Dr. Jesse Zamudio
Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology
Spoke to PEERS students on Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Jesse Zamudio, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at UCLA for the Department of Molecular, Cell, and Development Biology. Dr. Zamudio received his bachelor's degree from UCLA in Chemistry & Biochemistry. He received his Ph.D. from UCLA in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics working in the laboratory of Dr. David Campbell and Dr. Nancy Sturm. For his thesis work, he characterized the first eukaryotic messenger RNA (mRNA) ribose cap methyltransferases. Although These studies have aided the investigation of the human cap ribose methyltransferases implicated in early development. Dr. Zamudio pursued his postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Dr. Phil Sharp at the MIT Cancer Center. His research focused on quantitative approaches to characterize Regulatory RNAs in embryonic and adult stem cells. He aimed to confidently assay regulation by the mammalian RNA interference (RNAi) pathway and in doing so discovered new classes of mammalian small RNAs and principles determining regulatory activity. Current research in the lab is focused on characterizing functional RNAs in the control of cell state transitions during development and cancer progression. He joined the MCDB faculty in January of 2016.

Dr. Gina Poe
Integrative Biology and Physiology
Spoke to PEERS students on Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Gina Poe, Ph.D., is a professor at UCLA for the Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology and the Co-Director of Maximizing Access to Research Centers (MARC) Program. Dr. Poe received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University in Human Biology with an emphasis in International Public Health Policy. She was invited to apply to the PhD program in Neuroscience at UCLA to study in one of 4 laboratories in what constituted the world epicenter for sleep research. She did her dissertation research at UCLA with the support of a Howard Hughes Predoctoral Fellowship grant in the laboratory of Ron Harper at UCLA's Brain Research Institute. She helped develop the first subcortical brain optical imaging device for the freely behaving animal. She completed her PhD and went to the University of Arizona to do postdoctoral studies with Carol Barnes, PhD and learned the multiple single unit tetrode recording technique for monitoring neural activity in freely behaving animals. Dr. Poe was most recently an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor teaching Neuroscience and Physiology graduate courses and Physiology and Sleep Undergraduate Courses before coming back to UCLA as a professor.

Dr. Anne Andrews
Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences and Chemistry & Biochemistry
Spoke to PEERS students on Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Anne Andrews, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences and Chemistry & Biochemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles. At UCLA, Andrews leads efforts in basic and translational research on anxiety and depression, and at the nexus of nanoscience and neuroscience. Andrews’ interdisciplinary research team focuses on understanding how the serotonin system and particularly, the serotonin transporter, modulate neurotransmission to influence complex behaviors including anxiety, mood, stress responsiveness, and learning and memory. Dr. Andrews earned her B.S. in chemistry from the Pennsylvania State University and received her Ph.D. in chemistry as a U.S. Department of Education Fellow working at the National Institute of Mental Health. There, she was also a postdoctoral fellow and senior staff fellow. Andrews has been the recipient of an NIH Fellows Award for Research Excellence, an Eli Lily Outstanding Young Analytical Chemist Award, an American Parkinson’s Disease Association Research Award, and a Brain and Behavior Research Foundation Independent Investigator Award. She is a member of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, International Society for Serotonin Research vice president, an advisory board member for the International Society for Monitoring Molecules in Neuroscience, and serves as Associate Editor for ACS Chemical Neuroscience.

Dr. Elaine Hsiao
Integrative Biology & Physiology
Spoke to PEERS students on Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Dr. Elaine Y. Hsiao is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology at UCLA, where she leads a laboratory studying fundamental interactions between the microbiome, brain and behavior, and their applications to neurological disorders. Her studies on the relationships between the microbiota, immune system and nervous system led her to discover that the microbiota can regulate behavioral, metabolic and gastrointestinal abnormalities relevant to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Her work in this area, and on neuroimmune interactions in autism, has led to several honors, including the National Institutes of Health Director’s Early Independence Award, distinction as Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Science and Healthcare, National Geographic’s Emerging Explorer Award and fellowships from the National Institute of Mental Health and Autism Speaks. Inspired by this interplay between the microbiota and nervous system, the Hsiao laboratory is mining the human microbiota for microbial modulators of host neuroactive molecules, investigating the impact of microbiota-immune system interactions on neurodevelopment and examining the microbiome as an interface between gene-environment interactions in neurological diseases. Dr. Hsiao received her Ph.D. in Neurobiology from Caltech and her B.S. in Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics from UCLA.

Dr. Utpal Banerjee
Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology
Spoke to PEERS students on Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A native of New Delhi, India, Dr. Banerjee earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from St. Stephen's College, Delhi University, India and obtained his Master of Science degree in Physical Chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India. In 1984, he obtained a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology. His transition into Biology was earmarked by his postdoctoral research training with Dr. Seymour Benzer at Caltech where he initiated research in molecular neurogenetics of eye development in Drosophila. At UCLA, Banerjee’s laboratory has worked on several oncogenic and metabolic signals that are important in development and disease. His laboratory studies the effects of systemic signals on the maintenance of blood progenitors in Drosophila. He also studies the role of metabolic pathways in the control of proliferation and differentiation in the preimplantation mouse embryo.

Dr. Jorge Torres
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Spoke to PEERS students on Thursday, January 14, 2016
Title of Talk: Human Cell Division: Implications for the Treatment of Cancer

Dr. Jorge Torres received his B.S. in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1998. He obtained his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Princeton University in 2004. He conducted his postdoctoral work in the laboratory at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Genentech Inc. until 2009 when he joined the faculty in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCLA. The Torres Lab's major focus is to understand how multiple mechanisms and enzymatic activities coordinate the formation of the mitotic microtubule spindle during cell division. They are interested in identifying and characterizing novel proteins that are required for proper mitotic spindle assembly. Among these are molecular motors, phosphatases, methyltranferases, and ubiquitin ligases. They use human cell lines and in vitro systems along with a combination of approaches, including biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, chemical biology, and microscopy to determine the mechanism of action of these proteins.

Dr. Peter Kareiva
Director of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability (or IoES)
Spoke to PEERS students on Thursday, November 19, 2015
Title of Talk: Science Will Not Save the World, but Science Communications and Business Might

Dr. Peter Kareiva is the Director of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability (or IoES) at UCLA. Prior to that, he was Chief Scientist at The Nature Conservancy for a dozen years, Director of the Division of Conservation Biology at NOAA’s fisheries lab in Seattle for three years, and a Professor of Zoology at the University of Washington for twenty years. Peter began his career as a mathematical biologist who also did fieldwork on plants and insects around the world. His early work focused on ecological theory and he gradually shifted to agriculture, biotechnology, risk assessment, and conservation. He now mixes policy and social science with natural science, and further believes that today’s environmental challenges require a strong dose of the humanities and private sector engagement. Never by himself, but with terrific colleagues and the support of generous philanthropists, he cofounded the Natural Capital Project, NatureNet Fellows, and Science for Nature and People or SNAP. He has written or edited nine books and nearly 200 articles, including a conservation biology textbook. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the National Academy of Science. It all began with education at a Jesuit High School in upstate New York, followed by Duke University, and a PhD from Cornell University in 1981. There were interludes of consulting for engineering firms and for FAO and UNEP, and some teaching overseas—always driven by a certain wanderlust.

Dr. Alicia Izquierdo
Department of Psychology – Behavioral Neuroscience
Spoke to PEERS students on Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Title of Talk: Brain mechanisms of good choices: A focus on learning and environment

Dr. Alicia Izquierdo received a B.S. in Biology and Psychology from Emory University, and a Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience through the Graduate Partnership Program between the National Institutes of Health and the George Washington University. As a faculty member, Dr. Izquierdo was awarded the Faculty Mentor award by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities for her work with diverse students. She is currently an Assistant Director of the Brain Research Institute: Society for Neuroscience UCLA Chapter President. Her research interests center around understanding the brain mechanisms of optimal choices. Specifically, this involves exploring the environmental factors that contribute to reward-related decisions and the incorporation of reward costs by the organism. The Izquierdo lab also studies the neural basis of emotional decisions and executive function and the influence of drugs of abuse on these processes.

Dr. Wayne Grody
Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Pediatrics, and Human Genetics, Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Spoke to PEERS students on Thursday, May 28, 2015
Title of Talk: Opportunities and Challenges in Genomic Medicine

Wayne W. Grody, M.D., Ph.D. is a Professor in the Departments of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Pediatrics, and Human Genetics at the UCLA School of Medicine. He is the director of the Diagnostic Molecular Pathology Laboratory within the UCLA Medical Center, one of the first such facilities in the country to offer DNA-based tests for diagnosis of a wide variety of genetic, infectious, and neoplastic diseases, as well as bone marrow engraftment, patient specimen identification and paternity testing by DNA fingerprinting. He is also an attending physician in the Department of Pediatrics, specializing in the care of patients with or at risk for genetic disorders. In addition, he is heavily involved in basic molecular genetics research involving regulation of gene expression of arginase and related enzymes in hereditary arginase deficiency and various cancers, population molecular genetic screening, and construction of artificial human mutation samples.

Dr. Suzanne Paulson
Center for Clean Air Director and Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Spoke to PEERS students on Monday, April 6, 2015
Title of Talk: Roadways, public health, environmental justice, and other current topics in air pollution research

Professor Suzanne Paulson is Director of the Center for Clean Air and Professor in the department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science. Her research focuses on chemical and physical aspects of pressing atmospheric environmental problems: (1) Determining aerosol optical properties and their impacts on the Earth's climate; (2) Investigating the chemical source of the toxicity of particulate pollution; (3) Gas-phase smog formation chemistry; (4) Environmental impacts of biofuels; (5) Measuring pollutant exposures in urban microenvironments.

Dr. Neil Garg
Chemistry & Biochemistry
Spoke to PEERS students on Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Title of Talk: From Breaking Bad to Building Bonds

Professor Neil Garg received a B.S. in Chemistry from New York University where he did undergraduate research with Professor Marc Walters. During his undergraduate years, he spent several months in Strasbourg, France while conducting research with Professor Mir Wais Hosseini at Université Louis Pasteur as an NSF REU Fellow. Garg obtained his Ph.D. in 2005 from the California Institute of Technology under the direction of Professor Brian Stoltz. He then joined Professor Larry Overman's research laboratory at the University of California, Irvine as an NIH Postdoctoral Scholar. Garg joined the faculty at UCLA in 2007. In 2012, he was promoted to Associate Professor and began serving as Vice Chair for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. In 2013, he was promoted to Full Professor.

Dr. Paul Barber
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Spoke to PEERS students on Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Title of Talk: Evolution and Conservation in the Amazon of the Ocean

Dr. Paul Barber is an evolutionary biologist who is interested in the processes that generate biodiversity in our worlds oceans. He is particularly interested in The Coral Triangle, a region of southeast Asia that is home to the world's most diverse seas. Applying a combination of ecology, genetics, and computer modelling, Paul and his lab members try to uncover how oceanography and geology have created opportunities for speciation, creating unusually high levels of marine biodiversity. While improving our understanding of evolution in apparently boundless seas, this data provides a strong foundation for conservation planning in these increasingly imperiled environments.

Dr. Glen MacDonald
Institute of Environment and Sustainability, Department of Geography, and Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Spoke to PEERS students on Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Title of Talk: What Past Climates and Environments Tell Us About Future Climate Change and Its Impacts

Glen M. MacDonald is the John Muir Memorial Chair of Geography and a UCLA Distinguished Professor. He is a former UC Presidential Chair and former Director of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. Glen obtained an AB from UC Berkeley (Geography), a M.Sc. from University of Calgary (Geography) and a Ph.D. from University of Toronto (Botany) His research focuses on climate change, its causes and its impact on the environment and society. He works on climate variability and environmental change using observational and other records. He has worked on climate and environmental change issues in North America, Eurasia and Africa. A particular focus of his work has been on water resources in western North America and the global semi-arid regions. He is known for work on the concept of the 'Perfect Drought'. The author of over 150 scientific and popular press pieces, Glen MacDonald is a Guggenheim Fellow, Rockefeller Bellagio Resident and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement. He has received the University of Helsinki Medal, the Henry C. Cowles Award from the American Association of Geographers (twice), a Visiting Fellowship and Life Membership at Clare Hall Cambridge, and a Visiting Fellowship at St. Catherine's College, Oxford. He has also won distinguished teaching awards at McMaster University and UCLA.

Dr. James Lloyd-Smith
Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Spoke to PEERS students on Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Title of talk: From proteins to pandemics: studying the causes and consequences of pathogen emergence

James Lloyd-Smith is Associate Professor in the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and holds the De Logi Chair in Biological Sciences. His research programme explores the ecological and evolutionary processes that give rise to pathogen emergence, with emphasis on zoonotic diseases at the human-animal interface. His group combines mathematical models, statistical analysis, and laboratory, clinical and field studies to learn about diseases such as monkeypox, leptospirosis, and influenza. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley for his study of disease transmission dynamics in heterogeneous populations, and carried out postdoctoral studies at Pennsylvania State University.

Dr. Martín G. Martín
Department of Pediatrics, Division of Gastroenterology David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Spoke to PEERS students on Thursday, May 29, 2014
Title of talk: Hunting for the Cause and Treatment of Diarrhea
Click here to watch.

Dr. Martín G. Martín is Professor of Pediatrics at UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Gastroenterology. Prior to joining the faculty of the UCLA DGSOM in 1992, he earned a BA in Biology at UC Santa Cruz, M.D. from Harvard Medical School and Master of Public Policy from Harvard University School of Government. Professor Martín completed his residency at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center Department of Pediatrics and clinical fellowship at UCLA School of Medicine Center for Health Sciences.

Dr. Martín's laboratory has had a long-term interest in investigating the molecular basis of a variety of novel and established genetics diarrheal disorders associated with intestinal failure. His research in this area originated with studies of mutations of the Na/glucose co-transporter (SGLT1) that results in glucose galactose malabsorption. More recently, we have identified a novel chronic congenital malabsorptive diarrheal disorder that results from mutations of Neurogenin-3, a transcription factor that is required for the production of islet cells of the pancreas and enteroendocrine cells of the gut. Children with this disorder have a paucity of gut endocrine cells. This disorder was named enteric anendocrinosis and it's significant because it confirms for the first time that enteroendocrine cells have an important role in facilitating nutrient absorption.

This event was co-sponsored by a generous grant from Clinical and Translational Science Institute at UCLA.

Dr. Jean Turner
Department of Physics & Astronomy
Spoke PEERS students on Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Title of Talk: Seeing the Universe through Microwave Eyes
Click here to watch.

Professor Jean Turner is an extragalactic astronomer who studies the formation of stars in nearby galaxies. She received the A.B. from Harvard University and Ph.D. from UC Berkeley. Before joining UCLA as professor, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. She has spent time as a Visiting Scientist at Caltech, at the Space Telescope Science Institute, and at the Joint ALMA Observatory in Santiago, Chile. She has contributed to the development and commissioning of two millimeter and submillimeter telescopes while conducting research on gas associated with massive star formation in the local universe.

Dr. Stephanie White
Department of Integrative Biology & Physiology
Spoke to PEERS students on Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Title of Talk: Your Brain on Live Social Interactions

Dr. Stephanie White majored in biopsychology at Connecticut College, then worked as a research technician for 5 years, paying off her student loans and also testing out different research labs and topics. She obtained her Ph.D. in neuroscience from Stanford, followed by postdoctoral work at Duke. Throughout, she has used a neuroethological approach to understand how social interactions shape the brain. Her own lab studies songbirds to investigate how the environment influences one's learning and creativity. Recently, humans have entered this comparative framework with collaborative exploration of the speech-related gene, FoxP2, in human and songbird vocal learning.

Dr. Miguel García-Garibay
Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Spoke PEERS students on Monday, January 13, 2014
Title of Talk: Crystals, Sunlight and Water: A Great Recipe for Green Chemistry

Miguel A. García-Garibay received his B.S. degree (chemistry and pharmacy) from the University of Michoacán in Mexico and his Ph.D. degree from the University of British Columbia. He was a postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University before joining the faculty at UCLA in 1992. He was promoted to full professor in 2001, served as Vice Chair for Education in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and he is the current Department chair. García-Garibay has achieved international reputation for his work in solid-state organic chemistry, solid state reaction mechanisms, dynamics in crystals, and crystalline molecular machines. His current research efforts are aimed at the development of chemical process that occur with sunlight, without harmful additives and with no solvents. He also works on the development of fluids for application in solar-thermal energy capture and on the design and construction of collective molecular machines.

García-Garibay has authored over 175 articles published in peer-reviewed Journals, and 9 book chapters. He has also given 270 invited and plenary lectures. He is an Associate Editor of the Journal of the American Chemical Society and he sits in the advisory boards of Crystal Growth and Design and The Journal of Organic Chemistry. He is a member of the Chemical Science Roundtable of the National Research Council. García-Garibay has organized scientific workshops sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the American Association of the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Chemical Society (ACS), and the Inter-American Photochemical Society (I-APS). Among other honors, he is a fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science, and he has been awarded the American Competitiveness and Innovation Fellowship, an NSF Creativity Award, and the 2012 Inter-American Photochemical Society Award in Photochemistry.

Dr. Tracy Johnson
Department of Molecular, Cell & Developmental Biology
Spoke to PEERS students on Thursday, November 21, 2013
Title of Talk: Sorting through the genome's "junk": Emerging models and pleasant surprises in understanding gene expression
Click here to watch

Professor Tracy Johnson earned her bachelor's degree from UCSD in Biochemistry and Cell Biology and her Ph.D. from the UC Berkeley in Molecular and Cell Biology. Dr. Johnson continued her research career as a Jane Coffin Childs postdoctoral research fellow at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). In 2003, she joined the faculty at UCSD in the Division of Biological Sciences where her lab focused on understanding basic mechanisms of gene expression. In 2006 Professor received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) which was presented by the President of the United States, and is "the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers."

Dr. Johnson sits on numerous scientific boards, including the RNA Society Board of Directors and several federal Grant Review panels. In addition to her scientific work, she has been recognized for her commitment to undergraduate education. In 2013, she received the UCSD Chancellor's Associates Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and was recently named one of the Top 20 Women Professors in California.

Dr. Pamela Yeh
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Spoke to PEERS students on Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Title of Talk: "Using Evolutionary Strategies to Combat drug-resistant Bacteria"

Dr. Pamela Yeh is an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UCLA. She received a BA in biology from Harvard-Radcliffe Colleges and a PhD in evolutionary biology from UCSD. She conducted post-doctoral work at Harvard's Center for Genomics Research and Harvard Medical School's Department of Systems Biology. Her work focuses on how organisms respond to novel environments, and her study systems range from birds invading urban areas to bacteria in multi-drug environments. Much of her current research is on evolutionary medicine questions, and she is especially interested in how we can use evolutionary strategies to combat drug-resistant bacteria.

Dr. Steven Dubinett
UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute
Spoke to PEERS students on Thursday, May 30, 2013
Title of Talk: "The Clinical Context of Lung Cancer Research"
Click here to watch

Steven M. Dubinett, MD, is the director of the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Associate Vice Chancellor and Senior Associate Dean for Translational Science. In these capacities, he oversees translation of UCLA biomedical discoveries into medical products and health interventions and is responsible for the efficient integration of the research infrastructure through the CTSI, which in 2011 received a five-year, $81-million award from NIH. Additionally, he is a member of the Executive Committee of the UC Biomedical Research Acceleration, Integration, and Development (UC BRAID), which is leading the integration of clinical and translational research across the University of California.

Dr. Dubinett has extensive experience in translational investigation, academic administration, mentorship and peer review. Building on original discoveries relevant to inflammation, he has developed a translational research program which now utilizes these laboratory-based discoveries in the translational research and clinical environment. In addition to other federal funding, his work is supported by four Department of Defense research grants. As a member of NCI's Translational Research Working Group, he participated in designing pathways to clinical goals. He previously served as the Director for Biomarker Development for the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group and directed biospecimen utilization in the context of clinical trials. Dr. Dubinett serves as the Chair of the Research Evaluation Panel for biospecimen utilization for the American College of Radiology Imaging Network / National Lung Screening Trial (ACRIN / NLST). He previously chaired the FDA Cellular, Tissue & Gene Therapies Advisory Committee. He currently serves on the NCI Thoracic Malignancy Steering Committee as a Translational Science Representative.

Dr. Richard B. Kaner
Chemistry & Materials Science and Engineering
Spoke to PEERS Students April 10, 2013
Title of Talk: "Exploring the Synthesis and Applications of Graphene"
Click here to watch

Richard B. Kaner received a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania in 1984 working with Prof. Alan MacDiarmid (Nobel Laureate 2000). After carrying out postdoctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley, he joined the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1987 as an Assistant Professor. He was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 1991, became a Full Professor in 1993 and a Distinguished Professor in 2012. He has published over 275 papers in top peer reviewed journals and holds 14 U.S. patents with 20 more pending.

Professor Kaner has received awards from the Dreyfus, Fulbright, Guggenheim and Sloan Foundations as well as the Exxon Fellowship in Solid State Chemistry, the Buck-Whitney Research Award, the Tolman Medal and the Award in the Chemistry of Materials from the American Chemical Society for his work on refractory materials including new synthetic routes to ceramics, intercalation compounds, superhard metals, graphene and conducting polymers. He has been elected a Fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Materials Research Society (MRS). Along with appointments in the Departments of Chemistry and Materials Science & Engineering, Professor Kaner served as the Associate Director of the California NanoSystems Institute from 2007-09. Professor Kaner's teaching has been recognized with the Hanson-Dow Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Harriet and Charles Luckman Distinguished Teaching Award and the Gold Shield Faculty Prize for Academic Excellence.

Dr. Richard E. Wirz
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Spoke to PEERS Students on March 5, 2013
Title of Talk: "Green Energy: New Solutions Using Wind and Solar"
Click here to watch

Richard E. Wirz is an Assistant Professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at UCLA and Director of the UCLA Energy Innovation Laboratory. He also holds a joint appointment at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), serving on the JPL Climate Change and Energy Committee. He has over 16 years of experience in renewable energy technology; so he was working in alternative energy long before it was "cool," and has had the pleasure of working in fields of ocean, wind, and solar energy. His research group works on new blade designs for wind energy systems and new methods for storing solar thermal energy for baseload power. He currently serves as the Chief Scientist for WindStream Technologies, Inc., a micro-wind energy company.

Originally born and raised in the DC area, Prof. Wirz received a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and a B.S. in Ocean Engineering from Virginia Tech before taking on a Ocean Energy Engineering position at SeaSun Power Systems in Alexandria, VA. Later, he became the Manager for Renewable Energy at Gibbs & Cox, Inc. in Crystal City, VA. He then came to sunny California to obtain a Ph.D. degree in Aeronautics and Applied Sciences from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). In addition to his passion for alternative energy, he is a semi-professional musician/songwriter and performs research in plasma and space propulsion.

Dr. Amy Rowat
Integrative Biology & Physiology
Spoke to PEERS Students on January 17, 2013
Title of Talk: "The Cell as a Material"
Click here to watch

Amy Rowat is Assistant Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles in the Department of Integrative Biology & Physiology, and member of the UCLA Center for Biological Physics, Bioengineering Department, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Business of Science Center, and Broad Stem Cell Research Center. In addition to her commitment to research, Rowat is founder and director of Science & Food, an organization based at UCLA that promotes knowledge of science through food and food through science.

Dr. Elissa Hallem
Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics
Spoke to PEERS Students on September 26, 2012
Title of Talk: "Host-seeking behaviors of parasitic nematodes."

Dr. Elissa Hallem is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics. Her lab studies the host-seeking behavior of parasitic worms. Many parasitic worms actively seek out hosts by migrating toward host-emitted odors. A major goal of Dr. Hallem's research is to understand how parasitic worms respond to host-emitted odors, and how these behavioral responses are encoded at the neural circuit level. The lab also studies the olfactory neural circuits of free-living worms to better understand how neural circuits evolve to support species-specific behavioral requirements.

Dr. Hallem received a BA in biology and chemistry from Williams College. She then received a PhD in neuroscience from Yale University, where she worked in Dr. John Carlson's lab on odor coding in the fruit fly antenna. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Caltech in Dr. Paul Sternberg's lab, she joined the UCLA faculty in 2011.

Dr. Douglas Black
Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Spoke to PEERS students on March 1, 2012

At one time, scientists thought that a gene would produce a single messenger RNA (mRNA) that would be translated into a single protein. But they now know that most genes have at least several different products and that one gene in the fruit fly, Drosophila, can produce as many as 38,000 proteins. The process that creates this situation is called alternative splicing, which allows cells to choose which parts of the long primary RNA transcript of a gene to include in the final mRNA. Through alternative splicing, different segments of RNA can be spliced together to produce mRNAs encoding different, but related, proteins. To find out how cells recognize the meaningful portions of the RNA and make choices about which segments to include in the mRNA, Douglas Black studies the ins and outs of splicing. Besides studying splicing mechanisms, Black is determining how signals from outside a cell regulate splicing. His group is also investigating the effects of alternative splicing on developing neurons. The goal of this work is primarily to understand how alternative splicing is accomplished and how it affects cells. Because errors in splicing are implicated in many neurological and other inherited diseases, Black's group has also been developing methods for identifying small molecules and drug candidates that alter the splicing of particular disease exons. (Adapted from Dr. Black's extended biography on the HHMI Investigator website.)

Dr. Marcus Roper
Mathematics
Spoke to PEERS students on April 11, 2012
Title of Talk: "Fungal Engineering"

Dr. Marcus Roper is an applied mathematician. The main focus of his research is fluid dynamics: how fluids (air, water, the chemicals in a reactor) flow and mix. Right now, he is particularly interested in how organisms deal with the difficult fluid environments that they encounter when they try to feed, disperse or grow. Can understanding these processes help us to control destructive organisms? Or derive common principles to understand the amazing diversity of life?

Dr. Roper studied math as an undergraduate, at Cambridge University in England, and as a PhD student at Harvard University. Toward the end of his PhD he realized that he really enjoyed doing experiments and studying biology (before then, he knew almost nothing about either), and he started hanging out in an ecology lab as a result. As a postdoc at UC Berkeley and, since the summer of 2011, as an assistant professor at UCLA he has been working hard to bridge the gaps between engineering, math and biology.

Dr. Alvaro Sagasti
Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology
Spoke to PEERS students on May 22, 2012
Title of Talk: "Decoding molecular dialogs between touch-sensing neurons and skin cells in zebrafish"

Dr. Sagasti is an Assistant Professor in the Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology Department at UCLA. His lab studies how touch-sensing neurons project their axons to the skin, using zebrafish as a model. Because zebrafish are fertilized in water, the growth of touch neurons labeled with green fluorescent protein can be imaged throughout development. By comparing development of these neurons in wildtype animals to developmental mutants, the Sagasti lab is identifying the cellular mechanisms and molecular cues that regulate the formation of axon terminals in the skin.

Dr. Sagasti was born in Lima, Peru, but immigrated to the US with his family at age 4. For his undergraduate studies, he attended Williams College in Massachusetts, where he used classic genetic approaches to study a key protein in the yeast cell cycle, cdc14. For graduate school he attended UCSF, where he studied the development olfactory neurons in the nematode worm C. elegans. Dr. Sagasti has been at UCLA since 2005.

Dr. Art Arnold
Integrative Biology and Physiology
Spoke to PEERS Students on May 26, 2011

Dr. Arnold grew up in Pennsylvania and attended Grinnell College in Iowa. He then moved to New York City and earned his PhD at Rockefeller University in Manhattan. Then it was on to UCLA, where he joined the Department of Psychology, then later moved to the Department of Integrative Biology & Physiology. As a graduate student, he studied song birds, and was interested in the question of whether the learning of song was controlled by testosterone. Just after he received his PhD, he and his mentor made a discovery that changed his scientific life. The discovery was of a large sex difference in the structure of the bird's brain. This was the first time that such large sex differences had been seen in the brain of any vertebrate. Since the time, most of his research has been on the biological factors that make males and females different, in birds and mammals, not only in the brain, but in other organs as well.

Dr. Arnold's hobby is photography, and his photographs provide the illustrations for several books for children written by his wife, Caroline Arnold. They have two children and three grandchildren.

Dr. Miguel Garcia-Garibay
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Spoke to PEERS Students on April 4th, 2011
Title of Talk: "Artificial Molecular Machines"

Dr. Garcia-Garibay is a Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry here at UCLA. His research lab works on solid-state organic chemistry: looking at the crystal structures in organic materials. Some of his current research interests include photochemistry (the study of interactions between light and atoms or molecules), solvent-free synthesis (important in green chemistry), and engineering motion in crystals (like molecular gyroscopes).

Dr. Garcia-Garibay received his B.S. from Universidad Michoacana in Mexico and his Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia. After completing his post-doctoral fellowship at Columbia University, he joined the UCLA faculty in 1992.

Dr. Alan Garfinkel
Medicine and Physiological Sciences
Spoke to PEERS students on February 24, 2011

Dr. Alan Garfinkel is a Professor of Medicine and Physiological Sciences. His research applies mathematical models to electrophysiology, or the electrical properties of cells and tissues. Dr. Garfinkel uses the techniques of nonlinear dynamics ("chaos theory") to look at heart arrhythmias in particular. Arrhythmias occur when there is abnormal electrical activity in a heart that may beat too quickly, slowly, or irregularly. The goal is to inform ways to prevent or treat heart problems.

Dr. Garfinkel received his Bachelor's degree from Cornell University in 1966. He went on to study at MIT and received his Ph.D. from Harvard University. Prior to joining the UCLA faculty, Dr. Garfinkel was a faculty member in the Department of Philosophy at Cal State Northridge, worked as Institute Research Scientist at UCLA's Crump Institute for Medical Engineering, and served as a Visiting Associate Professor at UC Santa Cruz.

Dr. David Teplow
Neurology
Spoke to PEERS students on January 12, 2011

Dr. David Teplow studies protein deposits called amyloids that are associated with Alzheimer's disease. The deposition of amyloids into 'plaques' plays a role in neurodegenerative diseases that target the brain, like Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Teplow's long-term goal is to discover what controls the build-up of these amyloids with the hopes of creating a new treatment. Dr. Teplow is notable for his use of many different approaches to study Alzheimer's - organic chemistry, physics, statistics, computer modeling. We're sure you will all find his talk very interesting!!

Dr. Teplow received B.A. degrees in Biochemistry and in Bacteriology and Immunology from UC Berkeley, and his Ph.D. in Tumor and Molecular Immunology at the University of Washington. Dr. Teplow is a Professor of Neurology and member of the Molecular Biology Insitute and Brain Research Insitute at UCLA. He is also the Director of the Biopolymer Laboratory at UCLA, which provides services like quantitative amino acid analysis, mass spectrometry, and protein sequencing to the UCLA community as well as researchers around the world.

Dr. Richard Gatti
Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Spoke to PEERS Students on March 2, 2010

Dr. Richard Gatti is a distinguished professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Human Genetics at UCLA. He is interested in translational research, including both the development of diagnostic assays and finding new drugs to treat genetic disorders. His research focuses on DNA repair disorders, using ataxia-telangiectsia (A-T) as the primary working model. The lab collaborates with investigators in many other countries. Ongoing projects include: 1) identification of genes that cause hypersensitivity to ionizing radiation, 2) identification of chemicals that correct the effects of specific types of mutations in the ATM gene, 3) better diagnostic assays for A-T, and 4) identification of chemicals that might be useful in combating a "dirty bomb" attack in a major city. The Gatti lab was the first at UCLA to localize a gene to a particular chromosome by linkage analysis (1988).

Dr. Angela Presson
Biostatistics
Spoke to PEERS Students on January 12, 2010
Title of Talk: "Defining & Analyzing Viral Integration Hot-Spots in the Rhesus Macaque Genome"

Dr. Presson develops statistical models for large-scale genetics data sets with applications to AIDS, cancer, and complex diseases. In particular she has used Bayesian modeling and MCMC methods to develop 'MicroMerge' software for merging microsatellite data sets. She is currently using Bayesian change-point models to study patterns of viral integration in the human and rhesus genomes. Dr. Presson is also involved in the application of clustering methods to gene expression data sets and tissue array data.

Dr. John Colicelli
Biological Chemistry
Spoke to PEERS Students on November 23, 2009

Dr. Colicelli is a cell biologist and biochemist. He joined the Department of Biological Chemistry in the UCLA School of Medicine in 1990. He became a full professor in 2003. Dr. Colicelli earned his B.A. in Chemistry at Rutgers University and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Columbia University in New York. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Dr. Colicelli's research is focused on molecular signal transduction in cancer biology and neuronal plasticity. He teaches cell biology at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Dr. Colicelli serves as a Departmental Vice Chair and as a member of the School of Medicine Faculty Executive Committee.

Dr. Kent Hill
Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics
Spoke to PEERS Students on May 21, 2009

Dr. Kent Hill is an associate professor of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics at UCLA. Dr. Hill's research group studies the mechanism and biology of cell motility in the African trypanosome, Trypanosoma brucei. Trypanosomes are protozoan parasites that cause African sleeping sickness in humans and are transmitted by the bite of a tsetse fly. Trypanosome motility is important for disease pathogenesis and Dr. Hill's group is therefore working to understand how the parasite moves, as well as the biological consequences of parasite movement. Trypanosome motility is driven by a single flagellum and Dr. Hill's group also uses trypanosomes as a model experimental system to study flagellum and cilium biology. Flagella and cilia are tiny hair-like appendages that extend from the surface of most cells in the human body and are critical for normal development and physiology. Defects in human flagella and cilia cause severe diseases and Dr. Hill's work therefore impacts understanding of inherited human disease, as well as infectious disease. Dr. Hill received his B.S. degree from Northern Illinois University, with a double major in Chemistry and Biology. He worked as a product development scientist at Abbott Laboratories in Chicago, before coming to UCLA for graduate studies, where he trained with Dr. Sabeeha Merchant and received a Ph.D. in Biochemistry. He then went on for Postdoctoral studies at the University of Iowa, first with Dr. Lois Weisman and then with Dr. John Donelson in the Department of Biochemistry. He came to UCLA to set up his own lab in 2001.

Dr. Terri Hogue
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Spoke to PEERS Students on April 16, 2009

Professor Hogue received her B.S. from the University of Wisconsin, and M.S. and Ph.D. from the Department of Hydrology and Water Resources at the University of Arizona. She joined UCLA in July of 2003 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Professor Hogue's research centers on improving the understanding of hydrologic and land surface processes, with much of her work focused in semi-arid regions. Projects include investigating catchment response to wildfire, as well as the impact of urbanization and climate variability on the hydrologic cycle. Professor Hogue uses field and experimental methods, modeling and optimization techniques, as well as remote sensing data in her investigations. The overarching goal of her research program is to improve the prediction of hydrologic fluxes for better management of water resources, to assess human impacts on the environment, and to mitigate the effects of natural hazards. Professor Hogue teaches a range of graduate and undergraduate courses, from theoretical modeling to intensive field and laboratory-based curriculum. She has been awarded ASCE Professor of the Year by the C&EE students twice since her arrival at UCLA (2003-2004 and 2006-2007) and was recently awarded the Northrup Grumman Excellence in Teaching award by the School of Engineering.

Dr. Paul Barber
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Spoke to PEERS Students on February 24, 2009
Title of Talk: "Boundaries in a boundless sea: evolution and conservation of biodiversity in the Amazon of the ocean"

Dr. Paul Barber is an evolutionary biologist who is interested in the processes that generate biodiversity in our worlds oceans. He is particularly interested in The Coral Triangle, a region of southeast Asia that is home to the world's most diverse seas. Applying a combination of ecology, genetics, and computer modelling, Paul and his lab members try to uncover how oceanography and geology have created opportunities for speciation, creating unusually high levels of marine biodiversity. While improving our understanding of evolution in apparently boundless seas, this data provides a strong foundation for conservation planning in these increasingly imperiled environments.

Dr. Jay Hauser
Physics and Astronomy
Spoke to PEERS Students on Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Title of Talk: "Particle physics with the Large Hadron Collider: Exploring the Big Bang in the laboratory"

Prof. Hauser is an experimental particle physicist who has been working at UCLA for 14 years on the construction of an experiment that will allow scientists to explore the physics of the Big Bang. Next year, a new machine called the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will begin to collide beams of protons together with energies above ten trillion electron-volts. By studying the particles created in these collisions, physicists expect to shine light on questions such as:
  • What is Dark Matter?
  • Are particles actually not pointlike but rather vibrating strings?
  • Are there really 10 or 11 dimensions of space and time?
  • Why is there more matter than antimatter in the universe?
  • Can microscopic Black Holes be created in the laboratory?
  • Can a Grand Unified Theory be found?
Prof. Hauser and numerous UCLA undergraduate and graduate students built important parts of the CMS experiment, which is one of two large experiments at the LHC that will address these questions.

Dr. Mark Frye
Physiological Sciences
Spoke to PEERS Students on Monday, November 17, 2008
Title of Talk: "SuperFly: studying Nature's ultimate flying machine"

Dr. Frye is a neurobiologist interested in how the brain integrates information from different sensory modes such as vision and olfaction to form a complete perception of the naturally multisensory world. He works with flies because these animals have the fastest eyes, the most sensitive noses, and casually outperform any man-made machine. They have these amazing capabilities despite having a brain the size of a poppy seed. His research combines techniques from engineering and biology to understand the computations performed by this tiny brain as well as the neural circuits that perform these computations. The hope is to draw some general principles that can be applied to understanding other brains that might operate under less extreme conditions.