Genetics and Public Policy Fellow at ASHG/NHGRI. Experienced student group founder and organizer passionate about communicating science in an understandable way to inform policy decisions. Neuroscience PhD with 9 years of experience in data analysis and scientific writing in interdisciplinary biology research.


Stanford University School of Medicine

Ph.D, Neurosciences (advisor: Miriam Goodman)                                                       2019

Thesis: The influence of tissue mechanics and mechano-electrical transduction channel distribution on somatosensory mechanotransduction in Caenorhabditis elegans

Relevant coursework:

Science and Technology Policy; Writing and Rhetoric for a Policy Audience; Data Analysis in MATLAB; Scientific Illustration & Animation; Science & Engineering Course Design

University of California, Berkeley

B.A., Major: Molecular and Cell Biology, Minor: Global Poverty and Practice         2011

Relevant coursework:

Neural Basis of Behavior; Technology and Poverty; Health Policy & Management; Ethics, Methods and Pragmatics of Global Practice; Intermediate Japanese


2019-20 Fellow ASHG/NHGRI Genetics and Public Policy Fellowship

2018                Recipient                        Excellence in Societal Citizenship Award, Stanford Biosciences

2017-18           Finalist                           Presidential Management Fellows

2015-17           Fellow                            Ruth L. Kirchstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) F31 Individual Predoctoral Fellowship

2013                 Hon. Mention                NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

2011                 Recipient                        Chaikoff Memorial Award, UC Berkeley

2011                 Recipient                        Molecular/Cell Biology Departmental Honors, UC Berkeley


Genetics and Public Policy Fellow                    

ASHG/NHGRI                                                                   Bethesda/Rockville, MD                  Sep 2019-present                         

  • Drafted program portraits detailing NHGRI programs for FY2021 Congressional Justification.

  • Wrote brief on Congressional hearing for institute leadership.

  • Wrote proposal to ASHG Board of Directors regarding commissioning a report on economic analysis of genomic research.

Graduate Student/Postdoctoral Scholar                                     

Miriam Goodman Lab, Stanford University                       Stanford, CA                                     Sep 2012-Aug 2019         

  • Independently managed three research projects investigating the sense of touch, co-wrote and published a related literature review, and collaborated with physicists to publish an interdisciplinary research paper on one project.

  • Designed projects for and mentored two summer students with guidance on experimental design, troubleshooting, paper reading, data analysis and data visualization. Trained new postdocs to perform in vivo patch clamping in C. elegans using my custom-built system.


Generation Sci                                                                    Stanford, CA                                      Sep 2017-Apr 2019                         

  • Created the Generation Sci conference for ~150 community college (CC) STEM majors planning to transfer to 4-year colleges to learn about cutting-edge science, research careers, and how to navigate summer research internships.

  • Recruited a 6-person team from 3 campus sci-comm groups. As a team, obtained a $3,000 DIF (Diversity and Inclusion Innovation Fund) grant two years in a row to run the conference each year and worked with MESA program directors at local CCs to ensure programming would be useful for students.

  • Worked with Stanford student speakers to make lay abstracts accessible, and set up workshops with oral communication tutors from Stanford’s Hume Center for Writing & Speaking to guide speakers in designing talks for our audience.

  • Collected and used feedback from speakers and attendees to improve event each year.

Co-founder & President

NeuWrite West                                                                   Stanford, CA                                      Jun 2012-Jan 2018

  • Co-created science writing group and ran writing workshops for graduate students and local writers to improve their ability to communicate science to the general public.

  • Spearheaded initiative requiring 1st-3rd year neuroscience PhD students to write lay summaries of recent research papers with training from paid NeuWrite editorial team, beginning in 2015.

  • Edited student writing and published articles on the NeuWrite West blog (, including 28/70 layperson summaries published from the above program.

  • Obtained $3,500 SPICE (Student Projects for Intellectual Community Enhancement) grant from Stanford for writing workshops and live events, and long-term neuroscience program funding for website/podcast hosting and lay summary editor compensation.

  • Established relationships with the Stanford Neuroscience Institute and the Scope medical blog for cross-publishing student work online and providing paid writing opportunities.


Science Action Committee                                               Stanford, CA                                       Jan 2017-present

  • Organized >100 people from Stanford to attend the March for Science in SF, and helped run events surrounding the march for making signs and talking about controversial scientific issues.

  • Directed a workshop series for scientists on writing newspaper op-eds and letters to the editor about science policy issues.

  • Developed the #FundSillyScience photo series to highlight how even science that is made to sound frivolous actually contributes to society. Worked with a diverse group of 15 scientists to distill their science into short, accessible descriptions.

Student Representative

Neuroscience PhD Program                                          Stanford, CA                                       Sept 2012-Aug 2013

  • Reviewed prospective student applications and voted on admissions decisions as a member of Neuroscience Graduate Program Admissions Committee during 2012-13 academic year.

  • Represented student voices at Neuroscience PhD Program Committee meetings (currently continuing to serve as a member of the new Student Program Committee).

  • Organized interview weekend: assigned student hosts and planned activities for prospective graduate students, selected and invited faculty and student speakers.

  • Organized annual program retreat: solicited nominations and ran student voting for speakers, invited external and internal faculty speakers, organized transportation and activities.

Electrophysiology TA

Stanford Intensive Neuroscience                                  Stanford                                            Sept 2012

  • Built three electrophysiology rigs and taught electrophysiology basics to first-year graduate students during two-week neuroscience boot camp lab course.

Volunteer Teacher

Rural Development Foundation                                   Andhra Pradesh, India                  June-July 2010

  • Taught science experiments to middle/high school students and worked with teachers to develop sustainable lesson plans for experiments at two rural schools in India, after semester-long training from the Global Poverty and Practice minor at UC Berkeley.


Postdoctoral Scholar

Goodman Lab                                                                     Stanford                                          2019-present

  • Performed pilot electrophysiology experiments to explore the role of neuronal pre-stress and the importance of extracellular matrix proteins in touch sensation.

Graduate Student

Goodman Lab                                                                     Stanford                                          2012-2019

  • Combined experimental and computational approaches to explain how neurons integrate touch responses over space and time. Collaborated with UC San Diego physicists on a biophysical model explaining the spatiotemporal dynamics of touch.

  • Constructed custom piezoelectric stimulator system for applying and measuring mechanical stimulator displacement during patch clamp recordings.

  • Wrote a suite of MATLAB functions for importing and analyzing neural recording data from the Patchmaster data acquisition format. Made code publicly available online and taught four lab members how to analyze data in MATLAB using these functions.

Graduate Rotation Student

Madison & Raymond Labs                                             Stanford                                             2011-12

  • Recorded neural activity in rat brain slices to observe the effect of endocannabinoids on a particular form of short-term synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus.

  • Performed vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) learning assays with mice to study neural circuits of motor learning in the cerebellum and optimized MATLAB scripts for data analysis.

Undergraduate Researcher

Bautista Lab                                                  UC Berkeley                                                           2010-11

  • Assayed mouse behavior and cultured cell responses to elucidate the effect of the Szechuan pepper-derived compound sanshool on heat pain reception.


  • Telugu: fluent in speaking, intermediate in reading/writing

  • Spanish and Japanese: intermediate in speaking/reading/writing

  • Martial arts: > 12 years martial arts experience, President of Stanford Jujitsu Club (2014-2016).

  • Photography: Finished 329/365 days of #photoblog365’s photo-a-day challenge, published in Anastamosis magazine and displayed in campus gallery.


Scientific Publications and Presentations

  • Katta S., Sanzeni A., Vergassola M., Goodman M.B. Progressive recruitment of distal MEC-4 channels determines touch response strength in C. elegans. J Gen Phys (2019). Available early-access at:

  • Sanzeni A., Katta S., Petzold B., Pruitt B., Goodman M.B., Vergassola M. Somatosensory neurons integrate the geometry of skin deformation and mechanotransduction channels to shape touch sensing. eLife (2019). doi:10.7554/eLife.43226.

  • Katta S., Vásquez V., Goodman M.B. “The Dynamics of Somatosensory Mechanotransduction in C. Elegans Touch Receptor Neurons.” Program No. 99-Plat; Biophysical Society Meeting; 2018 Feb 17-21; San Francisco, CA. doi:10.1016/j.bpj.2017.11.145. Platform talk.

  • Katta, S., Krieg, M. & Goodman, M. B. Feeling Force: Physical and Physiological Principles Enabling Sensory Mechanotransduction. Annual Review of Cell and Dev Bio 31, 347–371 (2015). doi:10.1146/annurev-cellbio-100913-013426.

  • Tsunozaki M., Lennertz R.C., Vilceanu D., Katta S., Stucky C.L., Bautista D.M. A ‘Toothache Tree’ Alkylamide Inhibits Aδ Mechanonociceptors to Alleviate Mechanical Pain. J Physiol (2013). doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2013.252106.

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