What we do

The Gold lab specializes in molecular geobiology, meaning we use data from living organisms to ask question related to the fossil and geologic record. We also study biological systems from the perspective of deep, geologic time (how systems are shaped over hundreds of millions of years). Most of this work is centered on the origin of animals, but Dr. Gold has worked on projects as ancient as the evolution of photosynthesis and as recent as DNA preservation from mammoth bones. Our work is highly interdisciplinary, touching on marine biology, genomics, biological regeneration, conservation ecology, and evolution. Our laboratory spaces include the main campus of the University of California, Davis as well as the Bodega Marine Laboratory.

Areas of Research

A Commitment to Inclusion

The Gold lab is committed to improving diversity and opportunity in the geosciences. This includes a combination of outreach / retention activities as well as the study of science’s historical role in the development of racist ideologies. Our research emphasizes community engagement and the integration of indigenous forms of knowledge. Dr. Gold is a strong proponent of empiricism and the scientific method, but he accepts its fundamental limitations and the role society plays in shaping research. Our lab believes that increasing diversity inherently improves the scientific enterprise.

Latest News

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Noemie Sierra

Congratulations Dr. Sierra!

It’s a big milestone for the lab, as our first graduate student, Noemie Sierra, has received her PhD! Congratulations Dr. Sierra!

New Paper: Reanalysis Shows Dinosaurs Not So Warm-Blooded

From the UCD press release: In 2022, a team led by Yale University researchers used traces of biomolecules from fossils to measure metabolism in animals that died millions of years ago. Their data showed, they claimed, that endothermy evolved even before dinosaurs appeared, in the common ancestor of both dinosaurs and the flying reptiles, pterosaurs. Now a new analysis of the data by paleontologists from UC Davis challenges this interpretation. The study is published Sept. 6 in Nature.” A great collaboration from the whole paleo team at UC Davis–myself, Dr. Motani, Dr. Carlson, and Dr. Vermeij!

Dr. Gold Interviewed in The New York Times

The New York Times covered research on some of the oldest jellyfish fossils yet discovered. What does Dr. Gold think about this discovery? You can find out using this link.

Award: Jumpstart fellowship

Congratulations to Liyu for receiving an NSF Jumpstart award! This award provides two months of funding to help her get started before she officially starts this fall in Dr. Alyssa Griffin’s lab!

Award: Durrell Awards

Congratulations to Tessa and Chris for receiving Durrell awards for the 2023/2024 academic year!

New Member: Malory Brown

We are thrilled to announce that Malory Brown will be joining the lab as a new postdoctoral researcher this fall! Malory comes from the Welander lab at Stanford. We’re looking forward to adding her skills in protein functional analysis to the lab.

Award: Paleo Society Grant

Congratulations to Tessa for receiving a Paleontological Society Research Grant! This will fund field work in the Wheeler Shale. So excited to see the results!

New Paper: Will shells survive an age of climate change?

Many marine animals build their shells and skeletons out of calcium carbonate. When ocean water becomes more acidic–as happens when the climate warms–calcium carbonate should be harder to extract. This has many scientists worries about the fate of corals, molluscs, and other important marine life. Indeed, many studies have shown that certain species have trouble building their shells when their water is more acidic, but many other studies do not. What could explain this variation? Dr. Gold explores this question with Geerat Vermeij in a new paper, “Deep resilience: An evolutionary perspective on calcification in an age of ocean acidification.” It is available for free at Frontiers in Physiology. DOI link: https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2023.1092321

Award: CRAFT 2.0

We are thrilled to learn that our lab has received a COVID-19 Research Accelerator Funding Track (CRAFT 2.0) award. The UC Davis Office of Research launched this competitive program to support research that was negatively affected by the pandemic. The funds will provide a valuable opportunity to continue our research on moon jellyfish.

Clam research featured in the Atlantic and Hakai Magazine

The work Hannah presented at the Geological Society of America continues to get more and more attention! Two new articles interview Hannah, as well as our collaborator Tsim Schneider, and dive into our research on clams. Links to the articles are below: Hakai Magazine: Clamshells Face the Acid Test The Atlantic: Some Indigenous People Crushed Up Dead Clams. Maybe We Should Too?

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