Four members of the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences are recipients of 2021 Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Research. Two undergraduate students, a faculty member and a postdoctoral researcher were among those honored by UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May at the virtual awards ceremony.
Marwa Zafarullah, a Ph.D. student in the Integrative Genetics and Genomics Graduate Group, investigates the pathology of a rare neurodegenerative disease called Fragile X- Associated Tremor/Ataxia Syndrome (FXTAS). As part of her Ph.D. dissertation research, she’s developing a biomarker for the early diagnosis and progression of the disease.
Of the major food crops, only rice is currently able to survive flooding. Thanks to new research, that could soon change -- good news for a world in which rains are increasing in both frequency and intensity.
Professor Paul Knoepfler, UC Davis Genome Center, studies the epigenetic and transcriptional control mechanisms that direct stem cell fate and tissue growth. He's also a writer, recently co-authoring the book How to Build a Dragon or Die Trying: A Satirical Look at Cutting-Edge Science with his daughter Julie Knoepfler. Helen Pilcher recently reviewed the book in Nature.
Plant Biology Graduate Group student Leonardo Jo thought his anxiety was normal, an expected part of the graduate school experience. His peers grappled with similar issues: imposter syndrome, researcher pressures and financial insecurity, to name a few. And they all seemed to suffer in silence at the cost of their own mental health.
The culture shock hit Marwa Zafarullah right away. The native of Pakistan landed in the United States for the first time just four years ago, knowing little English and not having any family or friends to lean on for support.