Getting to Know SAFHS: Meet Dr. Grace Theresa Nicholas Ramena

Dr. Grace Ramena in Lab 2017
The successes of the UAPB School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences are largely due to its dedicated employees who are passionate about their work. Our “Getting to Know SAFHS” series highlights some of our talented faculty and staff and lets you know a little more about them.

Where is your hometown?
Machilipatnam, AP, India.

Where did you go to college and what did you major in?
I earned a doctorate degree in molecular biology, microbiology and biochemistry from Southern Illinois University in 2015, a master’s degree in biology from the University of Illinois at Springfield in 2010 and a master’s degree in aquaculture from Acharya Nagarjuna University in Guntur, India in 2002.

What is your job role at UAPB?
Assistant professor and fish pathologist for the Department of Aquaculture and Fisheries.

What do you like most about your job?
I enjoy doing molecular research that helps gain new insights into fish and human diseases; training graduate students in the lab and serving on graduate committees; teaching motivated students; training undergraduate and high school students during the summer through work on research projects; conducting demos for high school students at UAPB; helping students with their science fair projects and serving on the UAPB research committee to help develop our research program.

I also feel very honored to work with Arkansas fish farmers and help them with fish disease diagnostic issues, as well as serve fish farmers across the nation through UAPB’s research projects.

Describe your career before you came to UAPB.
Prior to my arrival at UAPB, I worked as a post-doctoral research associate at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. I researched the oligomeric states of ErbB2/ErbB3 receptors and their signal transduction in cell transformation. Before that I worked on research projects at Southern Illinois University’s School of Medicine to determine whether sCLCA2 could induce apoptosis of breast cancer cells but spare normal cells. I later tested potential CLCA2 interactors identified by a yeast two hybrid system. I have discovered how one of them, EVA1, links CLCA2 to epithelial differentiation. I also studied the structural and regulatory requirements for CLCA2 auto proteolysis by developing an in vitro cleavage assay and constructing mutants. Together, my studies helped delineate how human CLCA2 mediates epithelial differentiation and produced insights into CLCA2’s structure and function.

I have served on editorial board for “Journal of Cancer Biology and Therapeutic Oncology” and “Research Journal of Apoptosis and Cell Death.” I was also a peer reviewer for more than 25 peer reviewed research journals. Prior to that, I served as a fish/shrimp pathologist in CP Aquaculture (I) Pvt. Ltd. for five years. I have served aquaculture farmers through Extension programs, diagnostics, treatments, seminars, the release of new research findings and technology transfer from lab to farm.

If you weren’t working at UAPB, what would your dream job be?
I would love to be a full-time research scientist.

What are your hobbies outside of work?
I enjoy music and Christian worship by Jesus Culture and Hillsong. I love to play with my daughter, and I also enjoy cleaning my house and baking different foods.

Do you have a favorite movie or book?
My favorite movie is “Finding Nemo.” I never feel bored watching that movie.

If you could visit any place in the world, where would you choose to go and why?
Israel. I want to walk and breathe the air in the land where God himself came down from heaven’s throne.

What is one goal you’d like to accomplish during your lifetime?
I want to teach my daughter how to please God and lead a righteous life in the sight of God.

Who is your hero?
Jesus Christ is my superhero.

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