Meet the Diversity and Inclusion Team

The DREAM Office has a close knit team of staff and students who work together to support all students from underrepresented backgrounds during their time at SPH.

Darlene Francis PhD

Faculty Director

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Darlene, an associate professor of public health and neuroscience, has a PhD in neurobiology from McGill University. There she studied stress and development in animal models. During a two-year graduate school ‘hiatus,’ she served as a social worker for Quebec social services. At UC Berkeley, her primary appointment is in Berkeley Public Health with a joint appointment in the Neuroscience Institute. Her PhD students come from a variety of programs on campus, including epidemiology, psychology and integrative biology. Her research program explores how biological, psychological and social processes interact over a lifetime to influence health and vulnerability to disease. In sum, her research explores how experience and social factors are transduced into biology. For more information, go to her faculty profile.

Durrain Ansari-Yan MPH

DREAM Office Director

Contact | Phone: (510) 643-7900

Durrain is a Muslim; an immigrant; a woman of color; and a mom, daughter and partner—she lets these identities guide her in her work. Her passion lies at the intersection of education and public health and she strives to find ways to make higher education more accessible and more welcoming to people who do not see themselves represented in institutions of higher learning. Durrain has an undergraduate degree in psychology from UCLA and a master’s degree in epidemiology and biostatistics from UC Berkeley. While she loves data and talking about research—Durrain finds that her heart is more full when working with students. She is so excited to partner with our students during their time at UC Berkeley!

Michelle Azurin MPH

Diversity Outreach Coordinator

Contact | Phone: (510) 664-7240

Michelle holds a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from UCLA and a master’s in public health nutrition from UC Berkeley. Post-college, her internships with the Orange County Food Access Coalition and  the Riverside County Public Health Department HEAL Zone Initiative helped her realize her passion for improving food security and reducing diet-related health disparities. Once at Berkeley, she volunteered with the Berkeley vs. Big Soda campaign to pass the nation’s first soda tax, and spent her summer internship working on projects related to food access, local food and urban agriculture policy, and community engagement for Long Beach Fresh and the Berkeley Food Institute. Michelle also loves to help students navigate the field of public health and graduate school, which she has been able to do in her current role and as a former GRADS Coordinator for the DREAM Office.

Benjamin Chen

Writing Tutor

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Ben is a second-year MPH/MSW dual degree student in the health and social behavior/management and planning concentrations. He is a bay-area native, born and raised in Cupertino. Prior to graduate school, he attended UC Santa Barbara where he graduated with a double major in psychology and sociology. Afterwards, he spent several years in Santa Barbara working with adults with developmental disabilities in a long-term care setting. Currently, he is involved in research with Professor Claire Snell-Rood, critically evaluating responses to the opioid epidemic. He is committed to achieving health equity through the transformation of health systems. In his spare time, he enjoys board games, weight lifting, woodworking and amateur herpetology.

Beverly Shen MS

Epidemiology and Biostatistics Tutor

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Beverly is a doctoral student in the Environmental Health Sciences program. After graduating from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in biology, she worked in the biotech industry, where her interest in exposures to chemicals piqued. She returned to school at UC Berkeley to obtain a master’s degree in environmental health sciences with a concentration in global health and environment. Beverly’s research interests include green chemistry and sustainable manufacturing practices as relates to occupational health and the circular economy. Her dissertation will explore the failure of the U.S. chemical management system in following the precautionary principle, as well as the subsequent contamination of workplaces and health impacts of those in the United States and beyond as a result of that failure. Outside of school, Beverly enjoys backpacking, watching horror movies, and discussing Harry Potter and Bob’s Burgers trivia.

Fiona Diec

Graphic Designer

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Fiona is a second-year undergraduate student who is currently undeclared but hoping to pursue a degree in psychology. She is originally from Rosemead, a small city near Los Angeles. She is passionate about using her skill set to reach out to and work with under-resourced and underrepresented communities.