Postdoctoral Researchers

Exploring the Inner Lives of Primates, Birds and Whales

The day that Josephine Hubbard met Twain, she didn’t realize at first how unusual the encounter was. 

Hubbard, who earned a Ph.D. in animal behavior in the College of Biological Sciences, is now a post-doctoral researcher at UC Davis. She is 33, five foot seven, has kind, serious eyes, and grew up in upstate New York. She’s animated as she describes the afternoon, three summers ago in Alaska, when she met Twain. Yes, it was a stilted conversation — that’s often the case when there’s a language barrier — but she’ll remember it for the rest of her life.

Postdoctoral Researcher Explores Regeneration in the "Reemerging" Hydra

Ben Cox, a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Celina Juliano, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, studies regeneration in Hydra vulgaris, a small cnidarian organism distantly related to the jellyfish. Cox is especially interested in tissue regeneration after injury and aims to determine how progenitor cells migrate and invade into injured tissues to restore lost cell populations, as well as how the extracellular matrix components are remodeled during this regeneration process.

Defects in DNA Packaging May Drive Age-Related Decline in Fertility

Yasuhisa Munakata, a postdoctoral fellow in the College of Biological Sciences, has received a grant to study how egg cells in the ovary change over time. “Our goal is to understand female reproductive aging, and why fertility rapidly declines starting in the mid-30s,” says Satoshi Namekawa, a professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, in whose lab Munakata works.

Postdoctoral Researchers Awarded Hartwell Fellowships to Probe Tissue Regeneration and Molecular Roots of Dystonia

Ben Cox and Rebecca McGillivary, postdoctoral researchers in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, are among 10 early career scientists selected to receive 2022 Hartwell Biomedical Research Fellowships, which were announced in August, 2023.

The Hartwell Foundation, which supports innovative and cutting-edge biomedical research that may benefit children, provides fellows with $100,000 in funding, split between two years.

How Tomato Plants Use Their Roots to Ration Water During Drought

Plants have to be flexible to survive environmental changes, and the adaptive methods they deploy must often be as changeable as the shifts in climate and condition to which they adapt. To cope with drought, plant roots produce a water-repellent polymer called suberin that blocks water from flowing up towards the leaves, where it would quickly evaporate. Without suberin, the resulting water loss would be like leaving the tap running.

Experiments in Yeast Hint at Possible Origins of Cancer and Autism

Cancer often starts with the reshuffling of DNA—akin to scrambling the pages of a dictionary. Exactly how this happens has long been a mystery. But researchers in the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences have now arrived at one promising explanation.

The problem seems to happen at a critical moment: when the cell is fixing a broken string of DNA. This repair process, called homologous recombination, can go awry, says Wolf-Dietrich Heyer, a Distinguished Professor and chair in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics.

CBS Plant Ecologist One of Five to Receive L'Oréal Fellowship

A prestigious fellowship has found a new recipient in CBS Postdoctoral Researcher Marina LaForgia, who was one of 5 postdocs in the country named a 2022 L'Oréal USA for Women in Science Fellow in November.

In her teaching, LaForgia, who studies the ecology of seeds to understand the effects of climate change and invasive plants on native plants, focuses on the women who have helped advance the field of botany.

New Technology Solves Mystery of Respiration in Tetrahymena

Tetrahymena, a tiny single celled-organism, turns out to be hiding a surprising secret: it’s doing respiration – using oxygen to generate cellular energy – differently from other organisms such as plants, animals or yeasts. The discovery, published March 31 in Science, highlights the power of new techniques in structural biology and reveals gaps in our knowledge of a major branch of the tree of life.

Researcher Studying the Microbiome and Chemical Communication of Cats Named a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow

There are myriad ways to view the world. Some people view it through the lens of art, others through the lens of anthropology or psychology. But Connie Rojas views the world through the lens of biology.

“Everything around you—the tree outside, how tall it is, the bark—everything makes sense  when viewed through the lens of biology,” said Rojas, who was selected to join UC Davis this year as a 2021-2022 Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow. “That type of thinking was very intuitive for me growing up.”