Naomi Phillips

Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
450 S Easton RD
Arcadia University
Glenside, PA 19038-3295
phone: 215-572-2196
fax: 215-881-8758


Research Background

I am interested in examing a variety of evolutionary and ecological issues within marine algal ecosystems. My Masters research examined causal factors limiting algal distribution in San Francisco Bay estuary. During my Doctoral training I continued my interest in algal distribution patterns, but shifted to evolutionary time scale. This research explored speciation patterns, genetic diversity and ocean basin patterns of biogeography in the tropical algal systems in the Pacific Basin. I continued this line of research in Suzanne Fredericq's laboratory addressing systematic issues within East Isthmian species of the brown algal genus Sargassum, while determining biodiversity and community structure in off shore Hard bank algal communities in the Gulf of Mexico. At the University of New Brunswick I shifted from species level questions to ordinal level questions and worked on a project focused on resolving systematic relationships within one of the largest class of marine primary producers, the brown algae with emphasis on the order, Fucales. This research was begun on a FCT Postdoctoral fellowship with Ester Serrao and completed on a NSF Postdoctoral fellowship with Gary Saunders. I went from the world of algal systematics to examining broaders isssues of evolutionary theory in the lab of Charlie Baer. His lab focuses on examining mutational processes the model system Caenorhabditis.

Current Research Interests and Projects

In the world of multicellulairty, the brown algae represent one of the earlest lineages to shift from unicellularity to multicellulairty. They are also are one of the largest and most important groups of primary producers in marine environments. Yet, how and when brown algae evolved remains an elusive question. Research in the Phillips lab is focused on addressing two areas: 1. when and how the group shifted to multicellularity; 2. the evolution of complexity in the class. I currently have collaborations with colleagues at University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Rutgers University and U Florida to use phylogenomic techniques to examine these questions. One project in collaboration with Fritz Kapraun (UNCW) is focused on sizing the genomes across the heterokonts emphasizing lineages within the brown algae. Data from this work is organized into a series of tables (Table 1, Table 2, Table 3). Another project is using next generation sequencing of the transcriptome and/or genome across various lineages of brown algae and closely aligned heterokont outgroups (see link). This data we will enable us to search for genes involved in the shift to multicellulairty and provide essential candidate genes for all levels of systematic inference from intra-specific to ordinal levels in brown algae. For the phylogenetic aspects of this research loci will be selected from our "novel gene bank" and combined with existing chloroplast and mitochondrial markers to construct a robust multigene tip rich phylogeny for this important group of primary producers.

Another area of research focus is on conservation genetics of endangered monkey species on the island of Bioko, Equatorial Guinea. In collaboration with colleagues at U. Iowa, NYU, and Drexel we are characterizing population sizes, genetic structure, and genetic health of these endemic endangered primates.


1998. Ph.D. Botany (Evolutionary Biology). University of Hawaii, Botany Department. Dissertation: Molecular Phylogenetic Analysis of Hawaiian Species of Sargassum. Dr. C. M. Smith, major professor.

1989. M.A. Biology (Marine). Sonoma State University . Thesis: The Function of Salinity and Temperature on the Distribution of Mastocarpus papillatus (Rhodophyta) in the San Francisco Bay . Dr. K. Kjeldson, major professor.

1985. BA Biology (Aquatic). Sonoma State University .

Professional Experience

Present. Assistant professor of Biology. Arcadia University, Department of Biology, Glenside, PA, 19038.

2004-2005. Postdoctoral Fellow/Lab Manager, Charlie Baer Evolutionary Genetics Laboratory, Department of Zoology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL   32611-8525.  

2001-2003. Postdoctoral Fellow, National Science Foundation International Program. Centre for Environmental and Molecular Algal Research, Department of Biology, University of New Brunswick , Fredericton , NB E3B 4P1 . Project: Phylogenetic analysis of the Phaeophyceae using rbcL and LSU sequence data.

2001. Portuguese FCT Postdoctoral Fellowship. Sponsor: Dr. Ester Serrao, Center for Marine Sciences F.C.M.A, University of Algarve Gambelas Faro , Portugal . Project: Molecular Phylogenetic Analysis of the Fucaceae (5 months).

1999-2001. Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Biology, University of Louisiana at Lafayette . Projects: I. Modern Baselines for Assessment of Global and Regional Impacts from Production, Transport and Use of Fossil Fuels: Characterization of Endemized Assemblages in the Northern Gulf of Mexico at Risk of Warming, Hypoxia and Habitat Perturbation. D.L. Felder, J. Neigel, S. Fredericq & N. Rabalais, Co-PI's. II . Assessing macro-algal biodiversity and biogeographic patterns in the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico Hard Bank Communities. S. Fredericq, PI/PD & N. Phillips , RI .

1998. Educational Specialist for the Biology program at University of Hawaii.

1992-97. Research Assistant, Botany Dept. University of Hawaii , Honolulu , HI. Project: Molecular Characterization of Hawaiian Species in the Pan-Tropical genus Sargassum Office of Naval Research (Dr. C. M. Smith).

1990-92. Teaching Assistant, Botany Dept., University of Hawaii.

1986-89. Research Assistant, Tiburon Center for Environmental Education, San Francisco State University at Tiburon, CA. Research: Macro-algal monitoring program, United States Geological Survey (Dr. M. Josselyn).

1986-89. Teaching Assistant, Sonoma State University.

1985. Teaching Assistant, Sonoma State University. Program: West Coast Energy Development.

1986. Aquatic Specialist. Contra Costa School District Environmental Studies Summer Program.


2010. Phillips, N, Kapraun, D. F., Garreta, A., Siguan, A., Rull, J. L., Soler, N., Lewis, R. & Kawai, H. Nulclear DNA content estimates in brown algae (Phaeophyta). AoB (submitted).

2009. Saloman, M., Ostrow, D., Phillips, N., Bour, W., Keller, T., Levy, L., Sylvestre, T., Upadhyay, A. & Baer, C. Persistence itime of mutations affecting fitness and body size in Caenorhabdites briggsae and C. elegans. Genetics. 183:685-692.

2009. Phillips, N., Saloman, M., Custer, A., Ostrow, & Baer, C. Spontaneous mutational and standing (co)genetic variation at dinucleotide microsatellites in Caenorhabdites briggsae and C. elegans. Molecular Biology and Evolution. 26:659-669.

2008. Braun, E. & Phillips, N. Phylogenomics and secondary plastids: a look back and a look ahead. Journal of Phycology 44::2-6.

2008.Phillips, N., Calhoun, S., Moustafa, A., Bhattacharya, D. & Braun, E. Genomic insights into evolutionary relationships among heterokont lineages emphasizing the Phaeophyceae. Journal of Phycology 44:15-18

2008. Phillips, N., Burrowes, R., Rousseau, F., Reviers B. de., & Saunders, G. Resolving evolutionary relationships among the brown algae using chloroplast and nuclear genes. Journal of Phycology 44:394–405.

2007. Ostrow, D., Phillips, N., Avalos, A., Blanton, D., Boggs, A., Keller, T., Levy, L., Rosenbloom, J. & Baer, C. Mutational Bias for Body Size in Rhabditid Nematodes. Genetics 176: 1653-1661.

2006. Baer, C. , Phillips N., Ostrow D., Avalos, A., Blanton, D., Boggs, A., Keller, T.
Levy, L., & Mezerhane, E. Cumulative effects of spontaneous mutations for fitness in
Caenorhabditis: role of genotype, environment and stress. Genetics 174:1387-95.

2005. Phillips, N., Smith, C. M. & Morden, C. W. Testing systematic concepts of Sargassum (Fucales, Phaeophyceae) using portions of the Rubisco Operon. Phycological Research 53: 1-10.

2001. Phillips, N., Smith, C. M. & Morden, C. W. An effective DNA extraction protocol for brown algae. Phycological Research 49:97-102.

2000. Fredericq S., N. Phillips & B. Gavio. Observations on the macroalgae inhabiting deep-water hard bank communities in the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico. Gulf of Mexico Science 18(2):12-28.

2000. Phillips, N. and S. Fredericq. Biogeographic and Phylogenetic Investigations of the Pan-Tropical Genus Sargassum (Fucales, Phaeophyceae) with Respect to Gulf of Mexico Species. Gulf of Mexico Science 18(2):77-87.

2000. Holm, E.R., B.T. Nedved, N. Phillips, K.L. DeAngelis, M.G. Hadfield, and C.M. Smith. Temporal and spatial variation in the fouling of silicone coatings in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Biofouling 15:95-107.

1995. Phillips, N. Biogeography of Sargassum (Phaeophyta) in the Pacific Basin. In: I. A. Abbott. Taxonomy of Economic Seaweeds. Vol. 5. Pp. 107-44.

Thesis and Dissertation

1998. Phillips, N. Molecular phylogenetic analysis of Hawaiian species of Sargassum . Ph.D. Dissertation. Botany Dept. University of Hawaii , Honolulu , HI .

1989 . Phillips, N. The function of salinity and temperature in the distribution of Mastocarpus papillatus in the San Francisco Bay . Masters Thesis, Sonoma State Univ., Rohnert Park CA .

Technical Reports

2001. Fredericq, S., N. Phillips, S.M. Lin, B. Gavio and F. Gurgel. List of the macroalgae collected during the annual monitoring cruise to the Texas Flower Garden Banks Marine Sanctuary (Texas A&M), pp. 65-71 in : Dokken, Q.R., I.R. MacDonald, J.W. Tunnell, Jr., C.R. Beaver, S. A. Childs, K. Withers & T.W.Bates. Long-term Monitoring of the East and West Flower Garden Banks, 1998-1999 . OCS Study MMS 2001-101, U.S. Department of the Interior, Minerals Management Service, Gulf of Mexico OCS Region, New Orleans, Louisiana. 119 pp.

2000. Fredericq, S., N. Phillips, Showe-Mei Lin, B. Gavio and F. Gurgel. List of the macroalgae collected during the annual monitoring cruise to the Texas Flower Garden Banks Marine Sanctuary (Texas A&M) September 15-20, 1999.

1999. Fredericq, S. N. Phillips and B. Gavio. Preliminary list of the macroalgae collected during the Mineral Management Monitoring Cruise to Sonnier Bank June/July 1999.

1999. Phillips, N., S. Fredericq and B. Gavio. Preliminary characterization and species list of the macro-algae community collected during the June 1999 Stetson Bank, TX. Monitoring Cruise. Texas Flower Garden and Stetson Bank Sanctuary Program.

1989. Josselyn, M. and N. Phillips. Long term monitoring program: Regional element macro-algal component II. United States Geological Survey.

1988. Josselyn, M. and N. Phillips. Long term monitoring program: Regional element macro-algal component I. United States Geological Survey.