The SURPAS Leadership Team

The SURPAS Leadership Team

The leadership team is a core group of council members who ensure the smooth-running of SURPAS affairs and progress of the postdoc situation at Stanford and nationwide. We work closely with the rest of the SURPAS Council and Committees, as well as Stanford administration (primarily the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA), VPGE, etc.) to make sure the voices and needs of postdocs are well heard and represented.

Leadership positions are yearlong. With the exception of the mid-year co-chair, elections are typically in June for a leadership transition in July. The mid-year co-chair is elected in January with a one year term, to ensure continuity in leadership. To run for leadership positions, you must be a council member, which means you must have attended at least one meeting prior to leadership elections.

Current SURPAS Leadership


Samyuktha Suresh

Dr. Samyuktha Suresh is a 2nd year postdoctoral researcher in the Oncology Department, exploring the cross-talk of arginine methylation and DNA repair mechanism in breast cancer. Her ultimate goal is to develop better treatment strategies for breast cancer patients. Before starting her postdoc, she moved from Pairs where her PhD research focused on studying the function of arginine methyltransferases in triple-negative breast cancer.

Samyuktha enjoys hiking, reading and dancing. As Co-Chair of SURPAS it’s her goal to continue to advocate for more affordable housing and improve the current living standards for Stanford postdocs.

Tazbir Ahmed

Dr. Tazbir Ahmed, a first-year postdoctoral researcher in the Ophthalmology department, is currently dedicated to researching ocular diseases related to the retina and optic nerve. His vision is to uncover the underlying causes of these conditions, with a strong focus on advancing treatment methods.

Prior to his role as a postdoc, Tazbir completed his MBBS degree at The University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, followed by a postgraduate degree in Ophthalmology from the Bangladesh College of Physicians and Surgeons. He later obtained his PhD from The University of Tokyo, Japan.

Tazbir possesses a diverse range of interests, including singing, writing, traveling, and even stand-up comedy. In his capacity as Co-chair of SURPAS, he is deeply committed to advocating for improved living conditions for his fellow Stanford postdocs and aims to facilitate connections among different postdoctoral communities to promote the principles of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Ishita Jain
Advocacy Coordinator

Dr. Ishita Jain is in her 1st year of postdoc in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery,  developing novel hydrogel systems to study endothelial to mesenchymal transitions in atherosclerosis. She finished her Phd in Bioengineering at the University of Illinois where she developed high-throughput engineered systems to study liver development and diseases.

As the advocacy coordinator of SURPAS, she aims to represent postdocs in their pertinent issues to the university. A few goals for this year of her term, she wants to advocate for better benefits and better accountability for PIs.

Edina Poletto
Events Coordinator

Dr. Edina Poletto is a 2nd year postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Pediatrics. She works on translational research, focusing on gene therapy for rare genetic diseases. Specifically, she uses genome-edited hematopoietic stem cells to treat lysosomal diseases. 

Edina enjoys hiking, concerts, and Renaissance fairs. She joined SURPAS as the Event Coordinator to help postdocs get together, build community and have a good time. 

Marwa Zafarullah 
Communications Director 

Dr. Marwa Zafarullah, a first-year postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, is actively engaged in exploring molecular changes at the single-cell level in various neuromuscular disorders. Her primary objective is to identify biomarkers that can contribute to targeted drug development. Prior to joining Stanford, Marwa earned her Ph.D. in Integrative Genetics and Genomics (IGG) from the University of California, Davis, with a specific focus on neuroscience, human genetics, and functional genomics. During her graduate training, Dr. Zafarullah showcased her leadership skills by representing the community at esteemed forums, such as the UCD Graduate Student Association and the UCD Chancellor Graduate and Professional Student Advisory Board. Additionally, she played a key role in establishing the First Friends and MENTOR program, emphasizing the enhancement of mentor-mentee relationships within the academic community.

As the Communication Director at SURPAS, she endeavors to leverage her unique combination of scientific expertise and interpersonal skills to cultivate an inclusive space for researchers. Marwa envisions SURPAS as a central hub where effective communication serves as a cornerstone in fostering a vibrant and supportive research community. Outside the realms of science and SURPAS, Marwa explores her passion for culinary arts by trying new recipes. She also indulges in her love for good music, enjoys Netflix, and cherishes moments spent with her family.

Joy A. McKenna
Operations Manager, Web Manager

Dr. Joy A. McKenna is a third year postdoctoral scholar in Denise Monack’s lab within the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. She studies how the human bacterial pathogen Salmonella senses and invades human intestinal epithelial cells using 3D organoids or “mini organ” systems. Her goal is to develop model systems to study human-restricted bacterial pathogens.

As the Operations Manager and Web Manager, she aims to formulate strategies to increase Stanford postdoc benefits and visibility. In addition to her work at SURPAS, she also serves as the JEDI co-chair and a Postdoc Mentoring Coach sponsored by the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.

Joy enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, yoga, and rock climbing.

Iti Kapoor
Finance Officer

Dr. Iti Kapoor is a 5th year postdoctoral researcher in Structural Biology, trying to find novel strategies to block IgE-mediated allergic responses, using SBDD approach. Her ultimate goal is to develop small molecules that can inhibit IgE-receptor binding and could provide cure for allergic disorders like food-borne allergy, asthma, anaphylaxis etc.

Iti enjoys hiking, socializing, walking and cooking in her free time. As a Financial Officer of SURPAS, her goal is to successfully budget all the events and arrange for funds for the organization with fulfilling all responsibilities of FO in timely manner.

Marta Blanco Pozo
Social Media Manager 

Dr. Marta Blanco-Pozo is a 1st-year postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Biology, exploring how different brain regions inter-communicate to support learning and decision-making. She obtained her PhD at the University of Oxford, studying the dopamine system during flexible behavior.

Marta enjoys being active, some of her hobbies are dancing, rock climbing, and exploring the world. As the Social Media Manager, her goal is to provide postdocs with a sense of community and belonging and share all the resources available to them.

Charmaine Soco
Community Engagement Liaison 

Dr. Charmaine Soco is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Pediatrics. She is keen on building community and fostering collaboration among her peers. Charmaine has mentored numerous students from diverse backgrounds and is an active participant in several committees. Her roles include serving as a CIRM mentor, contributing to the California State University Los Angeles Alumni Mentoring program, and being a member of the International Society of Experimental Hematology Publications Committee. Through these roles, she supports student training and promotes broader scientific engagement.

As the Community Engagement Liaison of SURPAS, Charmaine strives to bridge the gap between postdocs and groups/organizations. She is dedicated to enhancing postdoc engagement and advocating for increased professional development opportunities for her colleagues.

On the research front, Charmaine focuses on studying the bone marrow, especially hematopoietic stem cells in Fanconi Anemia patients. She’s exploring the molecular and genetic factors that influence stem cell maintenance and the interactions between bone marrow mesenchymal cells and HSCs, with the hope of contributing to therapeutic and bone marrow transplantation strategies.

Outside of her professional commitments, Charmaine enjoys decorating, photography, and pottery. She values conversations and connections. Feel free to reach out to her!

Past Leadership