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Emma Steigerwald

I am a biologist, dedicated to applying genomic tools to questions in amphibian evolutionary ecology and conservation biology.


I am an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow and University of California Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Santa Cruz, working with Dr. Beth Shapiro and the Paleogenomics Lab and  based in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

I did my PhD in the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of California, Berkeley. I was co-advised by Dr. Rasmus Nielsen of the Department of Integrative Biology and Dr. Rosemary Gillespie of the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management.

Environmental change genomics


The evolutionary ecology of

climate-driven range shifts


Globally, countless species are undergoing elevational and latitudinal range shifts in response to our rapidly changing climate. I am interested in how these range shifts shape spatial patterns in genetic diversity, and the consequences for species' fitness and continued adaptation to novel challenges. Given my particular interest in amphibians, I am particularly interested in pathogens as novel challenges.  How will the climate-driven range shifts of hosts reshape disease transmission and infection outcomes?


Pathogens, their hosts, and climatic shifts in deep time 

DNA from museum specimens and lake sediment provide longer-term historical records of biological communities. I am interested in developing molecular tools to delve into these archives, to ask how hosts have responded to pathogens, climatic shifts, and interactions between these factors.

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Using eDNA to study the

impact of invasive species 


Invasive species compose another critically important dimension of global change biology. I hope to show how we can use aquatic environmental DNA to evaluate the impacts of invasive aquatic predators on native stream communities, with a particular focus on impacts for amphibian diversity. 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion in academia

Academia is not currently representative of the rich perspectives and backgrounds diverse scholars can bring to the table. I hope to contribute to making the scientific community more  welcoming and our research products more accessible.


With the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology working group on Translation, I have been privileged to work with some incredibly thoughtful scholars as we 

Here's to making science better through swinging the doors wide open!

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