Research Statement

The Mujahid Research Group is a social epidemiology research group within UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. Under the leadership of Dr. Mahasin Mujahid, PhD, MS, FAHA, we are a group of students at various stages of training, staff members, and post-doctoral fellows committed to advancing racial/ethnic and class health equity at the individual, community, and societal levels.

We leverage multi-racial/multiethnic, geospatial, longitudinal/lifecourse, and intergenerational datasets to examine root causes of racial disparities in cardiovascular health, maternal health outcomes including severe maternal morbidity, and other health conditions, all with an intersectional lens and an understanding of neighborhood contexts and the systems that shape them.

Using transdisciplinary theories, diverse data sets, and various analytic methods, the Group’s work centers structurally marginalized populations and spans systems-level exposures and health outcomes.

Our Team

Mahasin Mujahid,
Associate Professor

Mahasin Mujahid, Ph.D., MS, FAHAis the Chancellor’s Professor and Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health. Dr. Mujahid earned her B.S. in Mathematics from Xavier University in New Orleans, LA. She earned her M.S. in Biostatistics and Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In addition, Dr. Mujahid was a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar at Harvard University.

As a social epidemiologist, Dr. Mujahid employs interdisciplinary and community-based approaches to investigate racial/ethnic and place-based health disparities. Her primary area of research examines the role of the neighborhood environment in cardiovascular health. She uses data from several US-based cardiovascular cohorts and novel statistical methods in order to improve the measurement of neighborhood physical/social environments and to investigate neighborhood health effects.

Dr. Mujahid’s research, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation among others, has been published in leading public health and medical journals nationally.Dr. Mujahid holds several leadership positions at UC Berkeley as the Director of MPH Program in Epidemiology and Biostatistics and the Co-Director of Master of City Planning/Master of Public Health (MCP/MPH)Program. She is an active member of the American Heart Association where she is a fellow, member of the Advocacy Committee, and immediate past chair of the Social Determinants Scientific Subcommittee. Dr. Mujahid is also a renowned teacher and mentor. She has received several honors from UC Berkeley, including the Distinguished Faculty Mentor Award, the Committee on Teaching Excellence Award, and the Leon Henkin Citation for Distinguished Service.

My Publications

Xing Gao,
Doctoral Candidate

I am a doctoral student in Epidemiology at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. My research interests center around examining neighborhood context, structural racism, and racial/ethnic health inequities using epidemiologic and geospatial methods. I hold a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology/Biostatistics from UC Berkeley, and a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and International Studies from Macalester College. Outside of work, I enjoy taking care of my houseplants, spending time in nature in small doses, and trying out new restaurants with my friends.

My Publications

Elleni Hailu,
Doctoral Candidate

Elleni Hailu a Ph.D. student in the Division of Epidemiology and a Chancellor’s Fellow at the UC Berkeley School of Public. Her research is in understanding the ways in which indicators of structural racism are biologically embodied across the life course to influence racial disparities in cardiovascular and adverse maternal health outcomes. She earned a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology/Biostatistics from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and a Bachelor of Science in Public Health Sciences from Santa Clara University.

My Publications

Sai Ramya Maddali,
Doctoral Candidate

Sai Ramya Maddali is a doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley. Her research interests include the multi-level determinants of racial/ethnic health inequities over the life course, neighborhood health effects, theories in Social Epidemiology, and mixed methods research. Sai is a part of the Policies and Life-course approaches to Achieve Community Equity (PLACE) research group at UC Berkeley. Prior to joining the DrPH program, Sai was the Senior Research Associate at Upstream USA and supported the development and evaluation of Upstream’s contraceptive care initiatives in Delaware, Massachusetts, Washington, North Carolina, and Rhode Island. Additionally, Sai also supported UCSF’s Sustainable East Africa Research in Community Health (SEARCH) universal test and treat program in Kenya and Uganda as a Research Analyst. In Sai Ramya’s personal life, she is an avid backpacker, rock climber, and baker and can be found wandering the Californian coast with her spouse and dog.


Eli Michaels,
Doctoral Candidate

I am a 4th-year Ph.D. student in Epidemiology. Prior to my Ph.D., I completed my BA in Sociology and Feminist & Gender Studies at Colorado College and my MPH in Health and Social Behavior at UC Berkeley. My research is broadly focused on measuring racism and estimating its effects on racial health inequities in the United States. I am particularly interested in using big data to measure the ambient social climate as it pertains to race and racism, exploring the interplay between structural and cultural racism, and examining biopsychosocial pathways to health. I am passionate about integrating theory from across the social sciences into the questions I ask, the methods I use, and the interpretation and communication of my research findings. When I’m not debugging R code, I enjoy rock climbing, running, and cooking.

My Publications

Mujahid Research Group

Julia Acker,
Doctoral Student

Julia Acker is a first-year PhD student in the Epidemiology Division at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health. She is interested broadly in the biopsychosocial mechanisms linking racism and other forms of structural violence with adverse health outcomes across the life course. Prior to joining the Mujahid Research Group, Julia worked as a Research Analyst at the Center for Health Equity at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) on a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded series of reports linking different social determinants of health with health equity.

Julia received her B.S. in Applied Psychology and Global Public Health with a minor in Sociology from New York University (NYU) in 2017. As an undergraduate, Julia served as a Research Assistant for the Latino Family Engagement and Language Development Project at NYU and as Editor-in-Chief of an undergraduate peer-reviewed psychology journal, the Online Publication of Undergraduate Studies.

My Publications

Larissa Benjamin,
DrPH Student

Larissa was born in Detroit, MI to parents from different socioeconomic and racial backgrounds who were brought together by their shared commitment to fighting social inequality and discrimination. After studying Evolutionary Anthropology and English at University of Michigan with a Scholarship Recognition Award, Larissa went on to work in health and science communications at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington, DC. Larissa then received an MPH in Health and Social Behavior from UC Berkeley, with a certificate in Multicultural Health, and is a proud alumna of the Kaiser Permanente Public Health Scholars program. Her capstone focused on integrating structural competency and political economy into all public health training.

After completing her MPH, Larissa accepted a wonderful opportunity to work as a Project Policy Analyst with two professors: 1) Professor Denise Herd, who led the campus’s commemoration and programming for 400 years of resistance to slavery and injustice, and 2) Professor Mahasin Mujahid, who had an opening for her research group manager

Isabel Muñoz,
Doctoral Student

Isabel Muñoz is a PhD student in the Epidemiology department. Isabel is a Research Manager at Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), a research program within UC San Francisco. Through her professional experiences at ANSIRH & Ibis Reproductive Health, where she was a graduate student intern during her MPH, and personal experiences, she has become passionate about reproductive justice and conducting research to improve access and the quality of care for people who are most affected by health inequities–which is often low-income people of color. She is interested in measuring social factors, specifically racism and classism, and examining people’s intersecting identities and how those identities shape access to reproductive care. Isabel earned her BS in Human Biology at UC Santa Cruz and her MPH in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at UC Berkeley. Her hobbies include hiking with Zoe (her adorable pit bull), cooking, biking, dancing, and spending quality time with loved ones.

Mahader Tamene,
Doctoral Student

Mahader Tamene is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Epidemiology. A public health practitioner dedicated to facilitating health and justice for underserved populations globally, her research focuses on maternal and child mental health disparities, particularly community-based interventions that address the structural determinants driving these disparities. Mahader has worked in community health education, health research, program implementation, and evaluation both domestically and abroad. She holds an MSc in global health and population from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a BA in public policy and African/African-American studies from the University of Chicago

My Publications

Affiliated Researchers

Rachel L. Berkowitz,
Affiliated Researcher, Assistant Professor

Dr. Rachel Berkowitz is an Assistant Professor with the Department of Public Health and Recreation in the College of Health and Human Sciences at San José State University. For the past 12 years, she has been working in public health as a researcher, teacher, and practitioner. Throughout her career, she has focused on the ways in which systems, structures, and places create and perpetuate health inequities. Her research uses quantitative, qualitative, and participatory methods and is grounded in the principles and approaches of critical race theory, community-based participatory research, human-centered design, and implementation science.

Examples of current research projects include the following: (1) assessing the ways in which structural factors (e.g., neighborhood environments) contribute to racial inequities in infant birth outcomes and maternal/birthing person health outcomes, (2) understanding the experiences and impact of telehealth in prenatal and postnatal care for birthing persons, care providers, and healthcare leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic; and (3) exploring perspectives and priorities related to health inequities among key stakeholders and community members in Santa Clara County in support of the County’s Health Equity Agenda.

She received her BA in Cultural Anthropology with a minor in Global Health Studies from Northwestern University, her MPH in Global Health with a focus on Community Health and Development from Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, and her DrPH from University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health.

My Publications

Christine Board,
Affiliated Researcher

A South Los Angeles native, Christine was planted in the Bay Area as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley. A pursuant of health promotion in black and brown communities she believes that the ability to share our stories, have our voices heard, be seen and valued, is an integral part of our health and healing. Her primary area of interest lies in the exploration of health disparities amongst people of color as they relate to social determinants and medical bias. As a health professional in epidemiology, she hopes to one day join those pioneering a movement on the decolonization of data.

Catherine Duarte,
Affiliated Researcher, Post-Doctoral Fellow

Dr. Catherine Duarte is an IDEAL Provostial Fellow based in the Department of Epidemiology & Population Health at Stanford University’s School of Medicine. She received her PhD in Epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health and her Master of Science in Social and Behavioral Sciences from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. As a doctoral student, Duarte was selected to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Health Policy Research Scholars Program – a national leadership training program bringing together scholars from across academic disciplines whose applied research seeks to contribute to building healthier and more equitable communities. Duarte’s work specifically focuses on examining how education and legal system policy and practice may shape racial health inequities throughout the life course. In so doing, her work aims to contribute to systems-level interventions designed to support health equity and wellbeing for collective thriving.

My Publications

Mujahid Research Group

Colleen Morris,
Affiliated Researcher, Medical Student

Colleen Morris is a Research Associate and medical student at the George Washington University School of Medicine interested in the relationship between structural racism, neighborhood environments, and health inequities. She hopes to address these issues as a pediatrician through clinical work, research, and advocacy. She holds a BS in Kinesiology with a minor in Anthropology from the University of Virginia.

Research Projects

National Growth and Health Study (NGHS)



Severe Maternal Morbidity

Featured Publications

Contact Us

Mujahid Research Group
School of Public Health
University of California, Berkeley
2121 Berkeley Way, Office 5413
Berkeley, California 94720-7358