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SACNAS Officers Jan 2024 p2

Health Sciences

Deirdre Mack

Deirdre Mack


Growing up, children incessantly ask, “why?”. Instead of growing up, Deirdre decided to pursue a career where no one ever gets tired of that question. Her science journey began at Idaho State University, where she earned her B.S. in Biochemistry, and continues here at the University of Utah where she pursues her Ph.D. in Biochemistry with the Shen lab. In the Shen lab she uses cryo-EM to understand how Cdc48, a critical component of protein homeostasis, is regulated by its binding partner Otu1. When she hangs up the lab coat for the day she can also be found drawing, cooking, reading, or craving her grandma’s Navajo tacos.

Shen Lab, Department of Biochemistry

Headtlove Essel Dadzie

Headtlove Essel Dadzie


I was born and raised in Ghana, West Africa and moved to the United States, 2017 to pursue higher education at William Paterson University, New Jersey, following my graduation from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. In 2020, I joined the Bioscience Ph.D. program and recently transitioned into the Oncological Science department - specifically Snyder's Lab. Outside of the lab, I like to crack dry jokes, talk with friends, bake, watch movies, listen to music, and occasionally hike (a new hobby). SACNAS is a great community and I look forward to serving the community in whatever way possible.

Snyder lab, Huntsman Cancer Institute

Jesse Velasco

Jesse Velasco

National Liaison

Jesse is originally from Mexico, he earned his B.S. degree in biology at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in 2018. He jointed Ducker Lab and currently studies amino acid metabolism by performing mass spectrometry and CRISPR/Cas9 genetic engineering to understand the fundamental metabolic processes underlying the cellular disease physiology that lead to cancer and diabetes. Outside lab, Jesse loves to travel around the world and get out of his comfort zone. In Utah, he enjoys the outdoors: going hiking, biking, running, and chasing those amazing sunsets to photograph.

Ducker Lab, Department of Biochemistry

Paola received her B.S. in Microbiology from Universidad Ana G. Mendéz (UAGM), Carolina Campus where she was a Pfizer honor scholar in 2021. In 2019, she took part in a research fellowship with the University of Utah Department of Infectious Disease in Dr. Anne Blaschke’s lab studying complicated pneumonia in children. In 2020, she received a fellowship to work with Dr. Juan Gonzalez at UAGM studying nanoparticle properties to develop more efficient peacemakers. Now in Dr. Leung’s lab she will work in global health directed cholera prediction modeling, as well as potentially in aspects of gut immunology. In her spare time, she enjoys being in the outdoors, open water diving, cooking and spending time with her mother.

Leung Lab, Division of Infectious Diseases

Taylor Stevens

Taylor Stevens

Social Media

Taylor was born and raised in Southern Virginia and grew up playing basketball year-round ever since she was 8 years old. After getting a full ride to Queens University of Charlotte to play basketball at the division II level, she received her bachelors of science in chemistry. Although Taylor is a native east coaster, it was never her vibe. Her mother was born and raised in the PNW as a Nez Perce/ Oglala Lakota Sioux woman and has influenced Taylor to experience and appreciate the western side of the US. Taylor loves to visit her family in the PNW and laugh, tell stories, go boating, and spend quality time with her extended family. She moved to Salt Lake City in June of 2022, after being a part of the NARI program in the summer of 2021 that made her realize how much she enjoys research and Utah (very surprising to her family and friends). Taylor is the black sheep of both sides of her family being vegetarian, a scientist, and recently getting into mountain biking / rock climbing (always getting injured but enthusiastic for the next time). She is currently applying to PhD programs interested in ethnobotany, TEK, and Indigenous Knowledge.

Roh-Johnson Lab, Department of Biochemistry

Main Campus

Faculty Advisors

Jeannette Signala

Jeanette Ducut-Sigala

Program Manager, Biomedical Training Programs

Jeanette Ducut-Sigala, Ph.D., is a multifaceted biomedical research scientist & mentor, leading catalytic initiatives advancing Research Excellence Opportunities/Academic Culture & Communities, enhancing Graduate Student Recruitment and Retention reflective of our broad talent pool, supporting Professional Development Initiatives & Grant Mechanisms through the Biomedical Research Education Office (BREO), SVPHS Research Unit. She earned her B.S. in Molecular Biology from California State University - Northridge, PhD in Biological Sciences from the University of California - San Diego, and was a Howard Hughes Research Post-Doctoral Fellow in Developmental Biology at Stanford University. 

Currently, she co-leads the NIH T32 Training Program, Initiative for Maximizing Student Development at the U of U (IMSD@U2), is co-Advisor for the vibrant SACNAS Chapter at the University of Utah, and consultant to numerous academic strategic groups & research education programs in the Health Sciences at the U of U.  It is Jeanette’s passion to foster and support the potential and success of the next generation of innovative scientists and scientific leaders from all backgrounds.


Minna Roh-Johnson, PhD

Minna Roh-Johnson

Assistant Professor of Biochemistry

Minna is originally from Vancouver, Canada. She earned her Bachelors and Masters degree at Simon Fraser University. She then moved to the United States for her PhD work. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she immersed herself into the beauty of the inner workings of a cell (and college basketball), and spent many glorious hours on the microscope (and at the bar). Completely obsessed with figuring out how cells alter their “skeleton” as cells move, she turned her attention to understanding how this process works in cancer and did her postdoctoral work at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington. She started at the University of Utah in January 2018 as an Assistant Professor, still trying to figure out how cells move in different environments. These days, Minna no longer spends a ton of time at the bar, and can be seen chasing around her kids, hiking, eating at local restaurants, and trying not to look completely uncoordinated in taekwondo.

Roh-Johnson Lab, Department of Biochemistry

Clement Chow

Clement Chow

Associate Professor of Human Genetics

Clement received his BA from Cornell University in 2003. He completed his Ph.D. in 2008 in the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Michigan, where he worked with Miriam Meisler. Clement completed his postdoctoral training as a co-mentored postdoc with Andy Clark and Mariana Wolfner at Cornell University. While not in the lab, he is wrangling two unruly children and four chickens.

Chow Lab, Department of Human Genetics