Nitzan Shabek
Principal Investigator
Postdoctoral Fellow – HHMI, University of Washington - Seattle
PhD - Technion- Israel Institute of Technology

Read more about Nitzan

email: nshabek at

Angelica Guercio
IGG Graduate Student, B.A (NYU) (amguercio at

I got my start in research examining proteins involved in establishing embryonic polarity in C. elegans during my undergraduate at NYU with Dr. Jeremy Nance. In my undergraduate I simultaneously worked on designing plant movement quantification methods with Dr. Eric D Brenner. After graduating I decided to turn my focus on plants and moved to sunny Riverside, CA to work with Dr. Daniel Koenig as a Junior Specialist researching evolutionary genomics in a naturally evolving barley population. Currently I am interested in studying how plants sense and respond to their environment via signalling pathways and how to examine plant signaling in a high-throughput “-omics” way. When not in the lab I love to experiment with vegan cooking and play with my pup and kitten. Awards in the Shabek Lab: NSF GFRP Honorable Mention,  2020 Summer GSR Award, 2021 Stocking Fellowship, Dean's GS Mentoring Award , 2023 Travel Award


Fuai Sun

Postdoctoral Fellow (faisun at
B.Sc (Heilongjiang Agricultural University), M.Sc (Sichuan Agricultural University), Ph.D (Sichuan Agricultural & UC Davis)

I’m a plant biologist passionate about understanding the molecular mechanisms behind plant growth. My research explores genetic, biochemical, and structural aspects of plant signaling pathways. During my PhD, I focused on BES1/BZR1 in the BR pathway; currently, I’m investigating ubiquitin-proteasome degradation. Using proximity labeling in Arabidopsis, I aim to reveal intricate protein interactions with ubiquitin ligases, impacting protein regulation and degradation and also aim to unveil the mechanism on a structural level. Beyond the lab, I like camping and live shows. Awards in the Shabek Lab: Chinese Academy Scholarship,  UCD Plant Biology Outstanding Postdoctoral Fellow Award

Natalie Hamada

PBGG Graduate Student (nhamada at, B.Sc (UC Davis)

I am interested in understanding how plants utilize various signal transduction pathways respond to their environment (and particularly microbes) at the molecular level. I will work to do so in the Shabek lab using protein structural biology and biochemical approaches. If I'm not in lab I'm probably at the gym, reading, cycling, or watching TV. Awards/Fellowships in the Shabek Lab: NIH-MCB T32 Training Grant,  2022 Summer GSR Award - PBGG, 2023-2025 USDA-NIFA Predoctoral Fellowship

Malathy Palayam

Postdoctoral fellow / Project Scientist (mpalayam at
PhD (University of Madras)

I have completed my PhD in Center for advanced studies in Crystallography and Biophysics, University of Madras, India. As a graduate student with Dr. Krishnasamy, my research focused on purification, characterization and crystallization of protease inhibitors from plants and human lymphatic causing parasites. In the Shabek Lab, I am focusing to understand the structure, function and mechanism of plant protein complexes that involved in light sensing and hormone signaling pathways.

Daniela Rodriguez-Zaccaro

Postdoctoral fellow (dzaccaro at
PhD (UC Davis)

I completed my PhD at the plant biology graduate group here at UC Davis. My research involved investigating the genetic regulation of wood development in the model tree genus Populus, with a focus on vessel traits related to hydraulic function and resistance to drought. In the Shabek lab I am now focusing on wood forming tissue proteins with the hope to better understand the molecular pathways involved in wood development. I am particularly interested in investigating the role of the ubiquitin proteasome pathway in the formation of vessel elements from the vascular cambium.

Jacob Moe-Lange

Postdoctoral fellow (jmoelange at
B.Sc (UC Berkley), M.Sc (University of Copenhagen), PhD (Stanford University)

I am a life-long plant fanatic. I received my BS from UC Berkeley while working on salt-stress and redox signaling with Dr. Lewis Feldman. I then pursued a MSc at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark while in the lab of Dr. Bjorn Hamberger studying terpenoid biosynthetic pathways. Returning to California, I joined the lab of Dr. Wolf Frommer at the Carnegie Institution at Stanford University for my PhD. There I discovered the role of a mechanosensitive ion channel involved in long distance calcium and electrical signaling in response wounding stress in plants. I am excited to join the Shabek Lab as a postdoc to further study how environmentally induced signaling is integrated into meaningful physiological and developmental responses in plants. In my spare time I enjoy gardening with my cats, surfing the California coasts, and shredding the mountains on skis.

Katherine Hand

IGG Graduate Student (kahand at
B.Sc (UC Davis 2022, Major in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior),

Eager to explore the field of biochemistry, I joined the Shabek lab as an undergraduate, where I began to investigate the ubiquitin system in chloroplasts. Upon graduation, I continued my work as a junior specialist and took on an additional project examining the structure and function of E2-E3 interactions. I am interested in studying gene regulation, protein-protein interactions, and the mechanisms underlying essential cellular signaling pathways. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, solving mysteries, and spending time with my family, friends, and puppy.

Amelia Gilio

Postdoctoral fellow (akgilio at
PhD (York Structural Biology Laboratory)

I completed my PhD at the York Structural Biology Laboratory, University of York, UK where my research focused on the structural and mutagenesis studies of imine reductases for biocatalytic applications in the pharmaceutical industry. In the Shabek lab, I am excited to be turning my focus to understanding the structures and functions of enzymes involved in plant ubiquitin proteasome systems using both crystallography and cryo-em approaches. When I am not in the lab, I enjoy spending time outdoors hiking and running.

Jacob Pawlak

Lab Manager/Junior Specialist (jjpawlak at
B.Sc (2023, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology UC Davis)

My main research interests are light signalling pathways in plants and animals. Outside of lab I enjoy reading about history and geography, going to the gym, and trying anything with caffeine in it.

Julie Kwan

Junior Specialist B.Sc (2023, Human Biology - UC Davis)

After working in the Shabek Lab as an undergraduate, I developed an interest in using protein structural biology to understand plant signaling pathways in response to different environments which I hope to pursue in the next year. When I’m not at lab you can find me swimming, reading, or buying more house plants.

Caytlyn Noble

Undergraduate Researcher

Majoring in Biochemistry and interested in learning new techniques.
I love playing tennis, crocheting, and writing  during my free time



Brian Chen

Undergraduate Researcher

I am currently a second year majoring in in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and I am highly interested in the biochemistry of protein interactions and expression, especially at the molecular level. Outside of school I enjoy playing basketball and hanging out with friends.


Hannah Kim

Undergraduate Researcher

I'm a second year undergraduate and I'm interested in the biochemical processes of signaling pathways. Outside of school, I enjoy reading classic books, drinking coffee, cycling at the gym, and playing tennis.


Ryan Burke

Undergraduate Researcher

I'm a fourth year Biological Sciences major, and my main interest is researching the genetic mechanisms underlying plant signaling pathways. Outside of the lab, I enjoy playing soccer and spending time with friends.



Darian Debortoli

Undergraduate Researcher

I'm a third year undergraduate majoring in Cell Biology. I'm interested in studying cell signaling pathways to uncover the molecular intricacies behind how cells communicate and coordinate their activities. Outside of the lab, I enjoy hiking, swimming, baking, and spending time with family and friends. 



Lab Alumni

Postdocs, Visiting  Scholars, Specialists, & Graduate students:
Lior Tal, Ph.D. (postdoctoral fellow) Awards in the Shabek Lab: BARD Fellowship (currently Assistant Professor/Principal Investigator in Tel Aviv University)
Aleczander Young (Undergrad Researcher & Specialist) (currently lab manager in UC Davis - Yann-Ru Lab)
Jagadeesan Ganapathy (Visiting Scholar) (currently Project Scientist in UC Davis)
Sarah Morse, M.Sc (Lab Manager/Assistant Specialist) (currently Research Program Coordinator in Washington University, St. Louis)
Tara Caso (M.Sc Graduate Student) (Currently in Syndesus Inc., Canada, BC)
Sam Deck (Undergrad Researcher & Specialist) Awards in the Shabek Lab: Provost Undergraduate Research Fellowship (currently a PhD student in Cornell)
Linyi Yan (Undergrad Researcher & Specialist)  (currently MSc student in John Hopkins)
Joshua Xu (Davis High School - Young Scholar Program) (currently in Brown university)
Kylie Huang (Mira Loma High School - Young Scholar Program)(currently in UC Berkley)
Zijing Wei (Phillips Exeter Academy - Young Scholar Program)
Shelly Lee (Undergrad Researcher & Junior Specialist) Awards in the Shabek Lab: Provost Undergraduate Research Fellowship (PhD student in UC Irvine)
Katherine Hand (Undergrad Researcher & Junior Specialist) Awards in the Shabek Lab: 2022 Undergraduate Researcher Summer Fellowship, 2022 Chancellor's Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Research (Honorable Mention) (currently PhD student in UC Davis - in our lab, see above)

Undergraduate Researchers:
Isabella Glenn - Awards in the Shabek Lab: Provost's FellowshipTGIF fellowship, Dean's Summer Research Award (currently researcher in UCSF)
Ryan Buchner -  Awards in the Shabek Lab: Provost Undergraduate Research Fellowship (currently in Aril Inc.)
Derrick Tran - (currently working in Genentech)
Maria Charco Munoz -(currently researcher in UCD)
Avalon Miller  -  Awards in the Shabek Lab: Provost Undergraduate Research Fellowship, GDB Thesis (currently a PhD student in Penn State University)
Arielle Zur - (School of Medicine - Tel Aviv University)
Alexander Kehl  -  Awards in the Shabek Lab: MARC/BSHARP (NIH) Scholarship (currently a PhD student in UC Davis)
Catherine Zhou - (premedical program)
Arya Balouchi- (premedical program)
Kyleigh Jacobs - (currently QA specialist in Hologic Inc)
James Chhen - (currently in Pharmacy School USC)
Razan Rashid - (premedical program)
Jordan Van Leuven - (premedical, currently researcher at UC Medical Center)
Hannah Pan - (premedical program)
Rachel Cahatol - (currently QA specialist)
Alexis McBride - GDB Thesis (currently in Veterinary School at UC Davis)
Vali Engles-  Awards in the Shabek Lab: Provost Undergraduate Research Fellowship, McNair Scholarship (currently researcher in Caltech)
Jordan Kelsey - (currently researcher in Salk Institute)
Sabrina Katz - (premedical program)

Rotating PhD Students:
Jay Young (PBGG)
Trevor Gannalo (BMCDB)
Shivaani Krishna (BMCDB)
Albert Liu (BMCDB)
Ximena Anleu Gil (PBGG)
Joseph Grosskopf (PBGG)
Sam Hayes (BMCDB)
Wenzhe Li (BMCDB)
Johanna Bautista (PBGG)
Gabrielle Wyatt (PBGG)
Chi Zhang (BMCDB)
Xuehan Xu (BMCDB)
Tressa Smalley (BMCDB)

Your picture could be here (Open Positions)!