What made you choose Davis?
The diversity and the collegial, collaborative environment. You have an incredible team focused on neurodegenerative diseases.
What inspires you?
There are these devastating diseases, and I've had family and friends and colleagues affected by that. They can't turn their diseases off, so why should I turn my research off?
What research are you currently working on?
I mainly focus on heterogeneity within neurodegenerative disease.
What makes it unique?
Many studies today typically will focus on one diagnosis. What we’ve known for a while in the pathology field is you get a ton of different things in the brain. People will have Alzheimer's and Parkinson's in the same setting, so how do you partition that out? I’m trying to understand that heterogeneity in the diseases for precision medicine.
If you could impart one piece of advice to our undergraduates seeking a course of study/career path, what would it be?
"HOPP" to it: Have humility, be organized, be proactive and have a presence. All of those have been instilled in me and have contributed to my success as well as the success of my colleagues.
When not in the classroom or conducting research, what do you like to do?
The world is a beautiful place, so I just take time to enjoy it. I’m an amateur artist and do a lot of landscape photography and acrylic painting. I do this to try to capture this wonderful beauty we have, especially in Sacramento.
Are you the first generation in your family to complete university?
Yes. My mom took some college courses and my dad worked in the trades. The trades are just as important. I’m from the Detroit area, and I had no role models in science — everyone worked in the auto industry. It’s been quite fun. … We’re all victims of circumstance. I paid for my own college and needed a job. There was a job posting that went out and I applied for it and got it. It was hormone and behavior research with mice. At the same time my maternal and paternal grandmothers were diagnosed with dementia. I started to shift toward that realm, because I found it was fascinating that they had the same diagnosis but behaved completely differently. One would have hallucinations, and the other wouldn't remember who I was. Looking back I think that’s what started me in that realm of heterogeneity — why did both relatives have the same diagnosis but behave completely differently?