Academics & Research

SACNAS

Officers

Health Sciences

Faith Bowman

Faith Bowman

President

Formerly: Communications

Schlegel LabDepartment of Biochemistry

Email: fbowman@u2m2.utah.edu

 

Faith is a proud Indigenous scholar and McNair alum from Wisconsin. She joined the Biosciences Ph.D. Program in Fall 2018. In the Schlegel lab, Faith investigates the role of MCT7 in ketone body metabolism and the role Foxn3 in glucose utilization during fasting.  Outside of research, Faith likes to explore new restaurants and trails with friends, as well as connect with the surrounding Indigenous communities.

Jesse Velasco

Jesse Velasco

Vice-President

Formerly: Fundraising

Ducker Lab, Department of Biochemistry

Email:jesse.velasco@biochem.utah.edu

 

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.

Chelsea Gosney

Chelsea Gosney

Secretary

Formerly: Main Campus Event Coordinator

Caron Lab, Department of Biology

Email: chelsea.gosney@utah.edu

 

Chelsea is originally from California, but a Wisconsinite at heart. Chelsea moved to Utah after completing her bachelor's degree in Wisconsin. She is currently co-mentored by the Caron lab. There, she studies the olfactory system in Drosophila pseudoobscura. Outside of Lab, Chelsea enjoys skiing, hiking, and going to music concerts. Chelsea is excited to be apart of SACNAS and further it’s mission, as she believes that diversity is necessary for growth and strengthens our community.

Krystal Charley

Krystal Charley

Treasurer

Williams Lab, Department of Pathology

Email: krystal.charley@path.utah.edu

 

Krystal is originally from Dinétah (“Among the Diné”) in northern Arizona. She earned her B.S. degree in Biology from the University of New Mexico and then joined the Biosciences Ph.D. Program at the University of Utah in Fall 2018. In the Williams Lab, she currently studies TCR-dependent differences in IL-2 driven T cell differentiation during infection. Outside of lab, Krystal enjoys video games, traveling, hiking, CrossFit, family time, and hanging out with friends. Last but not least, Krystal enjoys trying out french fries from multiple places in search of deliciousness.

Nikki Mathewson

Nikki Mathewson

National Liason

Formerly: Recruitment; Communications

Burrows Lab, Department of Chemistry

Email: n.mathewson@utah.edu

 

Nikki is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in the Burrows lab in the Department of Chemistry. Her work involves nucleic acid chemistry, specifically developing bioanalytical tools in order to sequence modifications in RNA. Nikki is very excited to be a part of SACNAS, as she is passionate about outreach, inclusion, and education. During free time, she loves to be outdoors doing anything from backpacking to playing volleyball to skiing! She can't wait to meet everyone joining SACNAS and is excited to make more connections within our community. Fun fact: She is part Native American, being from the Chippewa Tribe!

Supraja Ranganathan

Supraja Ranganathan

Recruitment

Bass Lab, Department of Biochemistry

Email: supraja.ranganathan@biochem.utah.edu

 

I am from a South-Indian coastal city called Chennai. I realized my love for biology when I was in high school and decided to major in Biotechnology during my undergraduate studies. I then did a year as a research assistant at the University of Pittsburgh and a year at the National Institute of Cell Sciences, India, as a junior research fellow. I then moved to Utah to pursue my PhD in Biochemistry and study the super cool innate immune mechanisms using C. elegans as the model organism. Apart from lab work, I love anything music, and love exploring the beauty around us.

Deirdre Mack

Deirdre Mack

Communications

Shen Lab, Department of Biochemistry

Email: deirdre.mack@biochem.utah.edu

 

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.

Jordan Berg

Jordan Berg

Social Media/Web Design

Rutter Lab, Department of Biochemistry

Email: jordan.berg@biochem.utah.edu

 

Originally from Georgia, Jordan started his PhD in 2016. In the Rutter lab, he develops new computational tools that speed up discovery in big data experiments and allow users to be able to ask new questions. He then uses these and other tools to probe novel aspects of metabolism and metabolic functionality in cancer. In his free time, Jordan enjoys skiing, climbing, and cooking.

Headtlove Dadzie

Headtlove Dadzie

Historian

Snyder Lab, Huntsman Cancer Institute

Email: headtlove.esseldadzie@utah.edu

 

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.

Jason Kunisaki

Jason Kunisaki

Outreach

Quinlan Lab, Department of Human Genetics

Email: Jason.Kunisaki@hci.utah.edu

 

Jason is a 4th year MD-PhD student in the lab of Dr. Aaron Quinlan through the Department of Human Genetics. His work focuses on understanding the genetic mechanisms underlying male infertility and its association with poor somatic health. He is also interested in investigating the clinical vulnerabilities associated with cancer essential genes. Jason is passionate about outreach and inspiring younger members of underserved and underrepresented communities to pursue a career in STEM/medicine.   He enjoys snowboarding, fishing, and golfing in his free time. And coming from Los Angeles, CA, he is a passionate Lakers fan. 

Faculty Advisors

Jeannette Ducut-Sigala

Jeannette Ducut-Sigala

Chapter Administrator

Science Diversity Program Manager, Bioscience PhD Programs

Email: j.ducutsigala@utah.edu

 

Having immigrated to this country at a very young age, Jeanette grew up in culturally and socioeconomic diverse Southern California. She graduated with her Bachelor’s in Science degree in Molecular Biology from California State University, Northridge, after which she worked in biotech. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego, then worked as a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University developing zebrafish embryos as a potential research model system for medulloblastoma cancer of the brain. It is Jeanette’s passion to foster and support the potential and success of the next generation of innovative scientists and scientific leaders in an environment and culture where diversity and universal inclusion is the default and not the exception.

Clement Chow

Clement Chow

Faculty Advisor

Chow Lab, Department of Human Genetics

Email: cchow@genetics.utah.edu

 

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.

Minna Roh-Johnson

Minna Roh-Johnson

Faculty Advisor

Roh-Johnson Lab, Department of Biochemistry

Email: roh-johnson@biochem.utah.edu

 

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.

Paul Sigala

Paul Sigala

Faculty Advisor

Sigala Lab, Department of Biochemistry

Email: p.sigala@biochem.utah.edu

 

In my lab, we use diverse biochemical, biophysical, and cellular tools to understand the metabolic adaptations that enable Plasmodium malaria parasites to survive and proliferate within human red blood cells. Our goals are to broaden fundamental knowledge of fascinating and divergent parasite biology and to identify and develop new therapeutic strategies to target this dangerous pathogen. My training and expertise are highly interdisciplinary and span multiple areas of mechanistic biochemistry, biophysics, parasite cell biology, and red blood cell metabolism. I am passionate about leveraging my cross-disciplinary training to mentor students to be rigorous, creative, and curiosity-driven science.

Luisa Whittaker-Brooks

Luisa Whittaker-Brooks

Main Campus Faculty Advisor

Whittaker-Brooks Lab, Department of Chemistry

Email: lwhittaker@chem.utah.edu

 

Luisa Whittaker-Brooks is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Utah whose research focuses on synthesizing and elucidating the functional properties of well-defined and high-quality organic and inorganic materials for applications in photovoltaics, thermoelectrics, batteries, spintronics, and electronics. Her research also focuses on generating a fundamental understanding of what happens at the interfaces (an aspect that is often overlooked in materials chemistry and physics) of organic-inorganic hybrid materials in order to control charge (spin) injection, transport, manipulation, and detection in devices. Dr. Whittaker-Brooks received her B.S. degree in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Panama. Under a Fulbright Fellowship, she received her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Materials Chemistry from the State University of New York at Buffalo.  She was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Princeton University. She was the recipient of the 2013 L’Oréal Fellowship for Women in Science Award and the 2015 Marion Milligan Mason Award for Women in the Chemical Sciences administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Recently, she was named a Scialog and Cottrell Fellow by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA), a Talented 12 by C&En news, and a GERA Ovshinsky Energy Fellow by the American Physical Society (APS).  She is also the recipient of a Department of Energy Early Career Award.