Subject area: Biology
I am a multidisciplinary evolutionary biologist and I use morphology, ecology, molecular biology and paleontology to answer questions on how species have diverged and interact with their environments. I was previously a senior research fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and have conducted fieldwork and taught at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji. More recently I taught at Hamilton College in upstate New York and am currently Science Coordinator and Biology Lecturer at the BISC. I really enjoy teaching students in the small class setting at the Castle and greatly encourage class discussion and critical thinking that builds both knowledge and confidence in Biology.
As a scientist and educator, my aim is to both challenge and encourage my students by providing them with a creative and engaging learning environment. I believe in creating a classroom environment that respects diversity and allows students to develop positive ideas about themselves and others, while teaching them to critically assess and integrate different sources of knowledge. I currently teach BIOL 102 (Fundamentals of Biology: Molecular and Cell Biology ) and BIOL 103 ( Fundamentals of Biology: Organisms to Ecosystems ) at the BISC. These classes include inquiry-based labs and experiential-learning opportunities that allow students to develop their own ideas and take responsibility for their learning.
My current research focuses on four main themes:
The evolution of venom in sea urchins. How defensive venom has evolved in sea urchins that live in different habitats and has therefore evolved to deter specific pests, parasites and predators.
Phylogeography and speciation. Identifying barriers to gene flow and how species arise in the World’s Oceans. How do species maintain their integrity when distributions change and they come into contact?
Lunar clocks. How circadian and circalunar genes correlate with lunar spawning cycles and regulate lunar spawning in marine invertebrates. A mechanism for temporal reproductive isolation between sympatric sister-species.
Sea urchin gut microbiomes. Does species specificity or locality results in specific gut microbiomes? What role to species-specific gut microbes have?
I am also interested in invertebrate biodiversity and have described a number of new species, including the first new species discovered on eBay
Koch, N.M., Thompson, J.R., Hatch, A.S., McCowin, M.F., Armstrong, A.F., Coppard, S.E., Aguilera, F., Bronstein, O., Kroh, A., Mooi, R., and Rouse, G.W. (2022). Phylogenomic analyses of echinoid diversification prompt a re-evaluation of their fossil record. eLife 2022;11:e72460 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.72460
Coppard, S.E., Jessop, H. & Lessios, H.A. (2021). Phylogeography, colouration, and cryptic speciation across the Indo-Pacific in the sea urchin genus Echinothrix. Scientific Reports 11, 16568. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-95872-0
Koch, N.M., Thompson, J.R., Hatch, A.S., McCowin, M.F., Armstrong, A.F., Coppard, S.E., Aguilera, F., Bronstein, O., Kroh, A., Mooi, R., and Rouse, G.W. (2021). Phylogenomic analyses of echinoid diversification prompt a re-evaluation of their fossil record. bioRxiv 2021.07.19.453013, https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.07.19.453013
Mongiardino Koch, N., Coppard, S.E., Lessios, H.A., Briggs, D.E.G., Mooi, R. and Rouse, G.W. (2018). A phylogenomic resolution of the sea urchin tree of life. BMC Evolutionary Biology 18, 189. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12862-018-1300-4
Á.J. Láruson, S.E. Coppard, M. Pespeni & F.A. Reed (2018). Gene expression across tissues, sex, and life stages in the sea urchin Tripneustes gratilla [Toxopneustidae, Odontophora, Camarodonta]. Marine Genomics 41, 12-18. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.margen.2018.07.00.
A O’Dea, H. A. Lessios, A. G. Coates, S. E. Coppard, et al. (2018). Formation of the Isthmus of Panama: Response to Jaramillo et al. Science Advances. http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/6/e1602321/tab-e-letters
Kroh, A., Bronstein, O. & Coppard, S.E. (2018) Case 3763 -Stenonaster Lambert, 1922 and Stenonasteridae Lambert, 1922 (Echinodermata, Echinoidea): proposed conservation by reversal of precedence of Stenocorys Lambert, 1917 and Stenocoridae Lambert, 1920. Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 75, ISSN 2057-0570.
Coppard, S.E. & Lessios, H.A. (2017). Phylogeography of the sand dollar genus Encope: Implications regarding the Central American Isthmus and rates of molecular evolution. Scientific Reports 7, 11520 DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-11875-w www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-11875-w
A. O’Dea, H. A. Lessios, A. G. Coates, S. E. Coppard, et al. (2017). Building bridges. Response to Erkens and Hoorn: “The Panama Isthmus, ‘old’, ‘young’ or both?” Science Advances, (http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/2/8/e1600883/tab-e-letters)
A. O’Dea, H. A. Lessios, A. G. Coates, S. E. Coppard, et al. (2016). Formation of the Isthmus of Panama. Science Advances 2, e1600883 (2016).DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1600883 http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/2/8/e1600883.full
Coppard, S.E. (2016). A new genus of mellitid sand dollar (Echinoidea: Mellitidae) from the eastern Pacific coast of the Americas. Zootaxa 4111 (2): 158-166. https://biotaxa.org/Zootaxa/article/view/zootaxa.4111.2.4
Jagadeeshan, S., Coppard S.E., & Lessios, H.A. (2015). Evolution of gamete attraction molecules: the sperm activating peptide and its receptor are neutrally evolving molecules in the pantropical sea urchin Diadema. Evolution and Development 17(1): 91-108.
Coppard, S.E., Zigler, K., & Lessios, H.A. (2013). Phylogeography of the sand dollar genus Mellita: cryptic speciation along the coasts of the Americas. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 69: 1033-1042. https://repository.si.edu/handle/10088/21576
Rodríguez, A., Hernández, J.C., Clemente, S., &. Coppard, S.E. (2013). A new species of Diadema (Echinodermata: Echinoidea: Diadematidae) from the eastern Atlantic Ocean and a neotype designation of Diadema antillarum (Philippi, 1845). Zootaxa 3636(1): 144-170.
Pérez-Ruzafa, J.J. Alvarado, F.A. Solís-Marín, J.C. Hernández, S.E. Coppard, et al. (2012). Latin America Echinoderm Biodiversity and Biogeography: Patterns and Afﬁnities. In: Alvarado, Juan J. and Solís-Marín, Francisco Alonso, Echinoderm Research and Diversity in Latin America. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, pp. 511-542.
Coppard, S.E. & Alvarado, J.J. (2012). Echinoderm Diversity in Panama: 144 Years of Research Across the Isthmus. In: Alvarado, Juan J. and Solís-Marín, Francisco Alonso, Echinoderm Research and Diversity in Latin America. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, pp.107-144.
Coppard, S.E. (2010). The Echinoderms of Panama. Encyclopedia of Life Lifedesk (EOL),
Coppard, S.E., Kroh, A. & Smith, A.B. (2010). The evolution of pedicellariae in echinoids: an arms race against pests and parasites. Acta Zoologica, 93, 125-148. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-6395.2010.00487.x (published online, 2010, print version 2012). https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1463-6395.2010.00487.x
Mohammed S.W.C., & Coppard, S.E. (2008). Ecology and distribution of soft sediment benthic communities off Viti Levu (Fiji). Marine Ecological Progress Series, 371, 91-107.
Coppard, S.E. (2008). A comparative analysis of the spatangoid echinoid genera Brissopsis and Metalia: a new genus and species of spatangoid (Echinodermata: Echinoidea: Brissopsidae) from the Philippines and the reassignment of Brissopsis persica to Metalia. Zootaxa, 1760, 1-23.
Coppard, S.E. & Van Noordenburg, H. (2007). A new species of Lissocidaris (Echinodermata: Echinoidea: Cidaridae) from the Philippines: convergent evolution among smooth-spined cidaroids. Zootaxa, 1493, 53-65.
Coppard, S.E. & Campbell, A.C. (2007). Grazing preferences of diadematid echinoids in Fiji. Aquatic Botany, 86, 204-212.
Coppard, S.E. & Campbell, A.C. (2006). Taxonomic significance of test morphology in the echinoid genera Diadema Gray, 1825 and Echinothrix Peters 1853 (Echinodermata). Zoosystema 28(1), 93-112.
Coppard, S.E. & Shultz, H.A.G. (2006). A new species of Coelopleurus (Echinodermata: Echinoidea: Arbaciidae) from New Caledonia. Zootaxa, 1281, 1-19.
Coppard, S.E. & Campbell, A.C. (2006). Systematic significance of tridentate pedicellariae in the echinoid genera Diadema and Echinothrix. Invertebrate Biology 125(4), 363-378.
Coppard, S.E. & Campbell, A.C. (2005). Lunar periodicities of diadematid echinoids breeding in Fiji. Coral Reefs, 24, 224-332.
Coppard, S.E. & Campbell, A.C. (2005). Distribution and abundance of regular echinoids on two coral reefs in Fiji. Micronesica, 37 (2), 249-269.
Coppard, S.E., Smith, A.B. & Barras, C. (2005). Stem group Neognathostomata and Cassiduloida. In: Smith, A.B. (editor). The Echinoid Directory. World Wide Web electronic publication. http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/projects/echinoid-directory/index
Coppard, S.E. & Campbell, A.C. (2004). Taxonomic significance of spine morphology in the echinoid genera Diadema and Echinothrix. Invertebrate Biology, 123 (4), 357-371.
Smith, A.B. & Coppard, S.E. (2004). Diadematoida. in Smith, A. B. (editor) 2005. The Echinoid Directory. World Wide Web electronic publication. http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/projects/echinoid-directory/index
Coppard, S.E. & Campbell, A.C. (2004). Associated species of diadematid echinoids in Fiji. Proceedings of the 11th International Echinoderm conference, 171-179.
Campbell, A.C., Coppard, S.E., D’Abreo, C. & Tudor-Thomas, R. (2001). Escape and aggregation responses of three echinoderms to conspecific stimuli. Biological Bulletin, 201: 175-185.
If you are interested in getting involved with research projects on topics in ecology, molecular biology, genetics, marine biology, invertebrate biology, evolution, or any other areas of biology please contact me.
The Environments of Change project is a multidisciplinary collaboration that aims to understand better the reciprocal relationship between humans, culture, nature, and the environment, from the late medieval period to the present day. This project involves a team of collaborators from disciplines such as the humanities, archaeology, ecology, geology, video game design, computer-assisted modelling, and computer graphics, amongst many others. See: Environments of Change
At the BISC I am working with students on a range of projects that includes taking tree core samples from the veteran oak trees for dendroclimatology analysis that uses Oxygen isotope ratios to reconstruct summer temperatures and summer precipitation on the Estate, measuring seasonal oak tree growth using dendrometers in different habitats, and conducting exploratory sediment cores across the Pevensey Levels to help understand marine and freshwater incursions through time. We are also interested in documenting and understanding the biodiversity across the Herstmonceux Estate in relation to the Pevensey Levels and trying to determine what is natural and what constitutes human activity.