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Jodi Schwarz

Associate Professor of Biology
  • BA History 1989 Oberlin College
  • BA Biology 1994 University of California, Santa Cruz
  • MS Marine Sciences 1996 UC Santa Cruz
  • PhD Zoology 2002 Oregon State University
  • Postdoc Researcher, Microbiology & Immunology, Stanford University
  • Postdoct Researcher, Evolutionary Genomics, Joint Genome Institute

Research Interests

Coral symbiosis and genomics. The beautiful and biodiverse coral reef ecosystem is built upon the back of a symbiotic interaction between corals and photosynthetic algal symbionts. The symbionts produce food and stimulate growth of the coral skeleton, resulting in growth rates sufficient to form both the actual rock and the ecological foundation to support the hundreds of species that comprise coral reef ecosystems. My lab works on several aspects of coral biology and symbiosis, primarily using genomic, cellular, and bioinformatic approaches as tools. We employ the sea anemone Aiptasia pallida as a model organism, but also work with corals in their native enivronment in Bermuda, Taiwan, and Japan. Our amazing Vassar students in Biology, Biochemistry, Environmental Studies, and Computer Science are actively involved in the lab, and have served as the inspiration for some of the lines of research that are now central to the lab. Currently, with several collaborators, we are pursuing several lines of investigation:

  • the genetic basis of reproduction in corals
  • the genetic, proteomic, and lipidomic basis for interactions between the host and symbiont
  • responses of corals to environmental stressors

Genomics Pedagogy. I am interested in investigating pedagogical approaches for supporting authentic genomics and bioinformatics research in the classroom. With collaborators, we are implementing and assessing ways to scaffold student learning so that they can do genomics research without losing sight of the underlying biological concepts and processes.

Teaching Interests

My teaching goals include working with students to become integrative thinkers of biology. This includes not only integration between molecular to evolutionary scales, but also integration of biological and computational knowledge. I am involved in several interdisciplinary programs, including; Biochemistry, Environmental Studies, and Neuroscience and Behavior. Courses include:

  • BIOL105 Let’s Get Together: Symbiosis in Biology
  • BIOL106 Introduction to Biological Investigation
  • BIOL244 Genetics and Genomics
  • ENST245 Global Decline in Coral Reefs (with Brian McAdoo in Earth Science)
  • BIOL353 Bioinformatics (with Marc Smith in Computer Science)
  • BIOL 380 Engaging Biologists and Their Research
  • BIOL387 Symbiotic Interactions