Lab Members

PI: KAORU SAIJO MD PhD

Kaoru is currently an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley for the MCB Department. She is interested in understanding the mechanisms of successful grant writing. When she does have free time, she likes to think about microglia and the molecular mechanisms underlying sex dimorphisms in neurological disorders.

POST-DOCS:

Greg Timblin
(he/him/his)
gtimblin@berkeley.edu
https://www.linkedin.com/in/greg-timblin/
ADA Postdoctoral Fellow

Greg is an American Diabetes Association (ADA) postdoctoral fellow studying connections between sex hormones, mitochondrial metabolism, stress signaling, and epigenetics in macrophage inflammatory responses. He grew up enjoying the outdoors and playing sports in the Village of Greenwood, NE, and attended Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln. Inspired by the amazing & supportive faculty, he became interested in research at the interface of molecular biology, chemistry, and the immune system. He spent two summers in Rob Kuchta’s lab at the University of Colorado in Boulder, synthesizing dNTP analogues and measuring their incorporation into DNA by human and viral polymerases to understand enzyme fidelity. He also spent one summer in Nilabh Shastri’s lab at UC Berkeley as part of the Amgen Scholars Program studying the mechanisms by which intracellular peptides are processed for presentation by MHC Class I molecules to CD8 T cells. After graduating with degrees in Biology and Chemistry, he joined Mark Schlissel’s lab at UC Berkeley to study molecular mechanisms by which gene expression is regulated in the developing immune system as part of the Molecular & Cell Biology graduate program. In the Saijo Lab, Greg enjoys paying forward the scientific mentorship he received by mentoring UC Berkeley undergraduates and getting them excited about science at Berkeley and beyond. Outside of lab, Greg enjoys carbohydrates and jogging.

Hsiu Chun Chuang PhD
hcchuang@berkeley.edu

GRADUATE STUDENTS:

Kurtresha Worden
(she/her/hers)
k.worden@berkeley.edu
Elizabeth Roboz Einstein Fellowship 2017
HHMI Gilliam Fellowship 2018
Google Scholar

Laura Craciun
(she/her/hers)
lcraciun4@berkeley.edu
Elizabeth Roboz Einstein Fellowship 2017
University of California Dissertation-Year Fellowship 2020

Laura is a sixth year PhD candidate in the Molecular and Cell Biology program. She grew up in a small town outside of New York City, which she then moved to for college at New York University. In college, she studied both neuroscience and art. Her research career began in Dr. Adam Carter’s lab, where she was lucky enough to observe cutting-edge techniques that got her hooked on neuroscience. As a BP-ENDURE fellow, she continued to expand her neuroscience research by spending a summer in Dr. Barry Conner’s lab at Brown University, and another summer with Dr. Ronald Holz at the University of Michigan. Now at Berkeley, she studies how astrocytes can shape neural circuits during development and how perturbing this role can lead to diseases like autism. She has additionally started a project that explores the role of transition metals during neuroinflammation in collaboration with Chris Chang’s lab, in the hopes that at least one of these projects will work out before graduating. Outside of lab at Berkeley, Laura is involved with Getting into Graduate School, the McNair Scholars Program, and the MCB Inclusion Leaders, which are programs that aim to create a more equitable scientific community. Her other non-lab related hobbies include but are not limited to: talking about animals, reading fantasy novels, pretending to be outdoorsy, and tasting wines to prepare for the vineyard she fantasizes about owning one day.

Madeline Arnold
(she/her/hers)
madeline_arnold@berkeley.edu
ARCS Scholar 2017
NSF-GRFP Fellow 2018

Madeline is a fourth year PhD student in the Molecular and Cell Biology program. She grew up in rural Wisconsin, where she picked up a love of fresh black raspberries and quiet snowy days. She went to Carleton College in Minnesota, and became interested in research after taking a genetics lab class and later working with yeast in Dr. Stephan Zweifel’s lab. She then moved to the DC area to gain more research experience as a postbac at the NIH, working with mice and zebrafish to understand the pathophysiology of inborn errors of metabolism and develop gene therapies. Now in the Saijo lab, Madeline is interested in understanding how the immune system impacts brain development and behavior, and examining sex differences in this context. She’s also interested in the sociology of science and understanding which voices are heard or unheard in science, and how the way we study and talk about science impacts people. As a queer white woman, she aims to use her privilege to make STEM research and teaching more inclusive. Madeline serves on UC Berkeley’s CCRT committee working on prevention and response to sexual harassment and assault, the iMCB Conference Team, and recently started the MCB Distance Learning Task Force to address the challenges of remote learning. Outside of lab, Madeline enjoys cooking elaborate meals, gardening, cooperative board games, car camping, ceramics, Ultimate frisbee, and social dancing.

Matt Davis
(he/him/his)
mattd@berkeley.edu
NDSEG Fellow 2020

Matt is a PhD candidate in the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute. He grew up in a rural area near Columbus, Ohio before moving to Atlanta, Georgia to attend Emory University. In 2017, he completed his B.S. in neuroscience and behavioral biology while working in the labs of Donna Maney and Kim Wallen. There he studied the neuroendocrine bases of song learning in developing zebra finches, and the influences of estrogens on behaviors of songbirds and humans. Now, Matt is melding molecular, systems, and evolutionary neuroscience into his research. He is interested in how embryonic microglia shape specific circuits that encode social behaviors of mice, as well as how inter-species variation in social behavior has resulted from the evolution of developmental mechanisms that shape brain architecture. Matt himself is a highly social creature, and recently started giving lessons in basic brain science to local first graders. He’s often engaged in friendly contests of frisbee and soccer, shares guitar grooves with his fellow jam rock and metal enthusiasts, and enjoys adventuring in the mountains.

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS:

Rida Khan
Rida is an Integrative Biology major working on her Honors Thesis with Greg to understand how stress influences macrophage mitochondrial morphology and inflammatory responses. She is currently applying to medical school.

Emily Bi

Joseph Moreno

LAB MASCOTS: Eddie + Lotta

Eddie and Lotta at Berger Picards (Picardy Shepherds). They are both a little shy around strangers, but will warm up to you when given treats. They also enjoy playing at the dog beach with their friends and chewing on furniture at home. Occasionally, they will stop by the lab to watch their owner do amazing research and provide moral support for the rest of the lab.

LAB ALUMNI:

Rhea Misra, Lab Technician
Rhea worked as a lab technician from 2017-2020. She is now a student in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program at UCSF.

Eva Nichols, PhD 2020
Eva joined the Saijo Lab in April 2015. Her dissertation work broadly considered how disruptions to (or activation of) fetal innate immunity promoted neurodevelopmental disorder-like phenotypes in mice. Eva is currently doing a joint postdoc fellowship in the labs of Drs. Brian Beliveau and Jay Shendure at the University of Washington, Seattle. Inspired by her work in the Saijo lab, she is working on developing massively scalable spatial transcriptomics methods.

Shannon Louie, Undergraduate
Shannon was a dual Molecular & Cell Biology and Environmental Sciences major. She worked with Greg studying the role of Piezo1 in adipose tissue macrophage function and glucose homeostasis, while simultaneously completing a Senior Thesis in Environmental Sciences looking at how climate change is affecting water table levels in the Lake Tahoe Basin. She is currently an environmental lab intern at the Central Contra Costa Sanitation District.

Jerome Wang, Undergraduate
Jerome was a Public Health major who worked with Greg to understand how mitochondrial stress influences epigenetic control of macrophage inflammatory responses. He is currently working at an architectural firm and applying to medical school.

Kristen Masada, Undergraduate
Kristen was a work-study student.

Sandra Muroy, PhD 2019
Sandra was in the Molecular and Cell Biology Ph.D. program from 2015 to 2019.

Paulina Cedillo, Undergraduate
Paulina was an undergraduate student who worked with Sandra.

Daniel Araujo, Postdoc
Daniel was a post-doc in the lab from 2017-2019.

Karensa Tjoa, Undergraduate
Karensa was an undergraduate student in the lab who worked with Daniel.

Allison Daly, Undergraduate
Allison was a Molecular & Cell Biology major who completed her Honors Thesis with Greg studying how FOXO transcription factors regulate macrophage inflammatory responses. Allison is continuing her studies of gene regulation in the immune system as a PhD student in Steve Smale’s lab in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics at UCLA.

Stella Zhu, Undergraduate
Stella was a Molecular & Cell Biology major who worked with Greg to interrogate the role of YAP/TAZ in adipose tissue macrophage function, and to develop CRISPR screening tools for the lab. She was supported by both a Reagents’ & Chancellor’s Fellowship, and the Amgen Scholars Program during the summer of 2018, and completed her Honors Thesis in 2019. Stella is now participating in the Post-baccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) Program at the NIH, where she is studying the role of IRF transcription factors in microglia function and animal behavior Keiko Ozato’s lab.

Lillian Murphy, Undergraduate
Lillian was an undergraduate student from Sacramento State University who worked with Laura in the lab as part of the 2019 Amgen Scholars Program. She is now a graduate student in the Molecular and Cell Biology Ph.D. program as well as a recipient of the NSF-GRFP 2020 fellowship!

Tracy Chen, Undergraduate
Tracy was a Berkeley undergraduate student who worked with Laura as part of the SMART (Student Mentoring and Research Team) Program at Berkeley in the summer of 2018. She kept working in the lab throughout her senior year after the summer program was over, and after graduating was hired as a staff research associate in Mallar Bhattacharya’s lab at UCSF. She is now applying to medical school.

Andrew Sun, Undergraduate
Andrew was an undergraduate student in the lab who worked with Hsiu Chun.

Janet Winchester, Undergraduate and Junior Research Specialist
Janet joined the lab as an undergraduate, working with Greg to study how estrogens influence macrophage inflammatory responses in metabolic disease as part of the S.A.G.E (Student Achievement Guided by Experience) Scholars Program for high-achieving, first-generation college students. After graduating with a degree in Molecular Toxicology, she continued her work in the Saijo Lab as a Junior Research Specialist. She is currently a Research Associate studying B cell malignancies and leukemia in Markus Muschen’s lab at City of Hope, and is applying to medical school.

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