NewsPostdoctoral Scholar Features
The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs wants to recognize the important work accomplished by all Postdoctoral Scholars on campus. One way we can 'get the word out' is by posting feature articles that highlight different Postdocs on campus. Our goal is to make Postdoctoral Scholars aware of what their colleagues are working on in order to facilitate networking opportunities and to create a sense of community. If you are a Postdoctoral Scholar and would like to be featured, or if you would like to nominate a Postdoc to be interviewed, please email email@example.com. Interviews roughly run about 15-20 minutes and can be scheduled at your convenience.
To view past articles on our Postdoctoral Scholars, visit our Archives, or click on any picture below.
Dr. Alvaro Toledo
Originally from Madrid, Alvaro got his PhD in Microbiology in 2007 and found his way to Stony Brook in 2008. “I study tick-borne diseases, and actually my mentor in Madrid used to be a postdoc in Professor Jorge Benach’s lab a long time ago. Professor Benach is one of the pioneers in Lyme disease research, and of all the tick-borne diseases, Lyme interested me the most so I contacted him and in the end I came to Stony Brook. My first choice was Stony Brook because Jorge is so well known in the field.”
How did you get interested in science?
“As a child I used to watch a cartoon called Once Upon a Time … Life and it basically explained how organs and systems worked. The platelets, red blood cells, immune system cells, etc. were the good guys and the viruses and bacteria were the bad guys. I loved that show, and that really triggered my interest in science. These were a series of cartoons on history and other stuff, but I liked the ones about life the best.”
Once Upon a Time ... Life is the cartoon that called this Postdoc into science.
Screenshot taken from YouTube
Can you explain your research in laymen’s terms?
“We are working with the membrane of the bacterium and researching how the bacterium organizes the lipids and proteins. And this is particularly important for bacterium like Borrelia [Lyme] because it’s transmitted from a tick to a human, and to do so it needs to undergo dramatic changes in the structure of the membrane. So the proteins that are expressed in the tick and the mammal are different. How Borrelia senses the environment, how Borrelia organizes proteins and how Borrelia organizes the membrane is of main importance to understanding how Borrelia can be transmitted and how it can survive in a mammal.
“This is also important for Borrelia during infection in the host. Borrelia is an extracellular pathogen that causes a persistent infection and therefore needs to avoid the immune system response. Changing the expression of proteins that are expressed on the surface it is one of the “tricks” that Borrelia uses during infection.”
What accomplishments are you most proud of since coming to Stony Brook?
“There are 3 things I’m most proud of. My background before coming to Stony Brook was more applied and environmental. Now I do more basic science so now I have both sides – basic and applied and I think this makes me a better scientist overall. The second thing is I’m particularly proud that I wrote a book chapter with Jorge. I enjoyed putting my thoughts down as well as reviewing the bibliography.
“My third accomplishment is that I was awarded a grant a few months ago. It’s a Northeast Biocareer Development Grant and I’m the PI. It is funded by the NIH through Columbia University. The grant is for $50K per year for two years.”
Do you have any wise words for other postdocs?
“I think Stony Brook overall is a very good place to do research. You not only have the equipment and resources needed to do great science but you also have great scientists to collaborate with in many different areas that could be of common interest. At Stony Brook you also have the opportunity to network with other postdocs from institutions such as Cold Spring Harbor and Brookhaven. Overall it is a good place to do great science in a great environment.”
What are your future plans?
“My goal is to get a tenure track position somewhere – where I don’t know. The economy is tough and there are not as many jobs out there as there used to be, but my goal is to finish what I am doing, publish and keep learning during the time I have left here.”
In the tradition of the French TV host Bernard Pivot who asked a series of questions at the end of every interview, we ask our Postdocs the following questions:
What is your favorite sound?
What is your favorite word or phrase?
“What I really love is to travel around to attend music festivals. I like pop, independent music and classic rock. I also now take karate, but I love karate for a different reason. When I was a kid, maybe five years old, I always wanted to practice karate and I begged my mom to sign me up … every day I begged, but she never took me to karate. Now whenever we get together for holidays or Christmas my brothers and I joke about what our mom did to ruin our lives - so I always start with she never signed me up for karate. So this last time when I started in on how she ruined my life because I never took karate, she said, ‘Well you’re old enough now to sign yourself up!’ and I thought, she’s right. So now I go twice a week and I’m a yellow tip and I love it.”
Alvaro is involved in an upcoming karate tournament to raise money for the Little Angel Fund. He invites anyone interested in watching him ‘get beat up’ to attend the tournament on November 17. Details below.
18th Annual Invitational Island Budokan Bogujutsu Tournament
Saturday, - November 17 starting at 9:00 am
World Gym – 384 Marktree Road – East Setauket
Spectator Donations: $8 Adults / $5 Children, Students, and Sr. Citizens
Raffle tickets: 1 dollar tickets in booklets of 6 tickets for 5 dollars and 5 dollars tickets in booklets of 5 tickets for 20 dollars.
If you are interested in buying a raffle ticket or attending the karate tournament, please contact Alvaro Toledo at (631) 632-4227 or Alvaro.M.Toledo@stonybrook.edu.
ABOUT Little Angel
A longtime partner and grass roots support system for the NICU at Stony Brook University Medical Center, Little Angel Fund consists of a group of parents helping parents of premature infants through a difficult time in their lives. Its purpose is to make life a little easier and more comfortable for the premature and seriously ill infants and their families, while they are in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, after they graduate from the NICU and to act as a source of help and support for the bereaved. To learn more about The Little Angel Fund please visit their website at: http://www.littleangelfund.org/.
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