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

Rachel L. Berkowitz,
Post-doctoral Fellow

Rachel L. Berkowitz, DrPH, MPH, is a public health researcher and practitioner whose work focuses on understanding and addressing how systems, structures, and places create and perpetuate health inequities. She uses qualitative, quantitative, and participatory methods to conduct applied research, and she engages with community-based public health through the prioritization of health equity and anti-racism. She is currently part of the inaugural class of Postdoctoral Fellows in Health Equity & Implementation Science through the University of California, Berkeley, and the Sutter Health Center for Health Systems Research.

Her current projects involve assessing the ways in which neighborhood contexts influence and drive racial inequities in health outcomes (with a particular focus on birth outcomes and maternal outcomes), evaluating pilot efforts to collect and utilize social determinants of health information in clinical settings to improve patient wellbeing, and examining the impacts of changes resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic on the experiences and outcomes of patients and providers.

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

My Publications

Catherine Duarte,
Doctoral Candidate

Catherine Duarte is a PhD candidate in the Division of Epidemiology at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholar. Her research focuses on examining how education and criminal legal system policy and practices are associated with racial/ethnic health inequities throughout the life course. She holds a master of Science in the Social and Behavioral Sciences from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

My Publications

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

Xing Gao,
Doctoral Student

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 Student

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

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

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

Mujahid Research Group

Christine Board,
Master’s Student

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.

Larissa Benjamin,
Staff Research Associate

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

Mujahid Research Group

Colleen Morris,
Staff Research Associate

Colleen Morris is a Research Associate interested in the relationship between structural racism, adverse childhood experiences, and health inequities. Ultimately, she hopes to earn a MD/MPH and to work on these issues in both research and clinical contexts. 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 

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