Agouron Postdoctoral Fellow

phone (424) 298 0892

Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
E25-623, 45 Carleton Street
Cambridge, MA 02139




PhD, University of California, Los Angeles (2014)
BSc, University of California, Irvine (2007)

Bio and interests

My research at MIT integrates developmental, genomic, and geological data to study the origin of animal life. I am focusing on the hypothesized “molecular fossil” of sponges (24-isopropylcholestane), which is found in the geological record long before body fossils sponges are known. By combining gene expression studies, comparative genomics, and mass spectrometry, I aim to elucidate when and why 24-isopropylcholesterol synthesis evolved, and whether this is truly a biomarker for the first animals.

Select Publications

  • Gold D.A., Grabenstatter J., de Mendoza A., Riesgo A., Ruiz-Trillo I., and Summons R.E. (2016) Sterol and genomic analyses validate the sponge biomarker hypothesis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 113(10): 2684–2689. DOI Link: 10.1073/pnas.1512614113
  • Gold D.A., Gates R.D., and Jacobs D.K. (2014) The early expansion and evolutionary dynamics of POU class genes. Molecular Biology and Evolution. 31(12):3136-3147. DOI Link: 10.1093/molbev/msu243
  • Ghisalberti M., Gold D.A., Laflamme M., Clapham M.E., Narbonne G., Summons R.E., Johnston D.T., and Jacobs D.K. (2014) Canopy flow analysis reveals the advantage of size in the oldest communities of multicellular eukaryotes. Current Biology. 24(3):305–309. DOI Link: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.12.017
  • Gold D.A., Robinson J., Farrell A.B., Harris J.M., Thalmann O., and Jacobs D.K. (2014) Attempted DNA extraction from a Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi): Prospects for ancient DNA from asphalt deposits. Ecology and Evolution.  4(4):329–336. DOI Link: 10.1002/ece3.928
  • Gold D.A., and Jacobs D.K. (2013) Stem cell dynamics in Cnidaria: are there unifying principles? Development Genes and Evolution. 223(1-2):53-66. DOI Link: 10.1007/s00427-012-0429-1
  • Takashima S., Gold D., and Hartenstein V. (2013) Stem cells and lineages of the intestine: a developmental and evolutionary perspective. Development Genes and Evolution. 223(1-2):85-102. DOI Link : 10.1007/s00427-012-0422-8

Google scholar citations