Scott Dawson

image of Scott Dawson

Associate Professor


Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

Offices and Labs



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

Research Contribution

My lab is interested in the evolution and function of the cytoskeleton in anaerobic protists. We investigate the mechanism by which the widespread protistan parasite Giardia lambia to the attaches to host intestinal villi using novel MT-based structure termed the “ventral disc”. Our lab employs multiphasic approaches to define the primary structural elements of the ventral disc at high resolution, to identify and analyze disc protein function, and to quantify attachment dynamics and test attachment hypotheses using high resolution live imaging. Giardia also has eight flagella organized into four pairs that are critical for motility,cell division and possibly for excystation. We are interested in how (and why) the eight Giardia flagella are uniquely specified in their function. Lastly, Few genomes of free-living microbial eukaryotes are sequenced, despite their critical importance in ecology, evolution, and basic cellular biology. Our lab is also interested in early eukaryotic evolution, and has been involved in the recent sequencing and analysis of the genomes of the free-living amoeboflagellate Naegleria gruberi and diplomonad Spironucleus vortens. We are currently using genomic approaches to investigate nature of the association between free-living anaerobic protists and methanogenic archaea in the bovine rumen.


2007 National Academy Education Fellow in the Life Sciences

Department and Center Affiliations



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
  • Jonny Pham, Kari Hagen, Moises de la Torre, Dave Woessner, Michael Cipriano, Marissa Hirst, Nell Barash, Anna Wiedmann

Teaching Interests

Microbial diversity, Comparative genomics and phylogenetics


MIC 105 Bacterial Diversity (Winter)
MIC 105L Bacterial Diversity Laboratory (Winter)
MMI 215 Medical Parasitology (Spring)
MIC 396 Teaching Biology (Fall)


3/16/2012 4:18:51 PM
  • Woessner, D.J., and Dawson, S.C. (2012). The Giardia “median body protein” is a ventral disc protein that is critical for maintaining a domed disc conformation during attachment. Eukaryotic Cell (in press)
  • Fritz-Laylin, L.K., Prochnik, S.E., Ginger, M.L., Dacks, J., Carpenter, M.L., Field, M.C., Kuo, A., Paredez, A., Chapman, J., Pham, J.K., Shengqiang, S., Neupane, R., Cipriano, M.J., Mancuso, J., Tu, H., Salamov, A., Lindquist, E., Shapiro, H., Lucas, S., Grigoriev, I.V., Cande, W.Z., Fulton, C., Rokhsar, D.S., and Dawson, S.C. (2010). The genome of Naegleria gruberi illuminates early eukaryotic versatilty. Cell (in press).
  • Hirst, M. B., Kita, K., and Dawson, S.C. (2011). ImmunoFISH of microbial eukaryotes: combining molecular and morphological information. PLoS One 6(12): e28158
  • House, S.A., Richter, D., Pham, J.K., and Dawson, S.C. (2011). Giardia Flagellar Motility is Not Directly Required to Maintain Attachment to Surfaces. PLoS Pathogens 7:e1002167
  • Hagen, K.D., Hirakawa, M.P., House, S.A., Schwartz, C.L., Pham, J.K., Cipriano, M.J., De La Torre, M.J., Sek, A.C., Du, G., Forsythe, B.M., Dawson, S.C. (2011). Novel structural components of the ventral disc and lateral crest in Giardia intestinalis. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 5(12): e1442