Oregon State University

Dr. Rebecca Vega Thurber








Dr. Rebecca Vega Thurber

Assistant Professor, Oregon State University

454 Nash Hall, Corvallis OR 97331

Google Scholar



San Diego State NSF BIO Minority Postdoctoral Fellow (advisor Forest Rohwer)

Stanford University; PhD Biological Sciences (advisor David Epel)

UC Santa Cruz; BA Marine Biology & BA Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology






Assistant Professor, Oregon State University

Assistant Professor, Florida International University

Adjunct Faculty, San Diego State University

National Science Foundation Minority Postdoctoral Fellow

EPA NCER STAR Graduate Student Fellow

California Sea Grant Graduate Student Fellow

Alfred P. Sloan Graduate Student Fellow, Stanford University

August 2011 to present

January 2009 to August 2011

January 2006 to December 2008

January 2006 to December 2008

August 2003 to Dec 2005

August 2001 to 2003

September 1999-August 2001




OSU Courses Taught: Bacterial Molecular Genetics (undergraduate), Microbial Diversity (undergraduate and graduate), Microbial Systems (graduate), Great Works in Microbiology (graduate)         

FIU Courses Taught for: Cell Biology (undergraduate), Invertebrate Zoology (undergraduate), Marine Microbiology (undergraduate) 

Faculty & Instructor, Pauley Coral Biology Class, Hawaii Institute Marine Biology June-July 2007



PI NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program Domestic Coral Reef. Evaluations of the mechanisms behind nutrient induced coral disease and bleaching with Deron Burkepile (FIU) recommended for funding July 2014-June 2015 ($79,600)

PI Tartar Fund Measuring how the physical world affects bacterial-bacterial interactions ($5000)

Co-PI NIH 424 R&R and PHS-398 Anti-IL-12p40 Treatment of CVID Enteropathy: Gene Expression/Microbiota with PIs Andriy Morgan (OSU), Natalia Shulzhenko (OSU) and Ivan Fuss (NIH) (my portion $85,800)  

PI NSF OCE Career Life Balance Supplement Award, May 2013-Jan 2014 ($20,104)

Co-PI NOAA Living Marine Resources with Andrew Baker (University Miami) 2012-2014 (my portion $18,706)

PI Oregon Seagrant Program Development Grant 2012-2013 ($10,000) 

Co-PI NSF OCE Grant, Cascading interactions of herbivore loss and nutrient enrichment on coral reef macroalgae, corals, and microbial dynamics, Sept 2011-Sept 2014 (my portion ~$403,000)

Subcontract FIO/BP Grant, Sponge microbiota as sentinels of oil contamination, Oct 2010-Oct 2012, ($120,000) with lead PI Jose Lopez (Nova Southeastern)

PI NSF OCE Grant, Effects of Viruses on Coral Fitness, May 2010-May 2013, ($600,000)

PI NSF BIO/IOS, Starter Grant Viral Induction of Growth Anomalies in Coral, 2009-2010, ($50,000) 

Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Sequence Program: (sequencing for 8 viral metagenomes)  

Minority Postdoctoral Fellowship NSF BIO, Dec 2005-Dec 2008 ($180,000) 

EPA Graduate Student Fellowship, 2003-2005 ($69,000) 

Chancellor Scholarship, University of California, 1994-1998, UCSC ($10,000)

Other small undergraduate and graduate awards and scholarships totaling ($11,300)



H Indexgoogle=16; Citations=1,992

Primary literature:

Zaneveld JR, Vega Thurber R. Hidden State Prediction: a modification of classic ancestral state reconstruction algorithms helps unravel complex symbioses (in review, Frontiers in Microbiology)

Payet JP, McMinds R, Burkepile DE, Vega Thurber R. Viral abundance, activity, and spatiotemporal patterns in relation to microbial and environmental changes in tropical reef waters (in review, Frontiers in Microbiology)

Bourque AS, Vega Thurber R, Fourqurean JW. Microbial community structure and dynamics in restored subtropical seagrass soils (in review, Aquatic Microbial Ecology)

Soffer NS, Zaneveld JR, Vega Thurber R. Phage-bacteria network analysis and its implications for coral disease (in review, Environmental Microbiology/ Environmental Microbiology Reports)

Vega Thurber R, Burkepile DE, Shantz AA, Fuchs C, Zaneveld JR, McMinds R. (2014) Chronic nutrient enrichment causes increased coral disease prevalence and severity. Global Change Biology 20: 544–554

Soffer NS, Correa AS, Brandt M, Smith T, Vega Thurber, R. (2014) Viruses as putative pathogens of white plague coral disease. International Society for Microbial Ecology Journal 8, 271–283

Langille MGI, Zaneveld JR, Caporaso G, McDonald F, Knights D, Reyes JA, Clemente JC, Burkepile DE, Vega Thurber R, Knight R, Beiko RG, Huttenhower C. (2014) Predictive functional profiling of microbial communities using 16S rRNA marker gene sequences. Nature Biotechnology 31 (9) 814-821  

Brandt ME, Smith TB, Correa AMS, Vega Thurber R. (2013) Disturbance driven colony fragmentation as a driver of a coral disease outbreak. PLoS ONE 8(2): e57164 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057164

Correa AS, Welsh RM, Vega Thurber R. (2013) Unique nucleocytoplasmic dsDNA and +ssRNA viruses are associated with the dinoflagellate endosymbionts of corals. International Society for Microbial Ecology Journal. 7(1):13-27 doi: 10.1038/ismej.2012.75.

Vega Thurber R, Burkepile DE, Correa AS, Thurber AR, Shantz AA, Welsh RM, Pritchard C, Rosales, SM (2012) Macroalgae decrease growth and alter microbial community structure of the reef-building coral, Porites astreoides. PLoS ONE 7(9): e44246. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044246

Vega Thurber R, Correa-Simoes A (2011) Viruses of Tropical Stony Corals. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 408:102-113

Rodriguez-Brito B, Li L, Wegley L, Furlan M, Angly F, Breitbart M, Buchanan J, Desnues C, Dinsdale E, Edwards R, Felts B, Haynes M, Liu H, Lipson D, Mahaffy J, Martin-Cuadrado AB, Mira A, Nulton J, Pasić L, Rayhawk S, Rodriguez-Mueller J, Rodriguez-Valera F, Salamon P, Srinagesh S, Thingstad TF, Tran T, Vega Thurber R, Willner D, Youle M, Rohwer F. (2010) Viral and microbial community dynamics in four aquatic environments. International Society for Microbial Ecology Journal 4:739-751

Ainsworth T, Vega Thurber R, Gates R. (2010) The future of coral reefs: a microbial perspective. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 25:223-240

Angly FE, Willner D, Prieto-Davó A, Edwards RA, Schmieder R, Vega Thurber R, Antonopoulos DA, Barott K, Cottrell MT, Desnues C, Dinsdale EA, Furlan M, Haynes M, Henn MR, Hu Y, Kirchman DL, McDole T, McPherson JD, Meyer F, Miller RM, Mundt E, Naviaux RK, Rodriguez-Mueller B, Stevens R, Wegley L, Zhang L, Zhu B, Rohwer F (2009). The GAAS metagenomic tool and its estimations of viral and microbial average genome size in four major biomes. PLoS Computational Biology 5(12): e1000593. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000593

Vega Thurber R. (2009) Current insights into phage biodiversity & biogeography. Current Opinion in Microbiology 12: 582-587

Rohwer F, Vega Thurber R. (2009) Viruses manipulate the marine environment. Nature 459:207-212

Vega Thurber R, Haynes M, Breitbart M, Wegley L, Rohwer F (2009) Experimental methods to generate viral metagenomes. Nature Protocols 4: 470-483 doi:10.1038/nprot.2009.10

Vega Thurber R, Willner-Hall D, Rodriguez-Mueller B, Desnues C, Edwards RA, Angly F, Dinsdale E, Kelly L, Rohwer F (2009) Metagenomic analysis of stressed coral holobionts. Environmental Microbiology 11: 2148–2163

Willner-Hall D, Vega Thurber R, Rohwer, F. (2009) Metagenomic signatures of 86 microbial and viral metagenomes. Environmental Microbiology 11: 1752-1766

Vermeij MJ, Smith JE, Smith CM, Vega Thurber R, Sandin SA. (2009) Survival and settlement success of coral planulae: independent and synergistic effects of macroalgae and microbes. Oecologia 159:325–336

Vega Thurber R, Barott KL, Hall D, Liu H, Rodriguez-Mueller B, Desnues C, Edwards RA, Haynes M, Angly FE, Wegley L, Rohwer FL (2008) Metagenomic analysis indicated that stressors induce production of herpes-like viruses in the coral Porites compressa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 105: 18413-1841

Dinsdale EA, Edwards RA, Hall D, Angly F, Breitbart M, Brulc JM, Furlan M, Desnues C, Haynes M, Li L, McDaniel L, Moran MA, Nelson KE, Nilsson C, Olson R, Paul J, Brito BR, Ruan Y, Swan BK, Stevens R, Valentine DL, Vega Thurber R, Wegley L, White BA, Rohwer F. (2008) Functional metagenomic profiling of nine biomes. Nature 452: 629-632

Dinsdale EA, Pantos O, Smriga S, Edwards RA, Angly F, Wegley L, Hatay M, Hall D, Brown E, Haynes M, Krause L, Sala E, Sandin SA, Vega Thurber R, Willis BL, Azam F, Knowlton N, Rohwer F. (2008) Microbial ecology of four coral atolls in the Northern Line Islands. PLoS ONE 3(2): e1584. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001584

Desnues C, Rodriguez-Brito B, Rayhawk S, Kelley S, Tran T, Haynes M, Liu H, Furlan M, Wegley L, Chau B, Ruan Y, Hall D, Angly FE, Edwards RA, Li L, Vega Thurber R, Reid RP, Siefert J, Souza V, Valentine DL, Swan BK, Breitbart M, Rohwer F. (2008) Biodiversity and biogeography of phages in modern stromatolites and thrombolites. Nature 452:340-343

Vega Thurber R, Epel D. (2007) Apoptosis in early development of the sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. Developmental Biology 303: 336-346

Epel D, Cole B, Hamdoun A, Vega Thurber, R. (2006) The sea urchin embryo as a model for studying efflux transporters: roles and energy cost. Marine Environmental Research 62: S1-D4

Smital T, Luckenbach T, Sauerborn R, Hamdoun AM, Vega RL, Epel D. (2004) Emerging contaminants: pesticides, PPCPs, microbial degradation products and natural substances as inhibitors of the multixenobiotic defense in aquatic organisms. Mutation Research 552: 101-117

Vega RL, Epel D. (2004) Stress-Induced apoptosis in sea urchin embryogenesis. Marine Environmental Research 58: 799-802

Epel D, Vega RL (2002) The floating world: Problems and adaptations to ultraviolet radiation. AAAS Annual Meeting and Science Innovation Exposition 168: p.A23

Book chapter

Vega Thurber R. Methods in Viral Metagenomics. Handbook of Molecular Microbial Ecology II:  Metagenomics in Different Habitats” 2011 Wiley/Blackwell, editor Frans J. de Bruijin

Grey Literature

Couch CS, Barnett, C, Vega Thurber R. Examining the role of environment and vruses in growth anomalies of Porites lobata on the island of Hawai‘i (2012). NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program. PI Drew Harvell #NA09NMF4630121

Biography in Popular Press:

Rebecca Vega Thurber: The coral doctor (2009) The Scientist 23 (8): 50; http://www.the-scientist.com/2009/08/1/50/1/



  • Current  PhD students: Rory Welsh, Stephanie Rosales, and Ryan McMinds
  • Past PhD students: Dr. Nitzan Soffer (now postdoc at Colombia University)
  • Current postdocs: Drs. Jesse Zaneveld and Jerome Payet
  • Past postdocs: Drs. Adrienne Simoes Correa (now faculty at Rice University) Marie Cuvelier (now at Nova Southeastern)
  • Current and past adviser to 9 undergraduate researchers
  • Current and past member of 9 PhD dissertation committees
  • Current and past member of 2 undergraduate honors thesis committees
  • Organizer and founder of public outreach Science Café “Eat, Think and Be Merry
  • Panel speaker for graduates and postdocs at International Symbiosis Society Meeting 
  • Invited faculty and instructor: “Coral Molecular Biology” Annual Pauley Course, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology



  • Reviewer for the following journals: Nature, PNAS, Journal of General Virology, Environmental Microbiology and Microbiology Reports, BioScience, Coral Reefs, Marine Ecology, Marine Ecology Progress Series, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, ISME Journal, BMC Biology, Aquatic Microbiology, Journal of Experimental Biology, Applied Environmental Microbiology, PLoS One, PLoS Biology, JEMBE, Marine Biology, Journal of Phycology 
  • Reviewer for the National Science Foundation and NOAA Sea Grant 
  • NSF panel member 2014 OCE postdoctoral fellowship; 2012 Bio OCE; 2011 Stress Defense and Symbiosis; 2010  Mechanisms of Inheritance  
  • Conference session coordinator  ISME 2014 Viral Ecology Session with Eric Wommack
  • Webmaster (2009) & Secretary (2010-2011) Florida Branch of the American Society of Microbiology



  • NSF Research Coordination Network (RCN) Workshop on Marine Disease. Honolulu, HI, USA, February 2014 (invited)
  • National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis Earth Cube Workshop, Developing a Community Vision of Cyberinfrastructure Needs for Coral Reef Systems Science, Santa Barbara, October 2013 (invited)
  • NSF Research Coordination Network (RCN) Workshop on Marine Disease. Seattle, WA, USA, October 2012 (invited)
  • National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) Workshop on the Evaluation of Coral Reef Conservation. Santa Barbara, CA, USA, September 2012 (invited)
  • Ecology of Marine Infectious Diseases (EMID) Workshop, San Juan, Puerto Rico, USA. February 2011 (invited)
  • Joint Genome Institute (JGI) Microbial Genomics & Metagenomics Workshop. Walnut Creek, CA, USA. June 2009 (workshop attendee)



  • Australian Boating License, QLD, Australia (2011)
  • MOCC Boat Training Certification, FIU (2009)
  • AAUS Certification, San Diego State University, Mark Flahan DSO (2005)
  • Over 300 logged dives in Eastern Australia, the central (Hawaii) and coastal Pacific (California, Mexico), Caribbean, Red Sea
  • R/V Atlantis Cruise 2006 Costa Rica, Jaco Basin Methane Seeps   



  • Deron Burkepile, Florida International University (experimental community ecology & microbiology of tropical reefs)
  • Roman Stocker, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (visualizing how the physical world affects bacterial-bacterial interactions)
  • Victoria Orphan, California Institute of Technology (viruses in methane seeps)
  • Misha Matz, UT Austin, (effects of viral infection on coral larval development)
  • Brian Silliman, Duke University, (microbiology of coral predation)
  • Andrew Baker, University of Miami (effects of nutrients and overfishing on coral associated Symbiodinium diversity)
  • Natalia Shulzhenko and Andriy Morgun, Oregon State University (viral metagenomics of the small intestine of patients with common variable immunodeficiency syndrome) 
  • Marilyn Brandt and Tyler Smith, University of the Virgin Islands (disease ecology of tropical reefs)
  • Drew Harvell, Cornell University (viruses as inducers of growth anomalies in corals)
  • Jose Lopez, Nova Southeastern (sponge microbial metagenomics)
  • David Miller and Tracy Ainsworth, James Cook University (viral metagenomics in the model organism Acropora)

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