In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Dr. Sela looks forward to his heavy involvement with scholarly research and establishing an independent group at the University of Massachusetts. He is excited about joining a “terrifically accomplished department replete with top-flight investigators.”
Dr. Sela reflects on his time with the Foods for Health Institute and UC Davis where he earned his doctorate degree under the supervision of Dr. David Mills in the Microbiology Graduate Group. As a Ph.D. student, he was a member of the Milk Bioactives and Functional Glycobiology Program at the FFHI. Under the advice of Dr. Mills and Dr. German he became a Postdoctoral Research Fellow following graduation.
Dr. Sela’s research interests at UC Davis focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms behind how milk shapes the nursing infant’s microbiome in composition and function. He says he enjoyed “utilizing sequence-based approaches to characterize the indigenous microbial symbionts. This included physiological and functional genomic studies of single isolated microbes, community-level investigations, as well as human subject trials and observations.” The Foods for Health Institute has enabled collaboration across campus and across many disciples throughout his research.
Dr. Sela expressed his gratitude for working with fantastic scientists such as Dr. Carlito Lebrilla and Dr. Jennifer Smilowitz. He stated that “the transformative value of the aggregate mentorship provided by senior FFHI researchers [has] been invaluable in my scientific development.”
Dr. Sela also declared “ I am fortunate to have been steeped in this environment that has guided my scientific worldview by encouraging challenges to orthodoxy and dogma, even if the results of rigorous scientific experimentation run contrary to prevailing hypotheses posited by the group. There is no question that my decision to research at UC Davis and at the FFHI is the single largest contributing factor to any success I have enjoyed to this point.”
This new chapter in life will turn the page on Dr. Sela’s last decade spent in California with his wife. They will be bidding a bittersweet farewell to professional networks and friends who have become family. He said he will miss the “remarkably talented” and “highly motivated” individuals at the Foods for Health Institute, whom Dr. Sela believes are addressing some of the most “pressing scientific questions of our time.”
The FFHI congratulates and wishes Dr. Sela the best of luck at his new appointment!
Visit Dr. Sela's lab website to learn more about his research at U Mass Amherst.