Current Members

Principal Investigator
diana.laird [at] ucsf.edu

I grew up in Portland, Oregon and completed undergraduate studies in physics at Harvard before discovering biology. After several field seasons doing research on biological antifreeze in Antarctic fish, I began graduate work at Stanford. There, in Irv Weissman’s lab, I isolated stem cells responsible for germ cell parasitism in a marine ascidian. For my postdoctoral work, I focused on germ cell development in mice, conducting a genetic screen in Kathryn Anderson’s lab. I still enjoy fishing, as well as outdoor adventures, wine, and playing piano. I am living my dream to fix up a San Francisco Victorian and do research at UCSF.

Lab Manager
lina.afonso [at] ucsf.edu

I grew up in San Francisco for most of my life. It is growing up in the flourishing Biology environment in SF that I was inspired to pursue my degree in Molecular and Cell Biology at UC Berkeley. In college, I began undergraduate research in Jen-Chywan Wang's lab understading transcriptional regulation of primary glucocorticoid genes. Currently, in the Laird Lab, I am investigating primordial germ cell migration and colonization in avian systems and aging in Naked Mole Rat ovaries. When not in lab or consuming delicious food, I enjoy swimming, going to concerts, and listening to hip-hop music. 

DSCB Graduate Student
steven.cincotta [at] ucsf.edu

I am originally from Long Island, New York, and I went to school at Boston University where I earned my bachelors degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and my masters degree in Biotechnology. While at BU, I worked in the lab of Laertis Ikonomou studying the role of the transcription factor Nkx2-1 in the specification of lung and thyroid progenitors during the directed differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells. As part of the Laird lab, I have worked with others to identify piRNAs in the human fetal testis, as well as characterize their dynamic expression over the course of human development. My current thesis project aims to understand the link between stress and the developing mammalian germline. When I’m not in lab, I enjoy playing guitar and ukulele, exploring all the wine bars and tiki bars in SF, and most of all learning other languages!

Lab Assistant
lauren.diez [at] ucsf.edu

Hi, my name is Lauren! I graduated from San Francisco State University in the Fall of 2017 with my Bachelor's degree in Biology with a concentration in Physiology. I am currently still attending SF State, finishing up my certificate in the Pre-Health Professions' Post-Baccalaureate program. In my free time, I enjoy being outdoors and going on mini trips and adventures in the SF Bay Area.

BMS Graduate Student
rebecca.jaszczak [at] ucsf.edu
NIH F31 fellowship

Biology fascinates me because even seemingly simple tasks are beautifully complex "under the hood." Understanding how these processes evolve has motivated me since undergrad. As a graduate student in the Laird Lab, I'm particularly interested in the evolution and selection of the germline, and how biologic processes like migration create selective pressure for high quality cells. I'm leveraging exciting new bioinformatic techniques in tandem with traditional developmental biology experiments to better understand this selection process. A nerd in all areas of life, I'm passionate about cycling, sewing, and writing poetry.

Postdoctoral Fellow
daniel.nguyen [at] ucsf.edu

I’m from the Bay Area and got a BS in Biological Sciences from Stanford. I am a graduate student in the Biomedical Sciences program and joined the Laird lab to study how early developmental events shape the composition of the germline. In particular, I am using clonal labeling to assess changes in germ cell populations through the fetal period. Outside (and sometimes inside) of lab, I enjoy photography, trivia, and Belgian ales.

Fellowships/Funding: NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, 2012-2015

Postdoctoral Fellow
suping.peng [at] ucsf.edu

I finished my BSc study in Biology from Wuhan University in China and my PhD study on stem cell therapy for Parkinson’s disease from University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands. My first two years of postdoc training was at Yale Stem Cell Center in Haifan Lin’s Lab, with a project focused on the function of mouse PIWI protein – MILI in protein translation in germline stem cells. My current projects in the Laird Lab involve understanding the function of fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP, product of Fmr1 gene) in primordial germ cell development and the mechanism underlying Fmr1 CGG repeat instability differences in male and female germ cells. I also enjoy bench work in my kitchen, traveling to ‘study’ various local cuisines; and as a compensation, I work hard doing Yoga and badminton in the gym.

Postdoctoral Fellow
boris.reznik [at] ucsf.edu

I grew up in Brooklyn (before it was cool) and will forever hold my allegiance to the following NY sports teams - Go Mets, Giants, Knicks! I moved westward for graduate school at the University of Colorado, Boulder and UC San Diego in Jens Lykke-Andersen’s lab where I studied post-transcriptional gene expression regulation. In the Laird lab, I am investigating the effects of in utero environmental and chemical exposures on germ cell development, specifically how such exposures may disrupt epigenetic reprogramming. Outside of the lab I enjoy spending time with my family hiking, exploring the Bay Area, and sampling local eat.

Fellowships/Funding: NIH T32 Training Grant

Postdoctoral Fellow
GulBikem.Soygur [at] ucsf.edu

I received my BSc in Biology from Eskisehir Osmangazi University and MSc in Reproductive Biology from Akdeniz University, Turkey. I started my PhD in Histology and Embryology at Akdeniz University School of Medicine, then joined the Laird lab to conduct my PhD project and received my PhD in 2018. My research focuses on the role of intercellular bridges in developing female germ cells. In particular, I’m investigating the possible roles of these unique bridge structures during major developmental events in fetal ovary such as meiosis and apoptosis. I am also interested in understanding how meiosis is initiated and the long-term effects of timing of meiosis in female germ cells. When I’m not in lab, I enjoy hiking, cooking and travelling.

Mouse Database Manager
estelle.wall [at] ucsf.edu

Originally from LA, I’ve been enjoying the beautiful scenery of the Bay Area.  After receiving a BS in Biology from Loyola Marymount University,  I went on to work in academia.  In the Laird lab I play a dual role of lab manager and administrator of the UCSF Mouse Inventory Database.   I also work on imaging analysis of germ cells in the ovary.  When not in the lab, I’m strolling in the Golden Gate Park, checking out the amazing museums, or hiking in the redwood forest.

Former Members

Ripla Arora, PhD, Assistant [email protected] State University, former Postdoctoral fellow
Andrea Cantú, PhD, AAAS Fellow, former PhD Student
Brandon Chacon, Current DSCB PhD Student in UCSF, Former Master's Student, SFSU/CIRM Bridges Program
Jennifer Daza, BS, Current Medical Student in University of California, Davis; former Lab Assistant
Mehlika Faire, MS, Medical Student in Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, Former M.S. student and Lab Manager
Svetlana Keylin, PhD, Currently Postdoc at Genentech, former Lab Manager
Michael Kissner, Currently Flow Cytometry Manager at Columbia University, Former Lab Manager
Leslie Mateo, MS, Currently PhD student at Stanford University, former M.S. Student
Himakar Nagam, BA, Former Undergraduate Research Intern, Incoming Medical Student at UCI, Former Undergraduate Research Intern
Brandon Sigamony, Former Undergraduate Research Intern