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Tatum Simonson, PhD

Tatum Simonson, PhD 
Principal Investigator
UCSD Profile


Esteban Moya, PhD
Project Scientist
Esteban is a Project Scientist interested on physiological responses to hypoxia in animal models and human populations living at high altitude. He obtained his PhD in Physiological Sciences at the P. Universidad Católica de Chile studying carotid body, cardiorespiratory, and oxidative responses in an animal model of obstructive sleep apnea. Currently, his interests include to understand the consequences of sustained hypoxia on the neuroplasticity occurring in the neurons and glial cells of the brainstem areas that control the ventilation in rodents. As well as the genetic and physiological basis for the control of breathing in human populations living at high altitude.

James Yu, BS
PhD Student, Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program
James is a PhD student interested in identifying genetic, metabolic, and physiological variation in high-altitude populations that are adaptive in hypoxic (both chronic and intermittent) environments. He is interested in utilizing techniques and tools such as CRISPR, metabolomics, and hypoxic ventilatory response to investigate variation within these populations. He graduated from Duke University in 2016 and serves as a Medevac pilot in the Army Reserves.

Pablo Catalan Serra
Post-doctoral Scholar
M.D., Ph.D with more than ten years of experience and formal training in chronic lung diseases such as sleep disorders and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), with extensive experience in clinical research in obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and its consequences on the cardiovascular sphere. Currently studying hypoxic ventilatory response and the pathophysiology of the overlap COPD-OSA syndrome.
Volunteer doctor in developing countries such as Cameroon or Peru.

Elijah Lawrence
Fourth year, Undergraduate Research Assistant
Eli is a Biochemistry and Cell biology major interested in how environmental, physiological, and cellular hypoxia affects exercise, adaptation, and disease, from a multi-omics approach. His interests include guitar, yoga, and hiking.

Wanjun Gu
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Wanjun is a UC San Diego fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in Chemical Engineering and Economics. He is interested in hypoxia physiology and population genomics. He is currently doing genomic, transcriptomic and metabolomic analysis on Tibetans, Han Chinese and Andeans.

William Wegeng
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Billy is a Physiology and Neuroscience major interested in the physiological adaptations to high altitude and how they affect exercise capacity and disease. He enjoys running and long walks on the beach.

Huayi (Adam) Zhao
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Adam is a Biochemistry and Cell Biology Major interested in the effects of intermittent hypoxia and sustained hypoxia on animals, especially mice and the application of these effects on exercise and different organ’s metabolic process such as liver. He enjoys playing pick-up basketball at rimac and collecting various shoes.

Caroline Gaeta
4th Year Undergraduate Research Assistant
Caroline is a Human Biology major studying hypoxia and epigenetic modifications such as DNA methylation. She is currently studying the methylation profiles in DNA samples collected from life-long residents in the Peruvian Andeans with and without Chronic Mountain Sickness (CMS).

Santiago Fassardi
3rd Year Undergraduate Research Assistant
Sago is a third year Molecular Biology major. He is interested in studying the genetic aspect of hypoxia and how certain genes and their mutations can lead to physiological changes seen in high altitude populations.

Mikael Fakhoury
Fourth Year Undergraduate Research Assistant
Mikael is a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in Human Biology. He is interested in studying the inflammatory response involved in Chronic Mountain Sickness and intermittent hypoxia. After he obtains his bachelor's in science, Mikael plans to continue as a graduate student in the Simonson lab and afterwards enter medical school. Outside of academia, Mikael is the President of Global Medical Training at UC San Diego and enjoys helping the less fortunate in his community and abroad. His interests include hiking, rock climbing, and overall adventure.

Chang Han
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Chang Han is a student from UC Berkeley who just graduated in 2019. He is a student majoring in statistics and molecular & cell biology. He is interested in bioinformatics and biostatistics. He is very excited about researching hypoxia physiology and conducting sequence analysis.

Zhijian Zhang
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Jack is a 4th year undergraduate student majoring in bioinformatics. He is interested in both the biological and computational components of cellular hypoxia as well as adaptations in genomics of high altitude populations and how these physiological and genetic changes affect their lives. In addition, he hopes to learn more about how current bioinformatics tools can contribute to the discovery of new knowledge in regards to cellular hypoxia. Outside of lab and classes, he enjoys playing the cello.

Ian Xu
Highschool Student
Ian is assisting with data analysis regarding oxygen transport in high-altitude populations.

Jialei Pan
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Lab Alumni

Postdoctoral Fellows
Erica Heinrich, PhD   
Michael Tift, PhD

Postgraduate Students
Robby Boparai, BS    
Medical Students
Lu Wu, BS 
Jeremy Sieker, BS  

Undergraduate Students
Christina Blaul
Matea Djokic
Gigi Yip
Sama Alpatty 
Dean Tan
Kevin Lin  
Chetan Potu         
Madison Calder                                            
Anh Bui  

High School Students
Catie Boehmer 
Sarah Espinoza 

Lab Support


 Phoebe and Dudley

Congratulations and farewell to previous postdoctoral fellow Mike Tift, who has accepted an Assistant Professor position at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington!

Congratulations and farewell to previous postdoctoral fellow Erica Heinrich, who has accepted an Assistant Professor position at the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine!

Congratulations to Christina Blaul, recipient of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science Travel Award!

​Congratulations to Wanjun Gu, University of Tokyo Research Internship Program 2018 Recipient!

Congratulations to Christina Blaul, Ledell Family Undergraduate Research Scholarship Recipient 2018! 

Congratulations to Eli Lawrence, Ledell Family Undergraduate Research Scholarship AND Chancellor's Research Excellence Scholarships (CRES) 2017 Recipient!                              

Congratulations to Eli Lawrence on his Palomar Pathmaker Internship!

Congratulations to Jialei Pan on getting into JHU MS in Chemical Engineering!