Board Members

 Gaelle Batot

Department of Biochemistry, University of Utah

Originally from France, where I did my PhD, I spent two and half years in California for a first Postdoc. Since I was missing the mountains, I moved to Salt Lake City for a second postdoc in the laboratory of Pr. Chris Hill, in the Department of Biochemistry. I am combining biochemical and structural studies to investigate the interaction between RNA polymerase II and a chaperone protein. I was involved in UCI Postdoctoral association, for which I oversaw the communication, and I am excited to be a part of the UPDA to interact with more postdocs!

Sharanya Kalasekar

Junior Chair
Huntsman cancer institute, university of utah

Following undergraduate studies in India, graduate studies in Houston,TX and a short postdoc in Arizona, I moved to the University of Utah’s Huntsman Cancer Institute to investigate the origins of liver cancer and identify therapies for the same. By being an active member of the UPDA, I intend to connect with other postdocs at the U and organize events that foster postdoc interactions and career development. My other interests include hiking, enjoying a good book, and exploring local culture.

Natalia Torres

diversity and inclusion officer, Past Chair

Originally from Argentina, I moved to Salt Lake City in 2006. Since then I have completed my doctorate and now I am doing my postdoctoral work in cardiac physiology. As a member of UPDA I am interested in helping other postdocs to get the most out of Salt Lake City and their time at the University of Utah.

Aneesa Talal Al-Soodani

Social events coordinator
Chemistry Department

I am a post-doc in the Chemistry department working under the supervision of Dr. Bethany Buck-Koehntop. My research focuses on the transcriptional regulation of zinc finger methyl-binding proteins in cancer. Before I moved to Utah last year, I was a graduate student at Washington State University in Pullman, WA where I obtained my Ph.D. in Molecular Biosciences. I joined the UPDA board because I wanted to help organize events and meet new people.

Amelia Hodges

Board Member – communication team
Chemistry Department

After my PhD in Molecular Biosciences from Washington State University, I wanted to learn new techniques and ideas, so I joined the Buck-Koehntop lab in the department of Chemistry as a postdoc.  My goals in joining the UPDA board include learning more about resources available to postdocs, networking with other postdocs and professionals, and helping to organize events and opportunities for postdocs at the U.

Jesica Jacobs

Board Member – communication team
Department of Pathology, Division of Microbiology and Immunology

After completing a bachelor’s degree in Biology in Missouri and an MS and Ph.D. researching immune responses to gastrointestinal parasites in West Virginia, I joined the lab of Brian Evavold at Emory University in Atlanta. When Brian took a position in the Department of Pathology at the University of Utah, I came along with the lab to Salt Lake City. My research is focused on the role of CD8 T cells in the development of cerebral malaria. As a member of the UPDA Board, I am excited to help create a cooperative network of postdocs who can encourage one another both in and out of the lab.

Marta Szulik

Board member, Past Chair

I am from Poland. In 2008 I came to Nashville, TN for a one-year research internship in biochemistry. I loved it so much that after completing the training I joined the PhD program in Chemistry at Vanderbilt University. After graduating, I came to Salt Lake City. Currently, I am a postdoctoral fellow with Sarah Franklin at CVRTI, where I study epigenetic factors that regulate gene expression in the heart during disease progression. I am excited to be a member of the UPDA board, helping to build a supportive community and organize events to enrich academic skills among postdocs to prepare us for future success.

Elizabeth Motunrayo Kolawole

Board Member
Department of pathology

 Originally from the UK, I did my PhD at VCU Richmond Virginia. I began my postdoc at Emory University in Brian Evavold’s lab and moved with him to Salt Lake City last year. My main research projects focus of the role various diets play in infection and autoimmune disease, with a particular focus on T cell biology. As a postdoc at Emory I was part of the Atlanta Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) program.  As a member of UPDA I hope to incorporate what I have learnt from BEST and connect with other postdocs. My interests include tennis, biking, bungee jumping, hiking, and snowboarding.

Noemi Paguigan

Board Member
Department of Medicinal chemistry

I’m a postdoctoral fellow in Eric Schmidt’s lab at the Department of Medicinal Chemistry. I received my PhD from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  My research is focused on the discovery of novel natural products from marine sources for non-opioid-based pain therapy.

Yinshen Wee

Board Member
School of Dentistry

I am a post-doc in the School of Dentistry. My research focuses on developing a novel therapeutic material that can be tailored to carry anti-inflammatory and regenerative properties to treat dental pulp damage. I am glad to be one of the UPDA board members. It is a great experience and a way to meet amazing people. I feel privileged to have had this opportunity to help out with the smallest tasks, which can make a real difference to postdoctoral fellows and the community.

Aaron Simmons

Board Member
Moran Eye Center

I am a postdoctoral fellow in the Hartnett laboratory at the Moran Eye center. My research is focused on discovering mechanisms of neural and vascular dysgenesis in retinopathy of prematurity, a leading cause of visual impairment and blindness in children worldwide. I received my PhD at the University of Idaho in Microbiology, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry where I performed research in developmental neuroscience. My goal as a UPDA board member is to help fellow postdocs by organizing events that provide opportunities for them to grow professionally and personally.

Fatima Abbas

Board Member–Communication Team
Department of Opthamology

I’m a London native, completed both an MSc and PhD at King’s College London before I moved to the US to do a one year Postdoc in Neurobiology at Yale. I moved on to a Postdoc here at the Department of Ophthalmology in the lab of Frans Vinberg. I get to combine my experience of calcium imaging with my interest in the visual system, using it to look at calcium in RPE cells, as well as learning to do electrophysiology. During my time at King’s College I was heavily involved in the student union, helping to form a positive community, and I’m excited to bring that enthusiasm to the UPDA! Outside of office hours you can usually find me on twitter managing the @utahpostdocs account, moderating for @RealScientists, as well as out on training runs!

Esther Chun-Pin Chang

Board Member
Department of Family and Preventative Medicine

I am a postdoc in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine and Huntsman Cancer Institute. My research focuses on cancer survivorship and reproductive epidemiology. Before I moved to Salt Lake City in 2018, I was a graduate student at UCLA where I received my PHD in epidemiology. My goals in joining the UPDA board are learning how to organize successful events, supporting the postdoc community, and working with smart, busy and efficient people in the board.

Tosifa Memon

Board Member
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology

I am a postdoc in Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Utah. My research focuses on natural product discovery and molecular pharmacology of transient receptor potential (TRP) ion channels, and roles of these channels in regulating the pro-inflammatory effects of inhaled irritants. I received my PhD in Biology from University of Utah. My long term goal is to discover and develop affordable therapeutics.

List of Past Board Members