UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Genetics Laboratory
Meet the Team

Rebecca Bellone, Ph.D.- Director

Dr. Bellone’s interest in genetics began as an undergraduate student; she earned her bachelor’s degree in 1997 from the University of Florida in agriculture specializing in biotechnology and completed an honors thesis project on the genetics of equine coat color. She went on to earn her doctoral degree in equine genetics from the University of Kentucky studying at the Gluck Equine Research Center. After earning her doctorate, she joined the faculty at University of Tampa, in Tampa Florida, and spent twelve years teaching courses in biology, genetics, and molecular biology, while also conducting research and making important scientific discoveries to advance the understanding of genetics and genomics. While at the University of Tampa, she was a recipient of three Outstanding Scholar Awards and one Outstanding Student Research Supervision Award. Her research work has identified several causal mutations for both pigmentation traits as well as several genetic disorders in horses. She currently leads a research team of graduate and undergraduate students who are investigating serval pigmentation and ocular disorders in horses and other species.

In 2014, she joined the School of Veterinary Medicine faculty at UC, Davis and the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory team where she has expanded both the research and educational programs of the VGL. Dr. Bellone joined the leadership team as the Associate Director of Education and Outreach in 2016 and was appointed Director in November of 2017, she directs and oversees all operations as they relate to the mission of the unit.

Cecilia Penedo, Ph.D.- Associate Director of Service

Dr. Penedo received her doctorate in Genetics from the University of California, Davis in 1999. She began working at the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory during her graduate career and stayed on as an expert in genetics and parentage analysis of domestic animals. She played a key role in the transition from blood typing to DNA testing for several species tested by the laboratory. As Associate Director, she currently heads the Service section of the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory. With wide ranging knowledge and research interests in animal genetics, Dr. Penedo provides scientific and technical leadership for genotyping and research services of the VGL. She has extensive expertise in parentage and diagnostic DNA testing and is an active participant in international efforts for standardization of genotyping tests for livestock and companion animal species. In 2016, she was recognized for her substantial contribution to this area and was appointed a Fellow of the International Society of Animal Genetics. Her research includes investigations of the molecular basis of coat color and diseases, prenatal genetic testing in horses, and genetic diversity and population structure of livestock, primate, and wildlife species.

Shayne Hughes, M.S.- Associate Director of Administration and Information Technology

Mr. Hughes began working at the VGL as a student in 1989 while studying Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He collaborated on a project using image processing and machine learning to classify antigen reaction images, a very repetitive task which was done manually at the time. With the advent of high volume genotyping using STR markers at the laboratory in the early 1990's, his focus moved to software integration and automating DNA analysis at VGL. He developed the software needed to analyze these data, known as the STRand program, and this was the subject of Mr. Hughes's master's thesis in Electrical Engineering.

Mr. Hughes joined VGL's leadership team in 1996, overseeing the Informatics and Engineering section of the unit and in 2012 was appointed the Associate Director of the Administrative and Information Technology where he supervises the members of these sections and oversees and implements the business management plan.

Christina D Lindquist, M.S.- Associate Director of Forensics

Ms. Lindquist is the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory’s Associate Director of Forensics. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from the University of California at Davis and went on to earn her Masters of Science in Forensic Science from George Washington University in Washington, DC. In 2010, she led the forensic section of the VGL in the efforts to obtain accreditation to the international forensic standards (ISO17025 forensic accreditation). The Veterinary Genetics Laboratory Forensic section (known as VGL-Forensics in the law enforcement community) was successful in this endeavor and is the only laboratory in the United States accredited to complete forensic DNA profiling on domesticated animal species. Ms. Lindquist joined the leadership team in 2015, as the Associate Director of Forensics. In addition to leading the forensics section of the laboratory, she also acts as the Quality Manager for VGL as a whole. As Quality Manager, she works with all VGL faculty and staff to develop and implement all aspects of the laboratory’s quality management systems which ensures efficiency and accuracy in all of the laboratory procedures.

Rob Grahn, Ph.D –Associate Director of Test Development

Dr. Grahn received his bachelor’s degree in biology from University of California at Davis in 1991 and subsequently performed research for several years on feline immunodeficiency virus. He went on to earn his doctorate from the University of Idaho, Moscow where he studied the molecular systematics of South American rodents using transposable elements. After completion of his doctoral degree, Dr. Grahn returned to UC, Davis and spent 14 years investigating inherited genetic diseases in cats. Dr. Grahn joined the VGL team in 2013, where he has assisted in the research and development of new test offerings for multiple species. He also works as an accredited Forensic analyst within the VGL-Forensics section and he mentors students in the Masters of Forensic science program at UC Davis. In 2018, he was appointed the Associate Director of Test Development, in this role Dr. Grahn leads the team that develops new tests and testing methodologies to enhance both the quality and breadth of tests offered across the diverse set of species tested at the VGL. He and his team also collaborate with scientists at UC Davis and around the globe, to facilitate the advancement of important genetic discoveries. Dr. Grahn’s own research efforts focus on the identification of novel genetic variants that can be used by animal owners, breeders, and veterinarians to make informed decisions regarding their animals.

The Veterinary Genetics Laboratory Team Members

The faculty and staff at the VGL come from diverse backgrounds and experiences and have expertise in all areas of animal genetics. With nearly 50 employees, who have conducted high level research and/or are exceptional in their knowledge of the genetics of a variety of species, our team is dedicated to delivering accurate, reliable, and timely results. Our team works hard and is eager to provide the exceptional customer service that our clients have come to expect!

 
Veterinary Genetics Laboratory, Tel 530-752-2211, Email VGL