Jennifer Polinski

Senior Research Associate

Jennifer joined our team in 2017, bringing a background in marine biology, DNA sequencing, and bioinformatics to GMGI. Originally from Michigan, she earned a B.A. in Biology and Mathematics from Albion College before moving to Florida to complete an M.S. in Marine Biology at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.

She first used next-generation sequencing (NGS) during her graduate work, characterizing zooxanthellae (single-celled algae living in symbiosis with corals) in reefs in the Gulf of Mexico. After completing her Masters and prior to joining GMGI, she gained more genomics experience working in the Bay Paul Center for Comparative Molecular Biology and Evolution at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA.

Jennifer is also an avid SCUBA diver and underwater photographer.


2014 – BA Biology & Mathematics, Albion College, Albion, Michigan
2016 – MSc Biology, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Florida Atlantic University, Advisor: Joshua Voss

Research Interests

DNA sequencing is a powerful tool that allows researchers to answer a vast array of questions: What organisms are present? What biological processes are they capable of? Which ones are they currently using? How do those change in response to shifting conditions? What genetic mutations underlie adaptation?

Since joining GMGI in 2017, I’ve utilized my background in molecular ecology, DNA sequencing, and field work to help build our capacity to pursue answers to questions like these involving marine organisms and environments.

My work spans GMGI’s three research programs. I’ve used my sequencing and bioinformatics skills to assembly American lobster and Jonah crab reference genomes, providing our Fisheries team with valuable tools for population genomics, and I’ve uncovered patterns of aging and genes that may contribute to longevity in the genome (DNA) and transcriptome (RNA) of the long-lived red sea urchin. However, a majority of my research focuses on ecosystem-wide biodiversity, using NGS techniques to characterize and monitor everything from the smallest bacteria to the largest whale.

Research Profile Links

Research Projects

Polinski, J.M, Castellano, K.R., Buckley, K.M, and Bodnar, A.G. (2024) Genomic signatures of exceptional longevity and negligible aging in the long-lived red sea urchin. Cell Reports 43(4) 114021. DOI:

Polinski, J.M., Rodrigue, M., Meyer, J.D., Harke, M.J. (2023) Drifting in the deep: Metatranscriptomics and metabarcoding reveal sustained metabolic activity and community composition in hydrothermal vent plume microbial communities. Frontiers in Marine Science. 10:1219784.

Atkinson, Rogan A., Baker C. S., Dagdag R., Redlinger M., Polinski J. M., Urban J., Sremba A., Branson M., Mashburn K., Pallin L., Klink A., Steel D., Bortz E., Kerr I. 2021. Genetic, Endocrine, and Microbiological Assessments of Blue, Humpback and Killer Whale Health using Unoccupied Aerial Systems. Wildlife Society Bulletin.

Polinski, J.M., Zimin, A.V., Clark, K.F., Kohn, A.B., Sadowski, N., Timp, W., Ptitsyn, A., Khanna, P., Romanova, D.Y., Williams, P., Greenwood, S.J., Moroz, L.L., Walt, D.R. and Bodnar, A.G. (2021) The American lobster genome reveals insights on longevity, neural, and immune adaptations. Science Advances Vol. 7, no. 26, eabe8290 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abe8290

Polinski, J.M., N. Kron, D.R. Smith, and A.G. Bodnar. (2020) Unique age-related transcriptional signature in the nervous system of the long-lived red sea urchin Mesocentrotus franciscanus. Scientific Reports. 10: 9182. doi:10.1038/s41598-020-66052-3

Polinski, J.M., J.P. Bucci, M. Gasser, and A.G. Bodnar. (2019)  Metabarcoding assessment of prokaryotic and eukaryotic taxa in sediments from Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Scientific Reports. 9:14820 doi:10.1038/s41598-019-51341-3.

Polinski, J.M. and J.D. Voss. 2018.  Evidence of photoacclimatization at mesophotic depths in the coral-Symbiodinium symbiosis at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and McGrail Bank. Coral Reefs, 37(3): 779-789.

Klepac, C.N., J. Beal, C.D. Kenkel, A. Sproles, J.M. Polinski, M.A. Williams, M.V. Matz, and J.D. Voss. 2015.  Seasonal stability of coral-Symbiodinium associations in the subtropical coral habitat of St. Lucie Reef, Florida. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 532: 137-151.