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Meet The Team

Principal Investigator


Tara TeSlaa, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Dr. TeSlaa got her PhD in molecular biology at UCLA. She then did her postdoctoral training with Joshua Rabinowitz at Princeton University. In her free time Dr. TeSlaa likes to spend time with family, cheer for UCLA and LA sports, and play beach volleyball. 

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Katherine Dang

Lab Manager

Katherine received her bachelor's degree from UCLA with a major in Molecular, Cell & Developmental Biology (MCDB) and minors in Biomedical Research and Science Education. She conducted her undergraduate research in the Lyons Lab, where she studied TGF-beta and BMP signaling in articular cartilage. She participated in the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program (URSP) and volunteered with CityLab at UCLA to bring biotechnology education to underserved LAUSD high school students. Outside of the lab, Katherine can be found exploring LA’s museums, gardens, and improv comedy scene.

Graduate Researchers

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Teagan Dean

Graduate Researcher

Teagan is a first year Biochemistry, Molecular and Structural Biology graduate student. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from UCLA with a bachelor's degree majoring in biochemistry and minoring in evolutionary medicine. Her research background includes undergraduate research in ecology and evolutionary biology studying the effects of climate change in harlequin bugs. Additionally, she did a year postbac at UCLA in the Chanfreau lab studying the effects of splicing inhibition in yeast. Besides doing lab work, Teagan also enjoys baking, working out, exploring new places, and spending time with friends and family. 


Suraj Srinivasan

Graduate Researcher

Suraj Srinivasan is a first year Biochemistry, Molecular and Structural Biology PhD student. He did his undergraduate program at UC Berkeley and graduated in May 2023, majoring in MCB with a minor in Nutritional Sciences & Toxicology. During his first and second year of undergrad, Suraj worked at Cardea Bio Inc, a startup company with the goal of bringing to market the CRISPR chip for gene and nucleotide detection using Graphene transistor technology. His role involved automating and optimizing surface chemistry of the chip functionalization protocol. While at Berkeley he was associated with Dr. Danica Chen’s lab researching stem cells and aging. He joint authored a paper on “The hepatic integrated stress response suppresses the somatotroph axis to control liver damage in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.” Suraj also has an issued patent: "Prosthetic Limbs Comprising Three-Dimensionally Printed Elements.” Outside of the lab, Suraj enjoys playing cricket and basketball as well as the Carnatic bamboo flute.

Undergraduate Researchers

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Isabelle Kouyoumdjian

Undergraduate Researcher

Isabelle Kouyoumdjian is a rising fourth-year at UCLA majoring in Biochemistry with a minor in Armenian studies. She is an honors program student and an active member of the Armenian Student Association. Outside of UCLA, Isabelle is a nationally certified EMT and works as a medical scribe in the emergency department. In the community, Isabelle volunteers with the Armenian Youth Federation and the Youth of Girls Inc of Orange County. In the future, she hopes to combine her love for serving the youth and her passion for medicine as a physician. When she’s not in the lab, Isabelle can be found spending time with family, hiking, playing tennis, or playing basketball.


Hi! My name is Sofia de Lourdes Mirabal! I am a senior undergraduate researcher supported by the NSF Louis Stokes California Alliance for Minority Participation. I am majoring in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and minoring in Biomedical Research. For my independent project, I am analyzing the epigenome/expression of mice with NAFLD to understand the mechanism for s-adenosylmethionine levels in one-carbon metabolism.


I am on the pre-med track interested in pursuing a career in women’s health. I am passionate about women’s endocrinology and its effects on metabolism and fertility. I am a Transforming Care At Bedside volunteer with Cedar-Sinai and a resident assistant for the Office of Residential Life.

Sofia de Lourdes Mirabal

Undergraduate Researcher

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Jenny Kouyoumdjian is a fourth year at UCLA in the Honors program, studying Biochemistry with a minor in Armenian Studies.She volunteers as a mentor in the Transfer Mentorship program mentoring new transfer students and is also an active member of the Armenian Student Association club. Outside of UCLA, Jenny is a nationally certified emergency medical technician and has worked as a wilderness EMT. She is currently participating in The Sharon Disney Lund Medical Intelligence, Information, Investigation, and Innovation Institute Internship at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County collaborating with peer interns on healthcare innovations while shadowing Pediatric physicians. Jenny is a very active member in the Armenian Youth Federation. serving as the Social Committee Chair last year, pursuing the Armenian cause and maintaining the passion for the Armenian culture through activism, music, dance, and aiding homeland initiatives. Jenny is passionate about working with children through the AYF to cultivate the Armenian youth and also through the Girls Inc of Orange County. She volunteers with the Girls Inc of Orange County inspiring young girls from low-income minority communities to be smart, strong, and bold while also initiating an after-school tutoring program. She aspires to combine her love for the youth with her love for medicine as a future physician as well as having a clinic in Armenia in the future.

Jenny Kouyoumdjian

Undergraduate Researcher

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Manogna is a sophomore majoring in psychobiology at UCLA. She is interested in an MD-PhD; new scientific knowledge makes Manogna come alive. Manogna is also heavily involved in The Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program (KDSAP at UCLA), where she helps provide kidney health screenings free of cost to people in medically underserved areas of LA. Her home is in California's Central Valley, a region where medicine is not very accessible. To help solve this problem, she would love to practice medicine in her home region in the future. Outside of education, Manogna enjoys spending time with family, traveling, and listening to music! 

Manogna Jha

Undergraduate Researcher

Join the lab!

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