Kevin Penn, Ph.D.

Research Scientist II

Kevin Penn is a passionate and experienced marine scientist with a diverse background in both academic research and biotech industry settings. His journey in microbial ecology and genomics has been driven by a deep-seated curiosity about the intricate complexities of marine ecosystems and their inhabitants.

Throughout his career, he has been fortunate to contribute to cutting-edge research projects aimed at understanding and harnessing the potential of marine organisms for the betterment of our oceans and society. From doctoral studies delving into the comparative genomics of marine actinobacteria to spearheading an antibiotic discovery program in the biotech industry, he has continuously sought to push the boundaries of knowledge in marine genomics.

Kevin’s academic endeavors have been complemented by practical experiences, such as mentoring scientists in marine microbiology techniques and leading expeditions to collect samples from diverse marine environments. These experiences have not only enriched his understanding of marine ecosystems but have also instilled in him a deep appreciation for collaborative and interdisciplinary research approaches.


2012 – PhD Marine Biology, University of California, San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Research Profile Links

Google Scholar


Research Interests

My research interests are rooted in marine biology and a desire to understand the evolution of life. I am particularly fascinated by the remarkable diversity of marine microorganisms and their pivotal roles in shaping marine ecosystems. Exploring the genomics of marine microbes offers a unique window into the evolutionary processes that have sculpted life in the oceans over millions of years.

Selected Publications

*for full list, see Google Scholar

Gao C, Garren M, Penn K, Fernandez V I, Seymour J R, Thompson J R, Raina JB, Stocker R (2021). Coral mucus, rapidly induces chemokinesis and genome-wide transcriptional shifts toward early pathogenesis in a bacterial coral pathogen. The ISME journal.

Silva-Lima AW, Froes AM, Garcia GD, Tonon LAC, Swings J, Cosenza CAN, Medina M, Penn K, Thompson JR, Thompson CC, Thompson FL (2021). Mussismilia braziliensis white plague disease is characterized by an affected coral immune system and dysbiosis. Microbial Ecology.

Freedman A, Peet K, Boock J, Penn K, Prather K, Thompson, JR (2018).  Isolation, Development, and Genomic Analysis of Bacillus megaterium SR7 for Growth and Metabolite Production Under Supercritical Carbon Dioxide. Frontiers in Microbiology.

Tonon LAC, Thompson JR, Moreira APB, Garcia G, Penn K, Lim R, Berlinck R, Thompson CC, Thompson FL (2017). Quantitative Detection of Active Vibrios Associated with White Plague Disease in Mussismilia braziliensis Corals. Frontiers in Microbiology.

Har JY, Helbig T, Lim JH, Fernando SC, Reitzel AM, Penn K, Thompson JR (2015). Microbial diversity and activity in the Nematostella vectensis holobiont: insights from 16S rRNA gene sequencing, isolate genomes, and a pilot-scale survey of gene expression. Frontiers in Microbiology.