Academic Lab Management & Leadership Symposium

The 2023 Academic Lab Management & Leadership Symposium

The course is organized by postdoc career development administrators from The Torrey Pines Training Consortium (TPTC), which members include Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP), Scripps Research, and UC San Diego.


If you are affiliated with a TPTC institute, please contact your respective administrator to receive a separate discounted registration link.

The course is designed to equip postdocs and junior faculty in the biomedical, physical, and life sciences with the professional competencies to lead innovative and productive research programs. However, graduate students and research staff may also find this training informative and may attend. Additionally, the symposium will be held virtually this year and we invite postdocs and graduate students from any institution.


March 1 & 3 | March 8 & 10 

Each event day is scheduled for 10:00am-2:00pm (PT) / 1:00pm-5:00pm (ET)

This virtual symposium will feature faculty from various institutions:

March 1, 2023

Developing Your Leadership Vision

Managing Communication & Conflict

March 3, 2023

Diversity/Inclusion in Higher Education

Conducting Your Job Search

Negotiating Your Academic Job Offer

March 8, 2023

Recruiting & Staffing Your Lab

Building an Effective Team

March 10, 2023

Sustaining Your Lab

Navigating Tenure


Speaker Biographies:

Doug Robinson, Ph.D. | Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Professor, Department of Internal Medicine

Dr. Douglas Robinson is a Professor of Cell Biology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine with appointments in Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences, Medicine (Pulmonary Division), Oncology (GI Division), and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. In his research, Dr. Robinson investigates how cells control their shapes for normal human health. In particular, his lab initially uses a model organism Dictyostelium to discover fundamental concepts and then applies these insights to human diseases, including cancer and lung disease. Dr. Robinson’s lab has also built an outreach initiative for high school students from low-income and educationally under-resourced backgrounds. He and his colleagues have expanded the effort by creating an umbrella program called the Johns Hopkins Initiative for Careers in Science and Medicine (CSM) which has served over 580 scholars from 5th grade to high school to undergraduate to post-baccalaureate levels. Dr. Robinson completed his B.S. degree at Purdue University, his doctoral degree with Lynn Cooley at Yale University School of Medicine, and his postdoctoral training with Jim Spudich at Stanford University School of Medicine. He was a Damon Runyon Fellow, a Burroughs Wellcome Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences recipient, a Beckman Young Investigator, and an American Cancer Society Research Scholar. Dr. Robinson is the 2015 recipient of the Johns Hopkins University Professors’ Award for Excellence in Teaching in Biomedical Sciences and the 2016 recipient of the Biophysical Society’s Emily M. Gray Award for ‘Significant Contributions to Education in Biophysics’. He also received the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s 2017 Ruth Kirschstein Diversity in Science Award for “the encouragement of under-represented minorities to enter the scientific enterprise and/or to the effective mentorship of those within it.” In 2018, Doug received the Provost’s Prize for Faculty Excellence in Diversity, and in 2020, he became a Fellow of the American Society for Cell Biology. Doug is also a 2022 American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow.

Diane Klotz, Ph.D. | Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

Director, Office of Education, Training, & International Services

Associate Dean of Administration & Professional Development, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Dr. Diane Klotz is Director of the Office of Education, Training, & International Services, and Associate Dean of Administration and Professional Development in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in La Jolla, CA. In this position, Diane oversees a team responsible for creating and delivering innovative programs to support the professional growth and complement the scientific education and training of Sanford Burnham Prebys graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. She also participates in institute-wide efforts in strategic planning with respect to education and training initiatives and serves as an advisor to faculty on education and training best practices and to executive leadership on education and training policy. Most recently, Diane was selected to lead a new Sanford Burnham Prebys initiative to develop a leadership competencies model and new leadership development program for all employees.

Diane received her PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Tulane University, and pursued her postdoctoral research training at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS, NIH). Diane’s research focused on cross-talk between steroid hormone receptors and growth factor signaling pathways in the female reproductive tract. Outside the lab, Diane served as a member and chair of the NIEHS postdoctoral association and was a member and chair of the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) Board of Directors, where she remains active as chair of the NPA Advisory Council. Diane has served on the NIH study sections for the NIH Broadening Experience in Scientific Training (BEST) Award program and served as a member of the NIH BEST External Scientific Panel of advisors.

Diane’s career path has been shaped by her observations of and experiences with how scientific organizations function and how scientific leaders strive to effect change and make progress. Her focus in the education and training of scientists at all levels and in all career paths is on helping scientists find their voices as high-impact leaders who are able to guide their teams with compassion, clarity, vision, and intent. Toward this end, Diane worked with academic labs, professional associations, and biotech companies towards developing high-performing teams and cultures that support them. Diane is a certified DiSC® facilitator, Influence Style Indicator™ facilitator, and MBTI® practitioner, and has achieved comprehensive certification in Conflict Management and Change Management from Kilmann Diagnostics, along with a certificate for Negotiation and Leadership from the Harvard Program on Negotiation.

Malene Hansen, Ph.D. | The Buck Institute for Research on Aging

Chief Scientific Officer and Professor

Dr. Hansen is Chief Scientific Officer and Professor at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Northern California. She obtained a Master of Science in biochemistry in 1998, and a doctorate in molecular biology in 2001, both from Copenhagen University, Denmark. Dr. Hansen carried out postdoctoral studies at the University of California, San Francisco in the laboratory of Professor Cynthia Kenyon, Ph.D., a world leader in the genetics of aging. Dr. Hansen started her independent research career at institute Sanford Burnham Prebys (SBP), a non-profit research institute, in San Diego in the fall of 2007, and served as Associate Dean of Student Affairs in SBP’s accredited graduate program, and as Faculty Advisor on Postdoctoral Training until February 2021, when she transitioned to Buck (her lab moved in August 2021). In recognition of her mentoring efforts, Dr. Hansen has received the 2017 Mentor Award from the National Postdoctoral Association in the US, and she enjoys giving seminars on mentoring and professional development.

Dr. Hansen’s research uses both the short-lived and genetically tractably nematode C. elegans as well as mammalian cell cultures to investigate the molecular mechanisms of aging with a special focus on the role and regulation of the cell’s ability to recycle its own components, a process called autophagy (awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine). Her research has resulted in >50 publications and she has received several awards for her research, including an Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar in Aging Award, a Glenn Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging, a Julie Martin Mid-Career Award in Aging Research, a Breakthrough in Gerontology Award and the Irving Wright Award of Distinction 2021 from the American Association for Aging Research. Dr. Hansen serves as an ad hoc reviewer for multiple scientific journals and she has organized a number of international scientific conferences, including the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s meeting on Mechanisms of Aging from 2014-2018 and the 2020 Keystone meeting on Aging.

Claudia Benevente, Ph.D. | University of California Irvine

Associate Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Developmental & Cell Biology 

Dr. Claudia Benavente studied Molecular Biotechnology Engineering at Universidad de Chile where her interest in pursuing cancer research first started. To further her studies, she came to the US to pursue a doctoral degree in Cancer Biology at The University of Arizona as a Fulbright scholar. She then moved to a postdoctoral position at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital where she became familiar with childhood solid tumors. Dr. Benavente is currently an Associate Professor in the Departments of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Developmental and Cell Biology at the University of California Irvine.  She is committed to providing a diverse, inclusive, and supportive environment for underrepresented minorities in science as diversity of skills, thought, and experiences, strengthen our ability to ask important questions and solve problems. The Benavente Lab focuses on identifying therapeutic vulnerabilities downstream of the RB-E2F pathway in solid tumors that frequently mutate the RB1 gene. Dr. Benavente’s research is particularly interested in the study of chromatin remodeling processes that establish the normal epigenetic landscape in developing tissues, how they are perturbed following RB1 inactivation to promote cancer and provide insight for the development of new therapies for childhood solid tumors.

Shalini Low-Nam, Ph.D. | Purdue University

Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry

Dr. Low-Nam received her Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico and completed postdoctoral scholar positions at South Dakota State University and the University of California at Berkeley. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Physics at Purdue University. Dr. Low-Nam’s research is in the area of cellular biophysics, with an emphasis on quantitative fluorescence imaging. Her group is focused on measuring spatial and temporal mechanisms of cellular decision-making with single molecule and single cell resolution. They address questions related to the physical mechanisms that drive tumor evolution and corresponding immune responses. They strive to generate actionable insights to promote targeted cell-based cancer therapeutics that take advantage of the potent activities of small numbers of activating events. Providing an interdisciplinary skillset to her trainees and students motivates her. She is also an origami enthusiast and enjoy cooking, painting, and disc golf.

Teresa Lee, Ph.D. | University of Massachusettes Lowell

Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

Teresa Lee, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at UMass Lowell. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Genetics Society of America and as Chair of their Education Committee. Her lab is interested in how chromatin landscapes mediate the transgenerational inheritance of complex traits using the model nematode C. elegans. Currently, their NIH-funded projects investigate how the inheritance of repressive chromatin affects gene expression to influence longevity, health, and development. Teresa received her B.S. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, graduating with honors in both Biology and Creative Writing. She completed her Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley, where she was supported by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Her postdoctoral studies at Emory University were supported by an NIH IRACDA-FIRST fellowship, which allowed her to develop undergraduate classes that incorporate active learning and biology research at Clark Atlanta University, the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative, and Oglethorpe University. As a mentor and educator, she cares deeply about inclusive teaching and thoughtful mentoring. Outside of the lab, she can be found in a coffeeshop, on her yoga mat, or (most likely) reading a book.

Molly Matty, Ph.D. | University of Portland

Assistant Professor, Department of Biology

Dr. Molly Matty is an assistant professor at the University of Portland in Portland, OR. Her lab opened in late Fall 2022 and seeks to understand how non-pathogenic gut microbes affect behavior and physiology in the nematode C. elegans. She earned her PhD in Genetics and Genomics from Duke University in the Tobin Lab, where she investigated the host immune response to mycobacterial infection using zebrafish as a model system. She did her postdoctoral training at the Salk Institute in the Chalasani Lab, where her research & activities were funded by the National Science Foundation’s Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology (PRFB).  Dr. Matty is committed to research mentorship, education, and equity in science. She hope to use these passions to develop curricula and research opportunities for undergraduates. 

Lydia Daboussi, Ph.D. | University of California Los Angeles

Assistant Professor, Department of Neurobiology

Lydia Daboussi, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Neurobiology in the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Dr. Daboussi is a broadly trained cell biologist interested in understanding the mechanisms of nervous system disorders. She conducted her Ph.D. at UCLA in the Department of Biological Chemistry in the laboratory of Dr. Gregory S. Payne. During her Ph.D. she pioneered a live-cell imaging strategy using high-speed, low-light microscopy to study the molecular basis of clathrin adaptor recruitment at the TGN in S. Cerevisiae. Then she joined Dr. Samuel L. Pfaff’s lab at the Salk Institute as a post-doctoral fellow. At the Salk, Dr. Daboussi used mouse genetics, electron microscopy pharmacology, and mouse sensorimotor behavioral assays to demonstrate that Schwann cells activate common gene programs that ameliorate disease caused by axonal loss. This work identifies a previously unappreciated role for Schwann cell plasticity in chronic genetic disease and has new implications for how we classify peripheral neuropathies. For this work, Dr. Daboussi was awarded the George E. Hewitt Foundation Fellowship, Salk Women & Science Award and the Jonas Salk Fellowship.

Mark Lawson, Ph.D. | University of California San Diego

Professor In Residence, Obstetrics, Gynecology, & Reproductive Sciences

Mark Lawson, Ph.D., is Professor In Residence of Reproductive Medicine at UC San Diego, Director of the UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, and the Southern California Liaison for the Ford Foundation Fellowship Office.  He also serves as Chair of the Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee.  Dr. Lawson’s formal academic training is in Biology and Microbiology and his current research focuses on the regulation of reproductive function by reproductive and metabolic hormones. He has research experience from both academia and industry and provides career guidance and support for diverse postdocs seeking careers in the academy. He has extensive experience in mentoring trainees from historically underrepresented groups as a faculty member and as a program director for undergraduate graduate, and postdoctoral training programs.  

Elizabeth Martin, Ph.D. | NIEHS

Independent Research Scholar

Dr. Elizabeth M. Martin is an Independent Research Scholar at the National Institute of Environmental Health Science, which provides her with a three-year, non-tenure track principal investigator position. In addition to cutting edge research, as part of the IRS program Dr. Martin is committed to improving diversity in research science. Her research program focuses on epigenetic reprogramming in response to environmental exposures, and the role that transcription factors play in this process. This research seeks to understand maternal breast development during pregnancy and whether aberrant epigenetic reprogramming induced by the phthalate DEHP, through its interaction with progesterone receptor, can result in an increased risk of developing breast cancer later in the mother’s life. Her research fills an important gap by addressing whether disruption of later life windows of development by environmental exposures can result in disease. 

Dr. Martin received her Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Engineering from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill under Dr. Rebecca Fry, where she worked to understand metabolic alterations in response to arsenic exposure, as well as sexually dimorphic prenatal exposure responses. During her doctoral studies, she was the recipient of the Karen Wetterhahn Memorial Award from the NIEHS Superfund Research Program. Following this, she was a postdoctoral researcher in the UNC Curriculum in Toxicology, under the direction of Dr. Shaun McCullough, where she investigated how epigenetic markers can influence susceptibility to air pollution. Elizabeth was a fellow in Dr. Paul Wade’s lab at NIEHS where she investigated the role of progesterone receptor activity in epigenetic reprogramming and breast cancer risk. As an NIEHS trainee, she applied for and received a Postdoctoral Research Associate Training (PRAT) Program fellowship sponsored by the National Institute of General Medicine (NIGMS). 

Peter Adams, Ph.D. | Sanford Burnham Prebys

Director and Professor, Tumor Initiation and Maintenance Program

Dr. Adams is Director of the TIM Program at the SBP Cancer Center. He has been Full Professor at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, San Diego, since 2016. He has studied chromatin and epigenetics for over 20 years since. His lab primarily uses in vitro and in vivo mammalian models of aging, including of stem cells, cellular senescence and mouse models, with an emphasis on epigenetic mechanisms and computational analysis of large epigenomic and transcriptomic datasets. His lab coined the term “chromostasis” to describe the presumptive mechanisms that confer chromatin and phenotypic stability to achieve healthy aging; discovered “cytoplasmic chromatin fragments (CCF)” produced by senescent cells as pro-inflammatory signals through activation of the cGAS/STING anti-viral pathway; and with Trey Ideker published the first DNA methylation clock in the mouse, from our studies of aging mouse liver. He is academic director of the Genomics Facility at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, including single cell sequencing, and co-Director of the “Heterogeneity of Aging Core” of the San Diego Nathan Shock Center for Excellence in Biology of Aging. He has trained ~40 Ph.D. students, clinical fellows, and post-docs, many of whom have gone onto independent and senior positions in leading Universities, research institutes, and industry and is committed to mentoring the next generation of research leaders. 

Kymberly Gowdy, Ph.D. | Ohio State University Medical Center

Associate Professor, Department of Internal Medicine

Dr. Gowdy is an Associate Professor at The Ohio State University where she leads a research program in the Department of Internal Medicine focused on how air pollutants can influence chronic lung diseases, both infectious and inflammatory. Her research has resulted in more than 50 research publications with that include her trainees and various collaborators from both national and international laboratories. Dr. Gowdy is a reviewer for multiple study sections (NIH, American Thoracic Society, American Heart Association). She also is active in journal peer reviews including her role as Associate Editor for Toxicological Sciences and Editorial Board member for Journal of Immunology, American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Life Sciences, and Frontiers in Immunology. In addition to her research career, Dr. Gowdy is passionate about mentoring, career development, and teaching the next generation of biomedical researchers.  She started the Eastern North Carolina Chapter of Graduate Women in Science in 2016, a chapter that now has more than 100 members.  She has mentored numerous research faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergraduates.  She also currently contributes to the biomedical and toxicology curriculum for graduate and public health students.  Lastly, she is the past chair of the Society of Toxicology Committee of Diversity Initiatives which organizes and executes the Undergraduate Diversity Program prior to the annual meeting.

Andrew Su, Ph.D. | Scripps Research

Professor, Department of Integrative, Structural and Computational Biology

Andrew is a Professor at the Scripps Research Institute in the Department of Integrative, Structural and Computational Biology (ISCB). His research focuses on building and applying bioinformatics infrastructure for biomedical discovery. His research has a particular emphasis on leveraging crowdsourcing for genetics and genomics. Representative projects include the Gene Wiki, BioGPS, MyGene.Info, and Mark2Cure, each of which engages the crowd to help organize biomedical knowledge. These resources are collectively used millions of times every month by members of the research community, by students, and by the general public.

Sandra Schmid, Ph.D. | Chan Zuckerberg Biohub

Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Schmid is the inaugural Chief Scientific Officer – guiding the cell biology and infectious disease initiatives – at the nonprofit research organization, Chan Zuckerberg Biohub. She was also recently elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) for her “distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.” Previously, she held the Cecil H. Green Distinguished Chair in Cellular and Molecular Biology and served as chair of the Department of Cell Biology at the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center (UTSW). Dr. Schmid was born in Vancouver, Canada and received her B.Sc. Degree (Honours) in Cell Biology at the University of British Columbia. She moved to the U.S. in 1980 for graduate studies with Jim Rothman at Stanford University. She was a Helen Hay Whitney postdoctoral fellow and Lucille P. Markey Scholar with Ira Mellman and Ari Helenius at Yale, and moved to The Scripps Research Institute as an Assistant Professor in 1988. She served as Chair of the Department of Cell Biology at TSRI from 2000-2012, before being recruited to UTSW. She is a leader in the scientific community, whose research, published in over 150 papers, is directed towards elucidating the molecular mechanisms and regulation of clathrin-mediated endocytosis (CME), characterizing the differential regulation of CME in normal and cancer cells, and analyzing the structure and function of the GTPase, dynamin. She has received numerous awards, including the American Society for Cell Biology’s Women in Cell Biology Junior and Senior Career Recognition Awards, an NIH MERIT Award and the Arthur Kornberg and Paul Berg Lifetime Achievement Award in Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Schmid received a M.S. Degree in Executive Leadership from the University of San Diego and is committed to mentoring young scientists and future leaders. She gives frequent career development and time management seminars to postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty throughout the US.

Luke Wiseman, Ph.D. | Scripps Research

Professor, Department of Molecular Medicine

Dr. Wiseman is a Professor in the Department of Molecular Medicine at Scripps Research. He received his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Virginia and Ph.D. from Scripps Research in the laboratory of Jeffery Kelly studying the chemical and biological basis of systemic amyloid diseases. Dr. Wiseman then pursued postdoctoral studies as an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow at New York University School of Medicine studying stress-responsive signaling pathways in the laboratory of David Ron. In 2009, Dr. Wiseman was hired onto the faculty at Scripps Research where he leads a team focused on defining the pathologic and therapeutic implications of stress-responsive signaling pathways, such as the unfolded protein response (UPR), in the context of etiologically-diverse diseases. Dr. Wiseman has authored over 70 manuscripts and received numerous awards as an independent investigator including the Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar in Aging Award (2011), Amyloidosis Foundation Jr Research Award (2014), the Glenn Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging (2017), and the Scripps Research ‘Outstanding Mentor’ Award (2019). Dr. Wiseman and his team are funded by multiple sources including the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

Brandon Cox, Ph.D. | Southern Illinois University School of Medicine

Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director, Department of Pharmacology

Dr. Brandon Cox received a B.S. in Biology from the University of Richmond where she first got involved in research studying coral.  After 3 years of working in clinical trials in Chicago, Dr. Cox went to Georgetown University where she received a Ph.D. in Pharmacology. Dr. Cox’s postdoctoral training was completed at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital where she first started research on hearing loss and the regeneration of sensory hair cells in the cochlea. In 2013, Dr. Cox became an Assistant Professor at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield, IL. The Cox lab investigates the cell source, mechanism, and genes involved in the hair cell regeneration process that occurs in the newborn mouse ear. Dr. Cox is also interested the developmental changes that take place during the first weeks after birth which prevent regeneration from occurring in juvenile and adult mice. Other projects her lab are focused on mechanisms that regulate hair cell survival during postnatal maturation, aging, regeneration, and in stressed hair cells after noise exposure. Dr. Cox has received grant funding from National Institutes of Health and the US Department of Defense.

Wilson Clements, Ph.D. | St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital

Associate Member, Hematology Department

In his lab at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Dr. Wilson Clements works to understand the molecular basis of hematovascular development and leukemia using zebrafish.  His previous work indicates that migratory cells formed a transient local environment that was likely critical to supply necessary inductive signals, a “specification niche” (Clements et al., Nature 2011). More recently, his lab has identified two key populations of cells that contribute to the specification niche, one deriving from neural crest (Damm and Clements, Nature Cell Biol, 2017), and one deriving from the primitive somite (in progress).  Future studies will build on these observations to identify the specific molecular factors that specify HSCs and elaborate the niche architecture. These studies will inform long-term efforts to produce HSCs in vitro for regenerative medicine, transplantation, and as a platform for delivery of gene therapy. Dr. Clements received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Developmental Biology from the University of Washington and completed postdoctoral training at the University of Washington and the University of California San Diego.  

Melissa Pasquinelli, Ph.D. | North Carolina State University

Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor, College of Natural Resources

Dr. Melissa A. Pasquinelli is Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor in the College of Natural Resources at North Carolina State University. She is a computational materials chemist who leverages computational tools to predict how the structure, dynamics, and environment of (macro)molecules dictate their functional roles. She and her team revel in working closely with experimentalists and industry to address scientific problems in a variety of application areas, with a strong emphasis on developing sustainable and ‘smart’ polymer based materials such as high performance (bio)fibers, selective carbon capture systems, and customized protective textiles and packaging materials. She received a Ph.D. in theoretical chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University and did postdoctoral studies at both Duke University and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Dr. Pasquinelli was named a 2018 Fellow of the American Chemical Society, and has also received other prestigious awards based on her scholarly work, teaching, and mentoring, including the North Carolina System Board of Governors Award for Teaching Excellence in 2018. In her spare time, she enjoys doing yoga, listening to music, enjoying nature, and spending time with her loved ones. She received grant funding from National Institutes of Health and the US Department of Defense.

Amali Samarasinghe, Ph.D. | University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center

Associate Professor, Pediatric Pulmonology, Plough Foundation Endowed Chair of Excellence

Dr. Amali Samarasinghe was born and raised in Colombo, Sri Lanka and arrived in the United States in 1998 for college. She has always been fascinated by life science and enjoys the structure of the scientific process. As an aficionada of the alternative hypothesis, Dr. Samarasinghe has passion to uncover the inner workings of non-dogmatic possibilities. The fundamental focus of her laboratory is to pursue host-pathogen interactions in the respiratory system in hosts with underlying allergic asthma in which the immune response is already perturbed. Dr. Samarasignhe’s lab has made interesting observations and discoveries with murine model systems specifically designed to model influenza virus and/or streptococcal infections in fungal asthma. Her lab found that the inflammatory processes associated with fungal asthma protect the host from severe influenza and synergistic interactions between influenza A virus and Streptococcus pneumoniae. Ongoing studies in her laboratory are aimed at additional pathways that may guide this protective response in allergic hosts. Dr. Samarasinghe was awarded a Presidential Fellowship from North Dakota State University to pursue her doctoral degree in the field of Pulmonary Immunology. She completed her postdoctoral training in the Department of Infectious Diseases at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and her independent laboratory was established in August 2012 in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center.

Ariane Jansma, Ph.D. | Point Loma Nazarene University

Associate Professor of Chemistry

Dr. Ariane Jansma is a biochemist and molecular structural biologist specializing in NMR spectroscopy. She originally studied chemistry at Pepperdine University and immediately after graduation went to work in the biotech industry in San Diego. She later had an opportunity to begin a Ph.D. program at UCSD and decided to pursue structure elucidation of proteins, which brought her to the field of biochemistry. While her intentions were originally to return to the biotech industry following graduation, the opportunity to work as a TA made her discover a real passion for teaching. During her postdoctoral fellowship at The Scripps Research Institute under the mentorship of Dr. Peter Wright, she had the opportunity to apply NMR to disordered viral proteins, as well as mentor several high school intern students. These experiences finalized her plans to pursue an academic career at an undergraduate institution where she could combine her love of teaching and research.  

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