Lok Kwan Leung, Chair

My name is Lok Kwan Leung, and I am a 2nd year Postdoc in the Department of Neurology. My research focuses on neurodegeneration and neural repair. I have spent the past 12 years at UCLA, obtaining both my bachelor and PhD degrees here. As the Vice Chair of Advocacy and Campus Relations, I hope to learn about the issues facing the Postdocs at UCLA and find the resources that address these concerns through advocacy efforts. In addition, I aim to foster a sense of community and help create a collaborative environment among postdocs by cultivating relationships at UCLA and with postdoctoral associations at other institutions.

 

Johnny J. Saldate, Vice Chair of Operations

I am originally from Tucson, where I completed a B.S. in Psychology at the University of Arizona in 2011 (Bear Down!). I then moved to Ann Arbor and earned a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the University of Michigan in 2018 (Go Blue!). My postdoctoral research focuses on identifying the mechanisms of synaptic maintenance and plasticity in sensory cells of the vestibular system. Outside of work I am an avid runner, live music enthusiast, and traveler.  As Vice-Chair of Operations, and a relatively new postdoc here at UCLA, I am enthusiastic to become a part of and strengthen our community. I look forward to coordinating and leading the PDA’s efforts to meet the diverse needs of our postdoctoral scholars. I highly value perspective and feedback, and intend to represent us within and outside of our organization with the overall goal of enriching the professional and social lives of all interested postdocs.

 

Anela Tosevska, Vice Chair of Advocacy and Campus Relations

Originally from Macedonia, I obtained my PhD in Pharmaceutical Life Sciences from the University of Vienna, Austria. I have been at UCLA since 2016, first as a visiting graduate student, and then as a postdoc, at the department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology. I am currently doing computational analyses of sequencing data in order to understand gene regulation in aging and disease. Outside of work, I’ve always loved traveling and meeting new people, and I recently stumbled upon the magnificent world of improv theater. I am also a beginner-enthusiast drummer. My hopes for my term as Vice Chair of Advocacy and Campus Relations on the PDA board is to continue developing resources for fellow postdoc and help them navigate the new work and life environment. I am very excited to work with all other members of the PDA in creating a tight-knit and supportive postdoc community.

 

Portia Mira, Vice Chair of Community Engagement

Portia is a California native, she grew up in Merced and became a UCLA UPLIFT Fellow in 2018. She received her A.S. in Chemical Sciences from Merced College (2011), B.S. in Biological Sciences from UC Merced (2013) and Ph.D. in Quantitative and Systems Biology from UC Merced (2018). Her dissertation work focused on microbial evolution. In particular, understanding the impacts of sub-lethal concentrations of antibiotics on the evolution of bacteria. She has experience on a variety of planning committees and advisory boards during her time at UC Merced. Being the Vice-Chair of Community Engagement, she hopes to strengthen and help connect UCLA’s diverse postdoc community through a variety of social and family events. She is a mother of three and understands the challenges being a parent in academia and the importance of having a sense of community.

 

Luis A. Garcia, Vice Chair of Communication

I was born and raised in Miami, Florida, where i received my B.S. and M.S. in Computer and Electrical Engineering at the University of Miami. I then moved to Piscataway, New Jersey, where I completed my Ph.D. in Computer Engineering with a Cybersecurity track at Rutgers University in May 2018. My postdoctoral research focuses broadly on the safety and security of machine learning in the context of cyber-physical systems, e.g., self-driving cars and drones. Although computer engineers are rarely synonymous with socialites, I have found myself to be very enthusiastic about promoting social wellness within my community. I will carry this enthusiasm into this position and find creative and effective ways to best engage the PDA community. I envision a very synergistic PDA where all committees are collaborating to promote wellness in all facets of a postdoc’s life. There’s more to life than just research!