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Graduate Student Profiles

Alana Benn

Thesis Adviser: Dr. Christoph Baysdorfer

I am investigating the roles of transposable elements found in large genomes of plants in the family Liliaceae. My long term goal is to pursue doctoral research in the field of biomedical science.

Ramon Benito

Thesis Adviser: Dr. Ken Curr

I am interested in all things bio, not much is known about Tritonia tetraquetra’s immune system so I’m interested in gaining some insights into its immune response. Outside of lab, I’m a huge basketball fan who watches Game of Thrones religiously; other interests include rap and rock music, hiking and astronomy. 

Adity Biswas

Thesis Adviser: Dr. Ken Curr

My primary focus is in the field of phycology. I am exploring the effects of different heavy metals on the cyanobacteria. I am interested in learning about the algal physiology under different stress conditions and their use in bioremediation purposes. Apart from my research, I like to read, cook, and travel to new places. 

Sean Collier

Thesis Adviser: Dr. Ken Curr

My thesis focuses on examining the crosstalk between the G-Protein Coupled Receptor-54 (GPCR-54) and the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) in Triple Negative Breast Cancer. I have interests in Cancer Immunology and how small molecule therapy can be used to treat highly aggressive cancers. Aside from research and science, I enjoy reading and going to the beach.

Jonathan del Rosario

Thesis Advisor: Dr. Brian Perry

I am a NSF Graduate Research Fellow working with Dr. Perry to document the macrofungi of Tafea Province, Vanuatu. I joined the Perry lab in 2015 an an undergraduate research assistant, and as a graduate student in Fall 2016. In addition to documenting the fungi Vanuatu, I am also investigating the phylogenetic placement of Marasmius calhouniae.

Tommy Fenster

Thesis Advisers: Dr. Erica Wildy and Dr. Lundgren (Blue Dasher Farm)

My research will seek to quantify the differences between conventional and regenerative almond orchards with regards to insect biodiversity, pest impacts, mycorrhizal fungi populations, soil health, and profitability. I also enjoy mountain biking in the Oakland hills and gardening. Additionally, I work with StopWaste, leading workshops on bay-friendly lawn to garden conversions and composting. 

Melissa Ford

Thesis Adviser: Dr. Carol Lauzon

My research is focused on characterizing microbial inhabitants of Pisolithus tinctorius as means to understanding ancient life on Earth. In the future I hope to pursue a career with the USGS studying the sulfur hot springs at Mt. Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Dolores Guillen

Thesis Adviser: Dr. Erica Wildy

My primary focus is in the field of conservation biology. I intend to focus my research on quantifying the relationship of habitat disturbance and biodiversity using soundscape ecology. Soundscape ecology employs the understanding of sounds in a landscape. This non-invasive, macro or community acoustics approach can inform natural-human dynamics across various spatial-temporal scales to identify potential impacts and mitigation of the development of landscapes. I also have extensive experience in STEM outreach. I plan to use my science training and working experience as an educator to further the advancement of science, policy, land-use management, and education. 

Jasmine Hain

Thesis Advisor: Dr. Brian Perry

I worked on an independent study student in the Perry lab as an undergraduate, and joined the lab in Fall 2017 as graduate student. I have been studying the endophytic fungi of the California native pickleweed, Salicornia pacifica, and will be expanding my work on this species for my master's thesis.

Riddhi Jogi

Thesis Adviser: Dr. Christoph Baysdorfer

My thesis focuses on the transcriptome analysis of carbohydrate metabolism under sugar starvation in the Liliaceae family. I am examining the relationship between the genome size and metabolism since the Liliaceae family have a wide range of genome sizes. I am also passionate about painting and classical dancing.

Marion Lennon

Thesis Adviser: Dr. Carol Lauzon

I am interested in the molecular mechanisms that afford human pathogens the ability to internalize and persist in produce and I am researching noninvasive, safe, and innovative methods for monitoring these processes.

Kristina Lorilla

Thesis Adviser: Dr. Pascale Guiton

My thesis focuses on the role of the hypothetical ROP23 protein in Toxoplasma gondii. Outside of the lab, I enjoy taking pictures of and eating food.

Sheng Ly

Thesis Adviser: Dr. Nazzy Pakpour

My project focuses on the mosquito immune response to Plasmodium parasites in type 2 diabetic hosts. In my free time, I enjoy binge watching shows and reading murder mysteries. 


Cody McDermott

Thesis Adviser: Dr. Nazzy Pakpour

My research area of interest is in the immune response of Type 2 Diabetes mice, and determining its role in increasing transmission of malaria parasites. I also enjoy relaxing with my wife and friends, sleeping, and eating free samples at Costco. 

Nidhi Nagar

Thesis Advisor: Dr. Maria Gallegos

I did my MS thesis research work at UC Davis Medical center, Sacramento under the guidance of Dr. Yvonne Wan. My thesis focuses on the role of bacteria and bacterial metabolites in development of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). My research work focuses on two objectives: 1) Finding  the specific bacterial family that is dominant in the gut of NASH group of mice and 2) determining the mechanism by which that specific bacterial family and its produced metabolite affect NASH progression. I represented CSUEB at 31st state level student research competition and was awarded 1st place for my research presentation. Apart from research, I like listening to music, visiting new places and gazing at the moon and stars!

Fatima Natouf

Thesis Adviser: Dr. Ken Curr

Devin Schaefferkoetter

Thesis Advisor: Dr. Brian Perry

I am investigating the macrofungal diversity at Pepperwood Preserve, located northeast of Santa Rosa, California. My research focuses on documenting and comparing the macrofungal communities present in the Douglas fir, Oak woodland, and mixed evegreen habitats of the preserve.

Vatesala Sharma

Thesis Adviser: Dr. Christoph Baysdorfer

My research project is focused on the identification and characterization of genes expressed under carbohydrate starvation in the Liliaceae family.  Apart from research, I enjoy cooking, photography, and music. 

Cymone Seward

Thesis Adviser: Dr. Christoph Baysdorfer


Cindy Tantilert

Thesis Adviser: Dr. Maria Gallegos

My research project focuses on whether Plexin/Semaphorin signaling regulates PLM mechanosensory dendrite termination in C. elegans. During my free time, I enjoy playing classical music on the piano.

Jennifer Yadegari

Thesis Adviser: Dr. Christoph Baysdorfer

The emphasis of my graduate research is selective inhibition of prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase-2 activity as related to migraine. Aside from research, I enjoy teaching, being outdoors, and also watching Seinfeld. In the future, I would like to pursue a PhD.

Elle Yuen

Thesis Adviser: Dr. Nazzy Pakpour

My project is to study the effects of Type 2 diabetes on Plasmodium gametocyte development. Otherwise, I'm interested in binge-watching crime shows, teaching, and growing plants. Post-graduation, I hope to work in an environment where I can exercise my microbiology and molecular biology knowledge.

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