Postdoctoral Leadership Fellows

For and by postdocs, the Postdoc Leadership Fellows Program (PDLF) is a new initiative that focuses on activities and resource sharing that benefit incoming postdocs to the UCSF community. At its core, Postdoc Leadership fellows – trained in inclusive leadership and mentoring, community-building, and UCSF’s PRIDE values – create, direct, and facilitate the sharing of resources among other postdocs in their local work communities.

Continue reading to learn more about the current fellows!

April Bell



April Bell, PhD is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Preterm Birth Initiative at UCSF. She obtained her PhD in Epidemiology from the Indiana University School of Public Health at Bloomington. Dr. Bell's research is focused on decreasing reproductive health inequities among women and youth by addressing the impacts of societal and structural biases on adverse birth outcomes, sexually transmitted infections, HIV acquisition, abortion access, and unintended pregnancy. Having worked extensively in both the US and across sub-Saharan Africa, she is interested in using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, including digital storytelling, to bridge the expanse between US and African settings.

Areas of expertise: Reproductive, sexual, maternal, and adolescent health; reproductive justice; health equity; racism; historically excluded groups; global health; implementation science; digital storytelling; youth participatory research methods; BIPOC postdocs



Miqdad Dhariwala MSc, PhD, was born and grew up in the city of Pune in India. An avid enthusiast of the outdoors, he spent most of his childhood playing individual and team sports for his school and college. He did his undergraduate and master’s degrees in microbiology in India while also securing the prestigious national CSIR certification for lecturing in the sciences. He later moved to Missouri, USA, where he earned his PhD studying immune responses to highly infectious diseases. To further pursue his interests in microbiology and immunology he then transitioned to a postdoctoral position in Dr. Tiffany Scharschmidt’s lab at UCSF. He is focused on studying the role of the microbiome in the development of the neonatal immune system in barrier tissues. He is also passionate about education and is routinely found mentoring young scientists. Away from the lab Miqdad spends his time hiking, learning to cook different cuisines, educating himself about world history and supporting the Golden State Warriors!

Areas of expertise: K99, postdocs fellowships, microbiology, immunology, neonatal immunity, microbiome, mentoring, UCSF Housing, core facilities, transportation, international scholar, Bay Area foods

Miqdad Dhariwala

Oleta Johnson



Oleta Johnson, PhD, is a native of Charleston, South Carolina, where she grew up training for a career in modern and contemporary dance. By her senior year of high school, she discovered her love of chemistry, prompting her to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry at Florida A & M University. She continued her studies with a PhD in chemical biology from the University of Michigan. During her graduate training in the lab of Prof. Amanda Garner, she adapted her fascination with movement to develop tools for studying intrinsically disordered proteins in the context of protein synthesis and cancer. As a UCSF postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Prof. Jason Gestwicki, Dr. Johnson is using her experience studying dynamic protein systems to develop tools to both understand and regulate protein homeostasis in cells, with a focus on the molecular chaperone protein Hsp70 and its role in polyglutamine expansion diseases. When not in the lab, Dr. Johnson enjoys cooking, reading, kickboxing, dancing (of course) and hanging out with her housemates.

Areas of expertise: chemical biology, protein engineering, protein NMR, biochemistry, postdoc community building, mission bay, food, east bay, BIPOC postdocs



Huinan Marcus Li, PhD, was born in China, and completed his PhD at Texas A & M University studying vertebrate synaptic transmission. Upon finishing his PhD, he moved to the Bay Area for his postdoctoral training, first joining Stanford University, and then UCSF. He is currently working on using iPSC induced neuronal cell types to model frontal temporal dementia.

Areas of expertise: stem cell culture, electron microscopy, San Francisco city life, international scholar related issues, event planning

Marcus Li

Rachel Rudlaff



Rachel Rudlaff, PhD grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan and attended Michigan State University for college, where she studied Microbiology and the History, Philosophy, and Sociology of Science, and held her first leadership position - as part of a team organizing the Izzone, the student section at MSU basketball games. After college, she moved to Boston to begin a PhD in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences program at Harvard. Here, she fell in love with parasites and weird eukaryotic cell biology. She joined Jeffrey Dvorin's lab for her thesis work and studied cell division in the human malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. In grad school, one of her favorite things in the lab was using imaging techniques to visualize her parasites, so for her postdoc, Rachel joined Bo Huang's lab at UCSF, where she now uses custom-built light sheet microscopes to image live cells. In her free time, Rachel enjoys baking, practicing and teaching pole fitness, hiking, watching Big Ten basketball and football, and exploring the East Bay.

Areas of expertise: light and electron microscopy, infectious disease, genetics, cell biology, navigating career paths for PhDs, community building, mentoring undergraduate and rotation students, scientific communication



Lin Song, MMed, PhD, is a postdoctoral scholar in UCSF’s Helen Diller cancer center. Since 2019, her research has focused on translational medicine and lung cancer, and she devotes herself to advocate for postdoctoral scholars in many aspects by serving as co-chair for the postdoctoral scholar association and as member of the chancellor’s council. She is concurrently serving on various other councils and committees, and is a scientific reviewer. Previously, she obtained a PhD in biochemistry from the medical faculty of the University of Cologne, Germany (2014 -2018). Before that, she got a master’s degree in medicine in the field of clinical pathology and experimental oncology (2011-2014) and a bachelor’s in clinical laboratory science (2007-2011) in China. In addition to research and medical interests, she has been actively engaged in supporting global sustainable development and promoting international academic exchange by volunteering in the United Nations. She served as a leader of an international academic association and as an ambassador of a research funding agency. She loves hiking, photography, and delicious cuisine.

Areas of expertise: cancer genomics, mouse models, cancer biology, laboratory medicine, pathology, postdoctoral community, campus culture, climate change, public health

Lin Song