Board Members

Harriet Dashnow

SENIOR CHAIR
Department of Human Genetics

Harriet is a bioinformatics postdoc in Aaron Quinlan’s Lab in Human Genetics where she develops computational methods to help diagnose and study human disease. She completed her studies at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and University of Melbourne in Australia. She is best known for computational methods to detect short tandem repeat expansions. http://harrietdashnow.com/ 

Elizabeth (Betsy) Charron

JUNIOR CO-CHAIR
Division of Epidemiology

Betsy is an addiction health services researcher and postdoctoral fellow in the Program for Addiction Research, Clinical Care, Knowledge, and Advocacy (PARCKA) in the Division of Epidemiology. Her research is focused on improving health and healthcare delivery for individuals who use alcohol and drugs, with particular emphasis on women and their families. Betsy joined UPDA to help promote and support postdoc engagement at the university.

Elizabeth (Liz) Sefton

JUNIOR CO-CHAIR
Department of Human Genetics

Liz is a postdoctoral fellow in Gabrielle Kardon’s lab at the Human Genetics Department. She studies musculoskeletal development and evolution. She completed her PhD at Harvard University, where she studied craniofacial development in salamanders. She joined the UPDA board to support professional development and help foster a community for postdocs.

Olja Simoska

SECRETARY/TREASURER
Department of Chemistry

Olia is the ACS Irving S. Sigal Postdoctoral Fellow in Shelley Minteer’s Lab in the Chemistry Department, working on improving extracellular electron transfer and performance of microbial fuel cells. She moved to Salt Lake City at the beginning of 2020 after receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2019, working with Prof. Keith J. Stevenson. She is excited to be a member of the UPDA board, helping build a supportive postdoc community to address common issues, facilitating the development of skills for future careers of postdocs, and planning events to enrich the overall postdoc experience at the University of Utah.

Kristen Davenport

BOARD MEMBER, PAST CHAIR
Department of Biochemistry, Department of Human Genetics

Kristen D. is a postdoctoral research associate in the Departments of Biochemistry and Human Genetics, working with Wes Sundquist and Nels Elde to study the feasibility of inhibiting the ESCRT pathway to restrict virus buddying and retrotransposons. She completed the combined DVM/PhD program at Colorado State University, where she studied prion diseases in animals and humans. She joined the UPDA Board to help create programming that benefits busy postdocs and to help build a community. 

Sharanya Kalasekar

BOARD MEMBER, PAST CHAIR
Hunstman Cancer Intitute

Following undergraduate studies in India, graduate studies in Houston, TX and a short postdoc in Arizona, Sharanya 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 memver of the UPDA, she intends to connect with other postdocs at the U and help organizing events that fost postdoc interactions and career development. Her other interests include hiking, enjoying a good book, and exploring local culture. 

Kenneth Lyon

BOARD MEMBER
Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy

Kenneth is a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy. He works in Professor Jason Shepherd’s lab focusing on the real-time translation and mRNA dynamics of genes involved in memory. He completed his PhD at the Colorado State University studying live-cell single mRNA translational and programmed ribosomal frameshifting dynamics. He joined the UPDA Board to be more involved in events that will help connect postdocs and facilitate skill development for their future careers.

Shraddha Nayak

BOARD MEMBER
Department of Biochemistry

Shraddha is a postdoctoral fellow in the Deptartment of Biochemistry being mentored by Janet Iwasa. She is working her way to be an expert in molecular animation and in visualizing scientific research.  Prior to this position, she freelanced as a Biomedical Illustrator based in India.  The idea to move towards this exciting direction occurred to her as she was defending her doctoral thesis in Pharmacology and Toxicology at the Medical College of Wisconsin. When she moved to the U, she noticed the UPDA is very active and conducts a lot of activities for personal and professional growth of postdocs.  She joined the board in May 2019 to support just that. She also finds the outdoorsy characteristic of SLC very attractive.

Noemi Paguigan

BOARD MEMBER
Department of Medicinal Chemistry

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

Mai Tran

BOARD MEMBER
Department of Biology & Department of Human Genetics

Mai is a postdoc co-advised by Nels Elde (Department of Human Genetics) and Jamie Gagnon (Department of Biology). Mai is building on her EvoDevo training to investigate questions in host-pathogen interactions in zebrafish using a combination of lineage labeling and single-cell sequencing technologies. Mai joins the UPDA in support of postdocs’ personal and professional growth.

Amy Barrios

ASSOCIATE DEAN FOR POSTDOCTORAL AFFAIRS
University of Utah Graduate School
Professor of Medicinal Chemistry
University of Utah College of Pharmacy

Prof. Barrios earned her PhD in Inorganic  Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and she served as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of San Francisco. She joined the University of Utah in 2007 from a previous faculty appointment at the University of Southern California. Dr. Barrios maintains an active NIH-funded research program centered upon the development of novel chemical probes to elucidate the efficacy of new pharmaceutical approaches to the treatment of cancer and other human diseases. Prof. Barrios was awarded the University of Utah Presidential Scholar Award in 2016 and served as the Co-Director of the Medical School’s Women in Health, Medicine, and Science Program from 2015 to 2019. At University commencement in May 2019, Prof. Barrios received the University of Utah Distinguished Graduate and Postdoctoral Mentor award in recognition of her outstanding contributions to graduate and postdoctoral education.

Working Committees

Advocacy Committee

Rebecca Delaney, School of Medicine (Chair)
Harriet Dashnow, Department of Human Genetics
Amy Barrios, Office of Postdoctoral Affairs

Social Committee

Kenneth Lyon, Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy (Chair)
Sharanya Kalasekar, Huntsman Cancer Institute
Liz Sefton, Department of Human Genetics
Shraddha Nayak, Department of Biochemistry

Outreach Committee

Kenneth Lyon, Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy (Chair)
Kristen Davenport, Department of Biochemistry and Department of Human Genetics

Communication Team

Mai Train, Department of Biology and Department of Human Genetics (Co-chair)
Olja Simoska, Department of Chemistry (Co-chair)
Betsy Charron, Division of Epidemiology (Co-chair)

Professional Development Events Committee

Betsy Charron, Division of Epidemiology (Chair)
Liz Sefton, Department of Human Genetics
Kristen Davenport, Department of Biochemistry and Department of Human Genetics
Harriet Dashnow, Department of Human Genetics
Mai Train, Department of Biology and Department of Human Genetics

List of Past Board Members