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Featured Postdocs

At USC, we are very proud of our postdoctoral scholars and their accomplishments.  Please share your accomplishments with us at postdocs@usc.edu so that we can feature you and your research.  Past features are available in our archive.

New Feature

June 30, 2014
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Dr. Lori O’Brien is a Postdoctoral Fellow with the McMahon Lab at the USC Keck School of Medicine. Her research focuses on understanding the nephron progenitor cells of the embryonic kidney in the hopes of developing more effective treatments for kidney disease. Dr. O’Brien earned her Bachelor of Science in Bacteriology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2002, spent 1.5 years as an Associate Research Specialist there, and earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from UW-Madison in 2008. She spent four years as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University studying various aspects of developmental nephrology before moving with Dr. Andy McMahon and his lab to the USC Keck School of Medicine in 2012. Dr. O’Brien was the recipient of an F32 Ruth L. Kirschstein Postdoctoral Fellowship from the NIH/NIDDK.

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May 30, 2014
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Dr. Sabrina Sanchez is a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Kay Laboratory through the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the University of Southern California. At the Kay Lab she conducts research regarding circadian clock outputs regulation through alternative splicing in plants. Dr. Sanchez was awarded a fellowship through the PEW Charitable Trust in 2013. She earned her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences at the University of Buenos Aires in 2011 and her Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology at the University of Buenos Aires in 2004.

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April 23, 2014
Dr. Stacia Stolzenberg is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Gould School of Law at the University of Southern California. She is a developmental psychologist and researches effective interviewing procedures to generate accurate accounts of abuse without increasing false reports. Dr. Stolzenberg completed a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Studio Art at Chapman University, a Master of Arts in Applied Developmental Psychology from Claremont Graduate University, and a Ph.D. in Applied Developmental Psychology from Claremont Graduate University. She began her Postdoctoral research at the University of Southern California in 2012, and was a 2013 recipient of the Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar Research Grants at USC.

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USC Postdoctoral Association President Rachel Britt on Los Angeles, her research, and getting involved

You may have met Rachel Britt at one of the many professional development or networking events hosted by the USC Postdoctoral Association (PDA), of which she serves as President.  Rachel is proud of the work the PDA does to help USC postdocs to connect with each other and further their careers.

“LA can be lonely.  It’s easy to feel isolated when you’re new to this city.”  Rachel advocates that postdocs get involved in something that is not research-related as a way to meet people.  A frequent attendee of LA Philharmonic performances at the Hollywood Bowl and the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Rachel practices what she preaches by getting involved in the life and culture of the city.  “New postdocs should look through the postdoc handbook, especially the Getting Settled in LA section.  There are so many things to do here, and so much good food.  There is a whole population of postdoctoral scholars who are looking to meet people and to explore the city.”

Rachel enables postdoc exploration by helping coordinate monthly hikes with the Postdoctoral Associations of other Los Angeles institutions.  The hikes are partly a way to enjoy nature, and partly a way to meet other postdocs from all over the LA-Metro area.  “The variety of hikes and vistas in and around Los Angeles never cease to amaze me.  One month we’ll look out over the ocean, the next we’ll be surrounded by trees in the Angeles National Forest.”

Besides her involvement in the USC Postdoctoral Association, Rachel is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Lieber at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.  The research of the Lieber Lab focuses on how DNA is broken and repaired in white blood cells.  Rachel’s individual research is funded by the institutional Training Program in Viral and Chemical Carcinogenesis, run by Dr. Peter Jones.  She is trying to discover why certain patches of DNA in white blood cells are prone to breakage and rearrangements called chromosomal translocations.  Chromosomal translocations are frequently found in cancer cells, and are particularly common in blood cell cancers.  Chromosomal translocations in the fragile DNA patches that Rachel studies are a hallmark of Follicular Lymphoma and are frequently associated with other lymphoid malignancies.

“I had always been interested in the science of living things – the nitty-gritty details of biology – and I knew I wanted to study something that was applicable to human disease,” Rachel explains.  “Dr. Lieber’s lab provides a meeting point between DNA repair and immunology that I find really fascinating.”

Rachel is depending on her curiosity and enthusiasm for science to sustain her as she approaches the next phase of her career.  She is considering a career in Science Policy.  “When I attended the National Postdoctoral Association Annual Meeting in the spring, the conference’s keynote speaker – Dr. Alan Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science – admonished the audience for scientists’ lack of communication with anyone but other scientists.   I really took that to heart.”   Rachel hopes that by communicating the importance and the substance of science to lawmakers and other non-academic audiences her knowledge will have a positive impact on the policy-making process.

Profile by Alison Beck