Who We Are

California Valley Fever Network Faculty


Bridget M. Barker

Assistant Professor
TGEN North
Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ

Email: BBarker@tgen.org

Professor Barker completed her Ph.D. in population genomics and ecology of Coccidioides at the University of Arizona in Tucson. She has returned to working on Coccidioides, expanding from the previous genomics work into transcriptomics, both in vitro and in vivo, to understand gene expression changes over the course of infection, as well as the morphological shift from mycelia/arthoconidia to spherules. Professor Barker is also interested in developing methods to detect Coccidioides in soil. She currently has an NIH/NIAID K22 grant (RNAseq analysis) and a TRIF/PGP grant (Cocci DNA detection in soil development project) through NAU.


Herbert Boro, M.D., F.A.C.P.

Cocci Study Group Program Chair 2014-2018

Email: herbertboro@yahoo.com

Dr. Boro is the Cocci Study Group program chair for annual meetings: 2014-2018.  He is retired from the practice of infectious disease with Kaiser-Permanente.

Paul Brown, Ph.D.

Health Sciences Research Institute
University of California, Merced

Professor Brown is the director of the Health Sciences Research Institute at UC Merced​ and a Health Economist/Health Services researcher. He is currently working with collaborators to identify the burden of disease of valley fever and access to healthcare services for vulnerable populations.


Phuong (Fiona) Bui

Research Assistant
University of California, Merced

Email: pbui@ucmerced.edu
Phone: 661-236-7468

Fiona Bui is interested in both valley fever research and advocacy. Assisting Dr. Gaab and Professor Ojcius has allowed Fiona to learn about biological aspects of the disease and to apply her knowledge to spread awareness to the community. Fiona led the creation of  www.facebook.com/valleyfeveradvocate and several other informative outlets.



Clarence Cryer Jr., M.P.H., C.C.H.P.

Chief Executive Officer
California Substance Abuse and Treatment Facility
and State Prison at Corcoran

Email: Clarence.Cryer@cdcr.ca.gov
Phone: 559-992-7100 ext. 7540

Mr. Cryer is directly connected to a specific subpopulation of the affected community. He works within CDCR and CCHCS to ensure that high risk inmates are not housed in cocci endemic areas. He would like to focus on increased community awareness regarding prevention and on educating providers with a focus on early diagnosis.

Karen Deeming

Graduate Student
University of California, Merced

Email: kdeeming@ucmerced.edu
Phone: 209-617-6378

Ms. Deeming is a graduate student at UC Merced and a valley fever patient. She is interested in helping facilitate a central information center on valley fever to ensure quicker diagnosis and treatment to patients with VF.


Kirt W. Emery, M.P.H.

Health Assessment and Epidemiology Program Manager
Kern County Public Health Services Department

Email: EMERYK@co.kern.ca.us
Phone: 661-868-0303

Kirt Emery's main aim is giving Valley Fever a voice.


David Filip

Founder & Author of Valley Fever Survivor 


Email: voiceforaction@valleyfeversurvivor.com

Mr. Filip and fellow founder Sharon Filip make the case that Valley Fever is a more severe and urgent problem than most people believe and provide resources for patients and survivors at ValleyFeverSurvivor.com.


Erin Gaab, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Researcher
Health Sciences Research Institute
University of California, Merced

Email: egaab@ucmerced.edu

Dr. Erin Gaab a health psychologist, helping organize collaborations across California through this website, a speaker series, and a number of conferences and campaigns. She is also a postdoctoral scientist, facilitating research public health and psychosocial effects of valley fever on children and families.


Aaron Hernday, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
School of Natural Sciences
University of California, Merced

Email: ahernday@ucmerced.edu

Professor Hernday's lab is engaged in understanding and reengineering the regulatory systems that control microbial behavior. Part of the lab is currently focused on developing new and improved genetic tools that will enable precision genome engineering in Coccidioides immitis, the causal agent of valley fever. A long term goal is to understand how the Coccidioides lifecycle is controlled, and how we can interfere with this complex behavior to treat or prevent disease.


Trevor Hirst, LL.B.

Executive Director
Health Sciences Research Institute
University of California, Merced

Email: thirst@ucmerced.edu

As Executive Director of the Health Sciences Research Institute at UC Merced, through which the Valley Fever Network is being developed, Mr. Hirst is responsible for the operations of the Institute, including strategic planning, budget, grant management, and communications.


Katrina K. Hoyer

Assistant Professor
School of Natural Sciences
Health Sciences Research Institute
University of California, Merced

Email: khoyer2@ucmerced.edu
Phone: 209-228-4229

Professor Hoyer's research team is working toward a better understanding of what constitutes a “productive” immune response in patients that properly control Coccidioides infection, relative to the immune response of individuals that develop disseminated disease.


Tiffany Hsueh

Research Assistant
University of California, Merced

Email: thsueh@ucmerced.edu
Phone: 650-392-4923

Awareness rates in highly prevalent areas sought my interest in research. Tiffany's focus is improving valley fever healthcare by studying the physical and psychosocial effects of the disease and advocating among our community. She is a research assistant in Dr. Gaab's lab.


Grant D. Lackey, Pharm.D., C.S.P.I., F.A.S.C.P., F.C.S.H.P.

Vice President of Professional Affairs and Continuing Education
Associate Professor of Pharmacology
California Northstate University, School of Medicine

Email: grant.lackey@cnu.edu
Phone: 916-204-0192

As a clinical pharmacist and clinical toxicologist, Dr. Lackey's goal is to be an important part of education of the California pharmacist community regarding the current epidemiology, clinical toxicology, diagnosis and treatments available to patients for Coccidioides infections. He is a strong advocate for the increased awareness of “cocci” infection for clinical pharmacists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants who can then work collaboratively with physicians to assist in the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of this disease.

Michael MacLean, M.D., M.S.

Health Officer, Kings County

Email: Michael.MacLean@co.kings.ca.us
Phone: 559-852-2876

Dr. MacLean would like to better define the risk and burden of the disease especially for some vulnerable populations, He is an advocate for improved cocci surveillance and an advocate for improving the cocci clinical skills of all California physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants.


Clarissa Nobile

Assistant Professor
School of Natural Sciences
Health Sciences Research Institute
University of California, Merced

Email: cnobile@ucmerced.edu
Phone: 209-228-2427

Professor Nobile's lab is interested in understanding the molecular and mechanistic basis of fungal biology and pathogenesis. She is interested in many species of Ascomycota fungi, including the human fungal pathogens Candida albicans and Coccidioides immitis.


David Ojcius, Ph.D.

School of Natural Sciences
Health Sciences Research Institute
University of California, Merced

Email: dojcius@ucmerced.edu
Phone: 209-228-2948

The Ojcius lab studies the early steps of the innate immune response to infections. They are starting a project to characterize the effects of inflammation on the outcome of Valley Fever in patients.


Benjamin Pavone, Esq.

Offices of Pavone & Fonner, A Law Partnership

Email: bpavone@cox.net
Phone: 619-224-8885

Dr. Pavone's legal team represents California prisoners in a lawsuit against the State of California for the unlawful contraction of Valley Fever. Information about the case can be viewed online.



Michael W. Peterson, M.D.

Valley Medical Foundation Professor of Medicine
UCSF Fresno MEP Chief of Medicine
UCSF Vice-Chair of Medicine

Email: mpeterson@fresno.ucsf.edu
Phone: 559-499-6500

Valley fever can present in many ways. One of the presentations is lung nodules that can mimic lung cancer in appearance. Dr. Peterson is interested in developing tests to help differentiate the two diseases and prevent the need for invasive studies.

Derry Ridgway, M.D.

Lecturer, Public Health
Health Sciences Research Institute
University of California, Merced

Email: dridgway@ucmerced.edu
Phone: 209-384-2891

Dr. Ridgway is interested in the medical response to valley fever by primary care physicians and the burden of valley fever diagnosis and management in primary care practices.


Stergios (Steve) Roussos, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Interim Executive Director
The Blum Center
University of California, Merced

Email: sroussos@ucmerced.edu
Phone: 209-489-9913

Dr. Roussos is a public health researcher and educator focusing on improving population-level health through community-based interventions and collaborative partnerships, with an emphasis on serving underrepresented and vulnerable communities. Through his role at the Blum Center he is helping to increase advocacy and community voice to improve Valley Fever prevention and control, especially for groups at greater risk because of their residence and employment.


Jared Rutledge, Ph.D.

Epidemiologist, Communicable Diseases
Fresno County Department of Public Health

Email: jrutledge@co.fresno.ca.us
Phone: 559-600-3474

Dr. Rutledge is an infectious disease epidemiologist for Fresno County Department of Public Health. He serves as a subject-matter expert on valley fever for Fresno County. He guides and conducts local epidemiological research regarding valley fever within the County of Fresno.

Mickey Sachdeva, M.D.

Assistant Clinical Professor
Department of Internal Medicine
UCSF Fresno

Email: msachdeva@fresno.ucsf.edu
Phone: 559-499-6500

As a native of the Central Valley and during Dr. Sachdeva's medical training at UCSF-Fresno, he encountered many patients with valley fever with a variety of clinical presentations. He has always been interested in helping improve the lives of patients with valley fever. In order to provide the best care to these patients, He has joined his colleagues at UCSF-Fresno to further study valley fever.


Rajat Sethi, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Pharmacology
California Health Sciences University

Email: rsethi@chsu.org
Phone: 559-272-8107

Dr. Sethi received his Ph.D. in Physiology from the University of Manitoba. He was a founding-faculty Assistant Pofessor of Pharmacology at Texas A&M Health Sciences University College of Pharmacy and served as the Director of Drug Development and Preclinical Research at Medicure Inc. He is a member of the International Society for Heart Research, American Heart Association, American Physiological Society, International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences, and the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.


Carol Sipan, R.N., M.P.H., Ph.D.

Visiting Professor in Public Health
Health Sciences Research Institute
University of California, Merced

Email: csipan@ucmerced.edu
Phone: 619-335-0263

Professor Sipan's valley fever research is focused on increasing awareness among medical providers, high risk groups, and their employers in order to reduce exposure risk and increase timely diagnosis rates. She is particularly interested in understanding farmworker exposure risk.



Kathleen Treseder

Professor of Ecology
University of California, Irvine

Email: treseder@uci.edu

Dr. Treseder currently studies the wind dispersal of fungi in California. She would like to apply this knowledge to environmental dispersal of coccidioides.