Dan Pollard

Assistant Professor

Research Interests


We study the causes of cellular trait variation. Our primary system is mating pheromone induced cell differentiation in budding yeasts (i.e. baker’s yeast). We use a broad array of techniques from genome editing to fluorescence microscopy to computer modeling. Much of our work focuses on RNA and protein metabolism. Current student projects include:

  • Molecular mechanisms of natural variation in protein production and degradation
  • Genomic analysis of RNA interference pathway proteins
  • Inhibition of CRISPR Cas-9 by nucleosomes
  • Influences of genetic and environmental variables on the kinetics of cell differentiation
  • Diversity and substrate specialization of yeast species in Whatcom county (outreach project w/ local middle schools)

Current Lab Members

Tanner Thuet-Davenport, Graduate Researcher (Projects: Genetic mapping of modifiers of FIG1 protein expression)

Anastacia Wienecke, Graduate Researcher (Projects: Modeling impact of polymorphisms on protein production and degradation)

Gaea Turman, Undergraduate Researcher (Projects: Inhibition of CRISPR Cas-9 by nucleosomes)

Garrett Strawn, Undergraduate Researcher (Projects: Measuring cis-acting and trans-acting genetic impacts on protein expression)

Benjamin Haagen, Graduate Researcher (Projects: Genetic mapping of protein expression modifiers)

Sam Herr, Undergraduate Researcher (Projects: Estimating protein production and degradation rate variation using mass-action models)

Becca Yarbrough, Undergraduate Researcher (Projects: Genetic mapping of modifiers of protein expression)

Erik Ehlers, Undergraduate Researcher (Projects: Genetic mapping of modifiers of protein expression)

Former Lab Members

Chayse Jones (currently Research Assistant in Michael Matthay's lab at University of California San Francisco)

Tiara Johnson (currently Mentor at WWU Campus Christian Fellowship)

Brian Miller (currently Research Assistant in Don Conrad's lab at Oregon Health Sciences University)

Halley Steiner (currently Research Assistant in Roy Parker's lab at UC Boulder)

Yuli Buckley (currently PhD student in Jason Mears' lab at Case Western Reserve University)

Shelby Duffy (currently Undergraduate Student at WWU)

Ciara Asamoto (currently PhD student in Sebastian Kopf's lab at UC Boulder)

Emma Ciechanowski (currently Research Assistant at Seattle Genetics)

Austin Abendroth (currently Field Instructor for Second Natural Wilderness Family Therapy)

Homa Rahnamoun (currently PhD Student in Shannon Lauberth's lab at UCSD)

Daniel Cohen (currently Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Company)

Genny Gould (currently Computational Biologist at Counsyl)


I am currently recruiting undergraduate and masters graduate students to our team.

  • WWU undergraduates seeking research experience who have at least one year until graduation are encouraged to apply via email with a brief description of interests and a transcript copy.
  • Masters program applications are officially due February 1st however you are very strongly encouraged to email me prior to applying so that your application is given proper consideration. Follow these links for information about the Masters in Biology and the Application.


Suzanne Lee, WWU

Scott Rifkin, UCSD

Mike MacCoss, UW

Educational & Professional Experience

University of California, Berkeley 2001-2007 Ph.D in Biophysics with a designated emphasis in Computational & Genomic Biology.  Mentored by Michael B. Eisen and committee members Montgomery Slatkin & Ian Holmes.  Areas of specialization: Bioinformatics, Evolutionary Genetics, & Developmental Biology

Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine 1994-1998 B.A. in Mathematics with a minor in Biology, Magna cum laude honors


Selected Awards & Honors

Recent Publications

Turman G, Pollard DA (2019). NucJuke: A tool for re-ranking gRNAs based on chromatin accessibility for CRISPR-Cas9 Experiments in yeast. http://nucjuke.biol.wwu.edu

Pollard DA, Asamoto C, Rahnamoun H, Abendroth A, Lee SR, Rifkin SA (2016). Natural Genetic Variation Modifies Gene Expression Dynamics at the Protein Level During Pheromone Response in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. BioRxiv.org.

Pollard DA, Rockman MV (2013). Resistance to Germline RNAi in a Caenorhabditis elegans Wild Isolate Exhibits Complexity and Non-Additivity. G3, g3.113.005785.

Pollard DA (2012). “Design and Construction of Recombinant Inbred Lines” in Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) : Methods and Protocols. Rifkin SA (Ed). Springer 1:871.

Li XY, MacArthur S, Bourgon R, Nix D, Pollard DA, Iyer VN, Hechmer A, Simirenko L, Stapleton M, Luengo Hendriks CL, Chu HC, Ogawa N, Inwood W, Sementchenko V, Beaton A, Weiszmann R, Celniker SE, Knowles DW, Gingeras T, Speed TP, Eisen MB, Biggin MD (2008). Transcription factors bind thousands of active and inactive regions in the Drosophila blastoderm. PLoS Biol. 2008 Feb;6(2):e27.

Clark AG, Eisen MB, Smith DR, Bergman CM, Oliver B, Markow TA, Kaufman TC, Kellis M, Gelbart W, Iyer VN, Pollard DA, Sackton TB, Larracuente AM, Singh ND, Drosophila 12 Genomes Consortium (2007). Evolution of genes and genomes on the Drosophila phylogeny. Nature, 2007. 450(7167):203-18.

Pollard DA, Iyer VN, Moses AM, Eisen MB (2006). Widespread Discordance of Gene Trees with Species Tree in Drosophila: Evidence for Incomplete Lineage Sorting. PLoS Genetics, 2006. 2:10.

Moses AM, Pollard DA, Nix DA, Iyer VN, Li X, Biggin MD, Eisen MB (2006). Large-scale turnover of functional transcription factor binding sites in Drosophila. PLoS Comp Biol, 2006. 2:10.

The Honeybee Genome Sequencing Consortium (2006). Insights into social insects from the genome of the honeybee Apis mellifera. Nature, 2006. 443, 931-949.

Pollard DA, Moses AM, Iyer VN, Eisen MB (2006). Detecting the Limits of Regulatory Element Conservation and Divergence Estimation Using Pairwise and Multiple Alignments. BMC Bioinformatics, 2006. 7:376.