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Basic Science Graduate Programs Alumni Speaker Series

This series is designed to facilitate informal conversation between graduate students and graduate division alumni and allow students to learn more about their post-graduate career options. Originally created by and for iPQB graduate students, the series has expanded to include speakers from other graduate programs and students from all programs are invited to attend.

Speaker Date Speaker bio
Lev Osherovich (Tetrad) 4/3/17

Dr. Lev Osherovich is an academic liaison at Versant Ventures, a global biotech venture capital firm. Here, he helps make investments and consults on molecular biology projects at portfolio companies. Prior to this, he worked as a science journalist with Nature Publishing Group and BioCentury (a biotech industry newsletter), where he learned more about unfamiliar areas of biomedical research and acquired a taste for drug discovery. Lev received his PhD in Biochemistry from UCSF working on yeast proteins with Jonathan Weissman and held postdoc positions at University of Kent in the UK and at UCSF with Cynthia Kenyon.

Michelle Rhyu (Biochemistry and Biophysics) 3/6/17 Dr. Michelle Rhyu is a partner at Cooley LLP, a global law firm with about 900 lawyers across 12 offices in the US, China and Europe. She has two decades of experience representing life sciences companies, with a primary focus on high-stakes patent, contract, and trade secrets disputes in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. She has extensive experience leading litigation and trial teams, has argued at the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and has led briefing to the US Supreme Court. Michelle was recently recognized by the Financial Times as one of the most innovative lawyers in the US. She is also named to The Recorder's "Women Leaders in Technology Law" list, as well as one of the "Top 250 Women in IP" by Managing Intellectual Property. Michelle received her JD from Stanford Law School. She holds a PhD in Biochemistry and Biophysics from UC San Francisco, and a BA in Molecular Biology from UC Berkeley.
Brian Feng (CCB Graduate) 2/6/17 Dr. Brian Feng works at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (NIBR) and is graduate of the UCSF Chemistry and Chemical Biology program (‘07). As a student in Brian Shoichet’s group, he studied artifacts in high-throughput biochemical screens. Subsequently, he worked as a postdoc in James Chen’s lab at Stanford studying mammalian signal transduction.  In 2011, Brian joined the lead discovery group in the Bacteriology department at NIBR.  His current interests include assay development, informatics and high-content screening.
Alex Szidon (Tetrad graduate) 12/12/16 Alex Szidon currently leads Merck’s West Coast Innovation Hub for Business Development & Licensing (Merck is known as MSD outside of US and Canada).  Prior to joining Merck in 2015, Alex worked at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research in Cambridge, MA and Emeryville, CA; initially supporting asset and technology platform transactions within Strategic Alliances and then eventually leading the Operational Alliances group globally.  Alex came to Pharma with experience in biotech and enterprise creation via the founding of Zafgen (NSDQ:ZFGN) and as an early employee in DARA Biosciences (NSDQ:DARA).  Alex developed expertise in technology transfer as a Director of Business Development in the Office of Technology Development at the Harvard Medical School.  Alex obtained his PhD in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from UCSF and early business training as an associate consultant within L.E.K.’s Life Sciences practice in Boston.
Karen Ring (BMS graduate) 11/14/16 Dr. Karen Ring has enjoyed working in science communications for the past five years as a contract science writer and blogger. She is currently the website and social media manager for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) and writes for their Stem Cellar Blog. Karen received her Ph.D. from the University of California San Francisco in 2012 in biomedical science and did a two-year postdoc at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. Her research expertise is in regenerative medicine, stem cells, and neuroscience. Karen maintains her ties with UCSF and is the Treasurer and board member of the UCSF Graduate Division Alumni Association.
Jerome Nilmeier 10/10/16 Dr. Jerome Nilmeier is a data scientist at IBM and a UCSF biophysics alumnus (‘08). He specialized in molecular dynamics simulations and statistical mechanics in Matt Jacobson’s lab during his PhD. Dr. Nilmeier continued method development for molecular simulation both as a post-doctoral fellow at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories and as an OpenMM Fellow at Stanford. Before his transition from academia to IBM, he completed the Insight Data Fellows Program. At IBM, his interests include machine learning and big data technologies.
Sandra Waugh Ruggles 9/26/16 Dr. Sandra Waugh Ruggles is an independent marketing and product development consultant. Prior to this, she hones these skills as a product development director within the medical device company Acclarent, Inc. (a Johnson & Johnson family company). She graduated from UCSF in 2002 with a Phd in Biophysics, and was the 2009 Tom Fogarty Fellow in the Stanford Biodesign Program.  While at UCSF she won the garage.com PlanEDU student business plan contest for Quicksilver Genomics.  After completing her degree, she was a founding scientist at Catalyst Biosciences, now a publicly traded company, which develops engineered proteases to target unmet clinical needs. She also currently serves on the board of directors for the UCSF Graduate Division Alumni Association.
Mark Peterson 5/2/16 Mark is a 2008 BMI graduate with extensive experience in science policy, technology development, and business strategy. Mark has worked as a Policy Fellow at the Institute of Medicine, where he researched the effects of policy interventions on health care and global health outcomes, before moving to BCG as a Consultant, where he focused on strategy development for several large non-profit and private organizations. He continued working in strategy development as an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow in 2010, and then as Division Chief of Data and Analytics at the US Global Development Lab of USAID, where he led a team focused on harnessing big data to address challenges in international development. Mark is currently Senior Technology Analyst at Orange Silicon Valley, where he works to drive technology development, business strategy, and partnerships with Silicon Valley technology innovators.
Ranyee Chiang 4/4/16 Ranyee is a 2008 BMI graduate who has worked extensively in the science education and science policy sectors. She has experience teaching at Brooklyn College and the American Museum of Natural History, and studied pedagogical approaches to science teaching as a postdoctoral researcher at NYU's School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. In 2010, she won an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship to research the environmental and social impacts of bioenergy and now continues this work as the Director of Standards, Technology and Fuels at the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a UN Foundation that promotes the adoption of clean and efficient cookstoves to replace the inefficient and pollutive cookstoves currently in use by 3 billion of the world's population.
Joanna Lipinski 2/22/16 Joanna is a recent BMI graduate of the El-Samad Lab and went on to found fPrime Analytics, a consulting company providing bioinformatics tools and data analysis solutions. She has also recently started as Computational Scientist at 3Scan, where she focuses on algorithm development for analysis of microscopy data. She should have plenty of good insight for those interested in pursuing bioinformatics startups upon graduation.
Jed Pitera 11/02/2015

Jed earned his PhD in Biophysics working with Peter Kollman at UCSF. He is now a research staff member in Science and Technology at the IBM Almaden Research Center, where he uses computational simulations to address questions in protein folding, polymer self-assembly, and materials design. Jed is also adjunct assistant professor at UCSF and collaborates with groups at UCSF and Stanford.

Meg Byrne

5/4/2015 7pm

HD 160

Meg received her PhD in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from UCSF in 2005. She subsequently worked as a Medical Writer at newMentor, were she collaborated with a team of medical writers, editors, and subject matter experts to synthesize complex medical research into an accessible form for the clinical team. Meg is currently Senior Editor at PLOS ONE, where she contributes her extensive scientific writing and research expertise to editing the largest open-access, peer-reviewed journal in the world.
Veena Singla

4/6/15 7pm

HD 160

Veena received her PhD in Cell Biology from UCSF in 2010 and subsequently taught at Stanford as a postdoctoral teaching fellow and at the University of San Francisco as adjunct faculty. In 2012 she joined the Green Science Policy Institute as a Senior Scientist and is currently a Staff Scientist at the National Resources Defense Council, a non-profit environmental advocacy group. Veena's interests are in the communication of complex scientific content to diverse audiences in the interest of informing science policy and public education.
Jed Pitera 3/2/15

Jed received his PhD working with Peter Kollman at UCSF. He is now a research staff member in Science and Technology at the IBM Almaden Research Center, where he uses computational simulations to answer questions in protein folding, polymer self-assembly, and materials design. Jed is also adjunct assistant professor at UCSF and collaborates with groups at UCSF and Stanford.

Andrew Bogan 2/2/15

Andrew graduated from UCSF in 2000 and was a founding member of the Entrepreneurs in Biotechnology Club. He was subsequently a venture partner at Tallwood Venture Capital before founding his own asset management firm Bogan Associates, LLC, where he is co-manager of several funds.

David Eramian 1/5/15 David received his PhD in Biophysics from UCSF in 2008. He subsequently earned a JD from Santa Clara University of Law in 2012. He has extensive experience in patent law, first working with the UCSF Office of Technology Management as a Licensing Officer and then Bozicevic, Field & Francis, LLC as an Associate Attorney. He is now Patent Counsel for eBay.
Sarah Hymowitz 10/6/14 Sarah is a graduate of the Biophysics PhD program at UCSF. Sarah started at Genentech as a postdoctoral fellow with Bart de Vos studying the structure and function of members of the TNF super family of ligands and receptors. She is currently Director of Structural Biology at Genetech where her research focuses on deciphering ligand-receptor interactions to identify potential small molecule drugs.
Eli Groban 3/3/14 Eli received his PhD working with Matt Jacobson and Chris Voigt. He is now the Directory of Metabolic Engineering and Systems Biology at Intrexon Corp.
Kinkead Reiling


Kinkead received his PhD in Biophysics from UCSF in 2002. He is the co-founder of Amyris, Inc., a publicly traded company developing synthetic biology technologies for the production of alternative fuels. Kinkead has served as President of Amyris as well as the Senior VP of Corporate Development. He has also served on the Amyris Board of Directors.
David Konerding 1/6/14 David is a senior software engineer at Google and previously worked at Genentech and Lawrence Berkeley Labs. His work focuses on developing distributed computing technology and applying these tools to computational biology research.
Mike Keiser 11/18/13 Mike graduated from the Shoichet lab in 2009 and is the co-founder and COO of SeaChange Pharmaceuticals, a company focused on bioinformatically predicting drug side effects with the goal of repurposing existing drugs for alternative therapeutic uses. Mike will also be starting an assistant professorship at UCSF next year, which gives him a unique entrepreneurial as well as academic perspective.


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