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Assistant Professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Member, Coastal and Marine Sciences Institute
Member, Integrative Genetics and Genomics Graduate Group
University of California, Davis


2014. Ph.D. Biology, University of California, Los Angeles.
Advisor: David K. Jacobs

2007. B.S. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine.


2016-2018. Cordes Post-Doctoral Fellow. California Institute of Technology.
Division of Biology and Biological Engineering
Advisor: Lea Goentoro

2014-2016. Agouron Post-Doctoral Fellow. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences
Advisor: Roger E. Summons

2016. Visiting researcher (March). Paula Welander lab, Stanford University.

2012. International School of Astrobiology: Origins of the Building Blocks of Life.
Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo. Santander, Spain

2011. Embryology: Concepts & Techniques in Modern Developmental Biology.
Marine Biological Laboratory. Woods Hole, Massachusetts.


Pankov K.V., McArthur A.G., Gold D.A. Nelson D.R., Goldstone J.V., Wilson J.Y. The cytochrome P450 (CYP) family in Cnidarians. Scientific Reports. 11(1): 9834.

Picciani N., Kerlin J.R., Jindrich K., Hensley N.M., Gold D.A., Oakley T.H. Light modulated cnidocyte discharge predates the origins of eyes in Cnidaria. Ecology and Evolution. 11(9): 3933-3940

Moore K.R., Magnabosco C., Momper L., Gold D.A., Bosak T., Fournier G.P. (2019) An expanded ribosomal phylogeny of cyanobacteria supports a deep placement of plastids. Frontiers in Microbiology. 10: 1612.

Gold D.A., Lau, C.L.F., Fuong H., Kao G., Hartenstein V., Jacobs D.K. (2019) Mechanisms of cnidocyte development in the moon jellyfish AureliaEvolution and Development. 21(2): 72-81.

Gold D.A. & Katsuki T. (co-first authors), Li Y., Yan X., Regulski M., Ibberson D., Holstein T., Steele R.E., Jacobs D.K., Greenspan R.J. (2019) The genome of the jellyfish Aurelia and the evolution of animal complexity. Nature Ecology and Evolution. 3(1): 96-104.

Gold D.A. (2018) The slow rise of complex life as revealed through biomarker genetics. Emerging Topics in Life Sciences. 2: 191–199.

Gold D.A. (2018) Life in changing fluids: A critical appraisal of swimming animals before the Cambrian. Integrative and Comparative Biology. 58(4): 677–687.

Buckner J.C., Ellingson R., Gold D.A., Jones T.L., Jacobs D.K. (2018) Mitogenomics supports an unexpected taxonomic relationship for the extinct diving duck Chendytes lawi and definitively places the extinct Labrador Duck. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 122: 102-109.

Gold D.A., O’Reilly S.S., Watson J., Degnan B.M., Degnan S.M., Kröemer J.O., and Summons R.E. (2017) Lipidomics of the sea sponge Amphimedon queenslandica and implication for biomarker geochemistry. Geobiology. 15(6): 836-843.

Gold D.A., Caron A., Fournier G.P., Summons R.E. (2017) Paleoproterozoic sterol biosynthesis and the rise of oxygen. Nature. 543(7645): 420–423.

Gold D.A., O’Reilly S.S., Luo G., Briggs D.E.G., Summons R.E. (2016) Prospects for sterane preservation in sponge fossils from museum collections, and the utility of sponge biomarkers for molecular clocks. Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History. 57(2): 181–189.

Gold D.A., Nakanishi N., Hensley N.M., Hartenstein V., Jacobs D.K. (2016) Cell tracking supports secondary gastrulation in the moon jellyfish Aurelia. Development Genes and Evolution. 226(6): 383-387.

Gold D.A., Grabenstatter J., de Mendoza A., Riesgo A., Ruiz-Trillo I., and Summons R.E. (2016) Sterol and genomic analyses validate the sponge biomarker hypothesis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 113(10): 2684–2689.

Gold D.A., Gehling J.G., Runnegar B., and Jacobs D.K. (2015) Ancestral state reconstruction of ontogeny supports a bilaterian affinity for Dickinsonia. Evolution and Development. 17(6): 315-397.

Gold D.A., Nakanishi N., Hensley N.M., Cozzolino K., Tabatabaee M., Martin M., Hartenstein V., and Jacobs D.K. (2015) Structural and developmental disparity in the tentacles of the moon jellyfish Aurelia sp.1. PLoS ONE. 10(8): e0134741.

Nakanishi N., Camara A.C., Yuan D.C., Gold D.A., and Jacobs D.K. (2015) Gene expression data from the moon jelly, Aurelia, provide insights into the evolution of the combinatorial code controlling animal sense organ development. PLoS ONE. 10(7): e0132544.

Gold D.A., Gates R.D., Jacobs D.K. (2014) The early expansion and evolutionary dynamics of POU class genes. Molecular Biology and Evolution. 31(12): 3136-3147.

Ghisalberti M., Gold D.A., Laflamme M., Clapham M.E., Narbonne G., Summons R.E., Johnston D.T., and Jacobs D.K. (2014) Canopy flow models identify the advantage of size in the oldest communities of multicellular eukaryotes. Current Biology. 24(3): 305–309.

Gold D.A., Robinson J., Farrell A.B., Harris J.M., Thalmann O., and Jacobs D.K. (2014) Attempted DNA extraction from a Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi): prospects for ancient DNA from asphalt deposits. Ecology and Evolution. 4(4): 329–336.

Gold, D.A. and Jacobs, D.K. (2013) Stem cell dynamics in Cnidaria: are there unifying principles? Development Genes and Evolution. 223(1-2): 53-66.

Takashima, S., Gold, D.A., and Hartenstein, V. (2013) Stem cells and lineages of the intestine: a developmental and evolutionary perspective. Development Genes and Evolution. 223(1-2) 85-102.

Jacobs, D.K., Gold, D.A., Nakanishi, N., Yuan, D., Camara, A., Nichols, S.A., and Hartenstein, V. (2010) Basal metazoan sensory evolution. pp. 175-193 in Key Transitions in Animal Evolution, B. Schieirwater and R. DeSalle eds. CRC Press.


06-29-2021, University of Oxford. Department of Zoology.

06-09-2019. 2nd Geobiology Society Conference. Banff, Canada.

11-08-2018. University of Arkansas. Department of Biological Sciences.

9-02-2018. University of California, Berkeley. Museum of Paleontology.

7-29-2018. Gordon Research Conference on Organic Geochemistry. Holderness, New Hampshire.

3-15-2018. California Institute of Technology. Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences.

11-15-2017. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.

9-13-2017. National Academy of Sciences. Committee on Astrobiology and Planetary Science Meeting.

4-7-2016. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. Department of Biology.

3-15-2016. Stanford University. School of Earth, Energy, and Environmental Science.

2-26-2016. NASA Astrobiology Institute Executive Council Meeting.


2017. Geological Society of America Annual Meeting (Talk). Using biomarker genomics to date the rise of complex life.

2017. Society for Developmental Biology West Coast Regional Meeting (Poster). Manipulating regenerative plasticity in jellyfish.

2016. Northeastern Geobiology Symposium (Talk). Sterol and genomic analyses validate the sponge biomarker hypothesis.

2015. International Meeting on Organic Geochemistry (Talk). Plenary Talk: Sterols, rocks and molecular clocks: a geochemical and genomic approach to the emergence of animals.

2015. Astrobiology Science Convention (Talk). The evolution of microbial sterol synthesis as it pertains to the sponge biomarker hypothesis.

2014. MIT Chemical Oceanography, Geology, Geochemistry & Geobiology Seminar Series (Talk). A Paleo-genomic approach to the origins of animal life.

2014. MIT Museum Soap Box Series (Talk). Why life got big.

2013. 15th UCLA Biology Research Symposium (Poster). The evolution of animal complexity: insights from the Aurelia genome. Award: Best Graduate Student Poster.

2012. Genomic Analysis Training Grant/Burroughs Wellcome Fund Inter-school Training Program in Metabolic Diseases Annual Research Seminar (Poster). Growth and regeneration in cnidarians reveals differential use of stem cells. Award: First Prize Poster.

2012. Evolution Conference (Talk). Jellyfish eyes and Pax genes: a case study for research in evo-devo.

2012. 15th UCLA Biology Research Symposium (Poster). Growth and regeneration in cnidarians reveals differential use of stem cells. Award: Best Graduate Student Poster.

2012. Astrobiology Science Convention (Talk). Trees on the mind: how the emerging animal phylogeny challenges our conception of brain evolution.

2012. CalPaleo (Talk). The classification of Dickinsonia: a genomic and developmental approach.

2011. 14th UCLA Biology Research Symposium (Poster). Diffusing the Cambrian explosion: A multidisciplinary approach to the origins of animal life. Award: Second Prize Graduate Student Poster.

2011. UCLA EcoLunch Series (Talk). Diffusing the Cambrian explosion: A multidisciplinary approach to the origins of animal life.

2010. NAI/MIT Annual Meeting (Talk). Mechanics behind the evolution of the Mistaken Point fauna.

2010. Evolution Conference (Talk). Development in Aurelia and the beginnings of animal evolution.

2010. UCLA Biology Research Symposium (Poster). Conserved genes are expressed in the eyes of the moon jellyfish Aurelia species 1. Award: First Prize Graduate Student Poster.

2010. Astrobiology Science Convention (Talk). Constraints on the evolution of the Mistaken Point rangeomorph fauna.

2010. Southern California Geobiology Symposium (Talk). Constraints on the evolution of the Mistaken Point rangeomorph fauna.

2008. Astrobiology Science Convention (Talk). Intelligence in basal Metazoa.


2018. Norman Newell Early Career Grant. Paleontological Society

2017-2018. Center for Environmental Microbial Interactions (CEMI) research award (Caltech)

2016-2018. James E. and Charlotte Fedde Cordes Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biology (Caltech)

2014-2016. Agouron Geobiology Post-Doctoral Fellowship (MIT)

2014. Robert E. Lasiewski award for outstanding research accomplishments by a graduate student in organismal biology (UCLA)

2011-2014. NIH Genomic Analysis Training Program Fellowship (UCLA)

2012. NASA Astrobiology Institute Scholarship
To cover the full cost of the International Summer School of Astrobiology in Santander, Spain.

2012. Development Cover Contest Winner (Issue 139, volume 12)

2012. National Astrobiology Institute Student Travel Award

2010. UCLA Departmental Research/Travel Award

2011. Collegium of University Teaching Fellows (UCLA)
Funding to design and teach EEB 98T: Current Debates in Animal Evolution

2011. The Company of Biologists Ltd Scholarship; Lorus & Margery Milne Scholarship
Marine Biological Laboratory. Woods Hole, MA

2010. UCLA Departmental Research/Travel Awards

2009-2010. GANN Graduate Support Fellowship (UCLA)

2009. UCLA Departmental Research/Travel Awards (March; June; November)

2008. Volunteer Recognition Award: Five Years of Service
George C. Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles

2007-2008. UCLA Departmental Fellowship


Graduate Students
2018 – present. Noemie Sierra.
2019 – present. Hannah Kempf.
2020 – present. Tessa Brunoir
2021 – present. Christopher Mulligan

Graduate Committee Member
2019. Sydney Salley
2019 – present. Veronica Padilla Vriesman (committee chair)
2020 – 2021. Caitlin Livsey
2021 – present. Meghan Zulian
2021 – present. Esther Kennedy

Undergraduate / Postbaccalaureate Mentees
Micah Battson (UCLA); Abigail Caron (MIT); Kira Cozzolino (UCLA: visiting student from Northwestern University); Holly Fuong (UCLA); Nicholai Hensley (UCLA); Gregory Kao (UCLA); Irrawaddy Lamouth (UCLA); Clive Long Fung Lau (UCLA); José Andrade López (UCLA: visiting student from UC Berkeley); Michelle Martin (UCLA); Ignacio Navarrete (UCLA); Dhruv Patel (UCLA); Kia Safatian (UCLA); Megan Sailors (UCLA); Aubrey Silva (UCLA); Andrew Suh (UCLA); Mariam Tabatabaee (UCLA)


UC Davis

GEL 107: Paleobiology (Winter 2019-2021); GEL 012: Dinosaurs (Spring 2019-2021); GEL 232: Biogenic Calcite (Fall 2020); GEL 298: Foundations of Geo/Paleobiology (Fall 2020)

Overall teaching effectiveness of the instructor:
GEL 107 (W 2019) 4.5 / 5
GEL 012 (S 2019) 4.5 / 5
GEL 107 (W 2020) 4.5 / 5
GEL 012 (S 2020) 4.7 / 5
GEL 298 (F 2020) 4.8 / 5
GEL 232 (F 2020) 5.0 / 5
GEL 107 (W 2021) 4.7 / 5
GEL 012 (S 2021) 4.7 / 5

Overall educational value of the course:
GEL 107 (W 2019) 4.3 / 5
GEL 012 (S 2019) 4.0 / 5
GEL 107 (W 2020) 4.2 / 5
GEL 012 (S 2020) 4.5 / 5
GEL 298 (F 2020) 4.8 / 5
GEL 232 (F 2020) 5.0 / 5
GEL 107 (W 2021) 4.7 / 5
GEL 012 (S 2021) 4.5 / 5

Prior to UC Davis

EPSS 17: Dinosaurs and their Relatives (UCLA, Spring 2017 / 2018); EEB 98T: Current Debates in Animal Evolution (UCLA, Spring 2011)

Guest Lecturer
12.007: Geobiology: History of Life on Earth (MIT, Spring 2015 / 2016); EEB 186: Evolutionary Medicine (UCLA, Spring 2014); GE70: Evolution of Cosmos and Life (UCLA, Spring 2014)

Teaching Fellow
EEB 186: Evolutionary Medicine (UCLA, Fall 2013); EEB 495: Departmental TA Training Course (UCLA, Spring 2012 / 2013 / 2014)

Teaching Assistant
Evolution (UCLA, Winter 2007, Winter 2009); EEB 121: Molecular Evolution (UCLA, Spring 2009); BiolC104: Invertebrate Zoology (UCLA, Spring 2010)


2018-2020. Secretary. Geobiology and Geomicrobiology Division, Geological Society of America.

2010. Biological Science Council (UCLA)

2009. Departmental Seminar Committee (UCLA)


11-2019. GigaScience

10-2019. Scientific Reports

9-2019. Journal of Morphology

4-2019. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

12-2018. Nature Communications

11-2018. Free Radical Biology and Medicine

10-2018. Zoological Letters

9-2018. Nature Microbiology

4-2018. Integrative and Comparative Biology

Prior to 2018: Nature Ecology and Evolution, Science Advances, Geobiology, PLoS One, Development Genes and Evolution, Biology Letters, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society