Current Fellows

First year fellows

We are still accepting applications from prospective Fellows for the 2021-22 fiscal year.

Natasha Fowler, Ph.D.

Natasha Fowler

Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Behavioral Neuroscience

Natasha Fowler is a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Deena Walker’s lab in the Department of Behavioral Neuroscience. She holds a Master’s in Clinical Psychology and Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience from Michigan State University under the mentorship of Drs. Kelly Klump and Cheryl Sisk. Her graduate work examined the role of stress and ovarian hormones on binge eating behavior in women and female rats. As a post-doc, Natasha’s research will focus on understanding how adolescent stress interacts with reward processes to influence natural (food) and drug reward-related behaviors in a sex-specific manner.  

Community fellows

Several postdoctoral fellows have completed their first year at OHSU with funding through OFDIR and have remained at OHSU to finish their postdoctoral work and stay involved in OFDIR programming. Learn more about their research and stories below.  

Benjamin Sarno, Ph.D.

Benjamin Sarno, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Cell, Developmental and Cancer Biology 

Benjamin Sarno is a postdoctoral researcher currently working in Dr. Gordon Mills’ lab in the Department of Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology. He received his PhD from the University of California San Diego in Chemical and Bioengineering with a background in cancer diagnostics. His  =work is focused in liquid biopsy technologies for cancer therapeutics and condition monitoring. Ben is currently developing a translational technology to interrogate blood plasma from triple negative breast cancer and ovarian cancer patients to identify key biomarkers for early diagnosis and therapy monitoring. He is also leading an exploratory effort to define potential bacterial biomarkers from opportunistic cultures found in tumor necrotic regions. In addition to his laboratory research, Ben is also passionate about challenging preconceived notions about who and what makes a “scientist” and breaking down barriers to create more ethical and diverse workspaces.

Jaime Abrego, Ph.D.

Jaime Abrego

Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Cell, Developmental and Cancer Biology 

Jaime Abrego is a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Dr. Mara Sherman in the Department of Cell, Developmental and Cancer Biology department. Jaime was born in Mexico and grew up in Conyers, Georgia. He joined the University of Nebraska Medical Center to pursue his Ph.D. in cancer research at the Eppley Institute for Cancer Research. During his pre-doctoral training, Jaime’s research focused on studying metabolic reprogramming of pancreatic cancer at the cellular level. As a graduate student, he was author on several peer-reviewed publications, he presented his research at major national conferences and developed strong mentorship in the laboratory and classroom. While in the Sherman lab, Jaime's research will focus in studying the role of free fatty acids in the microenvironment of pancreatic tumors. As a postdoctoral fellow, he expects to continue producing impactful research for the betterment of patients suffering from pancreatic cancer. Jaime’s short-term goal is to publish his research and become an NIH-funded postdoctoral fellow. His long-term goal is to develop the skills and knowledge to study the tumor microenvironment of pancreatic tumors as a principal investigator.

Alejandra Fernandez, Ph.D.

Alejandra Fernandez

Postdoctoral Researcher, Vollum Institute 

Alejandra Fernandez is a postdoctoral researcher at the Vollum Institute. She holds a Ph.D. in molecular medicine from the George Washington University (2018). Throughout her career, Alejandra has focused on the intersection of metabolism, gene regulation and circuit development. She is currently studying the effects of altered signaling of a mayor nutrient pathway, the PI3K-PTEN-mTOR network, in the development of the peripheral nervous system in Dr. Kevin Wright’s laboratory.

Robert Hermosillo, Ph.D.

Robert Hermosillo

Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Behavioral Neuroscience 

Robert Hermosillo holds bachelor's and master's degrees in neurophysiology from the University of Oregon, and a Ph.D. in systems neuroscience from the University of British Columbia (2015). He held a Postdoctoral fellowship in speech and hearing sciences, investigating speech motor disorders at the University of Washington in Seattle with Dr. Ludo Max. He uses a combination of machine learning algorithms, genetics and state-of-the-art neuroimaging techniques to look at brain networks and classify neuropsychiatric disorders. Robert’s background is in computational neuroscience, investigating how the organic circuitry of the brain is able to perform computations that humans can use to control their limbs in a coordinated manner. Currently, his research aim is to be able to find patterns of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) or genes that result in aberrant developmental brain circuits in neuropathological disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Robert is involved with the OHSU Post-doctoral Association and the Alliance for Visible Diversity in Science

Sará King, Ph.D.

Sara King

Postdoctoral Fellow, Oregon Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Neurological Disorders 

Sará King is a mother, a UCLA-trained neuroscientist, anthropologist, education philosopher, and political scientist. She completed her B.A. degrees in Linguistics and Black Studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, CA before coming to OHSU. Her work integrates culturally celebratory yoga and mindfulness practices into a community intervention for Alzheimer’s disease for the African-American community of Portland (SHARP). SHARP is headed up by Dr. Raina Croff and supported by the OHSU Layton Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Center. Her research also currently focuses on healing the trauma of gentrification and its impact on brain and cognitive health. Sará is also an internationally recognized thought leader in field of mindfulness and social justice in schools, and has enjoyed public speaking and advocacy work at the intersection of these fields. 

Ernesto Manzo, Ph.D.

Ernesto Manzo

Postdoctoral Fellow, Vollum Institute 

Ernesto Manzo is currently working in the laboratory of Dr. Marc Freeman, researching the cellular mechanisms that control neuronal decay. His research uses the fruit fly as a model organism to better understand how neurons either survive or degenerate in response to genetic insults. As an undergraduate at Swarthmore College, he became fascinated by how genetic alterations cause human disease. In 2010, he sought out an internship at the Clinic for Special Children, where he studied genetic diseases in the Amish and Mennonite Plain populations under Dr. Erik G. Puffenberger. He received his PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona (2019) where he studied metabolic defects implicated in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in the laboratory of Dr. Daniela C. Zarnescu. Ernesto is a former HHMI predoctoral Gilliam Fellow with an interest in breaking down institutional barriers for traditionally underrepresented students in higher education. 

Cristiane Miranda Franca, Ph.D.

Cristiane Miranda Franco

Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Restorative Dentistry 

Cristiane Miranda Franca is a dentist scientist with a Ph.D. in Oral Pathology from the University of São Paulo, Brazil. She is currently working on the development, optimization and application of an organ-on-a-chip device for dental research, the ‘tooth-on-a-chip’. Moreover, Cristiane is also involved in dental pulp regeneration projects and 3D bioprinting studies to fabricate vascularized tissues for dental and craniofacial applications. Her previous work was focused on the modulation of immune cells in wound healing and macrophage polarization using different strategies as photobiomodulation and neuro-immune modulation. Passionate about how research can improve people's lives, her goal is to combine her background in Oral Pathology with current training in microfluidics and tissue engineering to investigate translatable approaches for dental and craniofacial regeneration. Her major research interests include organs-on-a-chip, tissue engineering, angiogenesis, immune cell modulation, and wound healing.

Binyam Nardos, Ph.D.

Binyam Nardos

Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Behavioral Neuroscience 

Binyam Nardos is a postdoctoral neuroscientist researching in the lab of Dr. Mary Heinricher. In 2013 he received his PhD in Biology and Biomedical Sciences (Neurosciences) from Washington University in St. Louis, where he was a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow. While Binyam's dissertation research focused on characterizing the brain-basis of word learning in young adults, his current research investigates how socio-emotional contexts influence decision making in the presence of race cues (e.g. black vs. white faces). Binyam is passionate about combining my strong research, teaching, and mentorship background to advance social justice in academia and beyond. He also plays an advisory role in the Youth Engaged in Science (YES!) outreach initiative.  

Cirila Estela Vasquez Guzman, Ph.D.

Cirila Estela Vasquez Guzman

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Family Medicine 

Cirila Estela Vasquez Guzman holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of New Mexico, where she specialized in medical sociology and race and ethnicity. As a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Sate Policy Fellow, Satcher Health Leadership Institute Fellow at Morehouse School of Medicine and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy fellow at UNM, she has received extensive training in health policy, research, and leadership. Her broader research agenda is concerned with inequities in medicine, health, and health delivery among populations of color, particularly immigrant communities. She utilizes a range of qualitative methods including interviews, focus groups, and case study data. Dr. Guzman's work aims to specifically bridge the gap between theory and practice from an equity and inclusion perspective.