Walter W. Cho, Ph.D.

Professor of Biology

Dr. Walter Cho joined PLNU in 2012. He is a marine biologist and teaches numerous courses, including the introductory course on Ecology and Evolution, a foundational exploration course focused on Human Biology and Bioethics, a graduate seminar course, and multiple upper division marine science courses. His research focuses on the study of the biodiversity, biogeography, and population connectivity of marine fauna; Setting Out Into the Deep article. Cho is particularly interested in the invertebrate associates of deep-sea corals and uses a variety of molecular and ecological tools to study the ecology of these communities

Summer Research

PLNU Viewpoint, "Studying the Sea"
PLNU Viewpoint, "Deep Understanding"


  • Ph.D., Biological Oceanography, Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program
  • B.A., Biology, Harvard University

Courses Taught

  • Human Biology and Bioethics – BIO 1001
  • Ecological and Evolutionary Systems – BIO 2011
  • Introduction to Oceanography – BIO 3023
  • Marine Biology – BIO 3033
  • Experimental Marine Ecology – BIO 4073
  • Marine Biology – BIO 6067 (Grad Course)
  • Perspectives on Science – BIO 6092 (Grad Course)

Experience in Field

  • Graduate work, MIT-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program, 2002–2008 (biodiversity and biogeography of invertebrate seamount communities)
  • Postdoctoral Investigator, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2009–2013
  • Assistant Professor of Biology, Gordon College, 2011–12

Professional and Community Involvement

  • Mentoring PLNU student researchers, 2013 – present
  • External manuscript reviewer for numerous scientific journals, 2013 – present
  • Member of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, 2010 – present

Awards and Honors

  • WHOI Ocean Life Institute Student Fellowship
  • WHOI Research Fellowship
  • 2011 Excellence in Partnering Award with the LOPHELIA II Project

Dissertations, Presentations, and Publications

  • Mills, S., Leduc, D., Drazen, J. C., Yancey, P., Jamieson, A. J., Clark, M. R., Rowden, A. A., Mayor, D. J., Piertney, S., Heyl, T., Bartlett, D., Bourque, J., Cho, W., Demopoulos, A., Fryer, P., Gerringer, M., Grammatopoulou, E., Herrera, S., Ichino, M., Lecroq, B., Linley, T. D., Meyer, K., Nunnally, C., Ruhl, H., Wallace, G., Young, C. and Shank, T. M. (2016). 10,000 M Under the Sea: An Overview of the HADES Expedition to Kermadec Trench. In B. Golder and A. Connell (eds.) Proceedings of Kermadec – Discoveries and Connections. Paper presented at Kermadec – Discoveries and Connections, Wellington, New Zealand (pp. 36–38). The Pew Charitable Trusts.
  • Pineda, J., Cho, W., Starczak, V., Govindarajan, A. F., Guzman, H. M., Girdhar, Y., Holleman, R. C., Churchill, J., Singh, H., and Ralston, D. K. (2016). A Crab Swarm at an Ecological Hotspot: Patchiness and Population Density from AUV Observations at a Coastal, Tropical Seamount. PeerJ. 4: e1770.
  • Girdhar, Y., Cho, W., Campbell, M., Pineda, J., Clarke, E., and Singh, H. (2016). Anomaly Detection in Unstructured Environments Using Bayesian Nonparametric Scene Modeling. 2016 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Stockholm (pp. 2651-2656).
  • Koreitem, K., Girdhar, Y., Cho, W., Singh, H., Pineda, J., and Dudek, G. (2016). Subsea Fauna Enumeration Using Vision-Based Marine Robots. Conference on Computer and Robot Vision (CRV). 
  • Morrison, C. L., Baco, A. R., Nizinski,  M. S., Coykendall, D. K., Demopoulos, A. W. J., Cho, W., and Shank, T. (2015). Population Connectivity of Deep-Sea Corals. In Hourigan TF, Etnoyer PJ, Cairns SD, Tsao C-F (eds.) The State of Deep-Sea Coral and Sponge Ecosystems of the United States: 2015. NOAA Technical Memorandum X. NOAA, Silver Spring, (p 12-1 and 12-30).
  • Thresher, R., Althaus, F., Adkins, J., Gowlett-Holmes, K., Alderslade, P., Dowdney, J., Cho, W., Gagnon, A., Staples, D., McEnnulty, F., and Williams, A. (2014). Strong Depth-Related Zonation of Megabenthos on a Rocky Continental Margin (∼700–4000 m) Off Southern Tasmania, Australia. PLoS ONE 9(1): e85872. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0085872.
  • White, H.K., Hsing, P., Cho, W., Shank, T. M., Cordes, E. E., Quattrini, A. M., Nelson, R. K., Camilli, R., Demopoulos, A., German, C. R., Brooks, J. M., Roberts, H. H., Shedd, W., Reddy, C. M., and Fisher, C. R. (2012). Multiple Lines of Evidence Link Deepwater Coral Damage to Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 109:(40): E2648.
  • White, H.K., Hsing, P., Cho, W., Shank, T. M., Cordes, E. E., Quattrini, A. M., Nelson, R. K., Camilli, R., Demopoulos, A., German, C. R., Brooks, J. M., Roberts, H. H., Shedd, W., Reddy, C. M., and Fisher, C. R. (2012). Impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on a Deep-Water Coral Community in the Gulf of Mexico. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 109 (50): 20303-20308.
  • Shank, T. M., Herrera, S., Cho, W., Roman, C. N., and Bell, K. L. C. (2011). Exploration of the Anaximander Mud Volcanoes. Oceanography. 24(1), supplement: 22-23.
  • Cho, W. and Shank, T. M. (2010). Incongruent Patterns of Genetic Connectivity Among Four Ophiuroid Species with Differing Coral Host Specificity on North Atlantic Seamounts. Marine Ecology. 31(s1): 121–143.