Board Members

Marta Szulik, PhD

Senior Chair
CARDIOVASCULAR RESEARCH AND TRAINING INSTITUTE (CVRTI)

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.

Chris Tracy, PhD

Web Master
CARDIOVASCULAR RESEARCH AND TRAINING INSTITUTE (CVRTI)

Bio: I am a postdoctoral fellow at CVRTI, studying heart disease and the epigenetic and cellular processes that cause the cell to revert to a fetal state and induce growth of the heart during disease. My research focuses on the methyltransferase Smyd1 and determining the mechanisms by which it influences disease. I enjoy being a UPDA member so I can help our community of postdocs be successful in their career path.

Suvendu Biswas

Web Design
College of Pharmacy, University of Utah

I am a postdoctoral research fellow at the College of Pharmacy. Being an avid learner a new technology and an UPDA member my role is to manage, design and maintain the UPDA website. I helped to redesign the old website to the current form and will continuously contribute to making a better user-friendly site. As a side note, having a background in chemical sciences with a strong interest in technology and management I use my skills to find solutions to a complex problem. As a researcher, I learned to face proactively challenges, and solved them and communicated complex ideas effectively in a range of formats to a variety of audiences. As a team player, I wish the UPDA site will become a great resource for any postdoc at the University of Utah.

Erin Young

Communications Officer
Hunstman Cancer Institute, University of Utah

Erin is a postdoctoral fellow at the Huntsman Cancer Institute and has been working under the mentorship of Dr. Joshua Schiffman since October 2016. Erin’s research interests revolve around heritable cancer predisposition. Her current projects focus on the identification of causative mutations in specific families with abnormal amounts of cancer, and cohorts of childhood cancers.

 Gaelle Batot

Secretary
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 Dr. 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 join the UPDA to interact with more postdocs!

Seema Bhatlekar

Social Events Coordinator
Molecular Medicine, University of Utah

I came to the United States in 2008 for a dual degree program at the University of Delaware, which inlcuded a PhD in colon cancer and an MBA. As a PhD graduate student, I worked at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center and Research Institute. After completing my graduate degrees, I started working as a postdoctoral fellow at the Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. Currently, I am working in the molecular medicine department at the Eccles Institute of Human Genetics.  My research interests are in the field of hematology and oncology. In the past, I have enjoyed several roles in different committees such as the Indian Graduate Student Association at University of Delaware, as well as in the Jefferson Postdoctoral Association. I am very excited to work as a social coordinator for the Utah Postdoctoral Association. I will work towards bringing all postdoctoral fellows together and build a strong network that will navigate us to be successful in a chosen career path.

Natalia Torres, PhD

Board member & Past Chair, New Member Coordinator
CARDIOVASCULAR RESEARCH AND TRAINING INSTITUTE (CVRTI)

Bio: 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.

 

Jennifer Nichols, PhD

Board Member & Past Chair
Department of Orthopaedics

Interests: I am interested in developing a postdoctoral community that equally serves scholars from all academic disciplines. I will facilitate communication and collaboration across the University in order to provide postdoctoral scholars with the opportunity to attend a wide variety of professional development and social events.
Bio: In 2004, I earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at Tufts University. For graduate school, I joined the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Northwestern University. I earned a M.S. in 2011 and a Ph.D. in 2014 under the direction of Dr. Wendy Murray in the Applied Research in Musculoskeletal Simulations (ARMS) Laboratory. While at Northwestern, I concurrently completed a M.A. in Medical Humanities and Bioethics. I was also active in outreach, serving as a mentor for Science Club, an NIH-funded program that provided weekly science education to economically disadvantaged middle school students. In August 2014, I joined Dr. Andrew Anderson’s laboratory at the University of Utah. My research interests include the analysis of human movement, musculoskeletal model development, predictive computer simulations for orthopaedic surgery, imaging techniques to analyze joint and muscle mechanics, and research ethics. I am also interested in enhancing the experiences of women and minorities in STEM.

Lars Laurentius, PhD

Board member & Former Secretary
The Nano Institute of Utah

Bio: I am a postdoctoral fellow at the Nano Institute working in a multidisciplinary research group ranging from analytical chemistry to engineering. My research interests span the fields from surface chemistry to biosensing, and currently I am working on a detection scheme for tuberculosis. I was born in Germany and later moved to Edmonton, Canada where I received my doctorate in chemistry from the University of Alberta. I moved to Salt Lake City in 2013 to start my postdoctoral training. Being a UPDA member provides me the opportunity to share my postdoctoral experiences thus far and, at the same time, learn more about our chosen career path through networking.

Daniel Mendoza, PhD

Board Member & Former Communications Officer
Department of Atmospheric Sciences

Bio: Daniel is a postdoctoral fellow in the ITCE – Inter-University Training for Continental-scale Ecology (ITCE) program working with John Lin in the Atmospheric Sciences department. Daniel’s research interests include quantifying and characterizing urban greenhouse gas and criteria pollutant emissions for use in human exposure estimation. Daniel also examines health effects of acute pollutant exposure, particularly in vulnerable populations.

Heather Clifton

Board Member
Utah Vascular Research Laboratory, University of Utah, Division of Geriatrics
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

My research background is in the area of how nutraceutical supplementation impacts vascular function and blood flow regulation. Currently, my research focus is on chronic diseases that have a vascular dysfunction component, and assessing how treatment options such as exercise, nutritional supplementation, and pharmaceutical interventions can influence blood vessel function and affect the severity and progression of these diseases.

Indranil Basak

Board Member
Molecular Medicine, University of Utah

I am a postdoctoral fellow in the Molecular Medicine Program working with Dr. Paul F. Bray. My primary project involve studying the role of microRNAs in Megakaryocytes and platelets development and function. I am originally from India where I completed an undergraduate degree in Pharmacy in 2007 after which I worked as a Pharmaceutical Chemist for a year. My undergraduate and a short working experience was followed by an MSc in Pharmacology from Glasgow, UK in 2009. Thereafter, I worked as a Staff Scientist at Sistemic Ltd, a Scottish biotech company based in Glasgow, UK. I moved to New York in 2011 for pursuing PhD in Biology from St. John’s University. I graduated in 2016 and started working with Dr. Bray at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia. In Fall 2016, Dr. Bray moved his lab to Utah and I continued to pursue my goals with his guidance at the University of Utah. Being a member of the UPDA is a pleasure as I get the opportunity to interact with my fellow postdocs to learn more from them and also offer a helping hand from my past experience wherever I can.

Malini Rajan

Board Member
Molecular Medicine, University of Utah

I am from India, I completed my PhD in Germany and currently I am doing my Postdoctoral research  with Elizabeth Leibold in iron metabolism. As a UPDA member, I am interested in networking,  learning and sharing ideas on opportunities that will help the postdoctoral community to step up the career ladder.

Emilio Cortes Sanchez

Board Member
Medicinal Chemistry, University of Utah

I am a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Utah, College of Pharmacy. My research involves genetic engineering of bacteria and fungi in order to obtain novel therapeutic drugs. I moved to Utah in 2016 from Scotland, where I did my PhD in Synthetic Biology. Before that I graduated in Chemical Engineering and completed two M.Sc in Spain, my home country. The members of the UPDA were really helpful when I first moved here and thus I thought that becoming part of it would allow me to give support to other people too. I am eager to help other postdocs enjoy their time here, as well as to develop their professional path.

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