Sarah Kingston

Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology

Teaching this semester

BIOL 2577. The Omics Revolution: Computational Genomics and Big Data in the Field of Biology

Considers the application of computational tools to the evolving analytical landscape of genomic- and transcriptomic-scale data in the field of organismal biology. Students explore the concepts of appropriate experimental design and data collection for hypothesis testing using big data. Coding skills needed to navigate the ever-changing analytical framework in bioinformatics are refined. Real data sets of DNA and RNA sequences--some collected from marine animals in the Gulf of Maine--are anlayzed. Practical applications emphasize the fundamentals of both frequentist and Bayesian statistical frameworks.

Teaching next semester

BIOL 2232/ENVS 2232. Benthic Ecology

The principles of ecology emphasizing the hard- and soft-bottom communities of Casco Bay and Harpswell Sound. Field trips and field exercises demonstrate the quantitative principles of marine ecological research, including good practices in sampling designs and field experiments. A class field project designs and implements a long-term study, based at the Bowdoin Marine Laboratory, to monitor and detect changes in community structure driven by climate change in the twenty-first century. Assumes a basic knowledge of biological statistics. Taught in residence at the Bowdoin Marine Laboratory, Biology 2232/Environmental Studies 2232 is a course-module in the Bowdoin Marine Science Semester. Biology 2501 (same as Environmental Studies 2231), Biology 2330 (same as Environmental Studies 2233), and English 2804 (same as Environmental Studies 2804) are co-requisites of this course.

BIOL 2330/ENVS 2233. Marine Molecular Ecology and Evolution

Features the application of molecular data to ecological and evolutionary problems in the sea. Hands on laboratory work will introduce students to sampling, generation, and analysis of molecular data sets with Sanger-based technology and Next Generation Sequencing. Lectures, discussions, and computer-based simulations will demonstrate the relevant theoretical principles of population genetics and phylogenetics. A class project will begin a long-term sampling program that uses DNA barcoding to understand temporal and spatial change in the ocean. Taught in residence at the Bowdoin Marine Laboratory, Biology 2330/Environmental Studies 2233 is a course-module in the Bowdoin Marine Science Semester. Biology 2232 (same as Environmental Studies 2232), Biology 2501 (same as Environmental Studies 2231), and English 2804 (same as Environmental Studies 2804) are co-requisites of this course.

BIOL 2501/ENVS 2231. Biological Oceanography

Features classroom, laboratory, and fieldwork emphasizing fundamental biological processes operating in pelagic environments. It includes a hybrid of topics traditionally taught in physical and biological oceanography courses: major ocean current systems, physical structure of the water column, patterns and process of primary production, structure and function of pelagic food webs. Field trips to Casco Bay and Harpswell Sound will introduce students to the methods and data structures of biological oceanography. Taught in residence at the Bowdoin Marine Laboratory, Biology 2501/Environmental Studies 2231 is a course-module in the Bowdoin Marine Science Semester. Biology 2232 (same as Environmental Studies 2232), Biology 2330 (same as Environmental Studies 2233), and English 2804 (same as Environmental Studies 2804) are co-requisites of this course.

ENGL 2804/ENVS 2804. Maine Writers and the Environment

Explores the wild and diverse literary territories of the state of Maine-past and present-with a focus on coastal narratives and environmental writing. Considers Maine's multi-ethnic folkways, its austere modernisms, remorseless gothic landscapes, natural splendors and antagonisms, coastal rhapsodies and adversities, and contemporary environmental imperatives. Includes poetry, short stories, novels, memoirs, personal narratives, children's literature, nature writing, and environmental advocacy by such writers as Thoreau, Jewett, Robinson, Millay, Beston, Carson, McCloskey, King, Russo, Strout, and Bryan. Taught in residence at the Bowdoin Coastal Studies Center. English 2804/Environmental Studies 2804 is a course-module in the Bowdoin Marine Science Semester. Biology 2232 (same as Environmental Studies 2232), Biology 2330 (same as Environmental Studies 2233), and Biology 2501 (same as Environmental Studies 2231) are co-requisites of this course.

I am a molecular ecologist interested in gene flow across species boundaries as well as changing selective pressures associated with climate change. I utilize natural population variation to link genotype and phenotype. I have conducted research on many different taxa, from cetaceans to birds to molluscs. Currently, I am focusing on blue mussels in the Gulf of Maine and their adaptive potential in the face of ocean acidification.

As physical and chemical features of the ocean change in response to the changing climate, marine calcifiers face the biochemical and physiological challenge of maintaining calcium carbonate shell structure in a more acidic environment. A key component to understanding organismal response to this multifactorial stressor is linking underlying genetic variation to phenotypic variation in stress response. Our current project aims to take advantage of the genomic gradient across the blue mussel hybrid zone (Mytilus edulis and Mytilus trossulus) in the Gulf of Maine to link genetic variation with variance in calcification rates in response to lower pH, higher temperatures, and reduced food availability. We are employing the power of next generation DNA sequencing techniques to generate highly multilocus genotypes for population genomic analysis and genome-wide association survey.

In the context of my Marine Molecular Ecology and Evolution course, students and I investigate the spatial and ecotype population structure in native Littorine snails (Littorina obtusata and L. saxatilis) in the Gulf of Maine, also using next generation DNA sequencing and population genomic analyses.

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Education

  • B.A., William and Mary
  • M.S., College of Charleston
  • Ph.D., University of Maryland

PDF Curriculum Vitae

The Kingston Lab

Publications

Kingston S.E., Martino P.*, Melendy M., Reed, F.A., Carlon D. B. 2018. Linking genotype to phenotype in a changing ocean: inferring the genomic architecture of a blue mussel stress response with genome-wide association. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 10.1111/jeb.13224.

Rodríguez-Clark, K.M., Davidson, B., Kingston, S.E., Coyle, B.J., Huddleston, C., Duchesne, P. Braun, M.J. (Submitted, in revision). Evaluating a potential source of founders for ex situ conservation efforts: Genetic differentiation between disjunct populations of the endangered Red Siskin (Spinus cucullatus). Endangered Species Research.

Fernandez Robledo, J.A., Marquis, N.D., Countway P.D., Record, N.R, Irish, E.L. Schuldt, M.*, Kingston, S.E., Bishop, T., Messerman, N.A., Bowden, T.J. (Submitted, in revision) Pathogens of marine bivalves in Maine (USA): a historical perspective.

Reddy, S., Kimball, R.T., Pandey, A., Hosner, P.A., Braun, M.J., Hackett, S.J., Han, K-H., Harshman, J., Huddleston, C.J., Kingston, S.E., Marks, B.D., Miglia, K.J., Moore, W.S., Sheldon, F.H., Witt, C.C., Yuri, T., and Braun, E.L. 2017. Why do phylogenomic data sets yield conflicting trees? Data type influences the avian tree of life more than taxon sampling. Systematic Biology. 66:857-869. 10.1093/sysbio/syx041.

Kingston S.E., Parchman, T.P., Gompert, Z., Buerkle, C.A., and Braun, M.J. 2017. Heterogeneity and concordance in locus-specific differentiation and introgression between species of towhees. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 30: 474-485. 10.1111/jeb/13033. *cover image*

Kingston S.E., Navarro-Sigüenza A.G., García-Trejo E.A., Vázquez H., Fagan W.F., Braun M.J. 2014. Genetic differentiation and habitat connectivity across towhee hybrid zones in Mexico. Evolutionary Ecology. 28(2): 277-297. 10.1007/s10682-013-9673-8.

Kingston S.E., Jernigan R.W., Fagan W.F., Braun D., Braun M.J. 2012. Genomic variation in cline shape across a hybrid zone. Ecology and Evolution. 2(11): 2737–2748. 10.1002/ece3.375.

Kingston S.E., Adams L.D., Rosel P.E. 2009. Testing mitochondrial sequences and anonymous nuclear markers for phylogeny reconstruction in a rapidly radiating group: molecular systematics of the Delphininae (Cetacea: Odontoceti: Delphinidae). BMC Evolutionary Biology. 9:245. 10.1186/1471-2148-9-245. *highly accessed*

Kingston S.E., Rosel P.E. 2004. Genetic differentiation among recently diverged Delphinid taxa determined using AFLP markers. Journal of Heredity. 95:1-10. 10.1093/jhered/esh010.