. General Biology
  • B.A. Environmental Systems: Environmental Policy


NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Biology (April 2023-April 2025)

  • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Postdoctoral Scholar (October 2021-March 2023)
  • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution ** NSF Graduate Research Fellow (September 2018-June 2021)**
  • University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences


  1. Venkataraman YR+, Shore A+, Dayal S, Lee J, Salimi MA, Crandall G, Loeher MM, Stoops M, Swanger M, Eisenlord MEE, Van Alstyne KL, Fast MD, Burge CA, Groner ML, “Characterizing host-pathogen interactions between Zostera marina and Labyrinthula zosterae.” Front. Mar. Sci. in review (+ = equal contribution)
  2. Padilla-Gamiño J+, Alma L+, Spencer LH+, Venkataraman YR+, Wessler L+, “Ocean acidification does not overlook sex: Review of understudied effects and implications of low pH on marine invertebrate sexual reproduction.” Front. Mar. Sci. (2022). https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2022.977754 (+ = equal contribution)
  3. Venkataraman YR, White SJ, Roberts SB, “Differential DNA methylation in Pacific oyster reproductive tissue associated with ocean acidification.” BMC Genom. (2022). https://doi.org/​​10.1186/s12864-022-08781-5
  4. Wanamaker SA+, Venkataraman YR+, Gavery M, Roberts SB, Bhattacharya D, Downey-Wall AM, Eirin-Lopez JM, Johnson KM, Lotterhos KE, Puritz JM, - -Putnam HM, “Invertebrate methylomes provide insight into mechanisms of environmental tolerance and reveal methodological biases” Mol. Ecol. Res. (2021) https://doi.org/10.1111/1755-0998.13542 (+ = equal contribution)
  5. Downey-Wall AM, Cameron L, Ford B, McNally, E, Venkataraman YR, Roberts SB, Ries J, Lotterhos KE, “Ocean acidification induces subtle shifts in gene expression and DNA methylation in mantle tissue of the eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica)” Front. Mar. Sci. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2020.566419
  6. Venkataraman YR, Downey-Wall AM, Ries J, Westfield I, White S, Roberts SB, Lotterhos KE, “General DNA methylation patterns and environmentally-induced differential methylation in the eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica)” Front. Mar. Sci. 7:225 (2020). https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2020.00225
  7. Venkataraman YR, Spencer LH, Roberts SB, “Larval response to parental low pH exposure in Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas)” Journal of Shellfish Research 38(3):743-750 (2019). https://doi.org/10.2983/035.038.0325
  8. Spencer LH, Venkataraman YR, Crim R, Ryan S, Horwith M, Roberts SB, “Carry-over effects of temperature and pCO2 across multiple Olympia oyster populations” Ecological Applications https://doi.org/10.1002/eap.2060
  9. Foley HB, Sun PY, Ramirez R, So BK, Venkataraman YR, Nixon EN, Davies KJA, Edmands S. “Sex-specific stress tolerance, proteolysis, and lifespan in the invertebrate Tigriopus californicus.” Experimental Gerontology 119:46-56 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.exger.2019.02.006
  10. Spencer LH, Horwith M, Lowe AT, Venkataraman YR, Timmins-Schiffman E, Nunn BL, Roberts SB. “Pacific geoduck (Panopea generosa) resilience to natural pH variation.” Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part D: Genomics and Proteomics. (2019) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cbd.2019.01.010
  11. Venkataraman YR, Timmins-Schiffman E, Horwith M, Lowe AT, Nunn BL, Vadopalas B, Spencer LH, Roberts SB, “Characterization of proteomic response to natural environmental differences in the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas).” Marine Ecology Progress Series 610:65-81 (2019). https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12858


  • NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology ($54,000 yearly salary, $15,000 yearly research and training allowance; 2022)
  • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Postdoctoral Scholar Award ($93,375 total salary, $10,000 research funding; 2021)
  • University of Washington Diversity Seed Grant ($2,000 course funding; 2021)
  • NSF Graduate Research Fellowships Program ($34,000 yearly salary; 2018)
  • Hall Conservation Genetics Research Award ($6,000 research funding; 2017)
  • School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences Fellowship ($25,188 yearly salary; 2016)


  • APS Intersociety Meeting for Comparative Physiology Abstract-Based Travel Award (2022)
  • School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences Faculty Merit Award (2021)
  • School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences Equity, Inclusion, and Community Service Recognition Award (2021)
  • College of the Environment Outstanding Diversity Committment (May 2019)
  • University of Washington Husky 100 (April 2019)
  • Honorable Mention: Best Student Presentation (PCSGA; September 2018)
  • College of the Environment Travel Grant (September 2017)
  • Fisheries Interdisciplinary Network of Students Travel Grant (September 2017, January 2019)


Oral Presentations

  1. Venkataraman YR, “Evolved pollutant-resistance shapes methylation and gene expression responses to hypoxia in Atlantic killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus)” (APS Comparative Physiology Meeting, October 2022)
  2. Venkataraman YR, Haws M, White SJ, Thiyagarajan V, Roberts SR, “Polyploidy and environmental stress have distinct impacts on Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) ctenidia methylomes” (Plant and Animal Genome Conference Aquaculture Workshop, January 2022)
  3. Venkataraman YR, “Role of DNA methylation in Pacific oyster response to environmental change” (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Biology Department Seminar Series, December 2021)
  4. Venkataraman YR and Roberts SB, “Influence of ocean acidification on Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) DNA methylation” (Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association, September 2019; Western Society of Naturalists, November 2019; Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, January 2021)
  5. Venkataraman YR, Spencer LH, Roberts SB, “Adult low pH exposure influences larval abundance in Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas)” (Western Society of Naturalists, November 2018; National Shellfisheries Association, March 2018)
  6. Venkataraman YR, Roberts SB, “Influence of ocean acidification on eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) reproductive tissue” (Pacific Growers Shellfish Growers Association 2018). Honorable Mention for Best Student Presentation Award
  7. Venkataraman YR Roberts SB, Timmins-Schiffman E, “Exploring proteomic variation in Pacific oysters” (Western Society of Naturalists, November 2017)
  8. Venkataraman YR, Sun PY, Edmands S, “Effects of shading on environmental parameters, Tigriopus californicus population dynamics, and copper tolerance” (Ocean Sciences Meeting 2016)

Invited Talks

  1. Leveraging epigenetics to understand how marine organisms response to climate change (UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology, October 2022)
  2. Using bivalves to understand methylation responses to ocean change (Epigenetics in Marine Biology Conference, October 2022)
  3. Molecular techniques for resilient oyster aquaculture (The Chew Series: Recent Advances in Shellfish Aquaculture Research, University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, June 2021)
  4. Oysters, ocean acidification, and -omics (Huxley Speaker Series, Western Washington University, December 2019; Summer Virtual Seminar Series, Friday Harbor Laboratory, June 2020; Regional Climate Resilience and Mitigation Seminar Series, University of Washington Tacoma, November 2021)
  5. Multidimensional training for multidimensional graduate students: Better preparing tomorrow’s leaders (School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences 100 Year Celebration and 2019 Bevan Symposium, April 2019) https://youtu.be/8TbcVPMdo1w


  1. Venkataraman YR, Downey-Wall A, Lotterhos K, Roberts SB, “Influence of ocean acidification on eastern (Crassostrea virginica) and Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) DNA methylation (Poster, Ocean Sciences Meeting 2020, February 2020) https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.11868231.v1

Professional Service

Peer Review

  • Journals: Evolutionary Applications (3), ICES Journal of Marine Science (1), Ecological Applications (2), Molecular Ecology (5), Genomics (1), Scientific Data (1), Journal of Heredity (1), Integrative and Comparative Biology (1), PLOS Biology (1)
  • Grants: Ravoltain Foundation (2022), Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program Applications (2017)

EPIMAR 2 Organizational Committee (October 2021-October 2022)

  • Postdoctoral representative on EPIMAR 2 conference organizing committee
  • Contributed to development of scientific agenda and mentorship program for early career researchers at the conference

Postdoctoral Association: Governing Council Member (November 2021-December 2022)

  • Biology Department representative for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Postdoctoral Association
  • Worked with governing council, postdoctoral researchers, and administration to improve mentorship experiences with a focus on equity and inclusion issues

Western Society of Naturalists Student Committee: Co-Chair (November 2019-November 2020), Member (October 2018-November 2019)

  • Organized the Thursday Workshop for the 2019 meeting about mental health in academia
  • Committee co-chair for 2020 meeting responsible for delegating roles to committee members and coordinating with WSN Secretariat
  • Collaborated with WSN Secretariat and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee to improve conference atmosphere and create intentional mentoring and networking opportunities for the 2020 virtual conference

Fisheries Interdisciplinary Network of Students: President (June 2017-June 2020)

  • Liaison between graduate students, faculty, and administration
  • Increased participation by restructuring organization to meet student needs
  • Focused on improving diversity, equity, and inclusion within the department by coordinating graduate student focus groups to bring concerns to administration and starting work campaigns

Community Engagement

Activities marked with an plus (+) are related to my dissertation research on oysters and ocean acidification

Committee for Diversity and Inclusion Undergraduate Working Group: Member (September 2022-Present)

  • Collaborated on a proposal for a new one-week program to bring historically excluded to Woods Hole for a professional development program

Committee for Diversity and Inclusion Outreach Program: Member (October 2021-Present)

  • Worked with graduate students, research assistants, and postdoctoral researchers to teach lessons on adaptation in marine organisms for under-resources schools in the Greater Boston area

Students Explore Aquatic Sciences: Founding Member (August 2017-June 2021)

  • Founded departmental community engagement organization with staff and graduate students
  • Taught aquatic science lessons in classrooms and summer camps
  • Worked with teachers from Jane Addams Middle School and undergraduate capstone student Lorraine Lee to teach a week-long science course May 2019, including generation of a Shiny App (https://sthurner.shinyapps.io/oav1/) +
  • Joined Board of Directors Fall 2020 following organizational restructuring and worked to create a sustainable virtual community engagement program in response to COVID-19 pandemic

Letters to a Pre-Scientist: Scientist penpal (August 2017-Present)

  • Wrote letters to a middle school penpal each school year to demonstrate that STEM professionals are diverse and foster a curiosity about STEM careers
  • Engaged with my penpal’s interests to humanize myself as a scientist and connect with them on a deeper level

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

  • Taught sixth and seventh-graders about climate change impacts in the Puget Sound region during two in-class visits
  • Developed curriculum with science teacher so it could be taught independently

Other Community Engagement Experiences Climate Science on Tap Guest Scientist+ (August 28, 2018), EarthTones Podcast Guest+ (January 16, 2019, https://lnns.co/HXGS9khCxYr), Sound Waters University Invited Teacher+ (February 2, 2019), Public Talk at Town Hall Seattle+ (April 23, 2019), Keynote at Shorewood High School STEAM Expo+ (May 16, 2019)

###Communication Experience

Engage: Board Member (September 2019-June 2021)

  • Led organization committed to providing science communication education for STEM graduate students at the University of Washington
  • Worked with College of the Environment administration and Board Members to create plan for future of organization, including the development of a second graduate student course
  • Created science communication workshops for various conferences (ex. AAAS, Science Talk)

ComSciCon-PNW Organizer (September 2017-September 2019)

  • Responsible for recruiting panelists, selecting participants, organizing workshops, securing donations, and coordinating day-of logistics for a graduate-student run conference focused on bolstering science communication skills for other STEM graduate students

NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries: Social Media Volunteer Intern (April 2017-April 2020)

  • Spearheaded a written series highlighting graduate students in the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program,
  • Curated social media content for the Earth Is Blue campaign for Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter