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2019-2020 GRADS Ambassadors cohort

The Graduate Recruitment and Diversity Services (GRADS) Program is the peer-advising arm of the DREAM Office. The goal of GRADS is to foster diversity within the student population at the School of Public Health by connecting prospective applicants with a team of student volunteers—the GRADS Ambassadors. Our GRADS Ambassadors are available to provide application advice, support and a current student perspective over the course of the admissions cycle.

Profiles of our 2020–2021 GRADS Ambassadors are available below—reach out to us at if you would like to connect with someone!

Andrea Leung

Keywords: Chronic illnesses, community health, healthcare delivery

Andrea is a student in the 4+1 Epidemiology/Biostatistics MPH program. She is an Oakland, California native and stayed in the Bay Area to complete her undergraduate education at UC Berkeley. Through her education and community involvement, she has developed a passion for exploring how disparities in healthcare delivery and quality impact the development of chronic conditions. Andrea’s current research interests include chronic illnesses, provider-patient trust and dynamics, and community health initiatives. During her undergraduate years, Andrea conducted research at UCSF and UC Berkeley, studying prostate cancer, skin cancer, and cognitive neuroscience. She discovered her passion for medicine through her work as a clinical intern in skilled nursing facilities and in a non-profit clinic providing care for Oakland’s underserved. She plans to go to medical school and eventually practice medicine in the Bay Area. In her free time, you can find Andrea at the nearest coffee shop or attempting to bake macarons.

Brandon Chu

Keywords: community, human rights, Bay Area

Brandon is a Bay Area native from Fremont, CA and a current 4+1 MPH student in Epidemiology and Biostatistics. He recently completed his undergraduate degree in Public Health at UC Berkeley, where he also minored in Public Policy and Human Rights. His passion for public health stems from a deep-rooted belief that health starts within the community, and he is excited to continue his work in graduate school. Outside of class, he enjoys exploring new music and learning about photography and graphic design.

Ilhaam Burny

Keywords: sexual health, women, reproductive equity

Ilhaam is a 4+1 MPH student in the Epidemiology/Biostatistics concentration. She recently graduated from UC Berkeley with degrees in Public Health and Integrative Biology. During undergrad, she worked for the Sexual Health and Reproductive Equity (SHARE) program, where she discovered her research interest in understanding disparities in reproductive health outcomes, particularly for low-income women in global health contexts. As a former undergraduate peer advisor for the public health major and an intern at the Women’s Daytime Drop-In Center in downtown Berkeley, she loves making connections with her community and being an advocate for others. In her free time, Ilhaam loves to try out new recipes, go grocery shopping at Berkeley Bowl, and explore new hiking spots.

Navya Pothamsetty

Keywords: Health education, equity, social good

Navya is a 4+1 student concentrating in epidemiology and biostatistics. As a Berkeley undergraduate, she was involved in many health education and equity-related organizations including Peer Health Exchange, the PATH to Care Center, and the Health and Medical Apprenticeship Program. After graduating, she hopes to use epidemiological analysis and statistical methods for social good. In her free time, Navya loves to run, meet with a weekly “album club” (as a substitute for live music), play basketball and tennis, and explore Berkeley with her friends.

Shazia Nooruddin

Keywords: Cardiovascular research, data analytics, substance use

Shazia grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is a 4+1 MPH student excited to strengthen her technical skills in biostatistics and data science so that she can work as a data analyst in the healthcare field. This past summer she graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Public Health. She also completed the Data Analytics Certificate Program from UC Berkeley Extension. Her past research at UCSF includes working at the Cardiovascular Research Institute studying the role of extracellular matrix turnover in regulating tissue function in those with pulmonary fibrosis. Now, her research interests reside out of the wetlab. Her goal is to utilize statistical modeling techniques to improve efficiency in the healthcare industry and to inform health policy, specifically policy related to substance use. Her interest in public health came from living in the fattest city in America while growing up, particularly from the prevalence of obesity in her community. In her free time she enjoys spending quality time with her golden retriever, painting, and photography.

Amia Nash

Keywords: adolescent mental health, intersectionality, homelessness 

Amia Nash is excited to start her second year of Berkeley’s DrPH program. She attended Santa Clara University for her undergraduate education where she was a public health major and triple minor in biology, sociology, and religious studies. Her diverse coursework challenged her to think critically about the intersections between public health and social justice. Amia earned her Master of Science in Community Health and Prevention Research from Stanford University School of Medicine. Her thesis focused on the ethical considerations for community-based research with homeless populations. Her past research was at the Stanford Center for Youth Mental Health and Well-being where she conducted qualitative research focused on the mental health needs and concerns of Asian-American adolescents and parents in Palo Alto. In 2019, Amia was nominated by the Santa Clara County Behavioral Health Department for a Community Hero Award for her policy and advocacy work focused on adolescent mental health. Amia is currently a graduate student researcher with Berkeley’s YPAR lab focusing on youth-led participatory action research in school settings and bringing youth voice to the development and implementation of health programming and policy.

Andrea Jacobo

She/Her; They/Them
Keywords: community-based participatory research, anti-racism pedagogy, racial health equity & justice, intersectionality 

Andrea Jacobo is a second-year DrPH student at UC Berkeley. She received her Masters of Public Health from The University of Memphis and Bachelors of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Miami. Prior to her attending UC Berkeley, Andrea implemented various evidence-based nutrition and physical activity programs in community settings and serving youth to older adults. Along with program implementation, Andrea co-facilitated a community of practice focused on addressing the root causes of health disparities in Memphis through policy, systems, and environment. Andrea’s areas of interest are addressing health inequities through community-centered, people-centered approaches including human-centered design thinking as a tool for community organization and capacity building. She has a passion for community health, culture & arts, and food. In her spare time, Andrea loves to work out and teach group fitness classes to help promote wellness and write poetry to catalyze social change!

Daryl Mangosing

Any pronouns 
Keywords: health disparities, HIV/AIDS, LGBTQ, community engagement, CBPR, health communication, social determinants of health, intersectionality

Daryl Mangosing is a second-year DrPH student. He joins the UC Berkeley School of Public Health after working over three years at the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies and Prevention Research Center at UC San Francisco, where he drove communication efforts and disseminated HIV prevention and public health research. Born and raised on the island of Guam, he graduated with a health sciences degree from Berea College in Kentucky in 2013. Prior to relocating to the Bay Area, he attended Tufts University and graduated in 2015 with an MPH in Health Communication. At Tufts, he served as a Research Coordinator for the former Center for Global Public Health, Teaching Assistant in mobile health design, and Consultant at the Harvard School of Public Health. Daryl’s research interests lies within the intersection of LGBTQ health disparities, identity and intersectionality, community engagement, and public health discourse.

Nancy Gutierrez

GRADS Coordinator

Keywords: physician, advocacy, BIPOC

Nancy is a 2nd year MPH Student in Environmental Health Sciences, with concentrations in Industrial Hygiene and Human Factors and Ergonomics. She received her BA in Public Health from UC Berkeley in 2019. Nancy identifies as Mexican-American and is from Richmond, California. Her interests include social and environmental determinants of health, workplace justice, and immigrant health, especially for our undocumented community members. As an aspiring physician, Nancy hopes to use her training as a future MD/MPH to advocate for healthy, dignified, living and workplace conditions among people who are overlooked for being Black and people of color, immigrants, non-English speakers, or discriminated against in other aspects of their lives. Nancy welcomes all people, prospective and current students, to reach out to our amazing community at the DREAM Office!

Aileen Brambila-Soltero

Keywords: first generation, HIV/AIDS, underserved communities

Aileen is a first year student in the Epidemiology/Biostatistics MPH program. She is from Ceres, California and a recent graduate from UC Berkeley with a B.S. in Public Health. She is a first generation college student who is interested in working alongside underserved communities. Aileen worked as a research associate at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, where she worked with a high risk population for HIV/AIDS. She enjoys going on runs, trying new restaurants, and watching The Office. 

Cezanne Bianco

Writing Tutor

Keywords: foreign language, Zika, infectious disease

Cezanne is a 3rd year MPH candidate in Epidemiology and Biostatistics. She will be spending her 3rd year as a Foreign Language Area Studies fellow, studying Portuguese and preparing to apply to Medical Science Training Programs (MSTP). Prior to coming to Berkeley, Cezanne worked for a local health department, working on infectious disease outbreak control and Zika emergency preparedness planning. Cezanne’s main research interests include infectious disease epidemiology and language study. She speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese. Cezanne hopes to merge her interests in medicine, epidemiology and global health as an MD-PhD one day. 

Kiley Doherty

Keywords: biochemistry, pathogenesis

Kiley is a first year student in the 2-year Epidemiology/Biostatistics MPH program. She just moved to the Berkeley from Litchfield Park, Arizona and is looking forward to exploring the bay. In her free time she loves to windsurf, hike, and go to concerts. This past May, Kiley graduated from the University of Arizona with a B.S. in Biology with an emphasis in Biomedical Sciences and a minor in Biochemistry. While at U of A she was part of a research lab studying the long-term effects of campylobacter infection, and the pathogenesis of different foodborne pathogens in different environmental conditions. This past summer she conducted phone interviews for COVID-19 on behalf of the Arizona Department of Health Services. 

Nana Mizuide

Keywords: disease prevention, HIV, postpartum women 

Nana is a second-year student in the Epidemiology/Biostatistics MPH program. She is from Japan and has lived in the Bay Area for many years. In 2019, she graduated from Santa Clara University with double majors in Biology and Public Health. At SCU, she developed an interest in the social determinants of health and found her passion for using data to inform disease prevention efforts. Nana’s interests are in chronic and infectious disease epidemiology and prevention, and her current research focuses on retention in HIV care among postpartum women. In her free time, she enjoys getting boba, watching shows, and playing the ukulele.

Rebecca Falender

Keywords: veterinarian, infectious disease

Becca is in the 11 month epidemiology MPH. She is originally from Massachusetts and graduated from Colby College with a BA in Biochemistry. She then obtained her doctorate in veterinary medicine from Tufts Cummings. After spending a year in Minnesota, she has since been living in Portland, OR working as an emergency and critical care veterinarian in a downtown emergency veterinary hospital. She has decided to pivot her career into public health and has interests in infectious disease and spillover events along with the lack of justice and high levels of moral distress in the veterinary profession. In her free time she hikes in the Pacific Northwest, watercolors, and enjoys downtime with her partner, geriatric hound dog, and two very weird cats. 

Richard Pulvera

Keywords: underrepresented students, food and nutrition, health disparities 

Richard Pulvera is a first-year MPH student in Epidemiology & Biostatistics from Oceanside, CA. He graduated from UC Berkeley in 2019 with bachelor’s degrees in Public Health and Molecular & Cell Biology. While at UC Berkeley, he was deeply involved in student-initiated recruitment and retention programs, working to improve higher education access for underrepresented students of color. After graduation, Richard worked as a researcher at UC Berkeley School of Public Health on school-based approaches and impact evaluation to reduce childhood obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Richard is determined to use his training to reduce the prevalence of chronic diseases, improve food and nutrition access, and enhance the health-promoting qualities of physical environments. His goals are further narrowed by his passionate commitment to tackling health disparities. He strives to dismantle systems of inequity to advance the health and representation of communities of color.

Tiffany Nguyen

Keywords: HIV, transgender research, STIs

Tiffany Nguyen is a first year MPH student in Epidemiology & Biostatistics. She graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry from UC Davis in 2014. Since 2019, Tiffany has worked at San Francisco Community Health Center, supporting the clinic and its programs as a Data Analyst & Patient Panel Manager. During this role, she also provided HIV testing during weekly drop-in hours and at special events. In addition, she volunteers as a research assistant for the Transgender Research Project, investigating HIV transmission and care in the transgender population. She hopes to become a social and infectious disease epidemiologist, specializing in the transmission of STIs for women of color. Her hobbies include cooking/eating, creating video content, finding new restaurants, exercising, exploring, and lounging on the beach

Tiffany O’dwyer

Keywords: consultant, medical, chronic disease

Tiffany is a Southern California native, but was a Bay Area transplant for 7 years. She received a double major in Public Health and Society & Environment from UC Berkeley. Since then, she has worked as a healthcare consultant at a firm in San Francisco for some of the country’s largest hospital systems and RCM departments. Most recently she was a Program Manager in QI at a health plan in Los Angeles managing and designing incentive programs for LA County’s Medi-Cal providers and populations. During her masters she intends to study the incidence of chronic disease in minority populations-likely as they relate to consumer product access, exposure, and availability as a social determinant of health. She hopes to apply knowledge from this program to an epidemiologist position at a county department, health plan or other health organization that would allow her to combat minority health in a way that aligns with her aforementioned interests.

Athena Nguyen

Keywords: ergonomics, Fulbright, Vietnam

Athena Nguyen is a second-year MPH student in Global Health & Environment and Human Factors & Ergonomics. Originally from Sacramento, CA, she graduated from Santa Clara University with a Public Health Science and Political Science double major and Biology minor. After graduating in 2018, she served as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in Vietnam.  As an ETA, she leveraged her Vietnamese-American identity and passion for social justice to enable and impact her students, colleagues, and cohort fellows. Athena is interested in the social determinants of health, underrepresented communities, and ergonomics in developing countries. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends, listening to music, and hiking. 

Jacob Huy Ngo

Keywords: first generation, community organizing, ocean conservation

Jacob is a first year MPH student in the Global Health and Environment program. He graduated from UC Berkeley as an undergraduate in Spring of 2020, holding a B.S. in Molecular Environmental Biology and a B.A. in Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies. He is from Salinas, CA and comes from a proud family of Vietnamese refugees. As a Vietnamese, first generation college student, he is passionate about Southeast Asian issues on a health and political/system level and hopes to be able to give back to the Southeast Asian community in the future. He is also passionate about community organizing, immigrant/refugee health, ocean conservation, and education. Some of his hobbies include occasional baking, dance, animals, and nature walks. He hopes to continue to inspire and be inspired by others and work together with others to create change in the world.

Johanna Roth

Keywords: environmental justice, sustainability, food systems

Johanna is a first year MPH/MCP dual degree student. She immigrated to the United States from Germany at age 12 and lived in Seattle before moving to Berkeley for her undergraduate degree in Conservation  and Resource Studies. After completing her degree, she worked for the Center for Creative Land Recycling, an environmental nonprofit focused on sustainable land use and brownfield remediation, for 2.5 years. Johanna’s research interests include environmental health, environmental justice, sustainable cities, food systems, climate change resiliency, and spatial analysis. In her free time she loves to hike, climb, and listen to live music.

Camille Cooley

Keywords: care management, disability policy, accountable care

Camille Cooley is a first-year MPH student in Health Policy and Management. Originally from Los Angeles, she earned her bachelor’s degree at Northwestern University, where she studied Human Development and Psychological Services, with a minor in Global Health studies. Prior to graduate school, she spent time at Northshore University Health Systems’ Research Institute where she focused on research aimed at optimizing disease diagnosis and care management. She later transitioned into a role at NORC at the University of Chicago where she spent two years working as a research analyst in their healthcare department, supporting federal and state evaluations for federal agencies. Her interests include disability policy, improving access to care for low-income populations and immigrant communities, accountable care organizations, alternative payment models, and Medicaid policy. In her free time she likes to go on long walks with her partner and dog, read sci-fi and romance novels, spend time with family, and go on brewery tours.

Emily Graf

Keywords: anthropology, health access, digital health 

Emily is a 2nd-year MPH student in Health Policy and Management. She has a BA in anthropology and psychology from Cornell University. After exploring different research areas in sociocultural anthropology and social psychology, Emily moved to Boston where she worked for a non-profit research institute to implement and evaluate innovative health models funded by the federal government. She’s interested in improving access to and quality of care for underserved populations, and specifically the role of digital health in reaching underserved populations, along with value-based care, Medicaid policy, and pharmaceutical policies and pricing. Over the summer, she interned at Genentech working on a digital transformation team. Emily is originally from New Jersey and enjoys learning new instruments and trying new recipes in her free time. 

Nancy Gutierrez

Keywords: health access, senior health

Nancy is a San Fernando Valley (LA County) native. She is a first year generation Mexican American who graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a degree in Public Health Policy. Nancy’s last employment was with Regal Medical Group where she worked as a Member Liaison. Her primary role was to visit the homes of senior members who were recently hospitalized and ensured that they were connected to the resources and services they needed to recuperate at home. While at Regal, Nancy realized that seniors generally lack the resources they need to age with dignity. She is pursuing a MPH in Policy and Management with hopes to lead future programs that focus on enhancing the overall health of our senior citizens. In her free time, Nancy enjoys going to the beach, dancing, traveling, hiking, and spending time with family and friends.

Tanie Chantara

Keywords: disability studies, culture and health

Tanie Chantara is a second year MPH student in Health Policy & Management. Before grad school, Tanie worked on quality improvement projects at a primary care clinic within the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Specifically, she coordinated projects among care teams and patient advisors to improve clinic performance on quality measures and patient experience. Tanie received a B.A. in Human Biology & Society with a minor in Disability Studies from UCLA, and studied abroad in Italy and Japan. In each country, she learned the language and studied the history and culture of food in relation to health. Tanie is a plant enthusiast and native to San Francisco.

Dylan Thai Bach

Keywords: first generation, immigration, refugee, research

Dylan Bach is a first-year MPP/MPH student in the Health Policy & Management program. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2018 with a B.A. in Public Health. As a first-generation Vietnamese-American, many of his interests lie in the advancement of immigrant and refugee communities of color in regards to improved health outcomes/access, equitable policies, and racial justice. During his undergraduate experience, he was heavily involved in educational recruitment and retention of marginalized students, AAPI health research/advocacy, and was a Public Policy & international Affairs (PPIA) Fellow. After graduation, he returned home to Orange County, CA and worked with non-profit and county organizations dedicated to increasing civic engagement among Latinx and Vietnamese communities during the 2018 Midterms and 2020 Primary Elections. In addition, he was an intern for the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles doing quality improvement data analysis for 42 member clinics in the county.

Justin Yoo

Keywords: value-based care, medicaid, medicare

Justin Yoo is a third-year MPH/MPP student in Health Policy and Management. His interests include value-based care, the health of aging populations, and implementation of public programs such as Medicaid and Medicare Advantage. He has focused his time in school on building and applying skills in health policy research and implementation and completed internships at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation and the California Health and Human Services Agency. Prior to graduate school he worked at a local health department to coordinate a new immigrant program and manage organizational research efforts. He was born and raised in Los Angeles and received a Bachelor’s degree in biology from UC Berkeley. In his freetime he likes to ride his bike, paint with watercolors, and do yoga.

Brittany Quy

Keywords: food systems, sexual violence prevention, mental health

Brittany is a second-year MPH student in the Health & Social Behavior concentration. Originally from Orange County, she graduated from UC Irvine with degrees in Public Health Policy and Psychology & Social Behavior. Prior to coming to Berkeley, she entered the CDC Public Health Associate Program where she worked on infectious disease prevention, surveillance, and outbreak response with the Navajo Epidemiology Center. She completed a summer internship with the UC Berkeley PATH to Care Center where she worked on a sexual violence prevention program. Her public health interests revolve around policy, systems, and environment change. She is interested in health equity, food systems, mental health, and integrating trauma-informed and resiliency oriented practices into institutions of care. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the outdoors, trying new recipes, finding second hand deals, and spending quality time with friends and family.

Elana Muldavin

Keywords: food justice, childhood adversity, health educator

Elana is a first year MPH student in the Health & Social Behavior program. She was born and raised in Sacramento and lived in Los Angeles for nearly a decade before relocating to Berkeley for school. Elana went to Occidental College for undergrad, where she volunteered as a health educator for youth and became involved with food justice. After graduation, Elana spent 4 years working in the Research & Evaluation Center of Los Angeles-based multi-service organization specializing in childhood adversity, where her work centered around early childhood education and community innovations. Elana is interested in developing upstream programs and policies that address health inequity at the structural level, and she came to Berkeley excited to learn more. In her free time, Elana loves petting her roommate’s cat, drawing, painting, and spending as much time outside as possible.

Oliver Stabbe

Keywords: homelessness/carceral pipelines, TGNC mental health, disability rights

Oliver is coming to UC Berkeley from Brooklyn, NY where they were previously working in direct legal services for low income domestic violence survivors and LGBTQ+ New Yorkers. More recently, Oliver was working at Lambda Legal, working to address anti-LGBTQ+ bias in US courts and to advance and protect the rights of LGBTQ youth involved in homeless, foster, and juvenile justice systems through impact litigation and policy advancement. In their free time, Oliver works as an independent researcher/author with Gallaudet University’s Deaf Health Communication and Quality of Life Research Lab and with Trans Lifeline’s communication team. They are particularly passionate about homelessness/carceral pipelines, TGNC mental health, and disability rights.

Sumaiya Khan

Keywords: minority groups, politics, nonprofits

Sumaiya is a second year, Pakistani-Muslim, MPH candidate in the Health and Social Behavior department. After getting a BA in Politics from a liberal arts university, Sumaiya moved to San Francisco and held positions in administration and operations at a non-profit organization as well as a healthcare startup. It was through these roles that she became passionate about looking at social determinants of health to better understand healthcare disparities in minority groups and addressing structural competency as it relates to the patient-provider relationship. In her free time, Sumaiya enjoys singing, hiking, and spending time with family and friends.

Whitney Francis

Keywords: food security, racial and environmental justice

Whitney Francis (she/her) is a first-year MPH student in the Health and Social Behavior program. Originally from San Diego, she graduated from Stanford University in 2019, where she earned a B.S. in Earth Systems with a minor in Asian American Studies. After graduation, she served as a National Health Corps member  in a clinic-based food security/nutrition behavior change program at the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Her current interests include food security, racial and environmental justice, initiatives to create more sustainable and equitable systems, policy and advocacy, and city planning. In her free time, Whitney enjoys gardening, improvising in the kitchen, making playlists, eating her way around the Bay.

Jessie Melina García Gutiérrez

she/her/hers and they/them/theirs
Keywords: mental health in transgender poc, Latinx holistic health

Jessie is a proud transgender Chicanx woman from Salinas, CA and is a second year student in the MPH/MSW concurrent degree program. She is in the Health and Social Behavior program and Advancing Well-being across the Adult Lifespan program in the MPH and MSW programs, respectively. She graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2018, where she earned a B.S. in Anthropology with minors in French, Food Studies, and Global Health. She then worked as the Trans* Empower Workforce Development Program Manager at a Transgender Health Program at St. John’s Well Child and Family Center in South Central Los Angeles. In that role she assisted transgender patients with job readiness skills, job placement, legal gender and name change paperwork, and trained employers in Los Angeles on transgender competency to best support transgender workers. Additionally, she completed her public health internship doing a UCSF Youth and Participatory Action Research project with youth of color from Richmond, California. Her research interests include how institutions, systems, and organizations affect the mental health of transgender people of color. She is also interested in Latinx holistic health. In her free time, she enjoys watching professional wrestling, running, dancing, cooking, and hanging out with her dog!

Shalini Chatterjee

Keywords: youth, homeless populations, mental health

Shalini is a 2nd-year concurrent MPH/MSW student. Prior to returning to graduate school, she completed a year of service with AmeriCorps and then worked as a mental health case manager in supportive housing, where she provided services to formerly homeless adults with mental health diagnoses. As a dual degree student, she is interested in exploring the intersections of community mental health, homelessness, and criminal justice reform through harm reduction and restorative approaches. She is particularly interested in community driven and client-centered mental health and substance use treatment.

During her first year in graduate school, Shalini worked on a youth participatory action research project with youth experiencing homelessness and a qualitative evaluation of the Whole Person Care pilot program in Contra Costa County. This year, she will be working as a graduate student researcher with the Human Rights Center to evaluate an innovative foster care pilot program for youth who are survivors/at risk of commercial sexual exploitation. She will also be serving as a social work intern at the People’s Park Project, where she will be doing street outreach and case management with people who live in the park.

In her spare time, Shalini enjoys baking, reading, watching too much Netflix, and spending time with animals.

Aurora Chavez

Keywords: adolescent sexual and reproductive health, racial justice, community healing 

Aurora Chavez (she/her/ella) is first-generation Mexican-American, born and raised in Los Angeles. She has over five years of experience working with young people of color on sexual and reproductive health programs. Her roles have included managing adolescent sexual and reproductive health programs in South LA for Essential Access Health, working as a Health Educator at Northeast Valley Health Corporation’s School-Based Division and teaching sex education across LA County for Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. In addition, she has served as co-chair for the Southern California Sexual Health Summit and LA Chapter Leader for California Latinas for Reproductive Justice. Her interests include reproductive justice, youth participatory action research, racial justice and community healing.  In her free time, she enjoys bouldering, brewing kombucha, farmers markets, bike rides along Lake Merritt and breweries.

Honora Montano

Keywords: climate change, urban green space development

Honora is a third year MCP/MPH student focused on climate change resilience, urban green space and healthy neighborhood development. While in grad school, she has conducted research with the Berkeley Food Institute and Urban Displacement Project, as well as worked with the San Francisco Planning Department on equitable sea level rise planning, and the City of Berkeley Office of Economic Development on local businesses COVID-19 support strategies. She is also excited to be in her fourth semester as a Graduate Student Instructor on campus! Before coming to UC Berkeley, she worked for a nonprofit journalism organization where she oversaw the organization’s environmental coverage and programs. Honora also has held several roles as an educator and curriculum developer for science and arts education programs in the Bay Area and on the East Coast. She holds a BA in Environmental and Urban Studies from Bard College and calls both the Bay Area and Massachusetts home. Honora loves exploring California’s outdoor majesty, cooking and baking for and with friends, and reading way too much news.

Clarissa Aquino

Keywords: case management, disease epidemiology

Clarissa is a first year student in the 2 year infectious diseases and vaccinology MPH program from Vacaville, CA. She earned a BS in Public Health with an emphasis in Epidemiology and a minor in International Development from Brigham Young University in Provo, UT. After completing her degree, she volunteered in the Philippines for 2 year with underserved, rural communities in the Bicol region. Upon returning to the US, she joined Americorps and worked as a case manager for community clinics in Salt Lake City. Her most recent work experience was as an infectious disease epidemiologist for the Salt Lake County Health Department where she performed surveillance and outbreak investigations on their non-enteric disease team including work on the current COVID-19 response. When she is not in class, Clarissa enjoys being outdoors, hiking, and spending time with her dog, Noodle.

Joseph Lau

Keywords: molecular epidemiology, infectious disease prevention, molecular diagnostics

Joseph is a second-year MPH student in the Infectious Disease and Vaccinology concentration. He is from San Francisco, CA and graduated from San Francisco State University with a B.S. in Microbiology. After graduating, he went on to work at a non-profit blood research center, Vitalant Research Institute, in the Viral Reference Lab and Repository Core, which maintains a large bio-repository of samples for translational and clinical studies. His current public health research interest is in molecular epidemiology for infectious disease prevention and evaluation/validation of molecular diagnostics. In his free time, he enjoys going out for boba, eating and hanging out with friends, playing badminton, and watching shows on Hulu and Netflix.

Piyusha Kharat, BDS, MDS

Keywords: data, global health economics, women empowerment

Piyusha Kharat is in the 11-month Interdisciplinary MPH program and currently works as a Research Assistant with the Endodontics Department at UCSF-School of Dentistry. She earned her Bachelors of Dental Surgery (BDS) and Masters of Dental Surgery (MDS) – Endodontics Residency from India. She was born and raised in Pune-India and moved to the US in 2017 currently lives in the Bay Area. As a clinician, community and health are very important to her and her passion drove her to pursuing Masters of Public Health at UC Berkeley –  School of Public Health. Having worked in communities (India and with American Red Cross, San Jose) she has first hand experience of seeing the social and behavioral challenges they face and looks forward to advocating policies, healthcare reforms to attend to the needs of Elderly, Women Health and Oral Health globally. On graduating from her MPH program, she plans to pursue Dental Public Health Residency to be able to use her experience and knowledge to better serve communities in developing countries and across the globe. She firmly believes that everyone deserves a voice that needs to be heard and good oral health to bring back healthy smiles!

She is fascinated by the ‘World of Data’ and hopes to understand the math behind it. Her interests are Global Health Economics-Policies, Advocacy,  and Women Empowerment. She loves to travel and explore new cities. She enjoys learning different cultures, celebrations, and loves to make meaningful conversations. She also enjoys cooking and reading about the origin of food cuisines around the globe is her favorite search!

Stefano Leitner, MD

Keywords: clinical informatics, data science, healthcare economics, community medicine

Stefano Leitner, MD is in the 11-month Interdisciplinary MPH program and concurrently a resident physician at the UCSF Occupational & Environmental Medicine Residency Program. Stefano is from Miami, FL, is a first-generation college student, and obtained both his BS and MD from the Florida State University. During medical school, Stefano started a student-run free clinic for the underserved communities of Tallahassee, FL. He continued to explore population health as a medical student researcher in the Epidemiology Elective Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the General Preventive Medicine Residency Program at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. During this time, he solidified his pursuit of a population approach to medical care. After medical school, he completed a year of internal medicine training at the George Washington University Hospital and then matriculated to UCSF. He is interested in clinical informatics, public health informatics and data science, healthcare economics, health policy, and community medicine. His hobbies are playing tennis, going hiking, catching sunsets, calisthenic exercises, listening to house music, eating tacos, cooking tacos, and talking about tacos.

Abena Asare

Keywords: historical injustice, maternal and child health population

Abena is a first year MPH student in the 2-year Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health program from a small town in Southern New Jersey, right outside of Philadelphia. She graduated from Wellesley College in 2018, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Health & Society. Shortly following graduation, Abena moved to Oakland, California to work as a Program Assistant at Prevention Institute where she helped coordinate prevention initiatives focused on collaborative and community-based approaches to addressing intimate partner violence & mental health and wellbeing across the country. She is passionate about addressing the historical injustices and determinants of health that impact the maternal and child health population, particularly how racism affects Black mothers and babies in the United States. In her spare time Abena enjoys going for walks and runs outdoors, organizing gatherings with friends, and spending time with family.

Erin Hubbard

Keywords: health disparities, racially concordant doula care

Erin Hubbard is a second year Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health MPH student. She is originally from Los Angeles, and graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Public Health in 2019. It was here that she discovered her passion for health equity and reproductive justice. Erin’s interests include solutions to health disparities that disproportionately affect the Black birthing population and their families, like racially concordant doula care. Over the summer she worked as a policy intern at First 5 Alameda County on projects related to COVID relief legislation and issues impacting families with young children. In her free time Erin enjoys making playlists, trying new restaurants around the Bay Area, and golfing.

Kimsa Nguyen

Keywords: OB-GYN, healing, equity, justice

Kimsa Nguyen is a first year Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health MPH Student. She was born and raised in San Jose, CA and graduated from UC Davis with a B.S. in Cell Biology in 2017. During her time at UC Davis, she developed her interest for health education and reproductive health. Before coming to Berkeley, she worked as a medical and research assistant in addition to serving as the Director of Community Outreach at Worldwide EndoMarch, a non-profit organization that aims to raise awareness for endometriosis. As an aspiring OB/GYN, she’s determined to center healing, equity, and justice in her future practice. In her free time, she likes to bake bread, play video games, and find new music.

Xenia Mendez

Keywords: health coverage, undocumented/underdocumented folks, prenatal/postnatal care

Xenia is a first generation Salvadoran-American born and raised in San Francisco. She attended UC Santa Barbara as an undergraduate and studied biopsychology. Upon graduation, she worked with children as a behavioral interventionist and as a teacher’s assistant. At the same time she volunteered with the Women’s Community Clinic (WCC) as a clinical health worker. That eventually led to a full-time job with them as an Outreach & Enrollment Coordinator. She worked with the Women’s Community Clinic and Lyon Martin Health Services assisting patients with health coverage eligibility and enrollment. she helped patients get coverage for services such as primary care, mental health, sexual and reproductive health, and transgender health services. The challenges she has seen patients face, as well as the challenges her family has faced within health care systems is what motivates her to work in public health. Her MPH concentration is in Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health. Areas she would like to work on is increasing access to health coverage particularly for undocumented/under-documented folks who are often are left uninsured, and bridging gaps in digital health in prenatal/postnatal care. In her free time, Xenia enjoys running, dancing, and travelling.

Amanda Weaver

Keywords: environmental exposures, coccidioidomycosis, industrial contamination

Amanda Weaver is a first-year PhD student in EHS working with Dr. Justin Remais. She is originally from Philadelphia and San Antonio. She graduated from Rice University in 2018 with a degree in Ecology & Evolution and Poverty, Justice, and Human Capabilities. While at Rice, she focused her thesis research on the cascading effects of predation on gall wasps and asp caterpillars. Wanting to expand her perspective on the role of the natural environment in human health, she completed her MPH in Epidemiology at Columbia while studying the effects of weather on tick behavior. Now at Berkeley, Amanda’s research interests include focused on the effect of environmental exposures on COVID-19 susceptibility and spread; the role of rodent hosts in the transmission dynamics of coccidioidomycosis in California; and the influence of industrial contamination on the environmental biology of disease vectors. In her free time, she enjoys long distance running, cooking (especially soup), and learning to skateboard.

Laura Cristal Magaña Mendoza

Keywords: BIPOC communities, cell toxicity

Laura Cristal Magaña Mendoza and was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). Growing up in the PNW her family would enjoy the outdoor life by going to the coast, camping, hiking, and all types of berry picking (i.e. blueberries, blackberries, and marionberries). Once a year they would take a 4-day road trip to Michoacán, México to visit extended family. After graduating from Oregon State University, Ms. Magaña Mendoza decided to leave Oregon and pursue her MPH from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. She enjoyed her time on the East Coast so much that she accepted an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education Fellowship in the Division of Viral Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, GA. Missing her family, Ms. Magaña Mendoza decided to come back to The West Coast (Best Coast). Now, as a PhD student under guidance of Dr. Luoping Zhang, Ms. Magaña Mendoza studies formaldehyde induced hematopoietic stem/progenitor cell toxicity. She hopes to impact future regulatory policies that affect occupational and non-occupational health, especially in BIPOC communities. In her limited spare time she enjoys spending time on her parents’ farm in Oregon and her quarantine self care routine is playing with the farm animals (i.e. cows, goats, chickens, dogs, and cats), catching glimpses of bald eagles soaring above the land, or stargazing on a moonless night to see a starry night.

Chris Lowenstein


Chris Lowenstein is a PhD candidate in the Health Policy program with a concentration in health economics. He is also a graduate of the MPH program in Epidemiology & Biostatistics at Berkeley and works as a Graduate Student Researcher in the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. His primary research examines the impacts of labor market conditions on mental and behavioral health among low-wage workers, and the effect of income support policies on the health of children and low-income working families. Prior to coming to Berkeley, Chris worked in a social and economic policy research organization in Washington, DC. Chris is a graduate of Colorado College, where he received his BA in Mathematical Economics and Spanish.

Cuong (Joseph) Tran

Keywords: underserved communities, T. gondii, host-pathogen interactions, RickA

Cuong Joseph Tran is a 3rd year PhD student studying infectious diseases and immunity (IDI). Born in Vietnam and raised in an underserved community in Orange County, he has experienced the hardships associated with living in a low-resource community and the long-lasting effects it has during college and even in graduate school. As such, it has become his goal to empower, uplift, and provide opportunities to students from underserved communities by participating in mentoring programs and leading IDI’s diversity, equality, and inclusivity efforts. Joseph began his research career back at UC Irvine, studying the host-pathogen interactions of T. gondii in the brain. Continuing to further his interests in host-pathogen interactions, Joseph is now studying the role of an effector protein, RickA, in Rickettsia parkeri pathogenesis. During his free time, Joseph enjoys going on hikes, playing with his cat, and making dinner for his friends.

Dalila Alvarado

GRADS Coordinator

Keywords: minority students, health disparities, latinx, low-income, immigrant, and farmworker populations

Dalila is a second year in the MPH program with a concentration in Nutrition. Born in Mexico and growing up in Salinas, CA, Dalila’s background and life experiences shaped her public health interests. She obtained her BA in Spanish, Community, and Culture at UCLA. While at UCLA, she worked in a student initiated, student run social justice health program designed to promote health and wellness among minority students. She is passionate about reducing the chronic health disparities among vulnerable populations, particularly those in latinx, low-income, immigrant, and farmworker populations. Dalila’s current research includes understanding Californian low-income families with children and their access to safety net programs as well as COVID-impact.  She aspires to serve as an advocate for her community and fight the systemic barriers that negatively impact communities of color. In her free time, Dalila enjoys spending quality time with family and friends, strength training, dancing Latinx music (Cumbia in particular), and reading.


Elise Sung

Keywords: Student parents, returning students, POC 

Elise Sung was born in South Korea and moved to the Bay area 10 years ago. She is doing a MPH, nutrition program. As a student parent and people of color, she would like to help other student parents or returning students succeed at Cal. In her free time, she loves to hang out with family and friends.