Department Directory


Department Chair: Ingrid Parker Department Manager: Jacqueline Rose
Graduate Adviser: Sarah Arantza Amador Administraive Assistant: Stephanie Zakarian
Undergraduate Adviser: Karina Frazier Undergraduate Adviser: Bee Vadakan
Biology Teaching Laboratory and Facilities Support Technician: Nicole Hack
Department Office: (831) 459-5358 Administrative Office: CBB, Room 207, 209


Alisa Vershinina

Summary of Expertise

Ancient DNA, genomics, population genetics, bioinformatics.

Languages: bash, python, R, markdown, LaTeX.

Research Interests

Arctic species are experiencing rapid and radical fluctuations in the environment, primarily driven by climate. Many questions remain about how climate fluctuations are affecting and will continue to affect arctic biota. Will habitat change increase rates of local extinction and endanger arctic biodiversity? How important is connectivity between populations in maintaining genetic diversity and mitigating extinction risk? I test these questions using  a whole-genome ancient DNA isolated from >250 subfossil horses sampled from across the Northern Hemisphere to assess changing connectivity between horse populations throughout the last ice age. My goal is to identify how horse population size and connectivity changed through time, whether climate change drove population isolation during the last ice age, and to what extent population decline correlate with human impact and/or climate change. Anticipated results will help to understand the genomic consequence of population decline and to predict evolutionary responses to future environmental changes.

Biography, Education and Training

Click here to see the most recent CV.

Current Position

2015 - present: PhD Student, UCSC, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Project: “Genetic diversity of Late Pleistocene Horses in Beringia”

Previous Positions

2012 – 2015: Research Assistant, Zoological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences.

Working on shallow-scale phylogenetics and evolution in butterflies and caddisflies.

Leader of the project: “Dynamics of chromosome number evolution in Lepidoptera and



2010 – 2012: M. Sc. in Biology, St. Petersburg State University, Russia.

Faculty of Biology, Department of Entomology.

2006 – 2010: B. Sc. in Biology, St. Petersburg State University, Russia.

Faculty of Biology, Department of Entomology.

Teaching experience

  • UC Santa Cruz:

Summer 2018 - Teaching Assistant for Dr. Beth Shapiro "Arctic Ecology and Environmental Change".

  • St. Petersburg State University, Russia:

March 2013, 2014 - Teaching Assistant, Workshop in Applied Phylogenetics;

2011-2012: Teaching Assistant, Practice on Field Entomology.

2009: Teaching Assistant in the Young Entomologists Club.

Honors, Awards and Grants

2014 – 2015: Russian Foundation for Basic Research. Grant leader. Funding: 12 000$

Project: “Cytogenetic mechanisms and dynamics of chromosome evolution during

phylogenesis of butterflies and caddisflies (Insecta: Lepidoptera,Trichoptera)”


2011: “Inessa’s Fund” Charitable Foundation, student award.

Teaching Interests

Genetics, genomics, and arctic ecology.