Dennis lab members at ASBMB special symposium

Paulina and Colin recently attended the meeting “Evolution and Core Processes in Gene Expression”, a special symposium from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), held at Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, MO.

Paulina presented the poster “The birth of regulatory elements within human-specific genomic duplicated regions”, which had good reception and comments. Both really enjoyed their time at Stowers, the talks were very useful and interesting. Overall, it was a great opportunity for knowing others working on gene expression and evolution.

Detailed information about the meeting program can be found here:

Stowers Institute for Medical Research

Dennis Lab postdoc named semifinalist


Congratulations to Paulina Carmona-Mora for being named a one of 61 semifinalists from ~500 applicants for the 2017 Charles J. Epstein Trainee Awards for Excellence in Human Genetics Research for the 67th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics. The upcoming meeting will be held in Orlando, FL, October 17-21. Wishing you the best of luck, Paulina!

"You Can, Too": What This Neuroscientist's Outreach Message is All About


Dennis Lab postdoc Alexandra Colón-Rodríguez became a neuroscientist after seeing family members suffer from Alzheimer’s and PTSD. She wanted to find out for herself and others why these diseases happen. Colón-Rodríguez is also passionate about outreach. She shares her own experience as a Puerto Rican woman advancing in the field to inspire others, especially females and underrepresented minorities, to become neuroscientists. Click here for her story.

Dennis Lab supports Red Nose Day!

Lab members took a moment out of their busy, busy week of grant writing to support Red Nose Day, a foundation that raises money for "projects that ensure kids are safe, healthy, educated, and empowered.... in all 50 states and in some of the poorest communities in Latin America, Asia and Africa."

New lab members

We are pleased to welcome three new lab members to the Dennis lab this quarter.



Alex Colon-Rodriguez started in January having received a dual major Ph.D. from Michigan State University. An avid animal lover, perhaps fittingly, her research will focus on developing high-throughput screens of neurodevelopmental phenotypes in developing zebrafish. 

grad student

Aarthi Sekar joined in April as part of the IGG grad group (originally hailing from Mills College). Armed with a remarkably diverse background in science outreach and research, she will focus on human duplicated genes.

grad student

Colin Shew joined in April as part of the IGG grad group having graduated from UCLA. With a general interest in evolution and mountaineering, he will focus on human duplications and gene regulation.

haiku for the keepers of our danio rerioooo

fish always hungry

work tirelessly day and night

thank you dear feeders!


New paper out in Nature Ecology and Evolution

Our study characterizing human specific segmental duplications is out! After searching through hundreds of human and great ape genome sequencing, we identified unique human duplications containing 33 gene families (80 total paralogs). Of these, 10 were found in all humans (thousands tested) in a putatively functional form and expressed in tissues, making them candidate genes for innovative features in modern humans.

Novel homo sapien specific duplications of TCAF 1 and 2 identified, genes that play roles in cold sematosensation.

Novel homo sapien specific duplications of TCAF 1 and 2 identified, genes that play roles in cold sematosensation.

Halloween costume contest

Though unable to defend our 2015 title in the annual UC Davis Genome Center Halloween costume contest, we had a lot of fun with our Mario-kart theme. :)

Congratulations to the LaSalle lab winning with their epigenetic-inspired costumes!

Welcome to our new gaggle of undergrads

This summer and fall quarters, the Dennis lab has welcomed a number of talented undergrads and a high school student to our group. Click on their images below to learn more about them!

Dennis lab awarded IDDRC Pilot grant

Thank you to the UC Davis MIND Institute for funding our pilot experiments modeling autism in zebrafish! We are well under way generating mutant fish in the lab thanks to efforts by talented undergrads Kyle and Eva and look forward to developing phenotypic screens in the coming months. 

You can find more information on the UC Davis IDDRC  here.


Congratulations to Paulina, new ARTP fellow

Cheers to Paulina, who was recently awarded a fellowship through the Autism Research Training Program (ARTP) at the MIND Institute! Paulina will use the fellowship to learn more about the clinical and neurological aspects of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). She will also pursue a research project focused on the functional outcomes of structural variation at genomic hotspots across primates and in patients with neurological disease.

With Megan recently joining the faculty of the ARTP, we expect many exciting future interactions with trainees and investigators at the MIND Institute as we continue to investigate the underlying components of ASDs.

Learn more about the ARTP here.

Welcome our newest undergrad, Eva

We have another new addition to the Dennis lab, undergrad Eva Ferino! While pursuing her B.S. in Animal Sciences here at UC Davis, she will be working with Kyle to generate transgenic zebrafish. Notably, when not studying hard and working in the lab, her hobbies include reading, digital art, food, and crime shows. Certainly we can think of a couple others in the lab who share many of the same interests. Welcome Eva!