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SDGS Rising Star Awardees

About the Rising Star Speaker Award

The Rising Star Award was created to acknowledge the extraordinary accomplishments made by our trainees. A solicitation is sent out to GRTC member faculty who can nominate one postdoctoral researcher from their lab who is in the process of transitioning to an independent academic position. Submission should include the nominee's CV and a short motivation supporting nomination. A selection committee evaluates all nominations and selects the annual Rising Star speaker, who presents during the main SDGS conference. Nominations for the next SDGS will be solicited.

2023 Rising Star

  • Dr. Francesca Boscolo Sesillo

    Dr. Francesca Boscolo Sesillo

    Dr. Francesca Boscolo Sesillo earned her undergraduate and her first Master of Science degree in Biotechnology at the University of Bologna, Italy. Upon relocating to the USA, Dr. Boscolo received a prestigious CIRM Scholar Award. As a CIRM Scholar, Dr. Boscolo obtained a second Master of Science degree in Biotechnology, Bioinformatics and Stem Cell Technology at California State University, Channel Island. She went on to finish her doctoral studies at The Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in the laboratory of Dr. Alessandra Sacco, an internationally recognized expert in muscle stem cells. While studying muscle stem cells in the context of muscular dystrophy, Dr. Boscolo discovered that these cells have a tumorigenic potential that can lead to the development of rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare skeletal muscle cancer.

    In June of 2018, upon completion of her doctoral studies, Dr. Boscolo joined the laboratory of Dr. Marianna Alperin as a postdoctoral scholar within the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, at the University of California San Diego. While in the Alperin lab, Dr. Boscolo has developed a pioneering research program focused on the impact of pregnancy and parturition on female pelvic muscle stem cells.

    Recently, in 2022, Dr. Boscolo was awarded a K12 Mentored Career Development in Glycosciences Research grant. Her current work is focused on determining how pregnancy-induced changes of proteoglycans in muscle stem cell niche impact stem cell function and the associated pelvic muscle plasticity across gestation. Meaningful advancements in women’s health depend on scientists like Dr. Boscolo, whose unique combined expertise in stem cell biology, glycoscience, and muscle regeneration enable mechanistic investigations of muscle stem cell responses to physiological conditions of pregnancy and parturition.

2022 Rising Star

  • Dr. Kavita Agarwal

    Dr. Kavita Agarwal

    Dr. Kavita Agarwal earned her Ph.D. in Chemical Glycobiology from the National Institute of Immunology (NII) in India. She completed her doctoral studies under the mentorship of Dr. Srinivasa-Gopalan Sampathkumar and discovered a novel inhibitor of the mucin type O-glycosylation pathway in mammalian cells. Dr. Agarwal undertook postdoctoral research in Microbial Glycobiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis with Dr. Amanda Lewis. As a postdoctoral scholar, she investigated the impact of bacterial sialidase activity on host glycans and the role of sialic acid forging by vaginal microbes in colonization of the reproductive tract.

    She has received several fellowships and awards for her achievements, including graduate research fellowships from NII and the Stephen I. Morse postdoctoral fellowship from Department of Molecular Microbiology at Washington University. Dr. Agarwal continues her research in glycobiology as a member of the Lewis lab at UC San Diego. She is currently studying the structures and functions of host glycans in the reproductive tract, with the aim to understand their fundamental roles in women's obstetrics and gynecological health.

2021 Rising Star

  • Dr. Patricia Aguilar Calvo

    Dr. Patricia Aguilar Calvo

    Dr. Patricia Aguilar Calvo earned her D.V.M., her M.S. in Veterinary Research, and her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the Complutense University of Madrid (Spain). As a graduate student under Dr. Juan Maria Torres' mentorship, she determined the genetic resistance of multiple mammal species to prion diseases. Based on her research findings, selective breeding programs to eliminate goat scrapie were developed in the European Union. Dr. Aguilar Calvo performed postdoctoral research at UC San Diego with Dr. Christina Sigurdson, where she focused on (i) how post-translational modifications impact prion aggregation and neuroinvasion, and (ii) the role of heparan sulfate in the in vivo replication of prions.

    Dr. Aguilar Calvo is currently an Assistant Project Scientist at UC San Diego. She was recently awarded a K99/R00 award from the National Institute on Aging to investigate how heparan sulfate modulates the selective cell vulnerability in neurodegenerative diseases under the mentorship of Dr. Christina Sigurdson and Dr. Jeff Esko.