Carly Kenkel

Wilford and Daris Zinsmeyer Early Career Chair in Marine Studies and Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
Carly Kenkel
Pronouns She / Her / Hers Email


  • Ph.D. Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, The University of Texas at Austin, 8/2014
  • B.S. Marine Science, The State University of New York at Stony Brook, 5/2007
    • NSF International Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Biology, The Australian Institute of Marine Science, 2015-2017
    • Postdoctoral Research Scientist, The Australian Institute of Marine Science, 2014
  • Tenure Track Appointments

    • Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, The University of Southern California, Fall 2017
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    I’ve always been fascinated by phenotypic variation, or differences in the observable characteristics of organisms. I study how ecology, or organism-environment interactions, induce or select for different phenotypes and how these ecological interactions influence and are influenced by the evolutionary trajectories of populations and species.

    I use a variety of tools to address these questions, ranging from field experiments to ecophysiology to genomic analyses. I also have a strong interest in “translational ecology”: turning scientific findings into tools for conservation management.

    Please visit my lab’s website for more detailed information on ongoing projects.

    Research Keywords

    reef-building corals, evolution, ecology, genomics, physiology, symbiosis, local adaptation, biomarkers

  • Journal Article

    • Dixon, G. B., Kenkel, C. D. (2019). Molecular convergence and positive selection associated with the evolution of symbiont transmission mode in stony corals. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.
    • Kenkel, C. D., Bay, L. K. (2018). Exploring mechanisms that affect coral cooperation: symbiont transmission mode, cell density and community composition. PeerJ. Vol. 6, pp. e6047.
    • Kenkel, C. D., Moya, A., Strahl, J., Humphrey, C., Bay, L. K. (2018). Functional genomic analysis of corals from natural CO2-seeps reveals core molecular responses involved in acclimatization to ocean acidification. Global Change Biology. Vol. 24 (1), pp. 158-171.
    • Kenkel, C. D., Bay, L. K. (2017). Novel transcriptome resources for three scleractinian coral species from the Indo-Pacific. GigaScience. Vol. 6 (9), pp. gix074.
    • Louis, Y. D., Bhagooli, R., Kenkel, C. D., Baker, A. C., Dyall, S. D. (2017). Gene expression biomarkers of heat stress in scleractinian corals: Promises and limitations. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part C: Toxicology & Pharmacology. Vol. 191, pp. 63-77.
    • Kenkel, C. D., Matz, M. V. (2017). Gene expression plasticity as a mechanism of coral adaptation to a variable environment. Nature Ecology & Evolution. Vol. 1, pp. 0014.
    • Kenkel, C. D., Almanza, A. T., Matz, M. V. (2015). Fine-scale environmental specialization of reef building corals might be limiting reef recovery in the Florida Keys. Ecology. Vol. 96, pp. 3197-3212. Link to Publication
    • Kenkel, C. D., Setta, S. P., Matz, M. V. (2015). Heritable differences in fitness-related traits among populations of the mustard hill coral, Porites astreoides. Heredity. Vol. 115, pp. 509-516. Link to Publication
    • Kenkel, C. D., Sheridan, C., Leal, M. C., Bhagooli, R., Castillo, K. D., McGinty, E., Goulet, T. L., Matz, M. V. (2014). Diagnostic gene expression biomarkers of coral thermal stress. Molecular Ecology Resources. Vol. 14, pp. 667-678. Link to Publication
    • Kenkel, C. D., Goodbody-Gringley, G., Caillaud, D., Davies, S. W., Bartels, E., Matz, M. V. (2013). Evidence for a host role in thermotolerance divergence between populations of the mustard hill coral (Porites astreoides) from different reef environments. Molecular Ecology. Vol. 22, pp. 4335-4348. Link to Publication
    • Kenkel, C. D., Traylor, M. R., Wiedenmann, J., Salih, A., Matz, M. V. (2011). Fluorescenc of coral larvae predicts their settlement response to crustose coralline algae and reflects stress. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. Vol. 278, pp. 2691-2697. Link to Publication
    • Fellow (or Equivalent) of National Society in Discipline, Fellow of the International Coral Reef Society, 2020
    • USC Endowed Professorship, Gabilan Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, 2017-2022
    • Sloan Research Fellowship Recipient, Ocean Sciences, 2019-2021
    • Early-Career Scientist Award, International Coral Reef Society, 2020-2021
    • Fulbright Award, Research Fellowship, Thailand, 2007-2008
  • Professional Offices

    • Council Member, International Coral Reef Society, 2019 – 2021
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