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Department Chair: Mark Carr Department Manager: Jacqueline Rose
Graduate Advisor: Judy Straub Administrative Assistant: Stephanie Zakarian
Undergraduate Advisor: Karina Frazier Undergraduate Advisor: Bee Vadakan
Biology Teaching Laboratory and Facilities Support Technician: Nicole Hack
Department Office: (831) 459-5358 Administrative Office: CBB, Room 207, 209
Alisa Vershinina
  • Title
    • PostDoc- Paleogenomics Lab
  • Division Physical & Biological Sciences Division
  • Department
    • Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Department
  • Affiliations Baskin School of Engineering
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Website
  • Office Location
    • Biomedical Sciences, 124
    • CBB 219
  • Office Hours by appointment
  • Mail Stop CBB/EE Biology
  • Mailing Address
    • UCSC Biomedical science building room 124
    • Santa Cruz CA 95064

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 my most recent CV:

Research Positions

2015 – 2020: Paleogenomics Lab. Graduate Researcher, U California, Santa Cruz, USA. 

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

2008 – 2012: Lukhtanov lab. Zoological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences, St-Petersburg State University.



2015 - 2020: PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, U California Santa Cruz, USA. Adviser: Beth Shapiro.

Thesis: “Evolutionary history of Early-Middle and Late Pleistocene equids, revealed by analysis of their paleogenomes”. 


2010 – 2012: MSc in Biology, St. Petersburg State University, Russia. Department of Entomology.


2006 – 2010: BSc in Biology, St. Petersburg State University, Russia. Department of Entomology.

Publications in Peer-Reviewed Journals 

submitted: A. O. Vershinina, J.D. Kapp, G.F. Baryshnikov, B. Shapiro (2019). The case of an arctic wild ass highlights the utility of ancient DNA for validating problematic identifications in museum collections. Molecular Ecology Resources. 

Vershinina A.O., J.D. Kapp,  A. E. R. Soares, P. D. Heintzman, C. Lowson, M. Cassatt-Johnstone, F. K. Shidlovskiy, I.V. Kirillova, B. Shapiro (2019). Ancient DNA analysis of a Holocene bison from the Rauchua River, North Western Chukotka, and the existence of a deeply divergent mitochondrial clade. Russian Zoological Journal. 98(10):1091-1099.🔗

Kalbfleisch, T. S., E. Rice, M. S. DePriest, B. P. Walenz, M. S. Hestand, J. R. Vermeesch, B. L. O’Connell, I. T. Fiddes, A. O. Vershinina, J. L. Petersen, C. J. Finno, R. R. Bellone, M. E. McCue, S. A. Brooks, E. Bailey, L. Orlando, R. E. Green, D. C. Miller, D. F. Antczak, and J. N. MacLeod. (2018) Improved reference genome for the domestic horse increases assembly contiguity and composition. Communications Biology.1:197.🔗

Maschenko E.N., Potapova O.R., Vershinina A. O., Shapiro B., Streletskaya I. D., Vasiliev A. A., Oblogov G. E., Kharlamova A. S., van der Plicht J., Tikhonov A. N., Serdyuk N. V., Tarasenko K. K. (2017) The Zhenya Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius (Blum.)): taphonomy, geology, age, morphology and ancient DNA of a 48,000 year old frozen mummy from Western Taymyr, Russia. Quaternary International, 445: 104-134.🔗

Vershinina A. O., Lukhtanov V. A. (2017) Evolutionary Mechanisms of Runaway Chromosome Number Change in Agrodiaetus Butterflies. Scientific Reports 7 (1): 8199. 🔗

Vershinina, A. O. and Kuznetsova, V. G. (2016) Parthenogenesis in Hexapoda: Entognatha and non-holometabolous insects. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 54: 257–268. 🔗

Vershinina A.O., Anokhin B.A., Lukhtanov V.A. (2015) Ribosomal DNA clusters and telomeric (TTAGG)n repeats in blue butterflies (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae) with low and high chromosome numbers. Comparative Cytogenetics 9(2):161-171.🔗

Vershinina A.O., Lukhtanov V.A. 2013. Dynamics of chromosome number evolution in the Agrodiaetus phyllis species complex (Insecta: Lepidoptera). Cell and Tissue Biology 7 (4): 379-381. 🔗


Vershinina A.O., Lukhtanov V.A. 2010. Geographical distribution of the cryptic species Agrodiaetus alcestis alcestis, A. alcestis karacetinae and A. demavendi (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) revealed by cytogenetic analysis. Comparative Cytogenetics 4: 1-11.🔗


Teaching experience

Spring 2019: Teaching Assistant for Dr. Beth Shapiro “Biodiversity in the Age of Humans”, UCSC.

Summer 2018: Teaching Assistant for Dr. Beth Shapiro “Arctic Ecology and Environmental Change”, UCSC. (Taking undergraduate students on a field trip across the Arctic (link)). March 2013, 2014: Teaching Assistant for Dr. Fedor Konstantinov “Introduction to Phylogenetics”, St. Petersburg State University, Russia. 

2011-2012: Teaching Assistant, Practice on Field Entomology, St. Petersburg State University, Russia.

2009: Teaching Assistant, Young Entomologists Club, St. Petersburg, Russia. Teaching entomology to kids. 

2009-2014: Private Tutor. Teaching biology to high school students.

Honors, Awards and Grants

2019: UC Santa Cruz Dissertation Year Chancellor's Fellowship for one quarter.

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.