Current Executive Board Members
Leslie Sedgeman, Chair
I am originally from Argentina, and I received my B.A. in Chemistry from Vassar College in New York, and my PhD in Molecular Physiology from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. I am currently a postdoc in the Tarling-Vallim lab in the Cardiology department at UCLA, where I study in vivo intestinal and hepatic physiology. Outside of work, I enjoy cooking, travelling hiking and exploring Southern California. As Chair of the PDA I am looking forward to learning about the needs of our diverse postdoc community and to supporting programming and resources to enrich both the personal and professional lives of postdocs.
Caroline Johnson, Vice-Chair of Operations
I attended Purdue University, where I graduated with a degree in Behavioral Neuroscience and a minor in English. After that, I attended the University of Southern California, where I got my Ph.D. in Neuroscience studying the role of catecholamines in initiating the stress response to hypoglycemia. I graduated from USC in 2017 and started my postdoc here at UCLA in the Department of Neurobiology in the David Geffen School of Medicine studying the neurocircuitry of female lordosis behavior, and the role of estrogens and opioids in that behavior. Outside of work I spend my time baking, reading, and trying to learning new things. I’m excited to join the Postdoc Association at UCLA as the Vice-Chair of Operations!
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.
Daniel Velez-Ramirez, Vice-Chair of International Affairs
I have been interested in microbiology since I have memory, and for me, the path to become a researcher was clear since high school. I obtained my BSc majoring in Biology and my PhD at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), the best public university in Mexico and one of the best ones in Ibero-America. Now, as a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics (MIMG), my research focus on the flagellum of Trypanosoma brucei, a unicellular eukaryotic parasite, causative of the sleeping sickness, a neglected tropical disease in the Sub-Saharan Africa. Having moved from my home country to California for my postdoctoral training, represented a huge challenge for me, and my family; and as the PDA Vice-Chair of International Affairs, my goal is to help other international postdocs to solve their particular issues.
Jackie Giovanniello, Vice-Chair of Advocacy and Campus Relations
I am originally from New York and I received my BS in Biology from Brown University in Rhode Island and my PhD in Neuroscience from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. I am currently a postdoc in Kate Wassum’s lab at UCLA, where I study the brain circuitry that allows stress to accelerate the formation of habits. Outside of the lab, I enjoy making functional ceramics pieces at my favorite pottery studio and going to the dog park with my 5 year old black lab, Jenkins. As Vice-Chair of Advocacy and Campus Relations, I look forward to engaging with the postdoc community at UCLA and working to improve your personal and professional lives.
Farha Khan, Vice-Chair of Communication
I did my Ph.D. from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, India. After graduating from IISc in 2018, I started my Postdoc at UCLA in the Department of Physiology at David Geffen School of Medicine. My work at UCLA involves studying the structure, dynamics, and functions of sugar transporters and ion channels. When not at work, I like to see new places, learn new things, read, and paint. As the vice-chair of communication, I intend to reach out to the diverse UCLA postdoc community, contribute to their wellness, and provide support.