Annette Govindarajan

Molecular Ecologist

Annette Govindarajan is a molecular ecologist interested in the diversity, ecology, and evolution of marine invertebrates. Her focus on the Ocean Twilight Zone project is to characterize and understand the distribution of animal biodiversity of the mesopelagic region. To do this, Annette’s research emphasizes DNA barcoding – where DNA markers from mesopelagic animals are compared to a reference database for species identification. At the forefront of her OTZ program is the barcoding analysis of environmental DNA, or eDNA—the traces of genetic information that animals leave behind as they move through the ocean. Annette is simultaneously building reference barcode libraries based on animal specimens that the OTZ collects to facilitate eDNA analyses. Annette is also working with OTZ engineers to develop autonomous eDNA samplers that can be used on platforms such as Mesobot and Deep-See. These samplers will streamline and add flexibility to eDNA collection strategies in this generally inaccessible environment, as well as allow the samples to be analyzed in the context of other sensed data (e.g., acoustics and imaging) collected by these platforms.

Annette Govindarajan holds a B.S. in Biology from the University of Connecticut, an M.S. in Biological Oceanography from the University of Connecticut, and a PhD in Biological Oceanography from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program.

Research Interests

Diversity, ecology, and evolution of marine invertebrates, especially jellyfish; molecular approaches to biodiversity assessments; autonomous sampling.