Postdoctoral Training Program

The Section of Developmental Biology operates an integrated Postdoctoral Training Program in Developmental Biology and Regenerative Medicine. This program provides a mechanism for postdoctoral trainees to mature into successful independent researchers in Developmental Biology and Regenerative Medicine. Trainees are provided salary support in accordance with the NIH pay scale and the University of Colorado offers a full benefits package. The program also provides each trainee with a mentoring committee, funds to attend conferences/courses and networking opportunities in the form of interactions with visiting scientists, national/international collaborations, journal clubs, research interest groups and annual retreats. Interested trainees will also be given opportunities to teach and mentor students as well as to improve writing skills.

Interested candidates should contact a the host lab they are interested in joining. Please submit: 1) a statement explaining interest in the host lab (two-page maximum), 2) a CV and 3) arrange to have three reference letters sent. Each year, a small number of applicants will be appointed as Gates Fellows and have their stipends paid with support from the Gates Frontiers Fund.

For more information, please contact:
Dr. Charles Sagerström, Co-Director of the Postdoctoral Training Program,
Dr. Alexa Burger, Co-Director of the Postdoctoral Training Program,

To communicate directly with the postdoctoral fellows currently in the Postdoctoral Training Program, please email

Current Post-Doctoral Fellows:

Kadidia v2

Kadidia Adula, PhD

Hi, my name is Kadidia. I am originally from the Republic of Congo. I lived in France for a few years before moving to New York where I completed my undergraduate studies at Brooklyn College, CUNY. Following graduation, I entered a NIH-funded post-baccalaureate program at Icahn School of Medicine where I investigated epigenetic and mitochondrial changes in models of Multiple Sclerosis. I then moved to Los Angeles to further my graduate education. During my PhD at UCLA, I inquired into the intrinsic pathways regulating axon regeneration in the peripheral nervous system. As a postdoc, I want to research neuro-glial communications. In Bruce Appel’s laboratory here at CU Anschutz, I aim to contribute to our understanding of localized myelin plasticity in response to neuronal activity.  My focus will be on elucidating the role of RNA translation in this process. In my free time, I enjoy painting, visiting museums, reading world literature, and tasting ethnic cuisines. Here in Colorado, I plan to become an outdoor enthusiast starting with regular hiking trips.

Kim headshot

Kim Arena, PhD

My name is Kim Arena and I am a postdoctoral fellow in the Appel Lab. I grew up surrounded by science in Cold Spring Harbor, New York and completed my BS in Biology and Minor in Psychology at Duke University in 2016. As an undergraduate, I worked in Dr. Michel Bagnat’s lab studying notochord development in zebrafish. My love for developmental biology and zebrafish led me to pursue my PhD in Dr. Sarah Kucenas’ lab at the University of Virginia. I completed my doctoral work in 2022, which focused on identifying the cellular and molecular mechanisms that modulate perineurial glial bridging after spinal motor nerve injury in zebrafish. I am excited to continue my developmental biology training here at CU in the Appel Lab, switching my focus back to the central nervous system and investigating the specification of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells. Outside of lab, I enjoy running through the mountains, climbing, spending time with friends, and watching Duke Basketball beat UNC.”

Julia Derk

Julia Derk, PhD

Hi there! My name is Julia Derk and I’m a postdoctoral fellow in the Siegenthaler lab. I grew up in Greeley, Colorado before going to Brandeis University to study Neuroscience and Psychology before conducting my graduate training at NYU School of Medicine in Manhattan. Now, I study the arachnoid barrier of the meninges, a critical component of the blood-cerebral spinal fluid barrier that is drastically understudied. I’m interested in using bioinformatics as well as cell and molecular biology techniques in order to elucidate the mechanisms that guide arachnoid barrier cellular specification and how the arachnoid barrier breaks down during bacterial meningitis. In addition to science, I run Clear Direction Mentoring, an organization that provides long-term mentorship to underrepresented minority high schoolers that are interested in careers in STEM and I’m also part of the Advocates for Mental Health group on campus. I’m a classic Colorado Native that loves go hiking, skiing, camping, biking, to live music, and basically do anything that keeps me outdoors! In addition, I love yoga, cooking, movie nights, board games, and my turtle!

Yong-Il Kim

Yong-Il Kim, PhD

When I was a undergraduate student, I was working with a master’s degree student who was trying to generate a mutant line of zebrafish using insertional mutagenesis. After joining the Master’s degree program, I worked on a project to characterize cells that form bone. I generated a bone-specific col10a1:GFP transgenic zebrafish. I joined Ph.D. program and started working on my project that focused on the role of peroxisome-related genes during zebrafish development. During this time, I generated several alleles of zebrafish mutants and transgenic zebrafish related to peroxisome biology. Now, I'm working in the Sagerstrom lab as a postdoctoral research fellow. Here, my research focuses on investigating the role of hindbrain related genes during zebrafish development.

Jelena Kresoja

Jelena Kresoja-Rakic, PhD

My long-term research interest is studying regulatory mechanisms involved in gene expression, which are responsible for the existence of different cell types.  After finishing diploma studies in molecular biology at the University of Novi Sad, Serbia, I was excited to move to another country and continue my undergraduate training in molecular biology at the University of Zurich. As an undergraduate, I joined the oncology laboratory in Children’s hospital.  Impressed by the biology of cancer, I took the opportunity to do my graduate training in Cancer Biology Ph.D. in mesothelioma biology and study transcriptional and post-transcriptional control of gene expression.  My interest in cell-of-origin in cancer led me to continue my training in developmental biology. I joined the lab of Christian Mosimann and Charles Sagerstrom, where I employ zebrafish as a genetic model to study transcription factors and regulatory DNA elements. Using bioinformatics and genetic tools, I aim at discovering novel genetic elements important for cell faith decision on the developmental trajectory. I choose CU Anschutz because I found a postdoc position that has fulfilled all 3 P necessary for successful training; Project, People, and Place. Moreover, here I feel strong support from the whole community that made my move to Denver easy and more pleasant. 

Robert Lalonde

Robert Lalonde, PhD

Hi there! My name is Rob, and I am a postdoctoral fellow working in Dr. Christian Mosimann’s lab, within the Department of Pediatrics at CU Anschutz. Using zebrafish as a model, my research focuses on the development and evolution of the lateral plate mesoderm (LPM). Using primarily transgenic, and genome-editing based techniques, we seek to understand how the LPM is first patterned during development, and then trace how it contributes to various adult organs and tissues. I am currently a Canadian citizen working at CU Anschutz on a J-1 visa. I did all my previous years of schooling in Canada before deciding to pursue a postdoctoral appointment in the US. I sought a postdoctoral position at CU Anschutz due to the research focus and pedigree of Dr. Mosimann and his lab, however the opportunity of living in Denver is also something that was highly motivating. I am big believer in work-life balance, and I feel you need to situate yourself somewhere where you can be happy (ie. near mountains). This will ultimately translate into a healthier and more productive lab life. I am a cat dad to two furry lumps, an amateur gardener, and a vintage video game enthusiast. Oh, and a beyond stereotypical Canadian hockey fan🍁.

Oscar Mendez, PhD

Hello, my name is Oscar and I am a postdoctoral fellow in the Appel lab. I received my BS in biology from the University of California, Irvine. During my time as an undergraduate and technician I worked on how complement proteins could modulate axon regeneration after a spinal cord injury. I then did my graduate work at the University of Arizona and received my PhD in 2020. My graduate work entailed defining the localization of the ubiquitous parasite Toxoplasma gondii in the mouse brain and determining the electrophysiological changes to neurons after an infection. Now in the Appel lab I want to know how the complement components C1q and C3 can modulate myelin in the developing spinal cord. In my free time I enjoy watching a wide range of films, the occasional hike, and going to live music.

Anne Meyer

Anne Meyer, PhD

Hey there! My name is Anne Meyer and I am a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Peter Dempsey’s lab. I grew up in Castle Rock, Colorado before obtaining my bachelor’s degree in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2015. After leaving Colorado, I found a home in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences at Vanderbilt University where I completed my doctoral training in Cell and Developmental Biology. Under the mentorship of Dr. Jim Goldenring, my doctoral research focused on the coordinated response to injury in the stomach and the development of precancerous lesions. I returned to Colorado and joined the Dempsey lab in the Department of Pediatrics at CU Anschutz in September of 2020. Now, my research is centered on intestinal development, homeostasis, regeneration, and disease utilizing both mouse and organoid model systems. Outside of the lab, I enjoy playing volleyball, hiking, baking, board games and puzzles, painting, and spending time with friends, family, and my dog Jackson. 

Katie Ranard

Katie Ranard, PhD

Hi there! My name is Katie Ranard, and I’m a postdoctoral fellow in the Appel lab. I grew up in Newton, Iowa and completed my BS in Nutritional Sciences at Iowa State University in 2015. I then moved one state away for my PhD in Nutritional Sciences at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. During my PhD, I studied the effects of natural vs. synthetic vitamin E in the murine central nervous system. After graduating in December 2020, I became a postdoc at University of Illinois, where I defined a simple and reliable intestinal health assessment tool for young pigs and chickens. Getting my feet wet with neuroscience research during my PhD sparked my current research interests and my transition to the Appel lab at CU Anschutz. Broadly, I’m interested in studying the mechanisms of nutrients in the developing brain & spinal cord using the zebrafish model system. Outside of the lab, I enjoy weightlifting and hiking, solving puzzles, and watching classic/foreign films.

Jessica Warns

Jessica Warns, PhD

I received my B.S. in molecular biology from Muskingum University in 2013. I then entered a PhD program in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from University of North Dakota. I worked on a variety of projects from alternative splicing in breast cancer to my primary PhD work of understanding how cholesterol metabolites impact colon cancer cell proliferation in the lab of Dr. Othman Ghribi. I graduated with my PhD in summer of 2018. I then became a visiting instructor of Biochemistry at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado for one year, where I taught both lower and upper level classes. To broaden my scientific skills, I joined the lab of Dr. Charles Sagerstrӧm for a postdoc in summer of 2019, where my project involves understanding how a transcription factor NF-Y regulates cilia gene networks in zebrafish. I choose CU Anschutz because of the plethora of learning and research opportunities. When I am outside the lab, I enjoy being with friends, trying new restaurants, arts and crafts, and being with my two-year-old dog CRISPR.

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