Website Update

Nikki Adams

Nikki Adams

Contact Information


Office: 33-371
Phone: (805) 756-2943
Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests:

  • Effects of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) on development of sea urchins embryos.
  • Effects of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) on proteins in sea urchins embryos (single protein and proteomic approaches).
  • Maternal investment in protection against UV radiation in sea urchin eggs and embryos.
  • Settlement patterns of marine invertebrate larvae in San Luis Obispo Bay.


Ph.D., Zoology University of Maine, Orono 5/2000
M.S., Zoology University of Maine, Orono 12/1995
B.A., Aquatic Biology  University of California, Santa Barbara
Magna cum laude & Distinction in the Major 12/1988

Professional Appointments:

Professor, Department of Biological Sciences,
California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo 2012-present
Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences,
California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo 2007-2012
Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences,
California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo 2002-2007
Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Kathy Foltz, NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship, 
Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, 
University of California, Santa Barbara 2000-2002

Research Projects:

My laboratory members study effects of stress on marine organisms using sea urchins as a model organism. We are primarily focused on examining organismal and molecular effects of and defenses against ultraviolet radiation (UVR) in embryos and larvae of sea urchins to determine how natural levels of UVR may affect life histories. To that end, we have been studying effects of UVR on discrete proteins and the entire proteome of the purple sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. In addition, we are collaborating with a statewide network of scientists studying settlement patterns of sea urchins along the coast of California. I am also involved with the NSF COSEE (Pacific and California) networks, teaching the Communicating Ocean Science to Informal Audiences course at Cal Poly and collaborating with the Avila Beach Sea Life Center to train our undergraduates to share and promote informal marine science education in our community.

Selected Recent Publicatons:

Gravem, S.A. and N.L. Adams (2012) Sex and microhabitat influence the uptake and allocation of mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs) to tissues of the purple sea urchin, S. purpuratus. Marine Biology. Online first DOI 10.1007/s00227-012-2045-z

Adams, N.L., J.P. Campanale and K.R. Foltz (2012). Damage or defenses: An examination of how the sea urchin proteome changes in response to ultraviolet radiation. Integrative and Comparative Biology. Invited review. Advance access doi: 10.1093/icb/ics05

Campanale, J.P., L. Tomanek and N.L. Adams (2011). Exposure to ultraviolet radiation causes proteomic changes in embryos of the purple sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 397:106-120.

Fernandez-Guerra, A, A Aze, J Morales, O Mulner-Lorillon, B Cosson, P Cormier, C Bradham, N Adams, A Robertson, W Marzluff, J Coffman, and A-M Genevière (2006). The genomic repertoire for cell cycle control and DNA metabolism in S. purpuratus. Developmental Biology, 300, 238-251.

The Sea urchin consortium-many authors including Adams as a co-author (2006). The genome of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. Science. 314, 941-952.

Foltz, KR, NL Adams, LL Runft (2004). Experimental analysis of the development of sea urchins and other non-vertebrate deuterostomes. In: Methods in Cell Biology (Volume 74) (Ettenson, C., G. Wessel, & G. Wray, ed.) pp. 39-47.

Adams, NL and KR Foltz (2002). A molecular approach to understanding UV-induced mitotic delay in sea urchin embryos. Proceedings from the North American Echinoderm Conference 2001 Gulf of Mexico Sciences, 19 (2), 165.

Adams, NL (2001). UV radiation evokes negative phototaxis and covering behavior in the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis. Marine Ecological Progress Series. 213: 87-95.

Adams, NL and JM Shick (2001). Mycosporine-like amino acids prevent UVB-induced abnormalities during development of the green sea urchin Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis. Marine Biology. 138: 267-280.

Adams, NL, JM Shick, and WC Dunlap (2001). Selective accumulation of mycosporine-like amino acids in ovaries of the green sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis, is not affected by ultraviolet radiation. Marine Biology. 138: 281-294.

Belton, R, NL Adams, and KR Foltz (2001). Isolation and characterization sea urchin lipid rafts and their possible function during fertilization. Molecular Reproduction & Development, 59: 294-305.

Adams, NL and JM Shick (1996). Mycosporine-like amino acids provide protection against ultraviolet radiation in eggs of the green sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis. Photochemistry and Photobiology 64, 149-158.

Senior Projects:

  • 2012: Andrea DeBrish, Casey Magana, Cate Webster
  • 2011: Meghan Sleeper, Jessica Williams
  • 2010: Heather Price
  • 2009: Allison Malicoat, Rietta Hohmann, Emiliann Franklin
  • 2008: Megan Mallone, Elise Suronen; Carolyn Ewers; Eric Maher
  • 2007: Molly Baker; Shannon Farris; John Burns; Anniken Lydon, Tia DiTommaso
  • 2006: Laurie Gay, Michelle Parker, Lesley Scheblein, Lindsay Chang, Melissa Daugherty
  • 2005: Emily Kurze
  • 2004: Justin Tripp, Mike Holmes, Jessica Kershner
  • 2003: Heather Baker

Other Undergraduates supervised (paid or volunteer):

  • 2008-2010: James Kelly, Kari Ormiston, Natalie Lee, Kate Downey, David Hernandez; Current: Samantha Brummet, Christy Yorke, Marissa Schuman, Vanessa Wilson, Zachary Epperson, Michelle Huang, Gayle Bufo
  • 2004-2006: Robyn Matteson, Brian Wenzel

Interns Supervised at the Avila Beach Sea Life Center (2010 to present):

  • Jason Beitdashtoo, Zachary Epperson, Mercedes Hoyte, Martin Lakavage, Jaclyn Mann, Hillary Poore, Heather Price, Marissa Schuman, Meghan Sleeper, Nicole Ubiel, Jessica Williams, Brian Rice

Master's of Science Theses Advised:

  • Andrea DeBrish - Expected 2014
  • Joseph Campanale - Completed 8/2009, PhD student at Scripps Institute of Oceanography
  • Sarah Gravem Completed 8/2009, PhD student, UC Davis
  • Sarah Strickler Left to pursue PhD at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • Grace Goschke Completed 12/2005, Research Asst in my lab and lecturer for Bio Sci

Master's Thesis Committees:

  • 2012: Melissa Daugherty, James Koman
  • 2009: Lauren Hitt, Corbin Hodges, Mark Tognazinni
  • 2006: Lisa Needles
  • 2005: Collin Johnson
  • 2002: Shelly Blackwell, Christina Orrico

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