Sofia Prado-Irwin, former SFSU Master's student, recently published her Master's thesis which made the cover of the journal of Microbial Ecology. Co-authors include former SFSU Master's student Alicia Bird, Associate Professor Andy Zink, and Professor Vance Vredenburg. The study explores the communities of microbes that live on the skin of a common Bay Area salamander, the yellow-eyed Ensatina. Recent work in many fields of biology has shown that microbes living in association with other organisms can be very important to their physiology and health. Sofia's paper looks into the ecology of such microbial communities, and asks how these microbiomes differ across geographically isolated populations of the yellow-eyed ensatina. She found that while microbiomes are complex and can vary from one population to another, they are generally dominated by the same bacterial groups, which suggests that the relationship between the salamanders and their microbes is relatively conserved.
While at SFSU, Sofia was a Provost scholar, and was funded by the NIH-RISE Fellowship through the SEO, as well as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. After graduating from SFSU, Sofia began a PhD program in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, where she is studying patterns of evolution in Central American Anolis lizards.