Nitzan Shabek
Principal Investigator
Postdoctoral Fellow – HHMI, University of Washington
Ph.D. - Technion- Israel Institute of Technology

Read more about Nitzan Shabek

email: nshabek at

Angelica Guercio
IGG Graduate Student (amguercio at

I am a first year PhD student in the Integrative Genetics and Genomics (IGG) graduate group. 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 - IGG, 2021 Stocking Fellowship

Lior Tal
Postdoctoral Fellow (tal at

I completed my PhD at the Weizmann Institute of Science, researching Tomato floral transition regulation and Cytokinin signaling with Prof. Yuval Eshed. I aim to better the understanding of plant growth and development, regulated by signal transduction cascades. Plant genetic studies defined an abundance of these regulatory circuits, however, at the protein level, many questions remain unanswered. In my research, I am elucidating the mechanisms by which components of known signaling pathways interact and function.

Awards/Fellowships in the Shabek Lab: BARD postdoctoral Fellowship

Fuai Sun

Postdoctoral Fellow (faisun at

My main interest is the signaling pathways of plant response to stress, in particular Brassinosteroids (BR) signaling. In the Shabek lab, I aim to use structural biology to study genes involved in plant development and signaling transduction. Out of lab, I enjoy music and talking with my friends.

Awards/Fellowships in the Shabek Lab: Chinese Academy Scholarship

Natalie Hamada
PBGG Graduate Student (nhamada at

I'm a PhD student in the Plant Biology Graduate Group. I completed my undergraduate degree in plant biology here at Davis whilst researching interactions between the oomycete pathogen Bremia lactucae and lettuce in the Michelmore lab. As a graduate student, 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,

Malathy Palayam

Postdoctoral fellow (mpalayam at

I have completed my PhD in Center for advanced studies in Crystallography and Biophysics, University of Madras, India. As a graduate student with Dr. Gunasekaran 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 (cryptochromes) and hormone signaling pathways.

Aleczander Young
B.Sc. Plant Biology (graduated 2020) currently Junior Specialist (azgyoung at

I am Alec, I have started in the Shabek Lab as an undergraduate researcher in 2019 and now I am a Junior Specialist. My primary interests are in plant development and the processes involved in this. Outside of lab I like to go for walks, read, and play video games.

Linyi Yan

Junior Specialist (lyyan at

BSc Biological Sciences (graduated 2021)

I have joined the Shabek lab as an undergraduate researcher during my second year of college. My interest includes gene expression, protein chemistry, x-ray crystallography and cellular signaling pathways in cells. Outside lab, I enjoy cooking and traveling.

Shelly Lee
B.Sc (2022, Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)

My research interest includes protein expression and enzyme kinetics.
Outside of lab, I really enjoy running and visiting different cafes from all around the world.
Awards/Fellowships (in the Shabek Lab):  2021 Provost's Undergraduate Fellowship,
 2022 Undergraduate Researcher Summer Fellowship

Katherine Hand

B.Sc (2022, Major in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior)

I am interested in studying cell signaling pathways, viral evolution, and how the ubiquitin system mediates the functions of various organelles and enables adaptation. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, solving mysteries, and spending time with my family, friends, and puppy.  Awards/Fellowships (in the Shabek Lab):  2022 Undergraduate Researcher Summer Fellowship,    2022 Chancellor's Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Research (Honorable Mention)


Jordan Kelsey

B.Sc (2022, Major in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology)

I am a fourth year undergraduate majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
My interests include genetic recombination and gene/protein expression in both animal and plant cells.
Outside of lab, I enjoy playing video games with friends and improving my digital art skills.


Sabrina Katz

I am a third year undergraduate interested in studying protein biochemistry, primarily protein interactions and expressions with  pharmaceutical drugs. Outside of the lab I enjoy cooking, drawing, and playing board games with friends.



Julie Kwan
Human Biology, year 3

I am a third year undergraduate majoring in human biology.

I’m interested in the processes and applications of protein expression and purification. Outside of lab you can find me at the pool, watering my garden, or baking.

Jacob Pawlak

I’m a fourth year Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major.

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

Vali Engles

Biochemistry, Year 4

I am a third year undergraduate majoring in biochemistry.  I am particularly interested in studying protein biochemistry and signals that have unexpected interactions with medicine. I am excited to see where my interests will take me. Outside of lab I enjoy long-distance biking, trying new foods, and playing video games with friends

Awards/Fellowships (in the Shabek Lab): McNair Scholarship 2021 Provost's Undergraduate Fellowship,

Jagadeesan Ganapathy
Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow



Lab Alumni
Rotating PhD Students:
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)

Visiting  Students, Specialists, and Graduate students:
Sarah Morse, M.Sc (Lab Manager/Assistant Specialist) (currently Research Program Coordinator in Washington University, St. Louis)
Tara Caso (M.Sc Graduate Student) (Currently a researcher in Canada, BC)
Sam Deck (Undergrad Researcher & Research Specialist) Awards in the Shabek Lab: Provost Undergraduate Research Fellowship (currently PhD student in Cornell)
Joshua Xu (Davis High School - Young Scholar Program) (currently in Brown university)
Kylie Huang (Mira Loma High School - Young Scholar Program)Zijing Wei (Phillips Exeter Academy - Young Scholar Program)

Undergraduate Researchers:
Isabella Glenn - Awards in the Shabek Lab: Provost's FellowshipTGIF fellowship, Dean's Summer Research Award (currently J. Specialist in UCSF)
Ryan Buchner -  Awards in the Shabek Lab: Provost Undergraduate Research Fellowship (currently researcher in UCD)
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 J. Research Specialist at UC Medical Center)
Hannah Pan - (premedical program)
Rachel Cahatol - (currently QA specialist)
Alexis McBride - GDB Thesis (currently in Veterinary School at UC Davis)

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