Faculty Bio

Jodi Schwarz

Associate Professor of Biology


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:

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:

Selected Publications

Lehnert EM, Mouchka ME, Burriesci MS, Gallo ND, Schwarz JA, Pringle JR. Extensive differences in gene expression between symbiotic and aposymbiotic cnidarians. G3 (Bethesda). 2014 Feb 19; 4(2):277-95. doi: 10.1534/g3.113.009084. PubMed PMID: 24368779; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3931562. Link

Garrett, T.E., Schmeitzel, J., Klein, J., Hwang, J., and Schwarz, J. 2013. Comparative lipid profiling of the cnidarian Aiptasia pallida and its dinoflagellate symbiont. PLOS One.

Singer, S.R., Schwarz, J.A., et al. 2013. Keeping an Eye on Biology. Science. 339: 408-409.

Schwarz, J.A., Mitchelmore, C.L, Jones, R., O’Dea, A., Seymour, S. 2013. Exposure to copper induces oxidative and stress responses and DNA damage in the coral Montastraea franksi. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology C 157: 272–279.

Banta, L.M., Crespi, E.J., Nehm, R.H.,  Singer, S., Schwarz, J.A., Manduca, C.A. and participants.  2012. Genomics and Bioinformatics Across the Curriculum: Inquiry-based modules for introductory to upper level biology courses. CBE-Life Sciences Education 11:203-208. Cover story!

Baumler, D.J., Banta, L.M., Hung, K.F., Schwarz, J.A., Cabot, E. L., Glasner, J.D., Perna, N.T. 2012. Using comparative genomics for inquiry-based learning to dissect virulence of Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Yersinia pestis CBE-Life Sciences Education 11:81-93. Link

Sunagawa, S., Wilson, E., Thaler, M., Smith, M., Medina, M., Weis, V., Pringle, J., Schwarz, J. 2009. Generation and analysis of transcriptomic resources for a model-system on the rise: the sea anemone Aiptasia pallida and its dinoflagellate endosymbiont. BMC Genomics 10:258. Link

Voolstra. C., Schwarz, J., Schnetzer, J., Sunagawa, S. DeSalvo, M., Szmant, A., Coffroth, M.A., Medina, M. 2009. The host transcriptome remains unaltered during establishment of coral-algal symbioses. Molecular Ecology 18(9):1823-33. Link

Schwarz, J.A. 2008. Understanding the intracellular niche in cnidarian-Symbiodinium symbioses: parasites lead the way. Vie et Millieu: Life and the Environment. 58 (2): 141-151. Link

Voolstra, C., Sunagawa, S., Schwarz, J.A., Coffroth, M.A., Yellowlees, D., Leggat, W., Medina, M. 2008. Evolutionary analysis of orthologous cDNA sequences from cultured and symbiotic dinoflagellate symbionts of reef-building corals (Dinophyceae: Symbiodinium). Comp Biochem Physiol D Genomics and Proteomic 4:67-74. Link

DeSalvo, M.,Voolstra, C., Sunagawa, S., Schwarz, JA.., Coffroth, M.A., Szmant, A., Stillman, J.H., Medina, M. 2008. Differential gene expression during thermal stress and bleaching in the Caribbean coral Montastraea faveolata. Molecular Ecology 17: 3952-3971. Link

Schwarz JA, Brokstein PB, Voolstra CR, Terry AY, Miller DJ, Szmant AM, Coffroth MA, Medina M. 2008. Coral Life History and Symbiosis: functional genomic resources for two reef building Caribbean corals, Acropora palmata and Montastraea faveolata. BMC Genomics, 9:97. Link