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.

Postdoctoral Fellow
aroraR [at] obgyn.ucsf.edu

I did my undergraduate and master’s studies in the field of Biochemistry from the University of Delhi, India and then went on to do a PhD in Genetics and Development from Columbia University, New York. My current projects involve understanding the mechanisms by which non-canonical Wnt signaling regulates development of the reproductive system including, gonad development, sex differentiation and duct morphogenesis. I am also interested in understanding the process of oogenesis with an aim to develop methods to promote the differentiation of ES cell or iPS cell derived primordial germ cell like cells into meiotic germ cells.

Funding/Fellowships: California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) training grant, 2012-2015; UCSF Program in Breakthrough Biomedical Research Postdoc Fellowship; T32 Training Grant

Master's Student, SFSU/CIRM Bridges Program
brandon.chacon [at] ucsf.edu

Originally from Southern California, I earned my BS in Cell and Developmental Biology from UC Santa Barbara. Since joining Laird Lab I have embarked on a project seeking to understand why primordial germ cells (PGCs) are so heterogeneous in their colonization of the gonadal ridge. Using a mixed species model, the project hopes to reveal possible defects in PGCs that would explain delays or failure to colonize the ridge. When I'm not in lab I'm out exploring our National Parks, satiating wanderlust, or learning about different languages.

Fellowships/Funding: California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM)

Research Assistant
Jennifer.Daza [at] ucsf.edu

I was born and raised in San Francisco and am currently a senior at San Francisco State University working towards a bachelor’s degree in Physiology. I joined the Laird lab as a Research Assistant because I have a keen interest in reproductive physiology and it’s a great opportunity to apply what I’ve learned in my undergraduate career. When I’m not in lab or slaving away in the library studying, I enjoy traveling, hiking, fishing, and staying up late watching horror films.

BMS Graduate Student
rebecca.jaszczak [at] ucsf.edu

I started college in Virginia as an English major due to my interests in creative writing and poetry, but found my true passion studying science. After graduating in 2012, I worked as a lab tech in Adrian Halme's lab to better understand how hormonal signaling during development can influence tumorigenesis in Drosophila. I joined the Laird lab to expand my interests in developmental biology. In particular, I hope to learn more about how the developing niche helps regulate the heterogeneity of the primordial germ cell population. When I'm not working on my fluorescent-light "lab tan," my hobbies include binge-reading sci-fi books, writing poetry, and backpacking

Undergraduate Research Intern
himakar.nagam [at] berkeley.edu

I grew up in Edison, New Jersey and lived on the East coast for most of my life. For college, I wanted a change in scenery and moved to the Bay Area. I now am a junior at UC Berkeley working towards a degree in Integrative Biology. In the lab, I currently assist Ripla Arora with her various projects. Outside of the lab, I enjoy hiking, playing tennis, basketball, and trying out new places to eat food.

BMS Graduate Student
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

Undergraduate Research Intern
karinaoelerich [at] berkeley.edu

I grew up in Washington State and moved to California in recent years. I am currently a senior at UC Berkeley, studying Molecular and Cellular Biology with a focus in Cell and Developmental Biology. I am very interested in reproductive biology, which led me to assist Ripla Arora on her 3D imaging project in the lab. When I’m not in the lab, I love to try making new types of foods, hiking, learning languages, and travelling.

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

Undergraduate Research Intern
brandon.sigamony [at] berkeley.edu

Born in the U.A.E, I spent my early childhood in U.A.E. & India, and eventually arrived in the beautiful San Francisco East Bay. I am currently a Junior at UC Berkeley studying Molecular and Cellular Biology with an emphasis on Immunology and Pathogenesis and a minor in Computer Science. In the Laird Lab, I assist Boris with his project of chemical exposures on germ cell development. When not in lab, I enjoy travelling, gaming, driving, and modifying cars.

Visiting Graduate Student
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 and then joined the Laird lab to conduct my PhD project. My research focuses on the role of intercellular bridges in fetal germ cell development. In particular, I’m investigating the possible roles of these unique bridge structures during major developmental events in fetal ovary such as meiosis, apoptosis and organelle transport. When I’m not in lab, I enjoy hiking, cooking and travelling.

Fellowships/Funding:  The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK)

Lab 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

Andrea Cantú, Newly minted PhD from the laboratory
Mehlika Faire, Former M.S. student and Lab Manager, currently Lab Manager at Sloan Kettering Institute
Svetlana Keylin, former Lab Manager, currently Postdoc at Genentech
Michael Kissner, Former Lab Manager, currently Flow Cytometry Manager at Columbia University
Leslie Mateo, Former M.S. student, currently PhD student at Stanford University
Adam Ross, Former Undergradute Research Assistant, currently Lab Technician, UCSF Pathology Surgical Histology Department