My name is Javier Garcia and I’m a 4th-year Ph.D. candidate in Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (BMCDB) at the University of California, Davis. I’m from a primarily agricultural town called Hollister in CA (no, not the store).

I’m also a first-generation Mexican-American from a low-income migrant, farm-working background, and became the first person in my family to earn a college degree.

I attended Fresno State for my Bachelor’s and Cal State Los Angeles for my Master’s degree.

In addition to my graduate work, I help run a local community college STEM center dedicated to promoting underrepresented groups in science. This experience has also helped me grow by supporting STEM in a different light. I’ve wanted to integrate diversity in science in my graduate training to continue to support underrepresented groups in science.

My current research is focused on infectious diseases, particularly fungal disease. I study Coccidioides, a fungal pathogen responsible for Valley Fever endemic in California’s Central Valley where the majority of infections occur. Amongst a myriad of complications, these infections cause fungal nodules in the lung which resemble lung tumors and are misdiagnosed as cancer. 

My research has focused on developing a noninvasive detection platform of pulmonary infection along with identifying novel virulence factors. This disease infects people who work in agriculture since this fungus is found in the soil causing severe morbidity and mortality in these populations. It’s incredibly moving to work in a field of research where the knowledge is very limited while simultaneously helping the community I came from.  

I love connecting with new people – let’s connect!

3 FUN(gi) Facts 

1. Fungi eat by absorptive nutrition meaning they secrete digestive enzymes on their food and reabsorb the digested molecules. Imagine throwing up stomach acid on your food and eating the digested material – makes potluck no fun. 

2. The yeast you use to make bread is also a powerful tool for studying human diseases. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a fungi that has been used as a model organism for biologists to study human proteins and basic cellular processes involved in cancer and aging. 

3. Fungi are thought to be one of the factors that led to the demise of the dinosaur era and the flourishing of mammalian species. 

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