Scott Dawson

image of Scott Dawson

Associate Professor


Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

Offices and Labs


Profile Introduction

Our lab studies cytoskeletal organelle duplication, function, and evolution in the widespread parasite Giardia lamblia and other protists. We also study the metabolic interactions between Giardia and the host gut microbiome.


2000 PhD Molecular and Cell Biology University of California - Berkeley
1989 BS Biology University of Michigan

Research Contribution

Protists exhibit a myriad of cellular innovations and organelles reflecting their broad evolutionary diversity and their “extreme” cell biology. While model organisms have revolutionized biomedical research, studying diverse forms of life allows us to discover how life adapts and evolves. Overall, our research addresses a central question in evolutionary cell biology – how do new organelles evolve? Primarily studying the diplomonad Giardia lamblia, we are exploring how the duplication of organelles results in new organelles that diverge and evolve unique functions. After duplication, how do cells like Giardia assemble, differentiate, and control more than one of the same kind of organelle. Are “new” organelles like Giardia’s ventral disc simply extremely diverged duplicated organelles? We are also investigating early eukaryotic evolution through the comparative analysis of new genomes of free-living amoebae our lab has isolated. Lastly, with respect to pathogenesis, we have pioneered the study of in vivo Giardia colonization dynamics in the gastrointestinal tract and its metabolic interactions with the host microbiome.

Research Interests

Evolutionary Cell Biology




2016/17 Whitman Center Fellow, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole MA


American Society for Cell Biology
American Society for Microbiology

CBS Grad Group Affiliations

Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

Specialties / Focus

Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

Graduate Groups not Housed in CBS



DawsonLab/231 Briggs Hall website
  • Kari Hagen, Tiffany Chase, Chris Nosala, Shane McInally, Hannah Starcevich, Matt Wright, Sarah Guest, Eric Walters

Teaching Interests

Microbial diversity, Comparative genomics, Biology for non-majors


MIC 105L Bacterial Diversity Laboratory (Winter)
BIS 10 Everyday Biology (Fall)


6/28/2017 10:24:30 AM
    1. Barash NR, Maloney JG, Singer SM, Dawson SC. (2017) Giardia alters commensal microbial diversity throughout the murine gut. Infection and Immunity 85(6): e00948-16.
    2. Barash, NR, Nosala, C, Pham, JK, McInally, SG, Gourguechon, S, McCarthy-Sinclair, B, and SC Dawson (2017). Giardia colonizes and encysts in high-density foci in the murine small intestine. mSphere, 2 (3) e00343-16
    3. JK Pham, C Nosala, EY Scott, KF Nguyen, KD Hagen, HN Starcevich, and SC Dawson. Transcriptomic profiling of high-density Giardia foci encysting in the murine proximal intestine. (2017) Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology 7(227).
    4. McInally S.G., and Dawson, S.C. (2016) Eight unique basal bodies in the multi-flagellated diplomonad Giardia lamblia. Cilia (5): 21.
    5. Nosala, C. and Dawson, S.C. (2016) The critical role of the cytoskeleton in the pathogenesis of Giardia. Curr Clin Micro Rpt 2:155-162.