Nat ClarkeI completed my undergraduate Biology major at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington in 2011. While at Whitman, I studied evolutionary biology, ecology, and physiology under the mentorship of Drs. Kate Jackson and Peter Zani, with emphases in African snake biodiversity and lizard reproductive physiology.

After graduating from Whitman, I worked for a year as a research assistant in the fields of evolutionary developmental biology, biomechanics, and marine biology. First, I worked as a research assistant in the lab of Cassandra Extavour at Harvard University, where I studied the evolutionary history of the germ line protein oskar, and germ cell development in the Field Cricket, Gryllus bimaculatus. Second, I worked as a research technician at the Friday Harbor Labs at the University of Washington in the lab of Adam Summers studying mechanics of benthic fishes, and also to develop a bomb calorimetry system to measure the energy content of different detrital food sources available in subtidal habitats to the Purple Sea Urchin, Stronglyocentrotus purpuratus. While at Friday Harbor, I developed an interest in larval biology and invertebrate development, which, in combination with my fascination with early animal evolution, ultimately led me to the Lowe lab at Stanford University.

I am broadly interested in key transitions in early animal evolution – the emergence of multicellularity, the evolution of germ layers, and assembly of functional signaling networks. At Stanford, I work collaboratively between the Lowe lab at Hopkins Marine Station, and the Nelson lab on Stanford main campus to investigate the roles of cell adhesion and signaling proteins in basal marine invertebrates at the molecular, cellular and organismal levels.

I am a graduate student in the Integrative and Organismal program in the Department of Biology, and I hold a Stanford Graduate Fellowship and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.


  1. The evolutionary origin of epithelial cell-cell adhesion mechanisms. Miller PW, Clarke DN, Weis WI, Lowe CJ, Nelson WJ. Current Topics in Membranes. 72: 267-311.
  2. Germ cell specification requires zygotic mechanisms rather than germ plasm in a basally branching insect. Ewen-Campen B, Donoughe S, Clarke DN, and Extavour, C.G. Current Biology 23(10): 835-842.
  3. Fitness benefits of climate change for a temperate ectotherm: effects of nighttime warming on reproduction. Clarke DN, and Zani PA. Journal of Experimental Biology 215: 1117-1127.