Dr. Ryan Ellingson is an evolutionary biologist studying how tectonic activity, historical climate change, and developmental characteristics have influenced the formation of new species in the sea.
His primary focus is on sacoglossans – sea slugs that can survive for months without eating because they photosynthesize by stealing chloroplasts from their green algal food source and keeping them functional instead of digesting them.
The scale of his research questions range from contemporary migration patterns between populations to species diversification processes over tens to hundreds of millions of years.
His primary goal is to understand the evolutionary history of coastal marine invertebrates, ideally contributing to predictions about how species may respond to climate warming in the future.
Dr. Ellingson has conducted fieldwork in estuaries up and down the West Coast, in the deserts and estuaries of Baja California, and in coral reef habitats throughout the Caribbean.
The majority of his time is spent gathering genetic data in the lab and analyzing those data with a variety of population genetic and phylogenetic software.
He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Cal State LA, and teaches evolution at UCLA. He earned his B.S. at UC Riverside, M.S. at Cal State LA, and Ph.D. at UCLA.