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CURRENT FELLOWS


Jessica Cassin, PhD

Jessica Cassin, PhD

Jessica Cassin, PhD
Laboratory of Dr. Pam Mellon
Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, & Reproductive Sciences

PhD John Hopkins University
BS University of Louisville

My project involves the in vitro validation of candidate genes identified from whole exome sequencing of isolated GnRH deficiency (IGD) patients. IGD is a disorder hallmarked by low levels of the gonadotropin hormones, LH and FSH, which prevents puberty and leads to infertility and bone loss. This validation approach allows us to uncover new genes and pathways which not only affects IGD disease development and progression but also offers new insights into the larger reproductive axis.

Monica Gonzalez Ramirez, PhD

Monica Gonzalez Ramirez, PhD

Monica Gonzalez Ramirez, PhD
Laboratory of Dr. JoAnn Trejo
Department of Pharmacology

PhD Sanford Burnham Prebys Graduate School of Biomedical Science
MS California State University, Fresno
BS California State University, Dominguez Hills

My research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms of understudied protein kinase C theta (PKCθ).

Jorge Jimenez, PhD

Jorge Jimenez, PhD

Jorge Jimenez, PhD
Laboratory of Dr. Neal Deveraj
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

PhD University of California, Santa Cruz
BS San Diego State University

My research is focused on the design and synthesis of fluorescent fatty acids to study the synthesis and function of phospholipids present in the cytoplasmic membranes of bacteria. This will allow the development of compounds able to eradicate pathogenic bacteria often difficult to treat with conventional antimicrobials.

Brenda Andrade, PhD

Brenda Andrade, PhD

Brenda Andrade, PhD
Laboratory of Dr. Micheal Gilson
Department of Pharmacy

PhD University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
BS California State University, Los Angeles

My research focuses on the interface of supramolecular molecular chemistry and computer-aided drug design.

Danielle Schmitt, PhD

Danielle Schmitt, PhD

UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow

Danielle Schmitt, PhD
Laboratory of Dr. Jin Zhang
Department of Pharmacology

PhD University of Maryland Baltimore County
BS Ball State University

In the Zhang Lab, I design and apply genetically encoded fluorescent protein-based biosensors for AMP activated protein kinase (AMPK) to study compartmentalized signaling in the cell.

Jinae Roa, PhD

Jinae Roa, PhD

Jinae Roa, PhD
Laboratory of Dr. Susan Taylor
Department of Pharmacology

PhD Scripps Institute of Oceanography
BS University of California, Santa Barbara

My research focuses on high resolution mosaic imaging of the PKA isoforms in cells and tissues.

 

John Tat, PhD

John Tat, PhD

John Tat, PhD
Laboratory of Dr. Gerry Boss
Department of Medicine

PhD The Scripps Research Institute
BS University of California, San Diego

I am a translational scientist with broad interests in investigating the molecular basis of oncogenesis and poisoning, as well as developing cancer and poisoning treatment strategies.

 

Justin Shaffer, PhD

Justin Shaffer, PhD

Justin Shaffer, PhD
Laboratory of Dr. Rob Knight
Department of Pediatrics

PhD University of Arizona
BS University of California, Santa Cruz

My research is focused on elucidating how dynamics in microbial communities contribute to emergent ecosystem function or host fitness. Although I am involved in several ongoing projects, including the Earth Microbiome Project, a major goal of mine is to develop novel molecular methods to elucidate spatial interactions among taxa in complex and diverse microbial communities. I am also involved in science education, and seek to improve education in biology through fostering inclusive environments, and by using evidence-based methods.

Spencer Gang, PhD

Spencer Gang, PhD

Spencer Gang, PhD
Laboratory of Dr. Emily Troemel
Division of Biological Sciences

PhD University of California, Los Angeles
BS Santa Clara University

Understanding how the nematode host C. elegans responds to intracellular pathogens such as fungal-like Microsporidia or Orsay virus. By using C. elegans as a model to investigate how organisms cope with intracellular infection we will define novel pathways for defense, which may be conserved in other metazoans.

Michael Williams, PhD

Michael Williams, PhD

Michael Williams, PhD
Laboratory of Dr. Richard Gallo
Department of Dermatology

PhD University of California, San Diego
BS University of California, San Diego

My research work focuses on how the skin microbiome communicates with the skin barrier.

 

Catherine Lipovsky, PhD

Catherine Lipovsky, PhD

Catherine Lipovsky, PhD
Laboratories of Dr. Deborah Yelon and Dr. Neil Chi
Division of Biological Sciences & Department of Medicine

PhD Washington University in St. Louis
BS Bradley University

My project aims to investigate the intricate signaling network that controls pacemaker cell specification in the zebrafish heart. By understanding the spatio-temporal patterning and interplay of Hedgehog, Bmp, and Wnt signaling pathways during cardiac development, I hope to shed light on the etiology of congenital heart diseases that affect cardiac conduction.

Rachel Diner, PhD

Rachel Diner, PhD

Rachel Diner, PhD
Laboratory of Dr. Jack Gilbert
Scripps Institution of Oceanography

PhD UC San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
BS University of Georgia

Pathogens, toxins and pollutants in coastal environments threaten human health and impair sustainable seafood sources. I aim to better understand and ultimately reduce these risks by examining the complex interplay between coastal microbes, their hosts, and the environment. Specifically, my current research investigates how coastal shellfish accumulate human pathogens and toxins, and how shellfish-associated microbes can be used to degrade toxic pollutants in coastal environments.

 

Elizabeth T. Montaño, PhD

Elizabeth T. Montaño, PhD

Elizabeth T. Montaño, PhD
Laboratory of Dr. Victor Nizet
Department of Pediatrics

PhD University of California, San Diego
BS University of New Mexico

The exponential increase in resistance among highly virulent pathogenic bacteria to conventional pharmaceutical antibiotics poses an imminent threat to global health, requiring immediate action. My research aims to discover potentially translatable anti-infective targets that act by re-sensitizing pathogens to host innate immune clearance. I am particularly interested in pathogen re-sensitization by (1) pharmaceutical antibiotics that have no direct killing effect on the pathogen but instead synergize with innate immune factors and (2) the inhibition of pathogen-specific virulence factors that promote immune resistance.

Carlos Gonzalez, PhD

Carlos Gonzalez, PhD

Carlos Gonzalez, PhD
Laboratories of Dr. Rob Knight & Dr. David Gonzalez
Departments of Pediatrics & Pharmacology

PhD Stanford University
BS California State University, San Marcos

My work focuses on understanding host- gut microbiome interactions in both health and disease including IBD and neurological conditions.

Hugo Medina-Munoz, PhD

Hugo Medina-Munoz, PhD

Hugo Medina-Munoz, PhD
Laboratory of Dr. Gene Yeo
Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine

PhD University of Wisconsin-Madison
BS California State University-Northridge

Regulatory proteins bind mRNAs to control their localization, translation, and decay. I study how these interactions regulate gene expression and how their interruption causes disease. To this end, I am developing new techniques to study transcriptome-wide protein-RNA interactions in single-cells.

Richard Sánchez, PhD

Richard Sánchez, PhD

Richard Sanchez, PhD
Laboratory of Dr. Gulcin Pekkurnaz
Division of Biological Sciences

PhD University of Alabama at Birmingham
BS University of California, Santa Barbara 

My research focuses on cellular metabolism and mitochondrial dynamics and function. By understanding how the mitochondria is regulated in response to cellular energetic demands my research will produce important insights into the biochemical pathways that become aberrant in aging, cancer, metabolic disorders, and neurodegeneration. 

Arnold Gutierrez, PhD

Arnold Gutierrez, PhD

UC San Diego Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellow

Arnold Gutierrez, PhD
Laboratory of Dr. Michael Taffe
Department of Psychiatry

PhD University of Cincinnati 
BA California State University, San Bernardino 

My research examines the behavioral effects of drug inhalation in pre-clinical models. A major focus of this work is on the long-term effects of repeated opioid vapor inhalation during adolescence. The aim of this work is to better understand how route of administration and age of drug exposure contribute to changes that influence drug-taking behavior later in life.

 

Sonjiala Hotchkiss, PhD

Sonjiala Hotchkiss, PhD

Sonjiala Hotchkiss, PhD
Laboratory of Dr. Alexandra Newton
Department of Pharmacology

PhD University of California, San Diego 
BA University of New Orleans

My research determines how the domains of PHLPP phosphatase interact with each other, how these interactions are affected by phosphorylation, and how phosphorylation impacts the nuclear function of PHLPP. PHLPP modulates the activity of many kinases that are active in immune response and cell survival and it also can travel to the nucleus where it modulates transcription of most notably receptor tyrosine kinases. A better understanding of PHLPP will contribute to the development of strategies to fight a host of diseases, including cancer.

Gabriel Castro-Falcón, PhD

Gabriel Castro-Falcón, PhD

Gabriel Castro-Falcón, PhD
Laboratory of Dr. Paul Jensen
Scripps Institution of Oceanography

PhD University of California, San Diego 
BS University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras

My research focus is on the discovery and characterization of medicinal compounds made by marine organisms, such as bacteria and marine invertebrates. In the interphase between chemistry, molecular biology, ecology and pharmacology, my goal is to improve our ability to treat human ailments such as cancer and infectious diseases.

Ilva Cabrera, PhD

Ilva Cabrera, PhD

Ilva Cabrera, PhD
Laboratory of Dr. Amy Kiger
Division of Biological Sciences

PhD University of California, Riverside 
BS California State University, Long Beach

My research is focused on understanding the cellular mechanisms that organize the T-tubule membrane network in Drosophila melanogaster. I am addressing specific membrane trafficking roles for T-tubule dynamics during muscle remodeling. Understanding the T-tubule organization in muscle will help identify key regulators, with the hope of providing future insight of myopathy disease treatment.

Hannah Baughman, PhD

Hannah Baughman, PhD

Hannah Baughman, PhD
Laboratory of Dr. Elizabeth Komives
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

PhD University of California, San Diego 
BS Cornell University

I am interested in protein dynamics and the roles of intrinsically disordered regions in protein function. My project investigates the the intrinsically disordered transcription activation domain of the protein NF-kappaB, which is implicated in cancer and autoimmune disorders.