Meredith Protas, PhD

Dr. Protas joined the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in 2014. She received a B.A. in Biology at Pomona College and a PhD in Genetics at Harvard Medical School. Then, she did postdoctoral work at UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco. Her background is in evolutionary and developmental biology, specializing in cave animals. Specifically, she works on a crustacean species that has both surface dwelling and cave dwelling populations with extreme morphological differences in eye size, pigmentation, and appendage length. Her goal is to investigate the genetics and developmental biology behind these morphological differences and to understand how and why these characteristics evolved. Dr. Protas has taught or is currently teaching Genetics and Molecular Biology, Cell and Developmental Biology, and Bio Research Methodology.

Meredith Protas

Office:  Science Center #222
Lab:  Science Center #223

Academic Area

Developmental Biology, Genetics, and Evolutionary Biology

Educational Background

  • PhD, Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
  • BA, Biology, Pomona College, Claremont, CA



Stahl BA, Gross JB, Speiser DI, Oakley TH, Patel NH, Gould DB, Protas ME.  A Transcriptomic Analysis of Cave, Surface, and Hybrid Isopod Crustaceans of the Species Asellus aquaticus.  PLoS One. 2015 Oct 13;10(10):e0140484. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0140484. 

Speiser DI, Pankey M, Zaharoff AK, Battelle BA, Bracken-Grissom HD, Breinholt JW, Bybee SM, Cronin TW, Garm A, Lindgren AR, Patel NH, Porter ML, Protas ME, Rivera AS, Serb JM, Zigler KS, Crandall KA, Oakley TH (2014). Using phylogenetically-informed annotation (PIA) to search for light-interacting genes in transcriptomes from non-model organisms. BMC Bioinformatics. 15:350.

Kronforst, M., Barsh, G., Kopp, A., Mallet, J., Monteiro, A., Mullen, S., Protas, M., Rosenblum, E., Schneider, C., and H. Hoekstra (2012). Unraveling the thread of natureʼs tapestry: the genetics of diversity and convergence in animal pigmentation. Pigment Cell and Melanoma Research. 10.1111/j.1755- 148X.2012.01014.x.

Protas, M. E*. and W. R. Jeffery (2012). Evolution and development in cave animals: from fish to crustaceans. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Developmental Biology. 10.1002/wdev.61.
*corresponding author

Protas, M. E.*, Trontelj, P. and N. H. Patel (2011). The genetic basis of eye and pigment loss in the cave crustacean, Asellus aquaticus. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 108: 5702-7.
*corresponding author

Liubicich, D. M., Serano, J. M., Pavlopoulos, A., Kontarakis, Z., Protas, M. E., Kwan, E., Chaterjee, S., Tran, K. D., Averof, M., and N. H. Patel (2009). Knockdown of Parhyale Ultrabithorax recapitulates evolutionary changes in crustacean appendage morphology. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 106:13892-6.

Gross, J. B., Protas, M., Conrad, M., Scheid, P. E., Vidal, O., Jeffery, W. R., Barowsky, R. and C. J. Tabin (2008). Synteny and candidate gene prediction using an anchored linkage map of Astyanax mexicanus. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 105:20106-11.

Protas, M. E. and N. H. Patel (2008). Evolution of coloration patterns. Ann. Rev. Cell Dev. Biol. 24: 425-446.

Protas M., Tabansky I., Conrad M., Gross J. B., Vidal O., Tabin C. J., Barowsky R. (2008). Multi-trait evolution in a cave fish, Astyanax mexicanus. Evol Dev 10(2):196-209.

Protas, M., Conrad, M., Gross, J. B., Tabin, C., Barowsky, R. (2007). Regressive evolution in the Mexican cave tetra, Astyanax mexicanus. Current Biology 17(5)452-454.

Protas, M.E., Hersey, C., Kochanek D., Zhou, Y., Wilkens, H., Jeffery, W.R., Zon, L.I., Barowsky, R., Tabin, C.J. (2006). Genetic analysis of cavefish reveals molecular convergence in the evolution of albinism. Nature Genetics 38(1):107-11.

Abzhanov, A., Protas, M., Grant, B.R., Grant, P.R., Tabin, C.J. (2004). Bmp4 and morphological variation of beaks in Darwin's finches. Science 305(5689):1462-5.


2014 Speaker at the International Society for Eye Research meeting, San Francisco

2013 Invited Speaker at Lund University in Sweden

2012 Speaker at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology meeting, San Francisco

2012 Invited Speaker at California State University, Northridge

2011 Speaker at Keystone Symposia on Evolutionary and Developmental Biology at Lake Tahoe

2011 Poster at Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology meeting, Salt Lake City