Valeria González, Chair

I was born in Chile where I received my B.A. in psychology from the University of Chile. Then I moved to Portugal, getting my PhD in basic psychology from the University of Minho in 2020. I am currently a postdoc in the Izquierdo lab and Blaisdell lab in the psychology department at UCLA, where I study the neural and behavioral basis of role of information in decision-making and causal reasoning. I am also recipient of the UCLA Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship, which is funding my postdoctoral research. In my free time, I enjoy cooking international food and baking for my friends inside and outside the lab, along with traveling and playing boardgames.  As Chair of the PDA, I want to increase my participation, working to improve your personal lives, find community and advocate for the diverse postdoctoral community at UCLA.

Pamela Mattar, Vice-Chair of Operations

I am originally from Chile, where I received my B.A. in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Valparaiso and later M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Nutrition and Food from the University of Chile under the mentorship of Dr. Mariana Cifuentes (as you can see I love Nutrition!). I have been focusing my research on obesity and related metabolic diseases from a neuroendocrinology perspective. I had my first postdoctoral training during 2019-2020 in the neurobiology of obesity lab under Dr. Claudio Perez-Leighton’s mentorship. Then, I moved to Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York to join
Dr. Rajat Singh’s lab. In 2022, our lab moved from N.Y. to L.A. to be part of UCLA’s Medicine – Digestive Diseases department. Outside the lab, I enjoy exploring nature by hiking, going to group classes in the gym, supermarket shopping, cooking, and sharing with family and friends.

Tanya Gupta, Vice-Chair of Communications

I am from the Chicago area, and received my B.A. in Psychology and Biology at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, IL and my PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience from Arizona State University. I am currently a postdoc in Scott Wilke’s lab in the department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA, where I study brain circuitry underlying value- and effort-based decision-making. Outside of the lab, I enjoy exploring the outdoors, tinkering with electronics, and trying new food. As the PDA Vice-Chair of Communications, I look forward to facilitating connections between postdoctoral scholars from diverse personal and academic backgrounds.

Martin Toderi, Vice-Chair of Community Engagement

I received my PhD in Physics in 2020 from the National University of Rosario in Argentina and have experienced academia in Latin America and Europe during my undergraduate and graduate stages. I was born in Argentina with Italian roots, and I am always interested in cultural enrichment and exploring new environments. I started my Postdoctoral work at the Bozovic Lab (Physics & Astronomy department) in January 2021 where we study the dynamics of inner hair cells through optical techniques. I wish to embrace UCLA community and as Vice-Chair of community engagement I will serve my colleagues attending the interests and issues of postdocs on campus. Besides academia, I enjoy cooking, learning languages, playing the guitar and rowing.

Arpita R. Dave, Vice-Chair of Community Engagement

I was born in India and completed my B.Sc in Zoology, M.Sc in Biochemistry, and Ph.D. in Zoology (specializing in Neurobiology) at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. Along my academic journey, I also pursued short-term training in Regenerative Medicine and Electrophysiology in the Czech Republic and Iran. With a strong interest in vision science, I joined Dr. Roxana Radu’s laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow in 2019. My research in the lab is focused on investigating the epigenetic and mitochondrial metabolic regulations in Stargardt disease. During my leisure time, I find joy in exploring new cafes and museums in LA. As an avid music, dance, and painting enthusiast, I love to attend UCLA Art events. In my role as the vice-chair of community engagement, I am committed to organizing exciting social events for my colleagues, aiming to create a remarkable postdoctoral experience at UCLA.

Frances Staples, Vice-Chair of Advocacy and Campus Relations

Originally from Liverpool the United Kingdom, I received my PhD in plasma physics from University College London in 2021. Now I am a postdoctoral scholar in the Atmospheric & Oceanic sciences department at UCLA, where I research space weather forecasting models to support NASA satellite operations. As the vice-chair of advocacy and campus relations my primary goal is to create an environment at UCLA where all postdocs can have a productive and fulfilling career experience.


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