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

PhD 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

Brittany Bermoy

MS student

Research focus: Polymerase ε (PolE) is responsible for leading DNA strand replication in humans. Mutations in PolE drive cancers of the endometrium, stomach, and skin. These mutations can theoretically affect nucleotide incorporation, nucleotide excision, processivity, and overall fidelity. We use pre-steady-state kinetics experiments to determine the consequences of these mutations on robust, accurate DNA replication. I am interested in kinetically characterizing both exonuclease domain and polymerase domain mutants that drive tumors to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of tumor growth and development.

Hometown: San Diego, California

Degree/training: B.S., Biochemistry, Cal Poly, Pomona

Favorite non-science activity: Going to Disneyland with my family

Favorite book/author:  The Future of the Mind by Michio Kaku

Scientist hero: Rosalind Franklin

Fun fact about me: I can live off of caffeine and 2 hours of sleep

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 

Ashfeen Nawar

MS student

Research focus: Mutations in human polymerase ε (PolE) have been implicated in a variety of cancers. Due to the kinetic features of polymerases in general, we use pre-steady-state kinetics methods to probe rates of nucleotide incorporation and excision. I am inspired by known PolE mutations that drive endometrial, stomach, and skin cancers and will determine changes in kinetic rates and fidelity to better understand how these mutants drive tumors.

Hometown: Dhaka, Bangladesh

Degree/training: B.S., Chemistry, University of Dhaka, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Favorite non-science activity: Cooking, writing, photography, traveling

Favorite book/author: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Scientist hero: Marie Curie

Fun fact about me: I am extremely fascinated by cats and babies




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!

Rachel Khoury

Chemistry major

Research focus: Human isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1) is an important metabolic enzyme that is often mutated in tumors of the brain, cartilage, and bile ducts. These mutations often lead to a neomorphic activity that is important for driving tumor formation. I am interested in expressing and purifying IDH1 mutations and characterizing them kinetically so we can better understand how mutant IDH1 catalyzes this important and dangerous reaction.

 Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Degree/training: SDSU undergraduate, Chemistry

 Favorite non-science activity: Dancing, water coloring, listening to movie soundtracks, photography 

 Favorite book/author: About Men & Women by Tad Guzie & Noreen Monroe Guzie, the Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene

 Scientist hero: My cousin, Fred Khoury

 Fun fact about me: In 8th grade, I won history class president while dressed as a luffa for Halloween

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: SDSU undergraduate, Foods and Nutrition, DPD

 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!

Jennifer Schenkenfelder


Research focus:Mutations in human polymerase ε (PolE) drive many tumors of the endometrium, stomach, and skin, and are associated with a high mutational burden in the genome. I am interested in using a computational and structural approach to predict passenger versus driver mutations for PolE mutants identified in patients. This will guide my selection of PolE mutants to generate using site-directed mutagenesis.

 Hometown: tbd

Degree/training: tbd

 Favorite non-science activity: tbd

 Favorite book/author: tbd

 Scientist hero: tbd

 Fun fact about me: tbd

Nicole Sierra

Biochemistry major

Research focus: Isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1), both wild type (WT) and mutant forms, have been implicated in tumors. I am interested in designing, expressing, and purifying IDH1 mutants, and then characterizing them kinetically. This will help us better understand how IDH1 performs its normal catalytic functions, and how patient-inspired mutants facilitate a neomorphic reaction critical for tumor formation.

 Hometown: Houston, TX

Degree/training: SDSU undergraduate, Biochemistry

 Favorite non-science activity: Staying active/working out

 Favorite book/author: Jenny Han

 Scientist hero: Marie Curie

 Fun fact about me: I am a first generation college student for my family


 Alumni: Graduate Students

Amanda Coale (SohlMate 2019-2020), MS 2020 (Engineering). Engineer at Biolinq

Adam Grunseth (SohlMate 2016-2018), BS 2015.

Ngoc “Jade” Huynh (SohlMate 2018-2021) MA 2021. Technician at University of San Diego

Dr. Lucas Luna (SohlMate 2015-2021) PhD 2021. Scientist at Singular Genomics

Dr. Diego Avellaneda Matteo (SohlMate 2015-2020), PhD 2020. Scientist at Molecular Assemblies

Phuc Phan (SohlMate 2019-2020), MS 2021 (Engineering)

Kate Sabo (SohlMate 2019-2022) MS 2022.

Anna Uvarova (SohlMate 2015-2017), MS 2017. Scientist at Novartis

Dr. Joi Weeks (SohlMate 2018-2020), PhD 2020. Passed away in 2020

Grace Wells (SohlMate 2016-2020), MS 2018. Scientist at Enlaza

Zeqing “Ruth” Xu (SohlMate 2017-2019), MS 2019. Scientist at Illumina


 Alumni: Undergraduate Students

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

Celena Anaya (SohlMate 2017), BS 2018. Scientist at Trilink Biotechnologies

Stacy Anselmo (SohlMate 2015-2017), BS 2017. Scientist at Eton

Carlos Bobadilla (SohlMate 2016), BS 2017 Scientist at Illumina

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

Esteban Delgado (SohlMate 2018), BS 2020. PhD student at UCSD

Jeon Erik Fonbon (SohlMate 2017-2018), BS 2018. 

Eric Gonzalez (SohlMate 2015-2017), BS 2017. MS at UCSF. 

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

Zach Lesecq (SohlMate 2017-2018), BS 2018. MD student at California U Science and Medicine

Dania Meza-Acosta (SohlMate 2018), BS 2022. Scientist at Illumina

Precious Moman (SohlMate 2016-2017), BS 2018. MD student at UCLA

Michelle Nguyen (SohlMate 2018), BS. PharmD student at UCSF

Tin Duc Nguyen (SohlMate 2019), BS 2021 (UCSD). Applying to PhD programs

Dahra Pucher (SohlMate 2019), current USC undergraduate

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

Andrea Ruiz (SohlMate 2016), SDSU undergraduate

Jorge Sandoval (SohlMate 2016), BS 2019. Applying to med school

Anup Sarakki (SohlMate 2016), MS 2018. Scientist at Alkahest

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

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

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

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

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

Yunjin Wu (SohlMate 2016), MS 2018. Scientist at Wuxi AppTec

Elan Zora (SohlMate 2018). BS 2019. Applying to medical school