(Photo: JC with lab mascot Morgan)

Joanna C. Chiu, Ph.D., Principal Investigator

Associate Professor

Department of Entomology and Nematology

College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Center Affiliations:

  • UC Davis Genome Center

Graduate Group Affliliations:

  • Entomology
  • Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
  • Integrative Genetics and Genomics
  • Animal Behavior
  • Neuroscience

I received my Bachelor of Arts degree from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, M.A., with double majors in Biology and Music. After college, I proceeded to pursue graduate studies under the guidance of Dr. Gloria Coruzzi, Carroll & Milton Petrie Professor and Chair of Biology at New York University. I received a Ph.D. in molecular genetics from the Department of Biology at NYU. The overall goal of my thesis research was to understand the function of glutamate receptor genes (GLR) in plants by using Arabidopsis thaliana as a model organism. Even though I enjoyed my career in plant research as a graduate student, I realized that my real passion is to study how genes and proteins regulate and control animal behavior. Of particular interest is the field of circadian biology. Circadian rhythms are endogenously driven, and exist in life forms ranging from bacteria to mammals. It drives daily oscillations of physiological states and activities including sleep and feeding, and allows organisms to perform necessary tasks at biologically advantageous times of day. To study the inner workings of circadian rhythms, I joined the lab of Dr. Isaac Edery at the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine in Rutgers University, NJ, as a postdoctoral fellow to study how posttranslational mechanisms of clock proteins regulate circadian rhythms. I am now continuing to investigate the regulation of animal circadian rhythms in my own lab in UC Davis by using a combination of molecular genetics, biochemical, and proteomic approaches.

My UCD Entomology page

Antoine Abrieux, Postdoctoral Fellow

I received my BSc in Biology in 2009 and pursued a MSc from Pierre and Marie Curie University (France). In 2014, I finished my PhD with Dr. Line Duportets and Dr. Christophe Gadenne at Angers University where I investigated the role of hormones and biogenic amines in the behavioral response to the sex pheromone in the noctuid Agrotis ipsilon. I am particularly interested in developing integrative approaches to better understand how physiological state and behavior could be modulate at both transcriptional and translational levels and facilitate insect adaptability to changing environments. In spring 2016 I joined the Chiu Lab as postdoctoral fellow to explore interactions between the clock and endocrine system underlying seasonal adaptation in Drosophila suzukii.

Sergio I. Hidalgo Sotelo, Postdoctoral Fellow

I received my BSc in Biochemistry in 2015, and a MSc degree in Biological Sciences in 2017, from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC, Chile). In April 2020, I finished my PhD in Biological Sciences Majoring Cell and Molecular Biology at PUC, working with Dr. Jorge M. Campusano. During this time, we examined the neurochemical and molecular changes underlying sensory and behavioural impairments observed in Drosophila genetic models of schizophrenia. As part of a dual-degree, I also obtained a PhD in Physiology and Pharmacology from the University of Bristol (UK), where I worked with Dr James J.L. Hodge, investigating the contribution of schizophrenia-associated genes to circadian locomotor activity and memory in Drosophila. I am particularly interested in understanding how environmental cues are sensed and processed in the brain. Specifically, how these signals are integrated at a molecular and network-level to generate circadian and seasonal adaptation. I have recently joined Dr. Chiu’s Lab as a postdoctoral scholar, to explore the molecular mechanism and underlying circuits participating in the regulation of seasonal variation in reproductive dormancy.

Yao Cai, Graduate Student (Entomology Graduate Group)

I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Plant Protection from China Agricultural University (CAU). I then pursued and received a Master’s Degree majoring in Agricultural Entomology and Pest Control from CAU. For my MS thesis, I performed comparative mitochondrial genomic analysis of Reduviidae and Psocoptera. To explore new aspects of biological research, I joined the Chiu Lab as a PhD student in the Fall of 2016 to study the genetic mechanisms underlying the regulation of organismal behavior. Perpetually motivated by my interest in biology, I hope I can contribute to this field.

Kyle Lewald, Graduate Student (IGG)

I obtained my B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley in molecular and cell biology. After studying circadian rhythms in sorghum with Dr. Frank Harmon, I became interested in animal clock systems and joined the Chiu Lab in 2018. I plan to study the seasonal biology and population structure of agriculturally relevant pest insects, and hope to translate the knowledge and skills I gain along the way into the biotechnology sector.

Xian-Hui (Nitrol) Liu, Graduate Student (Entomology Graduate Group)

I graduated from Beijing Forestry University in 2014 with a Bachelor's Degree in Biological Sciences, and studied the morphology and evolution of antennae in Calyptratae for the past 3 years. During my research experience, I became interested in studying insect behaviors, and found myself interested in the molecular mechanisms that regulate various behaviors. So I joined the Chiu lab as a graduate student in fall 2014. Although four decades of genetics and molecular biology applied to the dissection of circadian clock have generated a good understanding of this timekeeping system, including regulation of clock genes through transcription-translation feedback loop, our understanding on circadian rhythm generation still remains incomplete and require more mechanistic work. I hope I can make my own contribution to this research area in the future.

Christine Tabuloc, Graduate Student (Entomology Graduate Group)

I graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from UC Davis in 2015. I joined the lab as an undergraduate research assistant in 2012 and am currently a graduate student. Much of my work in the lab has involved different agricultural pests and investigating the molecular aspects contributing to the insect’s ability to be an effective pest. My current focus is to investigate the effects of climatic change on gene expression of an invasive pest and determine whether there is a correlation to resistance and survival. In addition to pest management research, I am also studying a kinase of a core clock protein in Drosophila melanogaster and hoping to dissect its functional contribution to the molecular oscillator.

Christian Atallah, Undergraduate Research Assistant

I joined the Chiu Lab in the Fall of 2019 during my second year attending UC Davis as an undergraduate student with a major in Genetics and Genomics. I found the Chiu Lab while searching for an avenue to begin biological research. I have always been fascinated by the natural world and how its various parts, biotic or abiotic, seamlessly interacted. In the Chiu Lab I have been introduced to the amazingly complex and clever world of circadian biology as a study, as well as a passion. I intend to continue in this field of study into graduate school. I am eager to make contributions of my own in this growing field of research.

Dominik Aylard, Undergraduate Research Assistant

I am currently a sophomore studying the biological sciences. I joined the lab in October 2017 with the support of the Advancing Diversity in Aging Research (ADAR) program and the Biological Undergraduate Scholars Program (BUSP). As a part of ADAR, one of my focuses in lab is to investigate the relationship between the circadian rhythm and aging in the Drosophila model. During my time in this lab, I hope to gain experience in conducting innovative research and further expand my scientific knowledge. With the help of my mentors and peers, I intend to learn more about the collaborative life of the lab and further lay my scientific foundation. Eventually, I would like to attend graduate school and, all the while, continue to participate in exciting research.

Kory Chan, Undergraduate Research Assistant

I am a second year undergraduate studying animal biology. I had Dr.Chiu for my Animal Biology class and immediately became interested in her research on circadian rhythm mechanisms. I joined in the Fall 2018 quarter hoping to gain experience in a lab setting. I plan to apply what I learn in this lab to future classes. While I plan on persuing veterinary school after graduation, I hope that this experience will open up alternate opportunities for me in the future.

Kiya Jackson, Undergraduate Research Assistant

I am a second year undergraduate student, majoring in Biological Sciences and minoring in Studio Art. I joined the Chiu lab in Spring 2020 with the help of the Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology. I am interested in applications involving genetics and biotechnology. I look forward to challenging my understanding of biology as well as learning from a collaborative and investigative environment. I hope to gain a stronger foundation in laboratory research and techniques. Although I am still exploring my options and interests, I do hope to pursue graduate school.

Wenqi Song, Undergraduate Research Assistant

“Science is the fervor; art is the soul”. I am Wenqi Song, an international undergraduate student majoring in Biological Science, minoring in music. I am passionate about animal and human genetics, and I think researches about the mechanisms underlying the genetic and neural interactions are really captivating. I joined Chiu Lab in Fall 2018. As an undergraduate research volunteer, I am excited to learn more about animal genetics and the application of it into human genetics field. While pursuing my Bachelor of Science degree at UC Davis, I would like to make my own contributions in Chiu Lab in the topic of circadian clock, which is an interesting and complicated topic that we have not fully understood yet. I’m also passionate about music, which I think is the best pressure relief to me, and I’m a classical singer and a classical guitar player. For the future, I plan to apply for graduate school for Ph.D. program and dissect more about animal and human genetics and the applications related.

Cindy Truong, Undergraduate Research Assistant

I am currently a fourth year Genetics and Genomics major. I joined the Chiu lab in Fall 2017 with an interest in the various applications of circadian biology. I hope to gain more lab experience and a better understanding of concepts I learn in my courses by applying them in the lab. In the future, I would like to go to graduate school, but I am still exploring the different options available to me after I finish my undergraduate studies.

Ben Kunimoto, High School Research Assistant

I am currently a high school student and will graduate from Davis Senior High School in 2021. I pursued an internship because I wanted to explore my fascination with entomology and biochemistry. I started interning at Dr. Chiu’s lab in August of 2018. I have been learning a lot about the incredible molecular processes of the circadian clock and what it's like to work in an entomology lab. I hope to pursue entomology and biochemistry in college and my future career.

Lab Alumni

Vickie Chung

(UG, 2011-2012)

Diana Teng

(UG, 2011-2012)

UCSF Master's Program in Nursing

Jessica Chan

(UG, 2012-2013)

Counselor at Sacramento Children's Home

Anna Lei

(UG, 2010-2012)

Research Associate at HealthTell

Ivy (Yu) Zhong

(UG, 2014-2015)

Sales Manager at BGI Global Genomics Services

Lisa Soyeon Baik

(UG and Junior Specialist, 2012-2014)

Postdoc at Yale

Axelle Weeger

(UG, 2013-2014)

Career in genetics

Jonathan Diehl

(M.S. in BMCDB, 2012-2014)

High school teacher in Washington

Kevin Cervantes

(UG, 2014-2015)

Medical School

Elizabeth Chan

(UG, 2015-2016)

Career in veterinary medicine

Jessica West

(UG, 2013-2016)

PhD student at Cornell

Pedro Gutierrez Tamayo

(UG, 2014-2016)

PhD Student at Columbia

Tientien Hsieh

(UG, 2014-2016)

Scientist at Revolution Medicines

Ran Bi

(UG, 2015-2016)

Pharmacy degree, CSU

Katherine Murphy

(UG and Research Associate, 2011-2016)

PhD Student at Stanford

Rosanna Kwok

(Junior Specialist, 2010-2012; PhD, 2012-2016)

Research scientist at Genentech

Helen Capewell

(UG, 2016-2017)

Khine Lin

(UG, 2016-2018)

Scientific Data Curator at Stanford

Adam Contreras

(PhD, 2013-2018)

Research Scientist at BioStone Animal Health

Vu Lam

(PhD, 2012-2018)

Ying Li

(PhD, 2013-2018)

Data Engineer at SymphonyRM

Derek Wilson

(Junior Specialist, 2016-2018)

Scientist at Archer Daniels Midland

Hoang Nguyen

(UG, 2016-2018)

Scientist at Denali Therapeutics

Thu (Tammy) Pham

(UG, 2016-2018)

Scientist at Global Blood Therapeutics

Jose Del Carmen Li

(High School Research Assistant - Project SEED, Summer 2017 & 2018)

Undergrad at UCLA

Qi Wei

(Visiting Student, CSC Fellowship, October 2017 to February 2019)

Assistant Researcher, State Key Laboratory of Rice Biology, China

Michelle Lei

(UG, 2018-19)

Christopher Ochoa

(UG, 2017-19)

Ph.D. student at UCLA