Caitlyn Holmes
Caity is a postdoctoral fellow in Mike Bachman’s lab in the Department of Pathology. Originally from Florida, she received a B.S. in Biotechnology and Biomedical Sciences from the University of Central Florida before completing a Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Pathology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Outside of lab, she enjoys going for hikes and reading. Caity joined the UMPDA Board in June 2020 as co-president.

Joseph Mastron
Joseph is a Postdoctoral Researcher of Physical Chemistry in LSA Chemistry (Kubarych Group). After studying Chemistry at Cerritos College (A.A., 2011) and the University of Southern California (B.S., 2013), Joseph completed doctoral studies at the University of Chicago (Ph.D., 2019). Joseph uses ultrafast Infrared and Visible laser pulses (25-100 femtoseconds long) to study how molecular structures behave in time, and how chemical reactions occur, in a collaboration to optimize Gallium Nitride devices that catalyze the reaction of Carbon Dioxide to produce renewable fuels.


Romila Mascarenhas
Romila is a postdoc in the laboratory of Dr. Ruma Banerjee at the department of Biological Chemistry, where she is researching the mechanism of human vitamin B12 trafficking to its cytoplasmic target, methionine synthase. She received her PhD in Chemistry and Biochemistry at Loyola University Chicago, where her research focused on using X-ray crystallography to study enzyme mechanism and regulation. Romila also enjoys running, cooking and traveling in her free time.


Public Relations:

Kathrin Ulrich
Kathrin is a postdoctoral fellow in the department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. She studied Molecular and Cellular Biology at Heidelberg University in Germany and earned a PhD from Heidelberg University Biochemistry Center in 2017. She is interested in thiol-based redox regulation and studies the functional switch of the protein targeting factor Get3. Since 2018, she is responsible for the UMPDA homepage.

Catherine Scull
Catie is a Michigan Life Sciences Postdoctoral Fellow in Nils Walter’s lab in the Department of Chemistry. After studying Cell, Molecular, and Microbial Biology at Auburn University (B.S., 2014), Catie completed her doctoral studies in Biochemistry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (Ph.D., 2020). Catie’s current research is focused on using single-molecule techniques to assess how riboswitches interact with prokaryotic RNA polymerase (RNAP) in real time. In her free time, Catie enjoys rock climbing, hiking, camping, and biking.

Networking Co-Chair:

Varun Gadkari
Varun is a postdoctoral research associate in the Chemistry department. He received his B.S. and Ph.D. in biochemistry from The Ohio State University, and joined the University of Michigan as a postdoc in 2017. His research aims to characterize protein misfolding diseases using unique bioanalytical approaches such as native mass spectrometry. He joined the UMPDA board as a Co-Networking Chair in 2019.

Gustavo Caballero Flores
Gustavo is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Gabriel Nunez’s lab at the Department of Pathology since 2016. He received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). His research focuses on the mechanisms by which bacterial pathogens gain access to and induce disease in the gut, and how the intestinal microbiota protects the host against infection. In addition to research and mentoring, Gustavo is passionate about professional/community service, sports, reading and outdoor activities. He also loves hanging out with his family and friends.

Postdoc Connections:

Faraz-Uddin Mohammad
Faraz earned his BS in chemistry from the UP state in India and went on to earn a MS in biotechnology from Bangalore University. He worked as data scientist at Molecular Connection Ltd. for a year before pursuing his MPhil and Ph.D. in biotechnology at Aligarh University. Since 2015 he is a postdoc at U of M, working with James Baker Jr. at the Mary H. Weiser Food Allergy Center. His research focuses on mucosal dendritic cell populations and mechanisms involved in food allergy disease. Faraz is also an active member of miLEAD. In his free time, he loves to cook, watch sci-fi and read.

Nabih Haddad
Nabih is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Rackham Office of Institutional Research at University of Michigan. He obtained his Ph.D. from the Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education (HALE) program at Michigan State University in 2019. His research interests include higher education policy, institutional philanthropy, and student success for underserved and underrepresented communities.


Julia Gerson
is a post-doctoral fellow in Henry Paulson’s laboratory in the Neurology Department. She completed her undergraduate studies at Arizona State University and her PhD at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. She studies the role of protein quality control factor, Ubiquilin-2, in regulating common aggregation-prone proteins in neurodegenerative disease. Outside the lab, Julia is passionate about increasing equity and access to science education for underrepresented groups.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion:

Arianna Miles-Jay
Arianna is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in Evan Snitkin’s lab, where she applies whole genome sequencing to study the transmission and evolution of healthcare-associated pathogens. She received her PhD and MPH in Epidemiology from the University of Washington. Arianna is also an alumna of the University of Michigan—receiving her BS in Microbiology—and is a lifelong Michigan sports fan. She was elected to join the UMPDA board in June 2020.

Postdoctoral Affairs:

Charlotte Vanacker
Charlotte is a postdoctoral fellow in the department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology since 2016. She earned her PhD in Neurosciences from University of Lille in France. Her research interest is in the central control of reproductive function, particularly by non-neuronal cells, thanks to electrophysiological techniques.


Manaswini Sarangi
Manaswini is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, where she studies the parental effects of high dietary sugar consumption on offspring. Her research in Monica Dus’s Lab is at the interface of diet, epigenetics and behavior. She has a PhD in Evolutionary Genetics from JNCASR, India. Outside research, she finds herself occupied in outreach, science communication and visual arts.

International Affairs:

Isha Verma
Isha is working as a postdoctoral fellow in Jack Parent’s lab in Neurology. Her research projects are focused on studying the role of various gene mutations in epilepsy using patient-derived neural cells and brain organoids, and investigating the efficacy of interneuron transplantation therapy for the treatment of epilepsy. She finished her Ph.D. from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India, where she worked on generation, characterization, and enrichment of neural cells from mouse pluripotent stem cells.

Professional development:

Sundaresh Ram
Sundaresh is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Departments of Radiology and Biomedical Engineering. Previously, he was a research fellow in the school of Electrical & Computer Engineering and the School of Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University. He received his Ph.D. degree in Electrical & Computer Engineering at The University of Arizona in 2017. His research interests lie in the broad area of image science with applications to various imaging technologies.


Nadia Saadat
Nadia is a research fellow with the Department of Pediatrics. She received her MS and Ph.D. from Wayne State University. Her research focusses on integrating biological and social factors associated with adverse perinatal outcome among pregnant African American women. In her current project, she is applying an integrative multi-omics approach to study the effects of higher BMI, inflammation and depressive symptoms on African American mothers and their babies.

Honorary Board Members:

Ariangela J. Kozik
Ari is a postdoc in the Department of Internal Medicine – Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care. Her research focuses on the role of the respiratory and gut microbiome in asthma. Aside from her research, she is passionate about promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in academia. She is especially committed to advocating for graduate students and postdocs who are parents. As mom to a future engineer, she spends her time outside of lab picking up Legos.


Daniel Schill
Dan is a postdoc in the cell and developmental biology department in the lab of Sue O’Shea and studies bipolar disorder. Originally from Wisconsin, he received his BS in human biology and molecular/cellular biology from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and completed his PhD in cellular and developmental biology at the Medical College of Wisconsin. In his free time Dan enjoys watching baseball, cooking, and hanging out with his wife Becky and dog Riley. Dan was co-president Feb 2019 – Dec 2020.

Lisa Abernathy Close
Lisa is a postdoctoral fellow in the department of Microbiology & Immunology at the Medical School. She earned a B.S in Microbiology & Molecular Genetics at Michigan State University and a Ph.D. in Immunology & Microbiology from Wayne State University School of Medicine. She studies host-microbe interactions in the gastrointestinal tract with a focus on inflammatory bowel disease.

Jay Vornhagen
Jay is from Michigan, but has also lived in many places across the country, including Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and Indiana. He earned his B.S. in Ann Arbor, Jay went on the pursue a Ph.D. in Pathobiology at the University of Washington in the lab of Lakshmi Rajagopal. Following completion of his Ph.D., he ventured back to Michigan to become a post-doctoral fellow in the Bachman lab in 2017. When Jay is not in the lab, he can be found playing french horn as a member of the UM Band Alumni Association or working on a new recipe in the kitchen. Jay was co-president of the UMPDA from Jan 2018-Feb 2019.