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Prior Professor Spotlights

Dr. Jane Khudyakov

Dr. Jane Khudyakov

Dr. Jane Khudyakov is a new professor and researcher at the University of the Pacific. Starting at the school just this year, she’s taught Bio 51 and Cell Biology. When asked why she decided to come join us at UOP, Dr. Khudyakov responded that it was the eagerness of the students and the kindness of the staff that drove her here. 

“It’s really rewarding to teach people who are that interested in what you’re trying to teach them,” she said. She enjoys the small class sizes, and the opportunity to get to know the students, which is a lot different from her previous classes from when she taught at Sonoma State. 

In terms of the research Dr. K does here, she studies comparative physiology where she researches unique strategies animals, particularly marine mammals, have for dealing with challenging environments— for instance, how they go for long periods of time without oxygen when they dive, or how they regulate metabolism while fasting, and how to measure stress in marine mammals. 

Besides teaching and biology, Dr. K has a fair amount of hobbies including cooking food and exploring different cuisines, being outdoors, hiking, bird watching, reading books, and playing with her new kitten. 10-month-old Pickles, “looks like an adult cat but still acts like a kid,” and Dr. K calls him the perfect stress reliever. Around Stockton, her favorite restaurant is Market Tavern, but she enjoys food from all different cultures and trying new options. One of her most distinct favorites include Taiwanese soup dumplings from a restaurant in Arcadia, California. 

Dr K. came to America at the age of 9 after emigrating from Moscow, completed her undergrad at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, a large school where she attended as a pre-med. When asked where she switched from being pre-med to wanting to work in a lab, Dr. K responded, “I had a really awesome young female faculty that had just started and had a really small lab and she made a big difference for me wanting to pursue research.” For graduate school, she attended Caltech, and has worked in many different labs before finally joining us here at UOP. 

In addition, Dr. K is full of advice for science majors at UOP. “Don’t give up, even when it seems really hard,” she says, “It’s just one bad test, but you can continue and overcome.” If there’s one thing Dr. K doesn’t enjoy, it’s seeing students discouraged with themselves. She understands the difficulty that arises with this major, but is fully confident that with a little motivation and hard work, everyone can be successful.

Written by Gureet Sandhu

Dr. Doug Risser

Dr. Doug Risser

Q1: Tell us a little bit about your research.

In his research, Dr. Risser studies filament cyanobacteria, which undergo oxygenic photosynthesis like plants. He studies nostoc punctiforme, which produce cells called hormogonia that allow for motility and heterocysts which fix nitrogen.  Primarily, he studies how hormogonia develop and how these filaments move. During my interview with Professor Risser, he told me about how nostoc punctiformer are used to colonize plants that they later form symbiosis with by providing the plants nitrogen, which enables the plant to colonize areas where they normally can’t grow. The big picture of this particular area of study is introducing cyanobacteria to different metabolic pathways to get them to produce thing, like ethanol. Another reason for this study is to be able to engineer a new symbiosis between corn and nostoc to replace the need for spaying nitrogen fertilizer.


Q2:  What made you want to become a Biologist/professor?

Having been interested in Biology from a young age, he knew that he wanted to pursue something in that field. Whether it was being a veterinarian, or working in the biotech industry, the underlying theme of what he wanted to explore was always Biology. In college, he was a Biology Major specializing in Zoology, and became specially interested in behavioral Biology. When he finished college, he got a job at a biotech company where he worked for two years. Eventually, he realized that he didn’t want to do the same thing everyday, but rather pursue something more intellectually stimulating, and he went to graduate college to get his Ph.D. After seeing what his advisor did with his career he realized that he wanted to become a Professor.


Q3:   What do you like about your job?

The ability to explore new things and dictate his own terms on where his research takes him is one of the things Professor Risser loves about his job. He often says that there aren’t too many jobs where one can come in everyday and learn something new. He also absolutely loves working with students and to be able to pass on the knowledge to another generation; giving them a hands-on opportunity to be able to help them learn new techniques and develop new ideas for themselves. In the classroom, it’s great to be able to interact with students and help them learn and advance their careers and help them get to places they want to go.


Q4: What do you like about teaching at Pacific?

The interaction with the students on this campus is what Professor Risser likes most about at teaching at Pacific. He says it is a lot of fun to get a chance to interact with students, help them develop their knowledge base, and watch them learn more about science.

Q5.  Do you have any advice for students in science majors?

Professor Risser stresses that it’s important for students to be open to pursue the career path that really inspires them and one that they like. He told me that, “You may come in as a freshman with one idea, don’t be afraid to leave as a senior with a totally different idea about what it is you want to pursue.” Professor Risser described how he himself started as a Zoology major and discovered that he really liked molecular biology and genetics, something he picked up on in graduate school. He believes that one of the things college helps with is to give students time to figure out what they like and what inspired them.

Written by Hamid Ahmed

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