Georgia Drakakaki - Principal Investigator


Georgia Drakakaki obtained her Ph.D. from the John Innes Center (JIC) UK and received her postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Natasha Raikhel at UC Riverside. She joined the Department of Plant Sciences in January 2010.

Her research focuses on endomembrane trafficking in plant cells, in particular how trafficking pathways control cell wall biosynthesis and polysaccharide deposition. Dr. Drakakaki’s group employs multidisciplinary approaches: chemical genomics (the use of small molecules), organelle proteomics and genetics.

She mentors undergraduate, graduate students and post-doctoral researchers. She is a member of Plant Biology (PBGG) and the Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (BMCDB) graduate groups. She is serving as a trainer in the NSF CREATE- REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) training grant (2010, 2011, 2012) and is a mentor for CREATE IGERT PhD students. She is a Designated Emphasis in Biotechnology trainer and member of the UCD Energy Institute.

Fellowships, honors, and awards
2012    University of California Davis Hellman Fellowship
2014    Excellence in Education Award, finalist for the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

PBI214              Cell Walls (FQ)                                 
PLS100AL          Plant Metab. Process Lab (FQ)        
PBI200B            Cell/Developmental Biol. (WQ)
PLS012/SAS12  Plants and Society  (WQ)


  • National Science Foundation NSF/IOS-1258135: Dissection of Polysaccharide Deposition and Assembly into Plant Cell Walls
  • UCD COR: Development of novel probes for studying the plant endomembrane system
  • Hellman Fellowship: Understanding Vesicle Trafficking During Plant Cell Division Using a Novel Inhibitor, Endosidin 7

In our outreach activities, we are teaming up with local high schools. In guest lectures and workshops we are introducing confocal microscopy and chemical genomics to a wider audience. In the last years we offered workshops to Woodland High School (WHS) students and teachers, during which the participants became familiar with the scientific method and our research program on endomembrane trafficking and chemical genomics.

Workshop participants performed basic experiments examining protein localization with confocal microscopy. This was followed up with a number of guest lectures and Q&A sessions about scientific research at on site at Woodland High.

Our outreach activities extended to guest lectures and demonstrations to the Marguerite Montgomery Elementary School, San Marin High School science fairs, local science venues and science communication forums .

We regularly host, within the framework of the Young Scholars Program high school students during the summer, for a research experience internship in which the students shadow experienced scientists and run their own mini projects.

Graduate Students:

Natasha WordenNatasha Worden (Plant Biology Graduate Group)

Natasha uses chemical genomics and proteomics to identify trafficking pathways that are involved in cell wall deposition during cell elongation.

Awards: Plant Sciences GSR, CREATE IGERT fellowship, Monsanto Biotechnology fellowship, best poster award at the Gordon Research Conference on Cell Walls (2012, Jastro Shields research scholarship.

Destiny DavisDestiny Davis (Plant Biology Graduate Group)

Destiny studies cytokinesis using high resolution microscopy, proteomics and genetics. In her studies she probes cytokinesis with Endosidin 7.

Awards: Plant Sciences GSR,  Jastro Shields research scholarship.



Victor Esteva-EsteveVictor Esteva-Esteve

Victor joined the lab from the University of Leida, Spain as visiting scholar.

He is focusing on monitoring of polysaccharide modifications in muro using Penium margaritaceum and several aspects of post-Golgi trafficking during cell elongation.

Current Undergraduate Students:

Gurpreet Srai
Erin McGinnis
Vikram Singh



Steve McDowell
Dr. Eunsook Park (Currently at UCD)

Visiting Scholars:
Marta Miguet, University of Leida, Spain (2013) Currently at UCD
Dr. Dechao Duan 2014 (6 months, currently Zhejiang University, China)

Undergraduate students:
McKenzie Winter (2013-2014), accepted to the Colorado University Denver’s Master of Science In Modern Human Anatomy.
Thu Le (UCD)(2012-2013),  accepted at the credential program at SDSU to follow a career as a high school teacher.
Shawn Higdon (UCD) (2012-2013), currently applying to graduate school.
Alana Barton (UCD) (2012-2013)
Loan Luong (UCD) 2012
Katherine Wood UCD (SEEDS PLS program) (2012), currently at the graduate school at MSU.
Htwe Hlaing UCD (2011), currently  employed  at Genentech.
Kenneth Lam UCD (2011), currently at the Mind Institute. 
Megan Schmit Buffalo SUNY (NSF REU) (2012), applying to graduate school.
Sanchia Mills Tuskegee University (NSF REU) (2011)
Laura Putnam, UCD (2010-2011), currently at Genentech.
Lyn Kwan UCD (2011)
Ilse Argueta, UCD (2011) UC San Diego School of Medicine
Navim Mobin UCD (2011)
Grace Kichio UCD (2011)
Lee Yang UCD (2011)
Maian Ngo, UCD (2010)
Dinusha Maheepala Mudalige (2010), UCD, currently in graduate school at UCR
Thao Nguyen, Consumnes River College (NSF REU) (2010)
Amy Wong, UCD (2010)