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Biological Sciences Profiles

Kara Powder

Assistant Professor
Biological Sciences Department

Office: 055A Life Science Facility
Phone: 864-656-3196
Personal Website:


 Educational Background

Ph.D. Molecular Genetics and Genomics
Washington University in St. Louis 2011

B.S. Biology
Case Western Reserve University 2004

 Courses Taught

BIOL 4400 Animal Developmental Biology
BIOL 4930 Senior Seminar in Genomics

 Research Interests

The goal of the Powder lab is to understand the genomic and developmental origins of diversity. Cichlid fishes have undergone an extraordinary adaptive radiation, and a hallmark of this is their unparalleled range of craniofacial morphologies, which correlates with their feeding mechanism (e.g. algae scraping or suction feeding). We integrate quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping, population genomics, and experimental embryology to assess how genetic variation contributes to changes in gene expression and function and ultimately results in phenotypic variation in craniofacial structures.


Albertson RC, Kawasaki KG, Tetrault E, Powder KE. 2018. Genetic analyses in Lake Malawi cichlids identify new roles for Fgf signaling in scale shape variation. Communications Biology. 1:55. doi: 10.1038/s42003-018-0060-4.

Powder KE, Albertson RC. 2018. “Identifying the Genomic Basis Underlying Phenotypic Variation.” In Oxford Bibliographies in Evolutionary Biology. Ed. Karin Pfennig. doi:10.1093/OBO/9780199941728-0106.

Powder KE, Albertson RC. 2015. Cichlid fishes as a model to understand normal and clinical craniofacial variation. Developmental Biology. S0012-1606(15)30369-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2015.12.018.

Powder KE, Milch K, Asselin G, Albertson RC. 2015. Constraint and diversification of developmental trajectories in cichlid facial morphologies. EvoDevo. 6:25. doi: 10.1186/s13227-015-0020-8.

Powder KE, Cousin H, McLinden G, Albertson RC. 2014. A nonsynonymous mutation in the transcriptional regulator lbh is associated with cichlid craniofacial adaptation and neural crest cell development. Molecular Biology and Evolution. 31(12):3113-24. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msu267.

Albertson RC, Powder KE, Hu Y, Coyle KP, Roberts RB, Parsons KJ. 2014. Genetic basis of continuous variation in the levels and modular inheritance of pigmentation in cichlid fishes. Molecular Ecology. 23(21):5135-50. doi: 10.1111/mec.12900.

Parsons KJ, Taylor AT, Powder KE, Albertson RC. 2014. Wnt-signaling underlies the evolution of phenotypic novelty and craniofacial variability in Lake Malawi cichlids. Nature Communications. 3(5):3629. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4629.

Powder KE, Ku YC, Brugmann SA, Veile RA, Renaud NA, Helms JA, Lovett M. 2012. A cross-species analysis of microRNAs in the developing avian face. PLoS One. 7(4):e35111. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0035111.

Brugmann SA, Powder KE, Young NM, Goodnough LH, Hahn SM, James AW, Helms JA, Lovett M. 2010. Comparative gene expression analysis of avian embryonic facial structures reveals new candidates for human craniofacial disorders. Human Molecular Genetics. 19(5):920-30. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddp559.


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