Walter W. Cho, Ph.D.

Associate 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 general education 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. 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


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

Courses Taught

  • Ecological and Evolutionary Systems – BIO 211
  • Human Biology and Bioethics – BIO 101
  • Introduction to Oceanography – BIO 323
  • Marine Biology – BIO 333
  • Experimental Marine Ecology – BIO 473
  • Perspectives on Science – BIO 692
  • Marine Biology – BIO 667

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.