Berna Sozen

Group Leader

Dr. Berna Sozen, is an Assistant Professor of Developmental Stem Cell Biology at Yale Department of Genetics, affiliated member of Yale Stem Cell Center and Bohmfalk Scholar at Yale School of Medicine.

Dr. Sozen first trained as a Reproductive Biologist at Akdeniz University, Turkey (2009-2015), and later as a Developmental Biologist at the University of Cambridge, UK (2015-2019). In her earlier training years, she worked with Prof. Tom Fleming in Southampton, UK (2012) on pre-implantation embryogenesis and developmental programming. After a short training as a Clinical Embryologist at Istanbul University, Turkey (2015), she moved to Cambridge, UK to complete her PhD project. She then undertook her post-doctoral research first at Cambridge, and later at California Insitute of Technology (Caltech) during which she developed in vitro systems to model mammalian early embryogenesis using various types of stem cells, in the Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz group. In 2020, she established her independent research group at Yale Genetics.       

Dominica cao

research ASSISTANT

Dominica graduated from Smith College with BAs in Neuroscience and Biology, working as a teaching assistant during her years in the Valley. She spent a summer in the O’Roak lab at OHSU to study cortical lamination in patient-specific mouse models of autism, and joined the Barresi lab at Smith to model neurodevelopmental diseases in transgenic zebrafish. With a growing interest in development at its earliest stages, Dominica joined the Sozen lab in January 2021 as a Research Assistant, working with mammalian embryos and their stem cell models to study developmental responses to metabolic perturbation.



Ashley is a Ph.D. student in Genetics at Yale, joining the Sozen lab in March 2021. As an undergraduate, Ashley researched in Dr. Charles Murry’s and Dr. Ying Zheng’s group at the University of Washington’s Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine (UW-ISCRM), during which she worked on engineering human pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocyte models and in vitro anuerysm models. She graduated in March 2019 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Cell and Molecular Biology with a specialization in Global Awareness from Seattle University. Before coming to Yale, Ashley worked as a research assistant at Brown University under Dr. Kareen Coulombe, where she worked on the creation of bioelectric sutures to improve electromechanical coupling of engineered human pluripotent stem cell-derived heart tissue constructs to host tissue. Ashley is excited to apply her background in bioengineering and human pluripotent stem cell biology to projects in the Sozen lab!




Monique is a PhD student in Genetics at Yale from Miami, Florida. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology and Spanish from Florida State University where she pursued her diverse research interests in radioactive chemistry and conservation biology. She then earned her master’s degree in Clinical Embryology at the University of Oxford, UK where she discovered her passion for developmental biology. At Oxford, she conducted her thesis project on left-right asymmetry in mammalian embryonic heart development with Dr. Shankar Srinivas. Before coming to Yale, Monique worked as a postbaccalaureate research fellow investigating RNA degradation in mouse oocyte development with Dr. Jurrien Dean at the National Institutes of Health. Monique began her studies at Yale in Fall 2020 and will join the Sozen team in May 2021.

Jenna bergmann


Jenna is a Yale MD-PhD student and aspiring developmental biologist with a clinical interest in obstetrics and gynecology. Jenna graduated from Barnard College in 2018 where she majored in Cell & Molecular Biology and Latin. At Barnard, she conducted her thesis research in the Mansfield lab studying tissue-specific effects of the Hoxa5 transcription factor on musculoskeletal development. After graduating from Barnard, she spent one year as a research technician for the Houvras lab at Weill Cornell before matriculating in the Yale MD/PhD program. Jenna will begin her PhD research in the Sozen lab in Fall 2021.