2018 Scholar

Saifan (Sevan) Al Obaidi, Ph.D.
Dr. Al Obaidi was born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq. She received her B.Sc. in Biology from the College of Science, Baghdad University.  After she graduated with a M.Sc. in Medical Microbiology, she joined the faculty of the College of Medicine in Baghdad on a tenure track position. In 2017, she earned her PhD from Al-Nahrain University, Baghdad and was promoted to Assistant Professor (equivalent to Associate Professor in the US). Following her promotion, Dr. Al Obaidi moved permanently to the US for family reasons. To restart her career, Dr. Al Obaidi joined Dr. Philip LoVerde’s lab in the Department of Biochemistry and Structural Biology as a postdoctoral fellow where she participates in preclinical research of a re-engineered anti-schistosomal drug to make it effective against all species of Schistosomes. She is also studying the genetic basis of praziquantel resistance, the most common anti-schistosomal drug.  Recently, Dr. Al Obaidi joined the SABER*IRACDA Program as a first step in pursuit of her career goal to become a faculty member in the US.


Charles Fermaintt, PhDCharles S. Fermaintt, Ph.D.
Dr. Fermaintt was born and raised in Caguas, PR and received his B.S. in Chemistry from UPR-Humacao. He completed his Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry at UT-Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX where he studied the role of oligosaccharides as modulators of innate immunity. As a postdoctoral fellow under the mentorship of Dr. April Risinger, Dr. Fermaintt is identifying and characterizing drugs derived from natural sources like plants and fungi that could be used to develop more effective cancer-immunotherapies against breast cancer in particular triple negative breast cancer. Being part of the SABER*IRACDA will allow Dr. Fermaintt to continue growing as an independent researcher and prepare him to become an educator who will influence and shape the next generation of scientists.


Amanda Muñoz, Ph.D.

Dr. Muñoz completed her BS in Microbiology at New Mexico State University in 2010. In 2017, she received her PhD in Cellular and Structural Biology from UT Health Science Center at San Antonio. As a postdoctoral scholar under the guidance of Dr. Alexei Tumanov, Dr. Muñoz is investigating the role of lymphotoxin beta receptor in colorectal tumor immunology. This research aims to characterize the immunotherapeutic potential targeted lymphotoxin beta receptor therapy in colorectal cancer. As a scholar of the SABER-IRACDA program, Dr. Muñoz will have the opportunity to improve as an independent researcher while learning the skills and techniques she will need to be an outstanding mentor and educator for young scientists.


2017 Scholar

Keith Ashcraft, PhDKeith Ashcraft, Ph.D.
Dr. Ashcraft received his bachelors of science in biology in the piney woods of east Texas at Stephen F. Austin State University. From there he traveled west and completed his PhD at the UT Health San Antonio in 2017. Dr. Ashcraft is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Urology department under the mentorship of Dr. Denise O’Keefe where he is studying the role of the essential vitamin B9 (folate) in contributing to aggressive prostate and kidney cancer. This research hopes to inform the nutritional decisions of those who have or are at a higher risk of these cancers. As a SABER*IRACDA scholar, Dr. Ashcraft hopes to continue high impact research while also gaining valuable tools to better communicate scientific concepts and to become an effective educator and mentor.


Lindsey Barron, Ph.D.
Dr. Barron obtained her BS in Biochemistry in 2009 from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. After completing her BS degree, she spent a year mentoring undergraduate students in the Environmental Microbiology Lab at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. This experience ignited her passion for mentoring and motivated her to pursue a career as a teaching professor at a primarily undergraduate institution. In pursuit of this goal, she completed her Ph.D. in Cancer Biology at UT Health San Antonio in 2016. Dr. Barron is currently a SABER*IRACDA scholar working in Dr. Thomas Boyer’s laboratory. Under Dr. Boyer’s guidance, she is studying the tumorigenesis of uterine fibroids. She is excited for this opportunity provided by the SABER*IRACDA program to continue building on her training in research, teaching and mentoring.


Jeremy Stubblefield, Ph.D.

Dr. Stubblefield grew up in northern Illinois and received his BS in Biology from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN.  He went on to receive his PhD in Neuroscience from UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX.  Jeremy’s research interests started with and have continued to revolve around biological time.  He studies the circadian system and how it influences daily rhythms in physiology and behavior.  As a SABER*IRACDA scholar, he is working in Dr. James Lechleiter’s laboratory at UT Health San Antonio to study fatty acid metabolism in astrocytes and the neuroprotective role of thyroid hormone in stroke models.  The SABER*IRACDA program will allow Dr. Stubblefield to gain valuable experience and mentorship in teaching while still pursuing a rigorous research project.  He is passionate about science communication and is eager to share his knowledge with the San Antonio community and beyond.


2016 Scholars

Brian Quang Bui, Ph.D.

A native Texan of Vietnamese descent, Dr. Bui received his Bachelor of Science degree in Physics with Biophysics option and Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio in 2009 and his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Physics and Applied Physics from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2016. As a postdoctoral fellow under Dr. Neil Kirby’s guidance in the Cancer Therapy and Research Center at UT Health San Antonio, Dr. Bui is involved in research aimed to characterize novel radiation measurement devices, specifically dosimeters, which directly quantify biological damage from radiotherapy and could help improve treatments for cancer patients. Becoming a SABER*IRACDA scholar will allow Dr. Bui to have unique opportunities to improve as an independent research scientist, undergraduate educator, and student mentor to help fulfill the needs within undergraduate education institutions.


Courtney Carroll, Ph.D.

Dr. Carroll received her BA in Biochemistry from Hamilton College in 2011. From there, she attended Weill Cornell School of Biomedical Sciences, and obtained her PhD in Neuroscience in 2017. She then left the East Coast behind to pursue a post-doctoral position in Dr. Karl Rodriguez’s lab at the Barshop Institute at UT Health San Antonio. Her research focuses on the role of small heat shock proteins in general aging as well as neurodegerative disorders. Dr. Carroll is passionate about undergraduate education, and the SABER*IRACDA program will provide her with the training she needs to become an excellent researcher and teacher.


Alison Doyungan Clark, Ph.D.

Dr. Doyungan Clark received her bachelors of science degree in Biomedical Sciences from Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi in 2011, and her doctorate degree in Cellular and Structural Biology from UT Health Science Center – San Antonio in 2016. As a postdoctoral fellow under the guidance of Dr. Susan L. Mooberry, Dr. Clark is engaged in research pertaining to the discovery and characterization of new anti-cancer drugs from natural products, and elucidation of signal transduction behind the action of these drugs. Dr. Clark aspires to be a well-rounded teacher-scientist. As a scholar of the SABER IRACDA program, she will have the opportunity to hone her critical thinking skills through intensive research and simultaneously to learn innovative strategies to effectively mentor young scientists.


2015 Scholars

Jonathan Berman, Ph.D.

Dr. Berman completed his BS in Biological Sciences at the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2009. In 2015, he completed a PhD in physiology at the State University of New York at Buffalo and transitioned to postdoctoral research training at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio in the laboratory of James Stockand in the Department of Physiology. Dr. Berman's research has focused on the molecular origins of hypertension, and will expand to the physiology whole body magnesium homeostasis and associated diseases.  Dr. Berman joined the SABER*IRACDA program to build on his teaching skills and become a well-rounded scientist/teacher.


Megan Borror, Ph.D.

Dr. Borror first became excited about science as a high school student visiting her uncle’s laboratory. Her enthusiasm for science led her to Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, where she earned a BS in biology (2008) and a PhD in microbiology (2014). Through her graduate studies, Dr. Borror discovered her passion for sharing the knowledge and excitement of science with the next generation of young scientists as she assisted in teaching undergraduate classes. Dr. Borror joined the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in 2014 as a postdoctoral research fellow to study mitochondrial dysfunction and aging in the laboratory of Dr. Shane Rea at the Barshop Institute of Aging and Longevity. She is excited to be a part of the SABER*IRACDA program to further enhance her training in teaching and research in order to become a skilled professor and mentor for young scientists.


Valerie Cortez, Ph.D.

Dr. Cortez received her BS in biology from UT San Antonio in 2007 and her PhD in biomedical sciences from UT Health Science Center San Antonio in 2013. As a postdoctoral research fellow, under the mentorship of Dr. Edward Medina and Dr. Kay Oyajobi, she is pursuing projects focused on how obesity promotes cancer development and disease progression. Specifically, she is investigating mechanisms underlying the pro-survival, protective effects of adipocyte-derived free fatty acids, which are elevated in obesity, on multiple myeloma. The SABER*IRACDA program gives Dr. Cortez access to unique training opportunities, professional development workshops, seminars and enrichment activities that will provide her with the skills to balance the multi-faceted demands of a career as a teacher-scholar at a minority-serving primarily undergraduate institution.


Rheaclare Fraser-Spears, Ph.D.

Dr. Fraser-Spears majored in biochemistry at Spelman College, received research training scholarships and summer internships, and solidified her plans to pursue graduate education. She obtained her Pharmacology doctorate from the University of Michigan, and is now in her 3rd year of postdoctoral training at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. In research, she examines how novel compounds target specific proteins to regulate important brain chemicals; these studies will potentially offer a new approach in the treatment of depression. Her research activities are conducted in the laboratory of Lynnette Daws, PhD, in the Department of Physiology.  Rhea believes that on-going science education and exposure to contemporary research techniques are essential to continued scientific discovery. As an SABER*IRACDA scholar, she will acquire skills to become an effective science educator and enhance research opportunities for upcoming scientists.


Rebekah Mahoney, Ph.D.

Dr. Mahoney completed her BSc in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Ulster in 2010. In 2016, she completed her PhD in Physiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in the lab of Benjamin Eaton, PhD. As a postdoctoral research fellow, under the mentorship of Bess Frost, PhD in the Barshop Institute for Aging and Longevity, she is pursuing projects investigating the changes in nuclear calcium signaling in Alzheimer’s disease and related tauopathies with the hopes of understanding the toxic changes that occur within the nucleus during the progression of these disorders. As a scholar in the SABER*IRACDA program, Dr. Mahoney is excited to be given the opportunity to enhance her teaching skills and further become a successful mentor to future generations of young scientists.


Christopher Peña, Ph.D.

Dr. Peña received his bachelors of science in biology at UT San Antonio, where his passion for teaching started as a supplemental instruction leader for various science courses.  As a doctoral student in the Cancer Biology Program at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dr. Peña continued sharing his passion for science, clinical cancer research, and health education through community outreach and university-based mentoring programs.  Currently in the Department of Cellular and Structural Biology at UT Health San Antonio, he is a postdoctoral research fellow in the laboratory of Robin Leach, PhD where he seeks to identify novel biomarkers predictive of aggressive prostate cancer as well as other diseases of the prostate. The SABER*IRACDA program will give Dr. Peña the opportunity to enhance his research skills and teaching abilities in order to be an effective science investigator and mentor for the next generation of scientists.


Briana Salas, Ph.D.

Dr. Salas received her bachelors of science degree in Environmental Studies from Binghamton University in 2008. In 2010 she received her masters of science in Environmental Science from Pace University. In 2015 she completed her Ph.D. in Integrative Biology and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior at Michigan State University. In 2016 Dr. Salas took a postdoctoral fellowship at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio under Dr. Elizabeth Leadbetter in the department of Immunology, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. In taking this postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Salas transitioned from researching coral immunology, to using a murine model of immunology. Her current research focuses on developing a nanoparticle-based vaccine against Streptococcus pneumoniae. As a SABER-IRACDA scholar, Dr. Salas intends to elevate the quality of her research, as well as hone her training abilities of future scientists.


Jesus A. Segovia Jr., Ph.D.

Dr. Segovia is a postdoctoral research scientist studying the intricate defense mechanisms utilized by our body’s immune system to fight off harmful respiratory pathogens; these studies should lead to innovative therapeutic interventions to prevent acute and chronic airway diseases, including asthma. His research is being conducted under the guidance of Dr. Joel B. Baseman in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Born and raised in Laredo, TX, Jesus earned his Bachelor’s degree from Baylor University in 2004, Master’s degree from Texas A&M International University in 2008 and PhD from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in 2014. The SABER*IRACDA program will provide an opportunity for Jesus to receive state-of-the-art mentoring and teaching training experiences to address his career goal to become a university research and teaching professor.


Pamella Tijerina, Ph.D.

Dr. Tijerina obtained her BS in Biology from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2011 and her PhD in Systemic Toxicology from New York University in 2017. After graduate school, Dr. Tijerina returns to Texas with an aim to contribute to the community she grew up in. She currently serves in the Department of Pediatrics – Infectious Diseases as a postdoctoral fellow under the mentorship of Drs. Edward Brooks and Peter Dube. Dr. Tijerina investigates the impact of diesel exhaust particles on neurogenic mechanisms of allergic airway inflammation with the aim of discovering novel therapeutic interventions for asthma. Outside of the laboratory, she participates in multiple mentorship programs and leadership committees overseeing student development and engagement. Dr. Tijerina aspires to become an innovative science educator using the crucial experience and pedagogy training offered by the SABER*IRACDA program.





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      Supported, in part, by a PHS grant (K12 GM111726), San Antonio Biomedical Education and Research, from the National Institute of General Medical Science (NIGMS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This is an Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award (IRACDA).