lab culture word cloud


Christal Sohl

Hometown: Norman, Oklahoma

Degree/training: B.S., Biochemistry, University of Oklahoma; Ph.D., Biochemistry, Vanderbilt University; Postdoctoral training, Pharmacology, Yale University

Favorite non-science activity: Fitness/exercise, travel, and hiking in San Diego’s beautiful outdoors.

 Favorite book/author: Impossible question! But if I go by re-read frequency, it’s Richard Bradford’s Red Sky at Morning, Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, Charles Dickens’s Pickwick Papers, and David Sedaris’s Me Talk Pretty One Day.

 Scientist hero: Prof. Joan Steitz

 Fun fact about me: For two years during my postdoc, I played the triple cello pans in a steel pan band. I am currently scratching the percussion itch by learning to play the tabla.

CV: sohl_cv_3.28.19public


Lab Manager

An Hoang

Research focus: I play a number of important roles in the Sohl Lab, from training students in a variety of biochemical and cell culture techniques, maintaining and repairing instruments, and making sure the lab runs smoothly. I am currently generating stable cell lines for modeling IDH-driven cancers in order to better understand mechanisms of tumorigenesis.

Hometown: Binh Dinh, Vietman

 Degree/training: B.S., Microbiology, San Diego State University

Favorite non-science activity: Gardner, sugarcane

 Scientist hero: My parents




Mowaffaq Adam

Research focus: IDH1 mutations drive a host of cancers, including gliomas, chondrosarcomas, and acute myeloid leukemia. Many mutations confer a neomorphic activity, and we recently showed that tumor-relevant mutants have widely varied kinetic profiles. I seek to connect the biochemical and structural features of IDH1 mutants to tumor phenotypes and patient prognosis using cellular techniques. I also am interested in exploring the peroxisomal consequences of IDH1 mutations, particularly in the context of stress communication and lipid processing.

 Hometown:Omdurman, Sudan

Degree/training: PhD, Medical Oncology, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Pulau Penang, Malaysia

 Favorite non-science activity: Cooking and baking

 Favorite book/author: The Winner Stands Alone, Paulo Coelho

 Scientist hero: Ahmed Zewail

 Fun fact about me: I love cats so much!


Graduate Students


Elene Albekioni

MS student

Research focus: Understanding enzyme dynamics is critical for elucidating the key features of enzyme structure and function. By using spectroscopic tools tied to transient-state kinetics methods, I seek to understand how real-time structural changes in the human enzymes IDH1, a metabolic enzyme, and PolE, a leading strand polymerase, facilitate their vital enzymatic activities.

 Hometown: Tbilisi, Georgia

Degree/training: B.S. Chemistry, San Diego State University Georgia

 Favorite non-science activity: Playing video games and cooking

 Favorite book/author: Antonio and David by Jemal Karchkhadze

 Scientist hero: Rosalind Franklin

 Fun fact about me: Before I became a biochemist, I was a professional dancer

Grace Chao

PhD student (Biology)

Research focus: The conversion from isocitrate to α-ketoglutarate by IDH1 is the main source of NADPH in peroxisomes. Mutations in IDH1 prevent this conversion and can affect plasmalogen biosynthesis, β-oxidation of very long chain fatty acids, and α-oxidation of phytanic acid. I aim to use lipidomics and cellular assays to establish the peroxisomal consequences of IDH1 mutations that drive cancer.

 Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Degree/training: B.S., Bioengineering/Biotech UCSD; M.S., Biotechnology, UPenn

 Favorite non-science activity: Socializing with the TV on my couch. Being overly gleeful at funny human antics like trying to name a ship Boaty McBoatface

 Favorite book/author: Eating Animals (Jonathan Saffran Foer), the last ~1/3 of Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen), and the first section of At the Bench (Kathy Barker).

 Scientist hero:Dr. Jen Gunter and Dr. Mama Danielle Jones 

 Fun fact about me:Most of the time, you can see my heart beat pulse against my skin on my wrist. Freaky!

Isaac Marquez

MS student

Research focus:

Research focus: Human polymerase epsilon (PolE) mutations are known drivers of cancer, typically leading to a hypermutated phenotype. I am interested in using transient-state kinetics to characterize the catalytic parameters of both exonuclease and polymerase domain PolE mutants. By establishing the incorporation kinetics and fidelity of these important mutants, we can identify new drivers of tumorigenesis.

 Hometown: San Diego, CA

Degree/training: B.S. in Chemistry, SDSU

 Favorite non-science activity: Motorcycle rides, hiking outdoors, beach walks   

 Favorite book/author:Fiction/ Dracula by Bram Stoker

 Scientist hero: Mario Molina, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry

 Fun fact about me: Can easily daydream any time during the day 

Lucas Luna

PhD student

Research focus: My current research project focuses on studying hypermutated phenotypes of human DNA polymerase epsilon, frequently present in colorectal cancer. Little is known about its catalytic mechanism due to barriers in heterologous protein expression. I am working on the expression, purification, and kinetic characterization of full length human exonuclease competent DNA polymerase epsilon. I will study how exonuclease domain mutations affect fidelity and processivity to further understand how DNA replication errors are created and propagated, with the goal of developing novel methods of combatting cancer growth and metastasis.  

Hometown: San Jose, California

Degree/training: B.S., Biochemistry, University of California Santa Barbara

Favorite non-science activity: All you can eat KBBQ

Favorite book/author: Dante’s Inferno

Scientist hero: Archimedes

Fun fact about me: Made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs.

Kate Sabo

MS student

Research focus: Mutant IDH is an important therapeutic target, and establishing selectivity features is critical for developing inhibitors that are efficacious and less toxic. I am interested in using biochemical and structural techniques to find new handles that drive inhibitor binding to mutant IDH1. 

Hometown: Bakersfield, California

Degree/training: B.S., Biochemistry, Eastern University, St. Davids, PA

Favorite non-science activity: Hiking

Favorite book/author: Jane Austen

Scientist hero: Rosalind Franklin

Fun fact about me: My favorite color is yellow!




Nalani Coleman

Biochemistry major

Research focus: Though IDH1’s role in cancer is well established, modes of regulation of this protein are not well known. I am using mutational methods to understand the role of post-translational modifications in altering IDH1’s activity.

Hometown:  San Diego, CA 

Degree/training:  SDSU Undergraduate Biochemistry

Favorite non-science activity: Concerts, the beach, hanging out with friends/family, SDSU basketball and football games, walking my dog, runway fashion!

 Favorite book/author: The Giver by Lois Lowry

 Scientist hero:  Mae Jemison

 Fun fact about me: My name translates to “calm of the heavens” or “chief of the sky.” I am a resident advisor (RA) in Huāxyacac Hall!

Chelsie Miller

Nutrition major

Research focus: Fruits contain a host of interesting molecules that can drive or regulate many pathways in the cell. There is great interest in studying fruit-derived molecules in the inhibition of pro-tumorigenic pathways. I am interested in establishing the role of dried plum extracts on the proliferation and growth of cells derived from bone tumors.

 Hometown: Goodyear, AZ

Degree/training: B.S. Foods and Nutrition, DPD, Undergraduate at SDSU

 Favorite non-science activity: Running

 Favorite book/author: Elizabeth Gilbert – Big Magic; Thich Nhat Hanh

 Scientist hero: Antoine Lavoisier – “Father of Nutrition and Chemistry”

 Fun fact about me: I am a certified Yoga Instructor!




Ngoc “Jade” Huynh (SohlMate 2018-2021) MS 2021, technician at University of San Diego

Danielle Caliger (SohlMate 2019-2021), BS 2021, applying to medical school

Ella Thornberg (SohlMate 2019-2021), BS 2021, applying to medical school

Lexy Strom (SohlMate 2018-2021), BS 2021, currently a PhD student at Stanford

Vinnie Widjaja (SohlMate 2018-2021), BS 2021, currently a PhD student at Brown

Phuc Phan (SohlMate 2019-2020), currently a MS student in SDSU engineering

Diego Avellaneda Matteo (SohlMate 2015-2020), PhD 2020, currently a scientist at Molecular Assemblies

Joi Weeks (SohlMate 2018-2020), PhD 2020, passed away in 2020

Amanda Coale (SohlMate 2019-2020), MS 2020, currently an engineer at Biolinq

Grace Wells (SohlMate 2016-2020), MS 2018, currently an educator

Giovanni Quichocho (SohlMate 2017-2020), BS 2020, currently a PhD student at the University of Utah

Sati Alexander (SohlMate 2018-2020), BS 2020, currently a PhD student at Augusta University

Viraj Upadhye (SohlMate 2017-2020), BS 2020, currently a PhD student at Cornell

Zeqing “Ruth” Xu (SohlMate 2017-2019), MS 2019, currently a scientist at Illumina

Michelle Scott (SohlMate 2018-2019), BS 2019, was a PhD student at Vanderbilt University before passing away in 2020

Dahra Pucher (SohlMate 2019), currently USC undergraduate

Tin Duc Nguyen (SohlMate 2019), currently UCSD undergraduate

Zach Lesecq (SohlMate 2017-2018), BS 2018, currently applying to med school

Jeon Erik Fonbon (SohlMate 2017-2018), BS 2018, currently applying to med school

Madison Kennedy (SohlMate 2015-2018), BS 2018, currently a PhD student at U Washington

Michelle Nguyen (SohlMate 2018), current SDSU undergraduate

Dania Meza-Acosta (SohlMate 2018), current SDSU undergraduate

Esteban Delgado (SohlMate 2018), current SDSU undergraduate

Elan Zora (SohlMate 2018), current SDSU undergraduate

Adam Grunseth (SohlMate 2016-2018), BS 2015

Celena Anaya (SohlMate 2017), BS 2018, currently a scientist at Trilink Biotechnologies

Precious Moman (SohlMate 2016-2017), BS 2018, attending medical school

Anna Uvarova (SohlMate 2015-2017), MS 2017, currently a scientist at Novartis

Eric Gonzalez (SohlMate 2015-2017), BS 2017, currently a PhD student at UCSF

Stacy Anselmo (SohlMate 2015-2017), BS 2017, currently a scientist at Eton

Andrea Ruiz (SohlMate 2016), current SDSU undergraduate

Jorge Sandoval (SohlMate 2016), BS 2019, currently applying to med school

Anup Sarakki (SohlMate 2016), MS 2018, currently a scientist at Alkahest

Carlos Bobadilla (SohlMate 2016), BS 2017, currently a scientist at Retrogen

Yunjin Wu (SohlMate 2016), MS 2018, currently a scientist at BASF Enzymes