Successful METX Students; Recent Graduates and Fellowship Recipients

August 04, 2014

With four recent graduates and three prestigious fellowship awardees, the Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology Department at UCSC toasts the success of its students.

Congratulations to our recent graduates; Walter Adams, Alison Conrad, Kingsley Odigie, and Cheryl Zurbrick. The METX Department wishes them the best in their post-graduate plans. Walter Adams will continue to work in Professor Vicki Auerbuch Stone's Lab before heading off for a post doctoral position with John Leung at Tufts University Medical School. Alison Conrad will begin teaching Anatomy at Los Medanos Community College in Pittsburgh, California. Kingsley Odigie has accepted a post doctoral position in Professor Russ Flegal's Lab here in the METX Department. Cheryl Zurbrick is off on a new adventure as she relocates to the east coast with her husband. 

Meanwhile, continuing student Andrew Cheng and post doctoral scholars Daniela Keilberg and Ana Gallego Hernandez have all recently received prestigious scholarship awards.

Andrew Cheng's research focuses on identification and characterization of two-component signal transduction systems controlling biofilm formation and virulence in Vibrio cholerae in Professor Fitnat Yildiz's lab. Entering his sixth year of graduate studies, he has been awarded the UCSC Dissertation Year Fellowship, a state-funded, merit-based fellowship that is based on academic achievements and awarded as support for graduate students in their last year of dissertation work. 

Daniela Keilberg arrived from Germany to begin work in Professor Karen Ottemann's lab in January. Together, they work to understand how motility and chemotaxis of Helicobacter pylori participate in disease pathogenesis and cause gastric ulcers and cancer. The long-term goal of these studies is to identify bacterial targets that could prevent disease. In March, Dr. Keilberg was awarded the Leopoldina Post Doctoral Fellowship. Leopoldina is the National Academy of Sciences in Germany. This fellowship is awarded to outstanding researchers from German, Austria, and Switzerland to work on independent projects in the biological sciences or in medicine in a foreign country. It provides funding for two years.

Ana Gallego Hernandez recently joined Professor Fitnat Yildiz's lab where they will work together to understand how Vibrio cholerae responds to environmental factors that affect persistence, growth, transmission, and infectivity. Dr. Gallego Hernandez recently received a UC MEXUS - CONACYT Post Doctoral Fellowship to support her project. Her focus will be in studying how V. cholerae responds to changes in salinity and osmolarity. These environmental factors can modulate the pathogen’s gene expression, affect its physiology and cell surface properties, and in turn, impact virulence potential of the pathogen. These studies will help us understand how V. cholerae senses and responds to environmental factors and could lead to the identification of targets for development of new therapeutics. 

UC MEXUS is an academic research institute dedicated to encouraging, securing, and contributing to bi-national and Latin research and collaborative academic programs and exchanges. This fellowship provides funding for one year with a possibility for a second.