The Lab Notebook of Dr. Yaamini R. Venkataraman, a Postdoctoral Scholar 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. Currently, I study how hypoxia and warming impact Caribbean corals, 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.

I’m also interested in projects at the intersection of science, policy and communication! I currently serve on the Engage Science Board of Directors. 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. I am an active member of Students Explore Aquatic Sciences. Through this outreach organization, I develop and teach lessons about my own research for middle schoolers in the Greater Seattle Area. I’ve also served on the UW Graduate and Professional Student Senate’s Science and Poicy Committee and the College of the Environment’s Graduate Recruitment, Retention, and Diversity Committee.



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

  • Doctor of Philosophy 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


  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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


  • Venkataraman YR Oysters, Ocean Acidification, and -Omics (Huxley Speaker Series, Western Washington University, December 2019 and Summer Virtual Seminar Series, Friday Harbor Laboratory, June 2020)
  • Venkataraman YR and Roberts SB, Influence of Ocean Acidification on Pacific Oyster (Crassostrea gigas) DNA Methylation (Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association, September 2019 and Western Society of Naturalists, November 2019)
  • Venkataraman YR Will They Survive? (UW Science Now at Town Hall Seattle, April 2019)
  • Venkataraman YR 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)
  • Venkataraman YR, Spencer LH, Roberts SB, Adult low pH Exposure Influences Larval Abundance in Pacific Oysters (Crassostrea gigas) (Western Society of Naturalists, November 2018)
  • 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
  • Venkataraman YR, Roberts SB, Pre-Gametogenic pH Exposure Induces Larval Carryover Effect (National Shellfisheries Association, March 2018)
  • Venkataraman YR, Roberts SB, Timmins-Schiffman E Exploring Proteomic Variation in Pacific Oysters (Western Society of Naturalists, November 2017)
  • Venkataraman YR, Sun PY, 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 YR, Bernal B, Megonigal P Mean Residence Time of Carbon in an Experimental Tidal Wetland (Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, August 2015)


  • Venkataraman YR, Downey-Wall A, Lotterhos K, Roberts SB Influence of ocean acidification on eastern (Crassostrea virginica) and Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) DNA methylation (Ocean Sciences Meeting 2020, February 2020)
  • Venkataraman YR, 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 YR, 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)
  • Ajaz B, Neelakantan M, Venkataraman YR, 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)


  • 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)
  • 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)

Teaching and Mentorship

FISH 441/551: Integrative Environmental Physiology (Spring 2020)

  • Assisted with implementing virtual learning and class structure during COVID-19 pandemic
  • Worked with teaching team to facilitate discussions over Zoom
  • Developed creative project guidelines for undergraduates, and separate guidelines for graduate students

FISH/OCEAN/BIOL 250: Marine Biology (Fall 2019)

  • Worked with teaching team to teach introductory marine biology course to majors and non-majors in an active learning-style classroom
  • Organized, developed, and taught two weekly lab sessions
  • Lead field trip experiences for students
  • Prepared an active learning-style lecture on ocean acidification as part of the course

FHL 568: Advanced Topics in Ecology and Biology (Summer 2019)

  • Worked with teaching team to teach Ecology of Infectious Marine Diseases at Friday Harbor Laboratories
  • Coordinated and ran lab sessions and field excursions
  • Taught students basic genomic analysis methods
  • Spearheaded science communication of the course, which included helping students create blog posts and short presentations
  • Lead student groups for class projects

Letters to a Pre-Scientist: Scientist penpal (September 2018-June 2020)

  • Wrote letters to a middle school penpal each school year to demonstrate that STEM professionals are diverse and foster a curiosity about STEM careers
  • Explained how my background lead to my interest in marine science and my eventual scientific career
  • Engaged with my penpal’s interests to humanize myself as a scientist and connect with them on a deeper level

Students Mentored:

  • Lorraine Lee (University of Washington Program on the Environment Capstone Student, Students Explore Aquatic Sciences Intern)
  • Maureen Muñoz (University of California, Berkeley, Society of Women in Marine Science Mentorship Program)

Professional Service

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

  • Tasked with planning 2019 and 2020 society meetings
  • Organize the Thursday Workshop for the 2019 meeting centering around 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

Additonal 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

Community Engagement

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

Students Exploring Aquatic Sciences: Founding Member (August 2017-Present)

  • Co-planning a Spring 2018 FISH 508 class to empower graduate students to cater their outreach activities to diverse classrooms
  • Worked with teachers from Jane Addams Middle School and a Program on the Environment undergraduate capstone student Lorraine Lee to teach a week-long science course May 2019, including generation of a Shiny App *
  • Worked with Board of Directors to create a sustainable virtual community engagement program in response to COVID-19 pandemic

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; January 23, 2020) *
  • 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 (May 28, 2017, October 24, 2018, January 31, 2020) *
  • EarthTones Podcast: Guest (January 2019) *
  • Sound Waters University: Invited Teacher (February 2, 2019) *
  • Guest Speaker at Shorewood High School STEAM Expo (May 16, 2019) *

Science Communication

Engage: Various roles

  • Board member (September 2019-Present): Assist with science communication workshops and plan for future of organization
  • Class participant (Winter 2019): Underwent rigorous science communication training to present a 20 minute public talk on my research

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

  • 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-September 2019): 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-June 2019)

  • 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

Fisheries Interdisciplinary Network of Students: Various roles

  • President (June 2017-June 2020): 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)

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

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) Application Workshop: Mentor (Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020)

  • Helped undergradaute and graduate students write and apply for the NSF GRFP

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