UNM Postdoc Association


The UNM Postdoc Association was formed in 2022 by an impassioned group of postdocs who recognized the importance of advocating for UNM’s Postdoctoral Scholars. We have worked closely with both Main Campus and HSC administration to facilitate effective working relationships between these groups with the goal of improving the environment for postdocs by providing career advancement and scholarly learning activities, advocacy, and a supportive community.


  • Scholarly learning: To provide ample opportunities to enhance the scholarship of the post-docs at UNM through learning activities.
  • Networking activities: Provide PDA members with opportunities to connect with other Post-docs throughout the university system and other community members with similar interests.
  • Professional development: To organize and lead professional development sessions both on campus and off, that promote networking with other institutions, potential future employers, and other community leaders.
  • Postdoc advocacy: To create a sustainable framework, along with leadership, that encourages post-doc advocacy through communication with the administration and other leadership which ensures that all post-doc voices are heard, and issues are addressed in a timely manner.

UNM Postdoc Association Executive Board

Dr. Nicole (Nikki) Maphis  (she/her/ella)


Hi! I'm Nikki Maphis and I'm an ASERT/IRACDA postdoctoral fellow in the department of Neurosciences within the UNM School of Medicine (North Campus). My work focuses on untangling the impact of binge alcohol consumption throughout the lifespan on neurodegenerative diseases, specifically Alzheimer's disease. You can often find me in the red light of our reverse dark/light cycle animal room where we carefully record from the neural populations of our mice while they are engaging in alcohol consumption. When I'm not buried deep in my work, I like to spend time with my dog, Carl the cow dog, either hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing (inside or out) and exploring the back roads of New Mexico. As your newly elected President I hope to be able to bring REAL CHANGE to our lives as scientists/postdoctoral fellows both inside/outside of our institution. Our time as postdoctoral fellows can be so fleeting, which is why it's important that we are given every opportunity to succeed as independent researchers, instead of languishing in the dark, forgotten corners of UNM. Happier, financially-secure and well-trained/mentored postdocs means more funding dollars and more recognition for UNM which means more postdocs can/will be recruited, which leads to more research dollars/more recognition for UNM. It's a feed-forward cycle that pays dividends! We can work together for real change!

Dr. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Lombardi  (she/her)

elombardi.pngVICE PRESIDENT (Outgoing)

Hello! I'm Elizabeth (Lizzie) Lombardi and I'm a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Biology and the Museum of Southwestern Biology on UNM's Main Campus. My research investigates plant-virus interactions across environments, with a particular focus in the biogeographical and climatic determinants of symbioses In alpine plant communities. You can often find me working with botanical data in UNM's herbarium, though my aspiration is to spend more time in the field at the Sevilleta Refuge and in the northern New Mexican mountains. When I'm not pursuing plants, | like to run, hang with friends at one of ABQ's many solid breweries or train with my goofy dog, Bonanza. Though I'm still fairly new to UNM myself, I'm excited to represent and support other postdocs, and am eager lo organize collectively across North and Main campus.



Dr. Kathryn Sanchez  (she/her)

ksanchez.pngTREASURER (Outgoing)

Hello, I'm Kathryn Sanchez!
I am currently a post-doctoral fellow at the University of New Mexico Center for Memory and Aging where I conduct neuroscience research. My work focuses on the early identification of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. To that end, I have identified proteins related to the inflammatory response that are upregulated in dementia and have elucidated their implications on the innate immune cells of the central nervous system, microglia. Outside of the lab, I have advocated for diversity, equity, and inclusion of marginalized groups in both academic and public health settings. For example, I have advocated on behalf of the Society for Neuroscience as an Early Career Policy Ambassador and have served as a diversity liaison for a Women in Science and Education chapter. This year I have also spent time learning about post-doctoral experiences around the country as a National Post- Doc Association as an IMPACT Fellow. In my free time, I spend time with family, watch Netflix, and read. As a native New Mexican, I am also constantly sampling various hot sauces.

Dr. Alexandra (Alex) Francian   (she/her)

afrancian.pngSECRETARY (Outgoing - Incoming Vice President)

Hi there! I'm Alex and I am an ASERT-IRACDA postdoctoral fellow in the department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology within the UNM School of Medicine. My work focuses on developing vaccines for infectious diseases (specifically malaria and arboviruses) using virus-like particles (VLPs) as a vaccine platform. I grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, where I got my PhD in Biochemistry. I miss playing in the snow with my sassy husky, Moxxie, but I love all of the sunshine down here! And that I can still hike, rock climb, ski, and go on road trips. I also have interests in graphic design, and enjoy making content for the postdoc association events. I'm excited to be a part of the newly established postdoc association and advocate for postdocs at UNM.



Dr. Ruben Lopez   (he/him)


Hi all, I am Ruben Lopez, your new Global Affairs Officer. I am a Postdoctoral fellow in the Chemical and Biological Engineering department in an interdisciplinary project that aims to help undergraduate students develop agency when framing engineering problems. I am passionate about students' learning and engineering. I am originally from Colombia and have been in the USA for the last six years, where I finished my Ph.D. in Engineering Education. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, watching movies, practicing karate, and hanging out with friends. Let me know if you need my help.




Dr. Elizabeth (Emmy) Bailey  

emmy.jpgSECRETARY (Incoming)

Hi, I’m Emmy, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Diane Lidke at the University of New Mexico. My research interests combine bio-imaging with quantitative biology to understand the biophysical properties that govern immune cell signaling pathways and inform immunotherapy. The majority of my graduate work focused on how spatiotemporal organization of the FcγRI impacted activation and signaling using fluorescent imaging techniques such as single molecule tracking. In my postdoctoral research, I study the role of PD-1 in T cell T cell signaling using single Molecule Pull Down (SiMPull) method, which combines immunoprecipitation with TIRF microscopy to measure phosphorylation states at the individual receptor level. In my free time, I like to hang out with my cats, read, run, or do whichever craft is my current obsession. I enjoy being a postdoc at UNM and want to help other postdocs have a similar experience.