Dr. Roca was a Project Scientist in the Biochemistry Department at the University of California, Irvine where he was formerly a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow. His research involves using biophysical and bioinformatic approaches to understand the molecular mechanism of recombinational DNA repair. Dr. Roca is a first-generation Peruvian-American born in Houston, Texas. He received his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has received FASEB/MARC travel awards to present his work at the annual meetings of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB/ISMB), and the Biophysical Society. At the 2010 ISMB conference, his work received second place in the inaugural Killer App Awardcompetition. The award recognized a novel bioinformatic method for visualizing large multiple sequence alignments.
Dr. Roca received an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grant that allowed him to organize postdoctoral activities at the SACNAS conference (including the Minority Postdoc Summit) and to create the web portal MinorityPostdoc.org. He founded the SACNAS Postdoc Committee (2005), served on the 2008 SACNAS Program Committee, and co-founded the Diversity Committee of the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA; 2003). Dr. Roca has co-chaired many postdoc-related activities at the SACNAS conferences from 2003 to present. He has been an invited speaker on minority postdoctoral issues at the following conferences: the Compact for Faculty Diversity’s annual Institute on Teaching and Mentoring; the Howard University/UTEP Institute on Preparing for Postdoctoral Experiences in STEM; and the COSEPUP Second Convocation on Enhancing the Postdoctoral Experience. In recognition of his achievements, Dr. Roca has received the UC-Irvine Chancellor’s Living Our Values Award, the SACNAS Distinguished Service to the Society Award, and was a semi-finalist for the Echoing Green Fellowship in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Dr. Roca has volunteered as a FASEB/MARC Peer Mentor and as an Advisor for the NPA and the Understanding Interventions Conference. Since 2010, Dr. Roca has been working full-time helping graduate students transition to postdoc training and helping grads/postdocs transition to professional positions. He accomplishes these activities by working with trainees directly as well as with institutional diversity stakeholders. Finally, Dr. Roca has been writing and editing/publishing original articles under the DiverseScholar brand.