Kate Castellano, Ph.D.

Ferrante Postdoctoral Fellow

Kate Castellano comes to GMGI from the University of Connecticut with a background in marine genomics. Her research interests lie in creating and utilizing genomic tools for understudied marine organisms with a focus on adaptation, evolution and human health. She earned a B.S. in Marine Science from the University of New England in 2011 where she first used genetic methods to identify SNPs associated with successful growth in rising sea level conditions of the dominant marsh plants, Spartina alterniflora and Spartina patens. After graduation, Kate was employed as an environmental lab technician at Normandeau Associates, Inc. focusing on the effects of powerplants on fish larvae abundance in the Hudson River. From 2012 to 2016, Kate worked as a laboratory assistant at Yale University where she helped identify factors required for the activation of zygotic gene expression during early embryogenesis in the zebrafish, Danio rerio. Before joining GMGI, she earned a PhD in Molecular and Cell biology from the University of Connecticut where she investigated the genomic mechanisms regulating successful population blooms of the pelagic tunicates Salpa thompsoni and Salpa aspera. When not at work, Kate enjoys reading, paddle boarding and baking.


2011 – BS Marine Science, University of New England
2021 – PhD Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Connecticut

Research Interests

Kate’s research interests lie in creating and utilizing “omic” approaches to better understand understudied marine organisms and provide tools for the marine community. While the Ocean covers 70% of the Earth, it is predicted that only about 10% of known marine organisms have been identified leaving much of the ocean diversity unexplored. However, what we have learned so far from available marine genomes proves that studying marine organisms is essential for answering questions about basic biological functions, evolution, adaptation to varying/extreme environments, climate change and other anthropogenic-induced changes, conservation, and human health. During Kate’s PhD she focused on creating genomes and transcriptomes for the peglaic tunicates, Salpa thompsoni and Salpa aspera, both of which are showing rapid population explosions as the Ocean continues to warm. Her work identified key genomic features regulating transcriptional timing and redefined our understanding of salp reproduction. In addition, due to the inability to morphologically identify salp species, she created a method to identify species on a research vessel using the Oxford Nanopore MinION to aid marine scientists during sample collections. Her research at GMGI will expand her genomics experience to develop marine models for biomedical research.

Research Profile Links

Kate (DiVito) Castellano, PhD | LinkedIn

Research Projects


Ann Bucklin, Kate R. DiVito, Irina Smolina, Marvin Choquet, Jennifer M. Questel, Galice Hoarau, Rachel J. O’Neill. 2018. Population Genomics of Marine Zooplankton. Population Genomics. Springer. 2018 February 01 2. DOI:10.1007/13836_2017_9

Miller T. Lee, Ashley R. Bonneau, Carter M. Takacs, Ariel A. Bazzini, Kate R. DiVito, Elizabeth S. Fleming, Antonio J. Giraldez, 2013. Nanog, SoxB1 and Pou5f1 activate zygotic gene expression during the MZT. Nature. 503, 360-364. 2013 Sep 22. DOI: 10.1038/nature12632