Sascha Nicklisch (PI)

My academic background is a Masters in Biological Sciences and a Ph.D. in Protein Biochemistry at the University of Cologne in Germany. Since 2005, I have been working on structural and functional analysis of soluble and membrane proteins in a variety of organisms. During that time, I have been a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Experimental Physics Department at the University of Osnabrueck, in the Marine Science Institute at UC Santa Barbara, and at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) at UC San Diego. My areas of expertise are Protein Biochemistry, Structural Biology, and Molecular Toxicology.

In my (limited) free time, I like to run with my wife, son, and dog Yoshi or practice different types of martial arts (Vo Dao Vietnam, Muay Thai, Escrima, Capoeira).


Graduate Students

Angela Encerrado (AGC)

Angela received her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Chemistry from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) in 2018, where she worked with Dr. Wen-Yee Lee on green chemistry method development for the analysis of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in complex matrices. After her Bachelor’s degree she continued to work under Dr. Lee’s mentorship as part of her Master of Science degree in Chemistry which she obtained from UTEP in 2020. Her thesis project was on the development of an analytical method using a green chemistry extraction technique for the analysis of fatty acids from adipose tissue using GC-MS.

At UC Davis, Angela is pursuing her Ph.D. degree in Agricultural and Environmental Chemistry. Currently, Angela is part of a collaborative project between UCD, USDA-ARS and LLNL-CAMS focused on the study of pesticides in honey bee hives. In the future, she would like to continue her academic career in a related postdoctoral position, and later work in a national laboratory or in education back in her hometown.

In her free time, Angela enjoys drawing, listening to a podcast, watching documentaries, and preparing/eating good Mexican dishes.


Spyros Tamvakopoulos (FS)

Spyros received his Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of Manchester, where he discovered his interest in toxicology. In his placement year, Spyros studied methods of how to extract cannabinoids from cannabis sativa and whether they had neuroprotective effects against hydrogen peroxide toxicity in dopaminergic neurons.

At UC Davis, Spyros is pursuing his Master’s in Forensic Sciences, where he is learning molecular biology methods in RNA extraction, cDNA conversion, and qPCR analysis for ABC transporters. In the future, he is looking to use his skills to pursue a career in forensic science.

In his free time, Spyros enjoys watching movies, gym, and practicing martial arts.


Zeke Spooner (AGC)

Zeke received his Bachelor of Science in Environmental Toxicology at UC Davis. Growing up in the Monterey Bay Area, he became interested in the outdoors and environmental science at a young age, which led him to study at UC Davis. He has worked in several labs at UC Davis including the AHP Aquatic Toxicology Laboratory and the Air Quality Research Center. As an undergraduate, he worked in the Nicklisch lab to develop qPCR protocols for analyzing transporter expression in honeybees.

Currently, Zeke is pursuing his Ph.D. degree in Agricultural and Environmental Chemistry. He is a member of both the Nicklisch lab and the ToPEC Lab, where he will be working under the mentorship of Dr. Nicklisch and Dr. Christina Pasparakis (respectively) to study microplastic leachate accumulation in marine life.

Outside of school and work, Zeke enjoys spending time with his friends, playing basketball, baking, learning Spanish, and playing the piano.


Eli  Wooliever (AGC)

Eli received his Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Physics at Roanoke College. While there, he worked on a variety of environmental research including determining the effect of temperature and precipitation on soil microbial extracellular enzyme production as well as a meadow, forest, and wetland restoration project. His senior thesis was an analysis of microplastic distribution in surface waters by proximity to a landfill capped in the 1950s using microscopy and Raman spectroscopy.

At UC Davis, Eli is pursuing his Ph.D. in Agricultural and Environmental Chemistry. Under the mentorship of Dr. Nicklisch and Dr. Randy Carney, he is currently studying nanoplastics as a vector for pollutants, including their characterization, mechanism of toxicity, and biodistribution.

In his free time, Eli enjoys reading, drawing, playing board games, and hiking.




Tina Truong

Tina Truong is a third-year transfer student from Orange Coast College, now pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Biology and Environmental Toxicology minor at UCD. Originally from southern California, Tina has a growing passion towards animal healthcare, has volunteered at the Wetlands and Wildlife Center in Huntington Beach, and has been involved in the student-run aquarium at her community college. Her passions and experiences led her to attend UC Davis to study Animal Biology. After being exposed to Environmental Toxicology, she developed an interest in learning more about how toxins affect the host’s cells and the interactions between them. In the lab, she is learning and understanding more about lab techniques involving RNA extraction, cDNA conversions, qPCR, etc. (Now, she is currently working on her project which relates ABC transporter expression in mussels exposed to okadaic acid and addressing safety concerns in shellfish consumption). In the future, she plans on attending veterinary school to become a veterinarian.

When she has free time, she enjoys listening to music, playing games with her friends, cooking, and folding origami.


Lisa Hueck




Postdoctoral Researchers

Jagan Ganapathy

Jagan Ganapathy completed his PhD. in the Department of Physics at Presidency College, Chennai, India. As a graduate student under the supervision of Dr. Aravindhan Sanmargam, his research focused on the purification and crystallization of hemoglobin from birds, as well as studying the crystal structure of some organic compounds. Additionally, Jagan studied proteins from plants that are involved in defense, light signaling, and degradation through proteasomes during his postdoctoral studies.

Here at the Nicklisch Laboratory, Jagan focuses on the study of ABCB1 honey bee transporters, focusing on protein purification to understand its function through X-ray crystallography/Cryo-EM.

During his free time, Jagan enjoys cooking a delicious Biryani, listening to music, and playing carrom board with family and friends.



Gulab Boon-Long

Gulab’s journey with the laboratory began during the Summer Pre-College program at UC, Davis. Gulab will be volunteering at the Nicklisch lab with hands on projects that involve working with live honey bees. Gulab will assist during exposure studies in the feeding of bees and preparation of diets. Furthermore Gulab will assist in the processing of bee samples for gene expression analysis using qPCR and for pesticide concentration determination using LC mass spectrometry.


Liliana Filkov




Honorary Members

Yoshi (吉 good luck, 義 righteous, or 良 good)

Yoshi is a male Standard Poodle (Canis lupus familiaris) and joined the lab on December 24th, 2018. His main interests are in distracting the PI (and lab members) from overworking and not getting enough sleep during the week. Yoshi is carnivorous with noticeable omnivorous traits, including left-out shoes, sandals, socks, carpet corners, and kitchen towels. Initially bred as a water dog in Germany for retrieving game from ponds and rivers, Yoshi is supposed to belong to one of the most intelligent dog breeds after Border Collies. Interestingly, Border Collies belong to a group of dog breeds that harbor a heritable MDR1 drug transporter gene mutation, making those dogs highly sensitive to neurotoxic drugs.

Yoshi’s current project is on developing novel strategies to keep up the high morale and to boost positivity in the Nicklisch Lab. In addition, he relentlessly embodies and promotes some of the most critical values for a successful scientist in many fields of research by being calm, adventurous, social, hard-working, devoted, loyal, people-friendly, easy-to-train, alert, hyperactive, trustworthy, sure-footed, willing-to-learn and just HAPPY!


Salvatore “Sal” Monella

Enter the Dragon: Sal is a male Central Bearded Dragon (Pogona vitticeps) that originates from the deserts in Australia and joined the Nicklisch Lab as a rescued lizard in October 2019. His main interests are in devouring giant mealworms, pooping, and getting daily head scratches and pets from all lab members. 

While Sal is well-tamed, his bite is actually venomous with a similar toxin composition as in rattlesnake venom. However, the proteinogenic toxins in Sal’s mucous are mild and not harmful to humans.

Sal likes to chill on his rocks and branches under the basking lamps and watch stressed-out students and postdocs through his glass terrarium in the lab office. Sal enjoys being at the center of the action, which is why lab members often put him on their shoulders while searching for literature or analyzing data on their computers. Sal then typically rewards them with cuddling up to their ears and neck or just by simply falling asleep. Legend has it that if you listen closely, Sal will give you good ideas for your next publication!