Rutgers OPA

Special Edition Newsletter | September 24

This week, we are highlighting some of our postdocs' research in honor of the NPA's National Postdoc Appreciation Week!

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Alison Obr

Campus Affiliation: RBHS

School: New Jersey Medical School

Department(s): Pharmacology, Physiology, and Neuroscience & Center for Cell Signaling


My research focuses on elucidating how the loss of the insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R) promotes breast tumor metastasis. We have identified loss of this growth factor signaling enhances the tumor stress which results in an immune evasive tumor microenvironment to allow tumor cell metastasis. Recently, we have discovered IGF-1R function in breast cancer is not restricted to the cell surface but has several functions in the cytoplasm and nucleus that are not reliant on down-stream canonical cellular signaling.


Top 3 recent accomplishments:

1. American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship

2. Publication in Breast Cancer Research: Insulin-like growth factor receptor signaling in breast tumor epithelium protects cells from endoplasmic reticulum stress and regulates the tumor microenvironment

3. Gordon Research Seminar Mammary Gland Biology Co-Chair

Anupam Singh

Campus Affiliation: RBHS

School: Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


I am a postdoctoral fellow working with Prof. Smita Patel in the RWJ Medical School at Rutgers University. My research is focused on understanding the mechanisms of molecular motors that are involved in DNA replication and transcription. My work involves quantitative studies of the enzymatic pathways of molecular motors such as helicases and polymerases with biophysical, structural, and computational approaches.


Replicative DNA polymerases rely on their proofreading exonuclease activity to remove misincorporated nucleotides. Owing to the high fidelity of these polymerases, misincorporation events are rare. Therefore, to our surprise, we found that DNA polymerases excise large amounts of correctly incorporated nucleotides during processive DNA synthesis. We recently published our findings and showed how the synthesis and editing pathways of replicative DNA polymerases modulate in response to replication barriers. In addition to providing a mechanistic basis of excessive excision of correct nucleotides during DNA replication, the study indicates that the primer-end partitioning in the polymerase and exonuclease active sites has a role in preventing mutagenic primer extensions at replication barriers.


Top 3 recent accomplishments:

  1. Recently published a study on excessive excision of correct nucleotides during DNA replication in The EMBO Journal: Singh, A., Pandey, M., Nandakumar, D., Raney, K.D., Yin, Y.W. and Patel, S.S., 2020. Excessive excision of correct nucleotides during DNA synthesis explained by replication hurdles. The EMBO journal, 39(6), p.e103367. Recommended in F1000Prime (F1000Prime)
  2. Presented the work in FASEB Helicase Meeting 2019 (selected short talk). Received FASEB Travel Award for attending the meeting.
  3. Presented research in the Genome Integrity Discussion Group meeting (February 2020), organized by the New York Academy of Sciences (Invited talk).

Ariel Schvartzman Cohenca

Campus Affiliation: New Brunswick

School: School of Arts and Sciences

Department: Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science (DIMACS)


As part of my postdoctoral research, I intend to expand two lines of work I started during my Ph.D. The first is to understand the tradeoff between simple and optimal mechanisms in multi-item settings. The second is to understand the tradeoff between fairness and manipulability in tournament design. I am new to New Brunswick and am slowly getting to know the city and the campus, so I’m excited to explore more as things become safer. The D&R canal is beautiful!


Top 3 recent accomplishments:

1. Optimal Mechanism Design for a Single-Minded Agent. Nikhil Devanur, Kira Goldner, Raghuvansh R. Saxena, Ariel Schvartzman, S. Matthew Weinberg. In the proceedings of the 21st ACM Conference on Economics and Computation (EC 2020).

2. Approximately Optimal Strategyproof Tournament Rules: On Large Manipulation Sets and Cover Consistence. Ariel Schvartzman, S. Matthew Weinberg, Eitan Zlatin, Albert Zuo. In the proceedings of the 11th Innovations of Theoretical Computer Science conference (ITCS 2020).

3. Approximation Schemes for a Buyer with Independent Items via Symmetries. Pravesh Kothari, Divyarthi Mohan, Ariel Schvartzman, Sahil Singla, S. Matthew Weinberg. In the proceedings of the 60th IEEE Annual Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science (FOCS 2019).

Calandra Lindstadt

Campus Affiliation: New Brunswick

School: School of Communication and Information

Department: Communication


The ASPEN Project is a William T. Grant funded project designed to measure use of research evidence by policymakers in the context of youth depression in NJ. My role is divided between project manager and researcher. I recently discovered this cool Trello board for organizing writing research papers (https://www.cathymazak.com/templates/). I really like Trello for tracking things and this manuscript development board is super handy!


Top 3 recent accomplishments:

  1. I successfully defended my dissertation via Zoom in April 2020.
  2. Peer-reviewed paper published: Lindstadt, C., Glowacki, E., Robertson, B., Wilcox, G., & Bernhardt, J. (2020). Reactions to a campus emergency: A text-mining analysis. Qualitative Research Reports in Communication, 0(0), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1080/17459435.2020.1755719
  3. I received the NCA Training and Development Division Top Presenter Award for presenting our original research (which also won that division's top paper award): The 12 fundamentals of highly effective communicators. Presented at the annual meeting of the National Communication Association (NCA) in Baltimore, MD (2019).

Erin Price

Campus Affiliation: New Brunswick

School: School of Environmental and Biological Sciences

Department: Biochemistry & Microbiology


I study how the human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus forms biofilms when it colonizes and invades host tissues. Our lab has recently discovered molecular factors that aid in this process. Ultimately, we hope to apply these findings to disrupt biofilm formation and improve infection outcomes.


Top 3 recent accomplishments:

  1. Publication: Price E.E. and Boyd J.M. Genetic control of metal ion homeostasis in Staphylococcus aureus. Trends in Microbiology, 2020.
  2. Presentation: Price E.E., Mashruwala A.A., and Boyd J.M. Examining activators of SaeRS in S. aureus fermentative biofilm formation. Poster presented virtually at American Society of Microbiology Microbe Meeting, 2020.
  3. (Award: Peggy Cotter Travel Award, Theobald Smith Society New Jersey Chapter of the American Society of Microbiology, 2020.

Ewerton Rocha Vieira

Campus Affiliation: New Brunswick

School: School of Arts and Sciences

Department: Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science (DIMACS)


My postdoctoral research is focused on developing a new modeling approach based on combinatorics and algebraic topology to obtain information from time-varying systems. My research group uses this approach to address data-informed dynamical systems in order to understand the global dynamics, non-linearities, oscillations, and other complex dynamics. Also, we are developing a software package titled Dynamic Signatures Generated by Regulatory Networks (DSGRN) that allows us to obtain significant information about the global dynamics of biologically relevant signal transduction (gene regulatory networks).


Top 3 recent accomplishments:

  1. Bastos, R., Rocco, N.R., Vieira, E.R. Finiteness of homotopy groups related to the non-abelian tensor product, Annali di Matematica Pura ed Applicata- 1923 (2019).
  2. D. Lima; M. Silveira; Vieira, E.R. Covering Action on Conley Theory. To appear.
  3. Software: Dynamic Signatures Generated by Regulatory Networks (DSGRN) https://github.com/Ewerton-Vieira/DSGRN

Fernando Vidal Pena

Campus Affiliation: Newark

School: School of Arts and Sciences

Department: Chemistry


My postdoctoral research at Rutgers – Newark focused on fabricating polymeric materials that showcase unprecedented properties and functions towards a more sustainable future. Polymers (long molecular chains, such as polystyrenes or silicones) have a tremendous potential for implementing new technologies since they already have important applications in our daily lives. I utilized our group’s knowledge about the chemistry of boron, an abundant, light, non-toxic, and non-metal element, and applied to solve some interesting problems. First, I developed a new strategy for the self-healing and thermal reprocessing of elastomeric materials, an important class of industrially relevant materials that usually lacks convenient methods of recycling and reusing. Secondly, I discovered a new class of polymeric organocatalysts that can be reused and recycled conveniently under air, which could have enormous implications for the synthesis of pharmaceuticals without metal contaminants. The combination of precise molecular design and powerful polymerization methods made this strategy very useful for predicting chemical reactivities and highly effective under several conditions.


During my postdoctoral research, I have been most excited to learn about boron, a fantastically useful element of the periodic table which has many interesting applications: from optoelectronic and solar-cell to catalysis, materials, and biomedicine. The unique electronic structure of this element together with a rich chemical reactivity has sparked a never-ending international interest that continues to inspire chemists like me.


Top 3 recent accomplishments:

  1. I have published two papers on both research projects in high-impact journals with first authorship, and a review paper on polymeric materials: Vidal, F.; McQuade, J.; Lalancette, R. A.; Jäkle, F. “ROMP-Boranes as Moisture Tolerant and Recyclable Lewis Acid Organocatalysts”, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 142, 14427-14431 | Vidal, F.; Gomezcoello, J.; Lalancette, R. A.; Jäkle, F. “Lewis Pairs as Highly Tunable Dynamic Cross-links in Transient Polymer Networks”, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2019, 141, 15963-15971. | Vidal, F.; Jäkle, F. “Functional Polymeric Materials Based on Main Group Elements”, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2019, 58, 5846-5870
  2. As laboratory coordinator of the PolyRUN facility for soft material analysis, I have served and trained over 50 users for 7 different instruments, supervised data acquisition for over 2,500 samples during 1,500 hours of instrument time, which amounts to almost $28,000 in external user funds. I have assisted both academic (Rutgers U., NJIT, BRInj) and industry partners (Novoset, Merck, MTF Biologics, Galaxybio Inc.) with the aim to bring in a multidisciplinary expertise in polymer science, nanomaterials, bioengineering, and medical science to Rutgers – Newark.
  3. Starting in October 2020, I have been awarded a postdoctoral position at the University of Oxford in the group of Prof. Charlotte Williams. Funded by the Oxford Martin School, I will join both economists and lawmakers to tackle the “Future of Plastics”, a collaborative effort to bring forward new sustainable practices from the laboratory benchtop to social policies and product markets.

Jacklyn Kelty

Campus Affiliation: RBHS

School: Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy

Department: Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute


I study how air pollution causes lung disease with a special focus working in polluted communities with marginalized, under-served subpopulations. With the pandemic and the recent swelling of support for racial justice initiatives, my first year at Rutgers has involved quite a bit of adaptation. I have been working in the lab using in vitro models to determine how e-cigarettes might damage lungs, worked with young people to explore ways to get people under 30 represented in COVID-19 research and public health initiatives, and advanced quite a few diversity and inclusion projects with my inspiring partners at Rutgers and in my professional associations. Hopefully, my research will contribute to making our communities healthier... even during a pandemic.


Top 3 recent accomplishments:

  1. Co-chair of Integrity, Diversity, and Equity Working Group for the Citizen Science Association
  2. Authored and awarded Rutgers NIEHS Center for Environmental Exposure & Disease Pilot Project Grant
  3. Authored and awarded RBHS-IDEA: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Advocacy Innovation Grant

Julianne Price

Campus Affiliation: New Brunswick

School: School of Arts and Sciences

Department: Kinesiology and Health


As a postdoctoral fellow on the new NIAAA-funded T-32 (Molecular Neuroscience of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Training), I am excited to join the Rutgers University postdoc community! With a background in neuroendocrine and neurocognitive changes in alcohol and substance use disorders, I am now integrating the neurocardiac feedback loop in my examination of brain-body alterations from chronic exposure to alcohol and other drugs. As I learn these new techniques, I’m enthusiastic about broadening my understanding of how alcohol and other drugs affect biobehavioral function.


Top 3 recent accomplishments:

  1. Podcast Contributor. “Affiliate Episode 4, Julianne Price, Department of Psychology”. The UF CARE Podcast. 2020 Aug 31. https://addictionresearch.health.ufl.edu/2020/08/31/uf-care-podcast-affiliate-episode-4/
  2. Price, J. L., Frazier, I. R., Lewis, B., Walker, R., Javors, M. A., Nixon, S. J., & Adinoff, B. (2019). Differences in pituitary-adrenal reactivity in Black and White men with and without alcohol use disorder. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 100, 180-189. PMID: 3034731.

  3. Becker, J. E., Price, J. L., Leonard, D., Suris, A., Kandil, E., Shaw, M., ... & Adinoff, B. (2020). The Efficacy of Lidocaine in Disrupting Cocaine Cue-Induced Memory Reconsolidation. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 108062.

Neda Bolourchi

Campus Affiliation: New Brunswick

School: School of Arts and Sciences

Department: Center for Middle Eastern Studies


My work examines how ostensibly secular actors are religious when it comes to the nation-state, and she applies this theory to Iran. I am very excited about my current work conducting interviews with minority religious and political communities who were in Iran during any period from 1977-1988. Part of this work has been selected for presentation as part of a new collaborative project titled Jews in the Middle East.


Top 3 recent accomplishments:

  1. I provide live, on-air commentary; most recently I have done so three times in August for the Arabic news channel al-Hadath where I discussed the Trump Administration's proposals at the United Nations against Iran and the details of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, the JCPOA, and military arms sales.
  2. I have a forthcoming publication in the edited volume Losing Our Minds, Coming to Our Senses: Sensory Readings of Persian Literature.
  3. The journal Anthropos has asked me to review the state of Middle East anthropology.

Rasika Hudlikar

Campus Affiliation: New Brunswick

School: Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy

Department: Pharmaceutics


Epigenetic regulation in the early stage of carcinogenesis and chemoprevention using dietary phytochemicals. I have developed sequential experimental lung carcinogenesis model, currently, we are looking at the transcriptomic and epigenomic changes in sequential development of lung cancer. Similar changes are studied in human lung epithelial cells to understand the clinical endpoints. We have also deciphered the early transcriptomic and epigenomic changes in skin carcinogenesis induced by 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA), as a tumor promoter.


Top 3 recent accomplishments:

  1. Hudlikar R., et al. Triterpenoid Corosolic acid modulates global CpG methylation and transcriptome of tumor promotor TPA induced mouse epidermal JB6 P+ cells, Chemico-biological interactions, 2020 Feb., DOI: 10.1016/j.cbi.2020.109025
  2. Hudlikar R., et al., Dose-Related Modulatory Effects of Polymeric Black Tea Polyphenols (PBPs) on Initiation and Promotion Events in B(a)P and NNK-Induced Lung Carcinogenesis, Nutrition and Cancer, 2019, DOI: 10.1080/01635581.2019.1578389
  3. Recognized reviewer for the Springer international publications, Elsevier, MDPI journals, LWW Journals-Wolters Kluwer groups, reviewed more than 90 papers

Usha Ganapathi

Campus Affiliation: New Brunswick

School: School of Arts and Sciences

Department: Cell Biology and Neuroscience


Novel Pathways regulating cell interactions are critical to the body defense system against diseases. Our lab studies the expression and regulation of CD40L in human and Mouse T cells. This molecule is expressed upon CD4 T cell activation and is critical for inducing B cells, macrophage, and dendritic cells to carry out specific functions. B cell activation is reflected in antibody production whereas all three cell types express different inflammatory and regulatory cytokines in response to CD40 signaling.


The Covey lab discovered a novel molecular pathway limits CD40L expression, specifically this pathway targets CD40L expression through the binding of an RNA binding protein, PTBP1, which binds at late stages of T cell activation to a region in the 3’ UTR of CD40L mRNA. PTBP1 stabilizes CD40L mRNA, thereby decreasing the rate of mRNA decay and increasing expression of CD40L. To understand the in vivo consequences of this molecular pathway, we developed a mouse model with a mutation that results in the deletion of PTBP1 binding sites.


One specific project that is being pursued using this mouse model understands the role of CD40L expression in autoimmunity. In particular, we are examining how limiting CD40L expression impacts the development of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or (SLE). SLE is characterized by the production of autoreactive antibodies (auto-Abs) against cytoplasmic, nuclear and cell-surface antigens within the whole body. These auto-Abs form immune complexes that result in the inflammation of various organs and tissue damage causing serious clinical complications for affected individuals. One productive avenue of SLE therapy is to attempt to control the production of auto-Abs.


The interaction of CD40L expressed by activated CD4 T cells with CD40 expressed on B cells results in the production of Abs. In SLE, the CD40-CD40L interaction between T and B cells results in the increased production of higher affinity auto-Abs. Therefore, our mouse model will be used to study the biological outcomes of decreased CD40L expression in the context of mouse lupus.


Top 3 recent accomplishments:

  1. Diet Alters Serum Metabolomic Profiling in the Mouse Model of Chronic Chagas Cardiomyopathy. Kezia Lizardo, Janeesh Plakkal Ayyappan, Usha Ganapathi, Walderez O. Dutra,2 Yunping Qiu Louis M. Weiss, and Jyothi F. Nagajyothi.
  2. Adipose Tissue Regulates Pulmonary Pathology during TB Infection. Janeesh Plakkal Ayyappan, Usha Ganapathi, Kezia Lizardo, Christopher Vinnard, Selvakumar Subbian, David S. Perlin, Jyothi F. Nagajyothi.

Yao-Yuan Mao

Campus Affiliation: New Brunswick

School: School of Arts and Sciences

Department: Physics and Astronomy


My research focuses on uncovering the connection between visible galaxies and their nests, the invisible dark matter halos. This connection is crucial for the study of dark matter, cosmology, and galaxy formation physics. To pin down this connection for dwarf satellite galaxies, I have been co-piloting the SAGA Survey, an ongoing spectroscopic galaxy survey aiming to characterize the Satellite Systems around 100 Galactic Analogs. We have just recently publicized our Stage II survey results (https://sagasurvey.org/). The SAGA results put our very own Milky Way in a cosmological context, and we found that the Milky Way is not particularly special in terms of its satellite galaxy count. The SAGA team is working hard to complete the Stage III of our Survey while digging into many curious questions the current data already brought us!

Welcome to the Rutgers Universitywide Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA)!

Reporting to the universitywide Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, and committed to advancing the University’s mission to conduct cutting-edge research and advanced training, the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs supports postdoctoral researchers and their faculty mentors by providing a central hub for professional development, knowledge sharing, and community building opportunities.


Location:

Nelson Biology Laboratories
Suite D350
604 Allison Road
Piscataway, NJ 08854