Student Profiles

2019 Cohort

  • Jaskaran Cheema

    Jaskaran Cheema

    Jaskaran graduated from the University of California, Davis with a Bachelor of Science in Neurobiology, Physiology & Behavior. As an MPH student at the University of California, San Diego, Jaskaran’s interests include infectious disease epidemiology, technology & precision health, public health policy, infectious disease modelling and health economic modelling.
  • Ricardo Flores

    Ricardo Flores

    Ricardo is a 15th generation Hispano of New Mexico, and grew up in Socorro, New Mexico, a small town next to the Rio Grande. He was awarded the Bill & Melinda Gates Millennium Scholarship in 2013 and went on to earn a degree in Linguistics at New York University. He is interested in using quantitative data to tell a story and improve lives. In his free time, he enjoys calisthenics, genealogical research, and learning languages. He speaks Spanish, Korean, and Portuguese, and can get by in Mandarin, French, and Japanese.

  • Rita Hedo

    Rita Hedo

    Rita graduated from the University of California San Diego with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health with a concentration in Medicine Science (Pre-PA track). Rita worked as a Clinical Research Associate at UCSD Department of Psychiatry and the Stein Institute for Clinical Research on Aging where she assisted in conducting study-visit assessments for multiple research projects related to aging, schizophrenia, inflammation, and health education along with monitoring clinical trails. That’s when her passion for public health enlarged and she decided to get her master degree in Public Health Epidemiology. Currently, Rita is working as an Epidemiologist for the County of San Diego, Epidemiology and Immunization Services Branch, in response to COVID-19 outbreak investigations as an outbreak Subject Matter Expert. In her free time, She enjoys traveling, hiking, beach walks, reading books, and exploring new restaurants and small towns. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn to learn more about her journey at UC San Diego.

  • Andrew Kwaning

    Andrew Kwaning

    Andrew Kwaning is a 2nd year student with a concentration in Health Behavior. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. After UCLA, he attained a Master of Social Work in 2019 from the University of Southern California. He is passionate about the alleviation of health care disparities and inequities in disenfranchised communities, especially within communities of color. In the coming years, he plans to become a public health social work researcher, educator, and practitioner. 

  • Michelle Liu

    Michelle Liu

    Michelle Liu was born and raised in Los Angeles County, California. She attended the University of California, Riverside and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and minor in Neuroscience. As an undergraduate, one of her greatest experiences was working at the wellness center as a peer educator for the mental health group, Active Minds; after which she was determined to pursue a graduate degree in public health. Her interests lie in studying different dissemination and implementation techniques as well as understanding the different barriers towards mental health care. While balancing her coursework, Michelle works for the County of San Diego as a COVID-19 Case Investigator as well as the UC San Diego Women’s Center as the Graduate Student Intern.
  • Rita Ryu

    Rita Ryu

    Rita is a second-year MPH student concentrating in Epidemiology. Her public health interests include cancer and aging research. In addition to her studies, she currently serves on the Board of Directors for The Child’s Primary School and the Conquering Cancer committee at the Salk Institute. She has over 15 years experience in general management, business development, brand management, product development, and process engineering for both Fortune 500 and start-up companies. Rita earned an MBA with concentrations in Marketing and Decision Sciences from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and a BE in Chemical Engineering from Vanderbilt University. 

  • Natalie Vawter

    Natalie Vawter

    Natalie is a second-year MPH student concentrating in epidemiology. She previously earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in Society and Genetics from UCLA. During her undergraduate time, Natalie volunteered at UCLA Medical Center in Pediatrics, the Cardiothoracic ICU, and the Emergency Room through the UCLA Clinical Care Extender Internship. She also served as a staff writer for Total Wellness, UCLA Student Wellness Commission’s professionally reviewed health publication. Between her undergraduate and graduate programs, she worked as a Medical Writer in San Francisco. Natalie recently completed an internship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Public Health Law Program. One of her main interests is improving health outcomes for people living with chronic diseases.

  • Takeshi Yamamoto

    Takeshi Yamamoto

    Takeshi Yamamoto is a Japanese physician working at University Hospital in Tokyo. His specialty is diabetes treatment. He always felt that addressing lifestyle change is very challenging for diabetes patients, so he wanted to help patients who have problems with health behavior. Since Japanese medical school does not have a health behavior class, he decided to come to UC San Diego to study. In the future, he hopes to conduct research that will help diabetes patients.

2020 Cohort

  • Haider Aldiwani, MD

    Haider Aldiwani, MD

    Haider Aldiwani was born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq. He finished his medical school at Al-Nahrain University School of Medicine. He completed his internal medicine residency at Wayne State University and his fellowship in Women’s Heart Health at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He is currently working as an academic hospitalist at Scripps Health System in San Diego, California.
  • Amy Atun

    Amy Atun

    Amy graduated from UC Davis with a double major in Animal Science and Spanish and a minor in Comparative Literature. She spent one year studying abroad at the Complutense University of Madrid, during which she furthered her passion for the Spanish language. Her internship with the Health Education and Promotion program at the UC Davis Student Health and Wellness Center is what sparked her interest in the public health field. In her career, she aims to interact with diverse communities, support underserved populations, and fight health disparities. Amy is also a barista and enjoys running in her free time.

  • Mia Casciani

    Mia Casciani

    Mia Casciani graduated from UCSD with a BA in Global Health. After taking a biostatistics and epidemiology course as an undergraduate student, she fell in love with public health. She’s applied public health knowledge throughout her work experience, including working as an Arabic language global programs intern at Millie’s Bookshelf and as a clinical trial data manager at CRC Oncology. In her free time, Mia enjoys surfing, rock climbing, and cooking.

  • Amber Chung

    Amber Chung

    Amber was raised in Orange County, CA and completed her undergraduate degree in General Biology from UCSD. She has experience working with a national nonprofit that works to encourage young people to take charge of their health and improve their physical fitness and wellness. She is passionate about helping others improve their health and wellbeing and hopes to implement lasting changes in the healthcare system to better help those in need. In her spare time she enjoys exercising, trying new foods, and traveling.
  • Jessica Dominguez

    Jessica Dominguez

    Jessica was born in Cuernavaca, Morelos in Mexico, but was raised in Wasco, located in California's Central Valley. While in high school, she realized that she wanted to become a physician to help empower people with health information. She became the first person in her family to go to college. She graduated from UC Berkeley with B.A. in Integrative Biology. As a college student, she was involved in community health outreach, and became fascinated by public health. She then made it her goal to one day earn both a Medical Degree and a Master’s in Public Health. After graduating college, she worked for a couple of years as a health educator focusing on teen pregnancy and STI/HIV awareness and prevention. She then attended the UCSD Post-Baccalaureate Premedical program which helped her prepare to apply to medical school. She is now in the UC San Diego School of Medicine PRIME-Health Equity program, which is a combined Masters and Medical Degree program. Jessica believes that a Masters in Public Health will equip her with the tools needed to promote awareness and help address health disparities.

    In her spare time, Jessica likes to hang out with her nieces and nephew, see her family, and enjoy the outdoors. 

  • Alexandra Duisberg, MD

    Alexandra Duisberg, MD

    Alexandra Duisberg, MD, born in Latin America, and raised between five counties as the daughter of US diplomats seeks to utilize her global view by looking beyond US borders to developing countries to empower local healthcare providers with education and resources and create lasting impact.  

    As a former practicing physician in residency at Stanford University in the department of family medicine focusing on global health, integrative medicine and emerging technologies, she learned the importance of designing high quality health care and delivery systems for saving human lives.  

    Alexandra coordinated immigrant and refugee free clinics while in medical school at the University of Pennsylvania, where she also led several international health initiatives, and conducted infectious disease research abroad.  She also served as Medical Director for StopThirst, working with displaced Syrians seeking refuge. Subsequently she launched Energize the Chain in Ghana, in partnership with the University, to utilize technological innovation to increase vaccination and healthcare coverage in rural Africa.  

    She looks forward to continuing to develop new ideas of improving the health of our world while at UCSD. 

    Prior to her work in medicine, Alexandra was a competitive figure skater training with the Polish and US Olympic teams.  

  • Susan Glockner, MD

    Susan Glockner, MD

    Susan has been a family physician in San Diego for almost 30 years.  She graduated from Princeton with a Biology major focusing on animal behavior while running cross country and playing water polo.  She headed back to California (had been raised in Los Angeles) for medical school at UCSD graduating in 1989.  Public health was on her mind when publishing her thesis on women’s attitudes on the relatively new screening tool - mammography.  After she completed her family practice residency at Santa Monica Hospital, she returned to UCSD as one of the first fellows in sports medicine.

    After that she began private practice in Encinitas and raised two children who now are both in their mid-twenties.  As she became more involved in their science, sports and scouting activities, she moved her career to focus on outpatient medicine for the underserved by working in community clinics from Mission Bay to Oceanside.  Seeing the need for physicians in leadership to enact change, she retired from her regular practice to work per diem only currently with San Diego Sports Medicine while getting her MPH here.  Currently, she is helping on an Exercise is Medicine project, teaching medical students at their free clinic, and recently joined the San Diego Reserve Corps COVID Task Force for educating medical personnel.  She lives in Encinitas with her husband and her dog who is her running buddy.

  • Colin King

    Colin King

    Colin King graduated from UCSD with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Communication. He is involved in local organizations and programs, including the Human Dignity Foundation, the Recovery Ride, and Family Health Centers’ Clean Syringe Exchange Program. His research interests include LGBT+ Health, HIV/AIDS, and substance abuse. In his free time, he enjoys country dancing, cycling, and watching movies.

  • Jessica Ly

    Jessica is a Bay Area native who received her bachelor’s degree in Public Health Policy and Political Science from UC Irvine. As an undergraduate, she was a part of the university’s honors program and a research assistant. With guidance from her amazing professors and mentor, she completed an honors thesis on stomach cancer in Asian Americans due to her research interest in health disparities. She also previously served as an intern at the UCI-Orange County COVID-19 Chatline, allowing her to work on the frontline of a new public health initiative. In her free time, she likes to cook/bake and create digital art.

  • Suzan Mahdai, MD

    Suzan Mahdai, MD

    Suzan was born in Iraq and finished medical school at Baghdad University School of Medicine. During that time, she survived three wars that forced her to leave my home country. Her dreams took her to the United States of America where she currently works as an assistant professor/faculty member at San Ysidro health IM residency program. She previously served in the same position at Wayne State University in Michigan. Currently, she is also a practicing academic hospitalist at Scripps Health in San Diego, California. She serves as member of the Advisory Board for Women Heart Health Alliance (WHA) to raise awareness on women's heart health via social media. Suzan has two amazing children, and in her spare time, likes to travel and listen to audiobooks.
  • Jane Moon

    Jane Moon

    Jane Moon is a San Diego native who received a bachelor’s degree in Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley with an emphasis in Human Biology. After graduating, Jane worked as a 5th-grade teaching assistant and an 8th-grade science teacher. Her interest in public health grew after she volunteered at several hospitals in the San Diego area. In her free time, Jane enjoys learning to sew and spending time at the beach.

  • Kristen Moore

    Kristen Moore

    Kristen was born & raised in Dallas, TX. She graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in Nutritional Sciences & minors in both Psychology and Communications. After graduating, Kristen spent two years as a Nutritionist for the Texas WIC Program and then three years at Dexcom in San Diego. Her work experience confirmed her passion for public health, particularly public health policy, nutrition, health education, and disease prevention. In her free time, she is most likely running, playing with her black lab puppy, or finding other ways to be active outdoors.

  • Jacqueline Poblete

    Jacqueline Poblete

    Jacqueline was born in Acapulco, Mexico. She was raised in Los Angeles, California. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health from California State University, Northridge. Jacqueline has been working as a CNA for the past two years at a Japanese skilled nursing facility. Working directly with patients gave her the chance to impact the lives of others every day. Her interest in infection control and disease prevention is what led her to pursue her MPH in Epidemiology. When she’s not studying, Jacqueline enjoys playing soccer and attending music festivals. Here’s to growth, new challenges and exciting opportunities. 

  • Lauren Redfern

    Lauren Redfern

    Lauren grew up in Santa Cruz, CA and attended Davidson College in North Carolina. She received her bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in mathematics. Lauren became interested in public health through her experiences working in clinical research laboratories and is passionate about women’s health and reproductive rights. Lauren also enjoys trail running and practicing yoga in her free time. 

  • Emily Reiter

    Emily Reiter

    Emmi grew up in Syracuse, New York. She graduated from the State University of New York at Geneseo with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Human Development. As an undergraduate, she worked on various research projects related to water quality, the U.S. foster care system, and inclusion classrooms. After graduating, Emmi moved to San Diego to work as a Behavioral Therapist. She is interested in epidemiology and data analysis, particularly maternal, infant, and child health. In her free time, Emmi enjoys hiking, going to the beach, and eating good food with friends.

  • Selina Sandoval, MD

    Selina Sandoval, MD

    Selina Sandoval was born in Sacramento CA. She attended the University of Arizona for her undergraduate degree where she received a Bachelors of Science in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Humanities. She then travelled to the Midwest and attended the University of Illinois for medical school. After graduation she completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Kansas before matching into the Fellowship in Family Planning at the University of California, San Diego. Selina has a special interest in reproductive justice and is dedicated to protecting her patient's rights and access to comprehensive reproductive health care.  

  • Dana Song

    Dana Song

    Dana Song graduated from UC San Diego with a bachelors in Public Health. Born and raised in Southern California's high desert, Dana grew up mostly outdoors where she spent most her time tending to her chickens, climbing trees, or running on the trails.

    Prior to entering the UCSD MPH program, Dana worked in various studies, relating to physical activity and active transportation. She also dedicates her time to illustrating fun and engaging illustrations and infographics covering various cool marine biology topics. While balancing school, life, and a global pandemic, Dana enjoys decompressing on a road and/or mountain bike ride whenever possible. 

  • Me Young Song

    Me Young Song

    Me Young grew up in Orange County, California and received her BS degree in Public Health at UC San Diego. Currently working at UC San Diego Health Services Research Center, she works with many projects on a county and state-wide level. She was inspired by her colleagues at her workplace to further her education and looks forward to working with more health-related data for public health programs. In her spare time, she enjoys trying new restaurants and cafes, binge-watching Netflix shows, and is trying to learn the guitar.

  • Sharon Tang

    Sharon Tang

    Sharon is a San Diego native who stops at nothing. She believes that everyone deserves the best level of care, including people that have been overlooked. Her research presented at the Chapman University Honors Program Conference discussed the generational inheritance of trauma through epigenetics, and solidified her dedication to young voices unheard. Credited to spectacular professors and mentors, Sharon completed a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences and minors in Sociology and the University Honors Program.  She is the Program Manager of Underground GRIT, an organization that promotes change in prisons, jails, and juvenile halls, and works with people who are breaking cycles perpetuated by trauma. She believes in rehabilitation over punishment and seeks to develop interdisciplinary opportunities to mend voids in communities, identify long-term solutions to social health problems, and celebrate resilience, hope, and redemption. 

2021 Cohort

  • Behnan Albahsalhi

    Behnan Albahsalhi

    Behnan Albahsahli was born and raised in San Diego, California. She completed her undergraduate studies at UC San Diego with a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology and a minor in Ethnic Studies. Upon graduation from UC San Diego in 2020, Behnan began her work in refugee health research at the UC San Diego Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health. Through this work, Behnan grew passionate about the effects of war and displacement on health, and health outcomes as a result of U.S. colonization. In her free time, Behnan enjoys going to coffee shops, reading, and spending time with her family.

  • Priscilla Cardenas

    Priscilla Cardenas

    Priscilla Cardenas (pronouns: she, her, hers) was born in San Diego and raised in the neighborhood of Barrio Logan. She is first generation and family oriented. It came as a surprise when she decided to attend the University of Oregon and purse a degree in Planning, Public Policy and Management. At the University of Oregon she was heavily involved with student unions, social justice causes, and volunteered at the local Planned Parenthood. Priscilla moved back to San Diego immediately after graduating. Her connection to her city, family and roots to her neighborhood were too strong.

    In San Diego she held positions at South Bay Community Services, Family Health Centers of San Diego and had the life altering experience working in healthcare during a global pandemic. She transitioned to a role as a COVID-19 Contact Tracer and volunteered at vaccination sites. From the year 2020 until now has had its challenges but it reinforced to Priscilla that she is on the right path. She is excited to be a part of the 2021 cohort and ready to learn.

  • Annie Chea

    Annie Chea

    Annie Chea's hometown is from the central valley in northern California. She attended UC San Diego for her Bachelor's in Molecular Biology. There, she became involved in health education programs on campus such as Student Health Advocates as well as the Wellness Peer Educator program with CAPS. In addition, she volunteered with San Diego Family Health Center's clean syringe exchange program and worked at a psychiatry office, where she became interested in the intersection of public health, medicine, and mental health. In her free time, Annie likes to explore new food places with friends, work out, and enjoy the beautiful outdoors that San Diego has to offer.

  • Amalia Cristiano

    Amalia Cristiano

    Amalia Cristiano was born and raised in Philadelphia, before attending San Diego State University for college. During her time at SDSU, Amalia participated in an undergraduate research fellowship that inspired her passion for research and public health. Since graduating from SDSU in 2017, Amalia served as an AmeriCorps member for United Way of San Diego County, and for the past two and a half years Amalia has worked as a project manager for the non-profit KABOOM!, building playgrounds with communities across the United States. Amalia's concentration will be Health Behavior, and in her free time she enjoys training for half and full marathons, surfing, and yoga.

  • Curtis Cullen

    Curtis Cullen

    Curtis was raised in the SF Bay Area and graduated from San Jose State University with a degree in Public Health. He interned as a Clinical Research Coordinator at Stanford University’s DISCOVer Labs, where he assisted in both administrative and patient care roles of several studies related to the racial/ethnic health disparities in cardiometabolic disease. His background as an EMT and in healthcare administration led him to work for the State of California, where he assisted in the development and implementation of several new state-run systems during the COVID-19 Response and Recovery efforts. Curtis hopes to further develop his skills and best practices needed to further foster preventive health within communities. In his spare time, Curtis is a former Team USA badminton player and is planning his return to competition soon.

  • Nghi Dang

    Nghi Dang

    Nghi was born in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and was raised in San Diego, CA. She graduated with a B.S in Public Health with a concentration in Global Health from UC San Diego. Nghi is a first-generation college graduate and is extremely passionate about improving health equity and addressing health disparities within underserved communities. She currently works as a Community Food Specialist at the Center for Community Health where she supports projects that help build a more equitable food environment. In her spare time, Nghi enjoys trying new foods, binge-watching Netflix, traveling, attending music festivals, and baking. 

  • Kiana Devereaux

    Kiana Devereaux

    Kiana Devereaux is a San Diego native who graduated from UCSD with a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology and a minor in History. In addition to interning at the Center of Gender Equity and Health at UCSD, Kiana has been involved with multiple San Diego organizations including Helen Woodward Animal Center, the San Diego Oak Garden, and Survivors of Violence Loss (SVLP). Her primary research interests are in relation to population mental health and sexual violence prevention. In her free time, Kiana enjoys participating in a variety of outdoor sports and painting. 

  • Veen Doski

    Veen Doski

    Veen was born and raised in Kurdistan Region. She attended an international high school and moved to the U.S at the age of 18. She received her B.S degree in Health Science with Emphasis in Public Health from San Diego State University. While at SDSU, Veen was exposed to the core public health disciplines and developed a strong interest in preventive medicine and infectious disease surveillance. She managed a program for a non-profit organization before coming to UC San Diego for her MPH. Veen is currently a UCSD Graduate Research Assistant, and her concentration is Epidemiology. In her free time, Veen enjoys the outdoors and spending time with family and friends.
  • Dimitri Gonzales

    Dimitri Gonzales

    Dimitri Gonzales was born in Sanger CA, located in the Central Valley. He is the first person in his family to attend college. He attended UC San Diego for his undergraduate degree where he studied Microbiology and Public Health. After graduating he spent two years working as a medical scribe and technician. He is currently enrolled at UC San Diego School of Medicine. While at UCSD SOM, he has been heavily involved in the UCSD Student Run Free Clinic in addition to mentoring URM students. Dimitri is interested in preventive and community-based medicine. He believes an MPH will better allow him to understand and address the health disparities affecting underserved communities.  In his free time, he enjoys camping, hiking and baking.

  • Michelle Guerra

    Michelle Guerra

    Michelle Guerra is a first generation Latina who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Neurology, Physiology, and Behavior from the University of California, Davis. She is currently pursuing an MPH with a concentration in Health Behaviors. During her undergraduate studies, she worked with Global HealthShare Initiative (GHS), a knowledge dissemination program designed to address health inequities among the poor in different countries. Michelle’s experience with GHS helped her better understand the complexities and challenges in addressing public health issues. During the MPH program, Michelle dedicated her practicum experience to promoting awareness of exposures to endocrine-disrupting chemicals from personal care products and cosmetics to public high school students. She is currently working on her thesis about the association between per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) with serum lipid levels in Ecuadorian adolescents. One of Michelle’s long term career goals is to use her MPH to improve environmental health and alleviate health disparities in underprivileged communities by reducing their exposure to persistent pollutants and endocrine-disrupting chemicals. In her free time, Michelle enjoys crafting, walking her dog, and exploring botanical gardens.

  • Shelby Huffaker

    Shelby Huffaker

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    Shelby was born and raised in the University City neighborhood of San Diego. After graduating with a BA in Communication and Sociology from UC Santa Barbara, Shelby worked in cannabis marketing for over 3 years before deciding to pursue her interest in medical cannabis research, education, and policy further by obtaining a graduate degree in public health from UC San Diego. She is particularly interested in the role cannabis plays in addressing undertreated conditions such as chronic pain, substance use disorders, and mental illness. During her studies, Shelby worked as a research assistant on several studies related to cannabis consumer behavior, including one on cannabis packaging and another on the adverse effects associated with synthetic cannabinoid consumption. She completed her practicum as an intern for Americans for Safe Access, a national non-profit dedicated to advancing medical cannabis research and therapeutics. Shelby is also passionate about issues concerning urban development and stigma in healthcare. In her free time, Shelby enjoys running, yoga, reading, and crafting.

  • Jenny Kim

    Jenny Kim

    Jenny grew up in Torrance, CA. She graduated from UC San Diego with a bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Science with a minor in Education Studies. After graduating, she went to work for a non-profit organization as a Research Assistant working with data for their outpatient services, crisis residential treatment services and substance use. Here her passion for research, data and mental health grew and decided to pursue higher education for public mental health. Jenny is also a volunteer crisis counselor for the crisis text line. In her free time, she enjoys going on hikes, cooking, baking, and trying out new restaurants and desserts.

  • Fahsyrah Knight

    Fahsyrah Knight

    Fahsyrah Knight was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina. She is a recent 2020 graduate of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. She has earned and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology with a concentration in business administration. She is a new Resident in California and she is enjoying navigating through these big cities. Since living in California she has been enjoying new activities like painting on the beach, water sports, escape rooms, and just embracing the beautiful mountain viewpoints that southern California has to offer. This small gap between her undergraduate graduation and now has been nothing but an adventurous and growing time for her, but she is now ready to get to work and focus on her service that she wants to give back to her community and the world. 

    Becoming a public health graduate student at UC San Diego she desires to make a contribution in the areas of administering community health education, shaping public policy and engaging both the public and private sectors to assist in aiding marginalized communities in working to overcome health disparities. She acknowledges that this is an important time to be living on the planet and she will attempt to make a contribution toward the progress of humanity as a graduate student here at UC San Diego.

  • Dania Maldonado

    Dania Maldonado

    Dania was raised in Whittier, California. She graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Social Welfare and a minor in Education. She became interested in public health after taking an introductory course. She furthered her interest by becoming a public health teaching assistant. She led weekly discussion sessions that allowed students to dive deeper into social, political, and ethical issues in health. Dania is passionate about preventative medicine and women's health. Currently, she is part of the UC Irvine School of Medicine PRIME-LC program, a combined master's and medical degree program. She believes that a master's in public health will provide her with the perspective, knowledge, and tools to help alter the health trajectories and outcomes for underserved and marginalized communities. Dania likes to hike, run, travel, and spend time with her family and friends in her spare time.

  • Rima Nandi

    Rima Nandi

    Rima Nandi grew up in Orange County, CA where she studied psychology at the California State University, Fullerton. In 2016, Rima began working at the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego, CA where she was a part of a project developing the first electronic database for U.S. Navy Search and Rescue operations. Her work experience over the last 5 years has led her to develop interests in data and infectious disease epidemiology. Rima hopes to further her education in epidemiological research to help better serve the health needs of the military population.

  • Erin Natale

    Erin Natale

    Erin Natale was born and raised in Los Angeles in the Pasadena area. She graduated from UCLA in 2019 with a BS in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics. After graduating, she worked for a year and a half in a microbiology laboratory at UCLA where she studied the physiology of various bacteria and archaea. Working in microbiology led to a passion for public health, particularly epidemiology. In her free time she enjoys hiking, visiting new places, and watching I Love Lucy reruns. 

  • Aryana Pazargadi

    Aryana Pazargadi

    Aryana Pazargadi received her B.S. in Biopsychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research background includes preventive cardiology and lipidology, women's cardiovascular health, and verbal cognition patterns in infants. She is passionate about the role of preventive medicine in population health. She aspires to apply the knowledge and skills from her MPH to a future career as an epidemiologist. In her free time, Aryana is a frequent flyer and globe-trotter. She has a love for different languages and cultures, and has traveled to 22 different countries.

  • Alex Raphael

    Alex Raphael

    Alex grew up in Colorado and completed her undergraduate degree in Biology from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. After graduating, she moved to Washington DC where she worked at the National Human Genome Research Institute Extramural Division as a Program Analyst. During her time at NHGRI, Alex was part of the Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) Program. She became interested in public health and community based research after working with ELSI scholars and learning about ethical and social implications of genomics research. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, cycling, hiking, reading, and discovering restaurants or coffee shops.

  • Rochelle Reyes

    Rochelle Reyes

    Rochelle Reyes (they/she) was born and raised in the Bay Area. They attended San Francisco State University for their BS in Biology (Physiology). During her time at SFSU, she did research in the Rohlfs lab working on illuminating the work of women programmers in the Theoretical Population Biology field. Prior to entering UCSD’s MPH in Epidemiology program, Rochelle utilized a large part of her gap years to co-found the Science Coding Immersion Program (SCIP) with the Code Lab to help Biology/Biochemistry participants learn how to code in R & Python and to help create a community for scientists to learn and grow together. 

    The COVID-19 pandemic opened Rochelle to the world of Epidemiology and Public Health, in which they created and shared code in R on mapping COVID-19 cases for Bay Area counties. These analyses are used in SCIP to help participants incorporate Biology and Public Health with programming. Rochelle plans to continue learning and expanding her knowledge of Epidemiology and how she can best make a difference in improving health equity. In their spare time, Rochelle enjoys traveling, playing video games, and Passion Planning.

  • Christina Schaefer

    Christina Schaefer

    Christina was born and raised in San Diego, CA and graduated from UC Merced in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in Public Health. After graduating, Christina spent three years working as a Clinical Specialist for a medical device company in San Francisco. As a Clinical Specialist she collaborated with neurosurgeons, nurses, and sales teams all around California educating about neuromodulation technology. Her work experience in the medical field confirmed that she wanted to pursue higher education in Public Health, she is passionate about health behavior specifically on women’s rights. During her free time, you can find her on outdoor runs, going to hot yoga, and being around her loved ones.

  • Laura Sheckter

    Laura Sheckter

    Laura was born and raised in Los Angeles. She moved to Atlanta to attend Emory University and graduated (2021) with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Health. While interning at the Emory Prospective Opportunity for Women's health Research (EmPOWR) Initiative she became fascinated with women’s reproductive health. The experiences in the EmPOWR lab as well as other opportunities including being trained as a Diabetes Prevention Program Coach helped guide her to pursue a graduate degree in public health at UCSD. She is planning to concentrate on health behavior and hopes to learn how to help populations improve their overall well-being. In her free time she enjoys exercising, cooking, spending time with her friends and family, and brunching.

  • Aditya Simha

    Aditya Simha

    Aditya recently graduated from UC Davis with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior and a minor in Psychology. He has always been interested in health sciences, but it was through the Stanford CARE research internship that he developed a keen interest in public health. He has researched topics related to public health of Asian Americans and worked with neurodivergent individuals, which has led him to be interested to explore the intersection of epidemiology and public mental health. In his free time, Aditya likes to play tennis, table tennis, and listen to music.

  • Linsey Wehner

    Linsey Wehner

    Linsey was born and raised in San Diego and graduated from UCSD with a BA in Human Development with a minor in Psychology. Her experience as a patient in the hospital sparked her interest in Public Health. She is dedicated to changing the healthcare system to better serve patients and families. She has volunteered with hospitals in the area and enjoys counseling patients. She researched stress in hospital settings and worked with medical professionals to implement stress reduction strategies for patients in San Diego. Linsey is passionate about improving accessibility for people disabilities, tackling health disparities, mental health, and making medical care a more positive experience for patients and providers. In her free time, she loves to be outside, drink coffee, and meet new people.   

  • Florence Wu

    Florence Wu

    Florence Wu was raised in Sacramento, California and attended University of California, Davis for her undergraduate degree. She majored in Global Disease Biology with a minor in Sociology, developing a passion for supporting individuals impacted by incarceration. While at UC Davis, she worked as a research coordinator for the ReCHARGE Study at the MIND Institute, which examined neurodevelopmental conditions in young children and adolescents. Florence hopes to become a primary care physician and a college professor, and believes her knowledge in public health will be crucial for supporting system-impacted youth. She is especially passionate about improving systems to ensure everyone has access to quality, affordable healthcare. In her free time, Florence loves finding new hiking trails in San Diego and facetiming her family.

  • Sana Younus

    Sana Younus

    Sana Younus has worked in the hospital setting for the past five years and found her passion growing for technology and its transformative capabilities for public health. She believes the power of technology and precision medicine can solve health problems in innovative ways and reduce disparaging health inequities challenging many populations. In addition to health-related topics, Sana enjoys the challenge of balancing the art, science, and strategy behind successful project implementation.

    Sana recently made San Diego her permanent home after moving from the Bay Area where she spent her youth. She is also the program manager for an interdisciplinary healthcare research and education conference, Healthcare Con.

    She is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) currently enrolled as a first-year MPH grad student. Sana completed her Bachelor of Science in Managerial Economics from the University of California, Davis.

    In her free time, Sana devours books, attempts new cooking recipes, and is a frequent visitor at the beach with her Australian Shepherd puppy Nori. 

  • Summer Zhu

    Summer Zhu

    Summer Zhu graduated from UC Davis with a double major in Psychology and Communication. Her personal experience of overcoming language barriers sparked her interest in Education and Linguistics. In college, she discovered her passion for Public Health through her experiences working at the UCD Language Learning lab. While working as a research assistant, she received a fellowship and later developed her own study focusing on the relationship between early language acquisition and family socioeconomic status. Summer is also interested in Mental Health and Early Childhood Education. She has been helping teenagers and international students who have mental health concerns for the past few years. In her free time, she loves to hike and play with her dog.

2022 Cohort

  • Jonathan H. Berger

    Jonathan H. Berger

    Jonathan Berger hails originally from the heart of Steelers’ country in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Before his most recent move to San Diego (with his wonderful wife, two feisty kids, and two lazy dogs), life afforded him the opportunity to live/work/study around the United States and overseas. His formalized education includes a couple of bachelor's degrees (philosophy and biological sciences) from the University of Pittsburgh, a medical doctorate from the University of Toledo, general surgery internship at (then) National Naval Medical Center, and later completing urologic surgery residency at Naval Medical Center San Diego (as well as a variety of US Navy service schools).

    His research interests are on the at the cross section of public health and urology, however, being new to formal public health training, he is happy to engage in a variety of projects. Furthermore, being “old” (READ: older than many other current students) and “experienced” (READ: has made, and tried to learn from, many mistakes made throughout his life) he’s happy to give his (limited) perspective of the healthcare field (especially as a "trade" to learn about his peers' perspectives/experiences).
  • Vivian Chou

    Vivian Chou

    Vivian grew up in the Bay Area and graduated from UC San Diego in 2022 with a BS in Public Health with a Concentration in Epidemiology and a minor in General Biology. After taking an introductory course in her first undergraduate year, she became interested in Public Health. She endeavors to further her studies in Public Health and professionalism and to broaden her expertise in Public Health. In her free time, Vivian likes to read, figure skate, and explore new restaurants and cafes with friends.

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

  • Sebastian Cuevas

    Sebastian Cuevas

    Sebastian Cuevas was born and raised in the Bay Area before transferring to UC San Diego from Los Medanos College. Upon transferring he participated in the Creating Scientists to Address Cancer Disparities summer program where he developed a passion for research and public health. He would then receive an internship and later a research position at the California Smokers’ Helpline, researching tobacco use in California and the effectiveness of helplines. He graduated from UC San Diego with a Bachelor’s in psychology and a minor in sociology before taking a gap year and applying for UC San Diego’s MPH program with a concentration on health behavior.
  • Mason Delyea

    Mason Delyea

    Mason Delyea was born and raised in Orange County, California. Desiring a change of scenery, he completed his undergraduate studies at Syracuse University in New York with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health and minors in Nutrition and Addiction studies. During his time at Syracuse, Mason received funding to study the stigmatization of psychedelics and cannabis on campus. Additionally, Mason advocated for Narcan distribution and other harm reduction strategies on campus to combat the ongoing opioid crisis. Mason hopes to further his education in public mental health through researching illicit drugs and their neglected medical uses. In his free time, Mason is an avid surfer, musician, and food connoisseur.

    Pronouns: He/Him/His

  • Marissa Dzotsi

    Marissa Dzotsi

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    Marissa was born in the UK, but grew up predominantly in Ohio. She was recruited to row at the University of San Diego, where she obtained her Bachelor’s of Arts in Biology with a double minor in Chemistry and Nonprofit Social Enterprise/ Philanthropy. Marissa has had a lifelong dream of becoming an Ob/gyn, however, during her time at USD, she developed an even strong passion for women’s health, specifically the advocacy of reproductive healthcare amongst marginalized communities. Thanks to an internship with La Maestra Community Health Centers, Marissa was able to witness firsthand the impact public health programming has on communities and families. Her experience working with La Maestra Community Health Centers, and other local San Diego nonprofits, led to her pursuit of an MPH at UC San Diego, with a concentration in Health Policy. Marissa is eager to further her understanding of the current health policies that may prohibit equal and affordable access to healthcare, hopefully enabling her to aid in the eradication of women’s health disparities as an aspiring physician. In her free time, Marissa loves spending time with her family and friends, volunteering, exploring new areas of San Diego, blogging, baking, and working out.

  • Lucia Ferrer

    Lucia Ferrer

    Lucia Ferrer was raised in Davis, CA and moved to San Diego in 2018 to attend UCSD as an undergraduate. She graduated from UCSD in 2022 with a B.A. in Global Health and a minor in Psychology. During her time as an undergraduate, Lucia worked as a Research Associate at the UCSD Health Center for Healthy Eating and Activity Research. She now works at the Neonatal Research Institute, part of Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women and Newborns. Here, doctors, nurses, and researchers aim to improve outcomes for premature infants from delivery through their stay in the neonatal intensive care unit. Lucia is looking forward to pursuing an MPH with a concentration in Health Behavior to further her understanding of and commitment to preventative health care. In her free time, Lucia enjoys swimming, running, biking, and cooking.

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

  • Shibani Gupta

    Shibani Gupta

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    Shibani Gupta grew up in Ajmer a small town located in the state of Rajasthan, India. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Sophia Girls’ College, Ajmer. She actively participated in the college science club Prakriti and held the position of treasurer and later vice–president. Further she went on to pursue a Master’s degree in Zoology from IIS (deemed to be University), Jaipur, India. While in the final year of her master’s degree she got the opportunity to complete a research dissertation where she analyzed the neurotoxic effects of neonicotinoid pesticide Imidacloprid on 21 days old Swiss albino mice pups. This project equipped her with the skill and knowledge about animal handling and care and she also learned a lot about animal behavior. Her research proposal was also selected under the University’s Student Project. Her research project motivated her to further pursue her education in the field of public health. She is especially interested in epidemiology and health and behavior. In her spare time she like to bake, go out with friends, watching movies.

  • Star Huynh

    Star Huynh

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    Star was born and raised in the Bay Area. She is a first-generation college student and completed her B.S in Biology at Stanford University. She is currently a medical student at UC San Diego School of Medicine and a member of PRIME-HEq. She is interested in understanding and addressing health disparities that affect underserved communities. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family, playing with her two dogs, cooking, and exploring restaurants in San Diego.

  • Shunya Kaneshita

    Shunya Kaneshita

    I have worked as a clinician for 11 years in Japan, and I am certified as a fellow of the Japanese Society of Internal Medicine, am a Board Certified Member of the Japanese Society of Internal Medicine, a Board Certified Member of the Japan Rheumatology Foundation, and a Japan College of Rheumatology-board certified rheumatologist registered with the Rheumatism Foundation. Additionally, I completed the Ph.D. course in Inflammation and Immunology at Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine.

    I hope to use the knowledge of epidemiology I will gain in the MPH course to collaborate with the Department of Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology and I would like to promote clinical and translational research in rheumatology during and after the MPH course.

    In my free time, I like to play with my kids, travel, cook, read, discover restaurants.

    Pronouns: He/Him/His

  • Thet Nwe Myo Khin

    Thet Nwe Myo Khin

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    Thet was born and raised in Yangon, Myanmar. She moved to San Francisco Bay Area in 2017 and completed her B.S. in Global Disease Biology at the University of California, Davis. During her time at UC Davis, Thet explored her research interests in food accessibility and became a part of the Environment, Land, and Food Systems Lab where she identified and uncovered invisible food pathways in Nevada County, CA. While working with ELF Lab, she produced a Nevada County food guide in partnership with Edible Schoolyard, the California Alliance of Family Farms, UC ANR, and the California Farmers’ Market Alliance, helping develop innovative planning and land use for local communities.
    Thet was inspired to pursue Public Health during the COVID-19 pandemic when she worked as an undergraduate public health ambassador on campus. During her time at UCSD, she wishes to advance her knowledge and understanding of critical players in the field of public health policy and raise her awareness of the problems faced by today’s healthcare systems and foundations.

  • Kayleigh Kornher

    Kayleigh Kornher

    Kayleigh Kornher was born and raised in San Diego, California. She earned her bachelor's degree at UC San Diego, majoring in Environmental Systems: Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution and minoring in Spanish Language Studies. While public health has always been among Kayleigh's multidisciplinary interests, it was her internship at the Foundation for the Promotion of Health and Biomedical Research of the Valencian Community (FISABIO) in Valencia, Spain, that confirmed her strong interest in a variety of public health topics. By working on projects about environmental influences on child development as well as HPV infection in vulnerable women, Kayleigh developed a passion for research and an appreciation for the direct impact that public health work can have on people’s lives. Kayleigh hopes to combine her environmental science background and her epidemiology interests as she pursues her MPH and beyond. In her free time, Kayleigh enjoys trying new coffee shops, practicing and teaching taekwondo, and spending time at the beach.

  • Yvonne Kuo

    Yvonne Kuo

    I was born and raised in Hsinchu, Taiwan. I went to National Taiwan University for my bachelor degree with a concentration of Epidemiology in Public Health.

    Born with atopic dermatitis made me started my interest toward nutrition and diseases. I wish to learn more and find out more about chronic and infectious diseases during the MPH program.

    In my spare time, I like to spend time working out in gyms, watching movies, cooking, traveling and trying out new restaurants.

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

  • Angel Lomeli

    Angel Lomeli

    Angel was born and raised in San Diego, CA. He graduated from UCSD in Spring of 2022 with a B.S. in Public Health Epidemiology and will begin his MPH in epidemiology in Fall of 2022. His interests include infectious diseases, biostatistics and research. Furthermore, he is passionate about helping underserved communities, such as the one he grew up in. Through cultural sensitivity and understanding, he is able to both help out his community and empathize with them. Angel wants to complete his MPH to further develop these skills he deems crucial within clinical research.
    His academic and career goals include pursuing a PhD in Epidemiology and Biostatistics and becoming an established scientist and professor.

    Pronouns: He/Him/His

  • Tomas Mejorado

    Tomas Mejorado

    I was born in Los Angeles but was raised in Bakersfield California. I received my undergraduate degree in Public Health from UC Merced. After graduating I decided to pursue a teaching credential from UC Merced where I ended up working as a 5th grade Teacher. I had the privilege of participating in the UCLA Public Health Scholars Program. During my time in the program, I produced a research poster documenting the impacts of cannabis policy on communities of color and presented at the CDC Public Health Scholars conference. I also interned at the UCLA COVID-19 Virtual Training Academy, a collaborative between the California Department of Public Health, UCLA, and UCSF that aimed to build a competent workforce to implement the State’s Covid-19 contract tracing. While interning I was able to assist in qualitative analysis, data collection and survey design.
    I am passionate about pursuing an MPH in epidemiology in efforts to help address health disparities. In my free time I love to try new foods, travel and photography.

    Prononuns: He/Him/His

  • Krista Millar

    Krista Millar

    Krista was born and raised here in San Diego, California. She attended California Lutheran University as a first-generation student for her undergraduate degrees. During her time at CLU, she served as a Student Program Coordinator for the University Honors Program, a Peer Advisor, Co-President of the Beta Beta Beta Biological Honors Society, and President of Green Club. She completed her senior theses in bioethics and cancer biology, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, a Bachelor of Science in Biological Science, and a minor in Public Health.
    Krista found her passion for public health while working as a CNA before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, where she vowed to dedicate her life’s work to improving the health disparities and care gaps witnessed in her own communities. She hopes to attend medical school and pursue working in primary care after completing her MPH.
    In her free time, Krista enjoys birdwatching, kayaking, gardening, and spending time with her dachshund, Liliko’i.

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

  • Ryan Pavlovich

    Ryan Pavlovich

    Ryan was born and raised in Long Beach, CA and graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a B.S. in Biological Sciences. At the start of his undergraduate studies, he became involved in clinical research at Cottage Hospital in Interventional Cardiology, and served as a medical scribe for a vascular surgeon. Through his clinical experiences, he became more involved in cardiovascular related research, and later on used his research skills to contribute to advancing diabetic research at Sansum Diabetes Research Institute. His passion in medicine and serving his community has led him to pursue a long-term goal of becoming a physician. He believes that obtaining a Master of Public Health degree will allow him to create a bigger impact on his community beyond the individual patient level of medicine. During his time at UCSD, he will be completing his concentration in Epidemiology and plans to gain experience working with underserved communities and learning more about health disparities. In his free time, Ryan enjoys surfing, playing guitar, golfing and traveling.

    Prononuns: He/Him/His

  • Ana Peng

    Ana Peng

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    Ana was born and raised in Mexico City, Mexico. She completed her undergraduate studies at UC San Diego with a Bachelor of Science in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience. She developed a passion for research through her volunteer work at the Spitzer lab and upon graduating, continued studying the effect of running-induced neurotransmitter switching in the adult dentate gyrus on episodic memory. The COVID-19 pandemic and its toll on mental health motivated Ana to pursue a career in public health, where she hopes to combine her passion for research and healthcare to help improve the well-being of communities. In her free time, Ana enjoys traveling, hiking, reading books, and trying new foods.

  • Dani Schurr

    Dani Schurr

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    Dani, originally from the Bay Area, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016 with a Bachelors in Neurobiology. Following 4 years of work in clinical research, Dani enrolled in UCSD's School of Medicine where she just completed her second year. As a part of the PRIME Health Equity program, which requires medical students to obtain a master's degree, Dani chose to pursue her MPH here at UCSD as she continues to work in medical research and underserved communities.

  • Alice Shen

    Alice Shen

    Alice Shen was raised in Athens, Georgia and graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology with a BS in Computer Engineering. She worked as a software engineer and founder in the startup industry in the Bay Area before changing to a career path in medicine. She is now between her third and fourth year of medical school at UCSD School of Medicine. Her career interests lie in the sphere of public health policy and public mental health. In her free time, she enjoys playing video games and watching Korean dramas.

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

  • Mahzabin Tabassum

    Mahzabin Tabassum

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    Mahzabin was born in Bangladesh and grew up in London, UK. She graduated in 2020 with a medical degree (Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery, MBBS) in China. She was the only student completing her internship during COVID-19 from her hospital and was awarded the best intern doctor. She wants to pursue public health to support the healthcare system in the best way possible, especially after witnessing the pandemic closely in China. At the same time, she worked as an undergraduate research assistant in the Lianyungang Clinical Research and Translational Medicine Center. In addition, she worked in Southern California Research Center, as a clinical research associate, and she is eager to start working in research projects at UCSD.
    Mahzabin has been involved with The Association for social advancement NGO, in Bangladesh since 2015, where she works for the betterment of underprivileged people in rural areas in Bangladesh. Her goal is to create a positive impact and establish a long-lasting effect on people’s lives.
    In her spare time, she enjoys visiting new places and trying new food, watching anime or movies, play badminton and loves painting and traveling!

  • Alec Terrana

    Alec Terrana

    Alec Terrana grew up in Boston before attending Pomona College, where he received his BA in Religious Studies with a minor in Mandarin Chinese. He spent a number of years working as a massage therapist and yoga instructor before moving to San Diego to attend medical school with the intention of pursuing psychiatry. While at UCSD School of Medicine, Alec has been involved in educational initiatives to bring mindfulness and self-compassion programing to medical students, as well as with research into resilience among Somalis living in City Heights. He hopes that an MPH will help him more effectively develop, implement, and evaluate public mental health programming going forward. In his free time, he enjoys climbing, surfing, backpacking, jiu jitsu, and The Bachelor.

    Pronouns: He/Him/His

  • Nina Weisbrod

    Nina Weisbrod

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    Nina was born and raised in Washington, D.C. and attended college in the Seattle area in Washington State. She has a Bachelor's degree in Economics and minors in Mathematics, Spanish and Latino Studies. She started her public health career the day after she graduated from college in May 2020 and began managing a team of case investigators at age 22. Her most recent job was working at the CDC Foundation as a Case Investigation Supervisor in the California Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 Contact Tracing Program, “California Connected.” She hopes to use her Master's in Public Health to promote social justice by leading public health interventions, community outreach, and campaigns to tackle public health crises like COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, obesity, and opiate abuse. She hopes to pursue the Health Behavior concentration at UCSD to better understand what causes inequity in public health and how to develop the most effective solutions.

  • Melanie Wong

    Melanie Wong

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    Melanie was born and raised in San Jose, California and graduated from UC San Diego in 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health and a minor in Business. During her senior year at UCSD, she started volunteering for the Healing Foods Program at the Moores Cancer Center at UCSD developing material about eating through cancer treatment, specifically for those with head and neck cancer. She also volunteers for the dietician at the Housing and Dining Department at UCSD, helping design the “Top 8” menu for students with food allergies and creating handouts listing the safe foods available at the UCSD markets, for those with specific dietary preferences. Ultimately, she would love to work for a program that helps the food allergy community navigate life with food allergies through education and support through counseling. Using her own experiences with severe food allergies to ensure that others facing the same challenges have the resources to have an overall healthy lifestyle. In her free time, she loves to play video games, watch soccer, build Lego sets, and color.

  • Lynette Zhao

    Lynette Zhao

    I grew up in Nanjing, China and completed my bachelor's degree in Biomedical Engineering: Pre-med from UC Irvine. I took a year off after graduation for my internship in Frontier Biotechnologies Inc. and assisted the development of FB2001, a SARS-CoV-2 protease inhibitor. I also served as a COVID-19 volunteer during this year, which inspired my passion for public health. I am especially interested in epidemiology and want to prevent people from diseases by applying what I've learned. I enjoy travelling, working out, and strolling around the city in my spare time.

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

2023 Cohort

  • Takim Okongor Achu

  • Diana Alvarado

    Diana Alvarado

    Diana Alvarado was born and raised in San Diego, CA. She is a first-generation college student who graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Health from UC San Diego. Her involvement in community health events and volunteer role as a Spanish interpreter for the UCSD Student-Run Free Clinic Project confirmed her interest to pursue a career in the public health sector. After graduating from UCSD, Diana began working as a research assistant in a collaborative study between San Diego State University and San Ysidro Health. She helps implement the use of a mobile app and peer navigator to best support HIV patients in their medication adherence. This work reinforced Diana’s understanding of infectious diseases in minority ethnic populations, specifically those living near the US-Mexico border. In addition, Diana is thankful for having the opportunity to participate in the ¡Mas Fresco Plus! internship at the UCSD Center for Community Health. She was able to learn how a nutrition incentive program improves healthy eating among people experiencing food insecurity in San Diego county. Overall, Diana is very passionate about community outreach efforts that address social determinants of health, more notably, programs that assist in educating about prevention measures for infectious diseases. Moreover, she hopes to gain expertise in community‐based participatory research interventions that help reduce health inequities in marginalized communities. In her free time, she enjoys reading, playing soccer and spending time with her family.

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

  • Monica Bañuelos

    Monica Bañuelos

    Monica was born and raised in the Inland Empire and moved to San Diego to attend UCSD in 2016. They received their BA in Global Health and a minor in Ethnic Studies in 2020. Since graduating they have been working in different non-profits with underserved communities. They have extensive experience working with LGBTQIA+ transitional aged youth, and have been supervising a HIV and substance use prevention program for 2 years at San Ysidro Health.

    Monica is dedicated to bridging the health inequities for queer and transgender Black and brown communities and is concentrating on mental health for these populations. Outside of school and work they love to spend time with their dog, organizing events for Queering the Path, and being outdoors with their chosen family.

    Pronouns: They/Elle/El

  • Zachery Blundell

  • Val Catanzarite

    Val Catanzarite

    I’m an OB-Gyn physician and a subspecialist in Maternal-Fetal Medicine. After over 40 years “in the trenches”, I've retired from clinical practice. I spent last the couple of years exploring other interests (including languages #6, 7, and 8), dabbling in R programming, and looking at health and the healthcare system from the outside. I’m fascinated by the potential to affect health on the population rather than individual patient level, and delighted to join the MPH program at my Alma Mater.

    I was born in the Midwest, but grew up in California. My undergraduate degree was from CalTech, then I completed an MD at UCSD, a PhD at Berkeley, residency at Stanford and Fellowship at the University of New Mexico (Whew!) I taught for 3 years before returning to San Diego in 1989.

    I was a founding member of the group that became San Diego Perinatal Center. Interests and publications include critical care obstetrics, obstetric emergency response teams, IVF and surrogate pregnancies, and prenatal diagnosis. I love teaching. Years ago, I wrote a series of computer based instructional programs for medical students and interns. For decades, I’ve been organizing medical education conferences, and this year I’m also teaching Obstetrics and Prenatal Diagnosis to residents, sonographers, and practicing physicians in our region, and English to Ukrainians via Zoom.

    Interests outside of medicine-myriad. Travel- love it! Languages- wannabe polyglot. Cooking- ask me! Fitness- run or lift almost daily. I’ve written a couple of books- one on athletic training, the second on efficient and healthy cooking. And most importantly, family. My wife and I have 2 amazing kids, three gorgeous and incredibly talented grandchildren, and two only slightly spoiled 9 year old puppies.

    My focus in public health- sorting this out. Top contenders- information technology in healthcare/health awareness (including combatting health disinformation) and fitness/healthy aging. Downstream I hope to help out with rebuilding the health care system in Ukraine.

  • Gaurav Chopra

  • Noura Diwouta

    Noura Diwouta

    I grew up in three different places: Cameroon, France, and Senegal, and travel a lot. This exposed me to different cultures and ways of life, which led to my interest in Public Health. I went to La Salle University for my bachelor's degree and studied Nutrition Sciences and Psychology as a minor. I explored how food, behavior, and health are connected during my time there. While at La Salle, I was also part of the rowing team. After I graduated, I became a Dietetic Technician Registered (DTR) and started working at UCSD Health. I learned firsthand how preventable diseases and nutrition access disparities can affect people's lives. This experience made me want to make a bigger impact through public health efforts. I realized that public health can help create fair nutrition access, prevention, and education solutions.

    So, my goal after finishing my Master's program is to work on nutrition, prevention, and public health policy. I want to collaborate with communities, healthcare providers, and policymakers to create programs that make it easier for people to access nutritious food, change their habits for the better, and take charge of their health.

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

  • Vanessa Alexis Dominguez

  • David Du

    David Du

    Hi! My name is David Du and I am an incoming MPH student with a concentration in Epidemiology. I was born in Boston, MA but was raised in both Shanghai, China and Memphis, TN. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Memphis back in 2022. After graduation, I served as an AmeriCorps Project Coordinator with a non-profit organization called Rebuilding Together Peninsula (RTP) in Redwood City, CA for a year. Serving as an AmeriCorps member with RTP gave me the opportunity to witness what housing insecurity does to a human being and how it disproportionately affects minority groups. This experience, as well as previous experiences, made me passionate about helping disadvantaged communities and closing the health gaps that these communities face on a daily basis. In my free time, I like to run/jog; being with nature; and explore my new home of San Diego.

    Pronouns: He/Him/His

  • Roberta D.F. Gomes da Silva

    Roberta D.F. Gomes da Silva

    I am a Brazilian certified Dietitian/Nutritionist as my second major and Business administration as my first major. I have three post graduations that makes me specialized in Eating disorders; Eating behavior and Nutritional coaching; Sports nutrition and Aesthetics. I worked as a Private Banker and in a Brazilian's Hedge Fund.I realized that this wasn't my dream job and the money wasn't worth it. So I went to college again and turned my life upside down. I have never stopped studying since I left my second college. Last year, I decided that I wanted to apply to a MPH in another country to have a different experience and a new challenge. I put effort in everything that I do, my motto is "discipline and resilience".

    But I am not only the Roberta in my resume. I love mountain biking and road biking, I can't spend one way away from my bikes.I play basketball as well even through I am short. My newest passion is skateboarding. I love the thrill and the adrenaline that my skate gives me. To relax during my week, I take Yoga classes and during my weekend I love to party. I love eletronic music and dancing. And I also play the piano and the acoustic Guitar.

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

  • Claire Alisz Evanishyn

  • Angelique Ghadishah

    Angelique Ghadishah

    Angelique was born and raised in San Diego, California. She earned her Bachelor's Degree at UC San Diego, majoring in Neurobiology and minoring in Psychology. Angelique's interest in Public Health sparked during her time working at the Center for Better Beginnings at the Department of Pediatrics, UCSD Health. There she worked with the Mommy's Milk research study during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak, attempting to find answers in regards to the safety of continuing to breastfeed if exposed to, or being infected with, COVID-19. She also worked on other research goals in regards to different environmental exposures affecting child developmental outcomes. Angelique developed a passion for research while obtaining experience in the clinical realm in the Neuro-ICU and Postpartum Units of Jacob's Medical Center. She plans on combining her research and clinical interests to work with and research congenital defects. Angelique is community-focused not just in her academic career, she also has involvement in various Non-Profit Organizations related to Arts, Music, and Mentorship for local San Diego Youth. As she is not musically inclined, Angelique enjoys spending her free time practicing hot yoga, going to the beach, and trying new restaurants.

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

  • Kimberly Gonzalez Davalos

    Kimberly Gonzalez Davalos

    Kimberly grew up in San Diego and graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2019 with a BA in Public Health. Following a year as a medical scribe at a gastroenterology clinic in Chula Vista, she enrolled in UCSD’s School of Medicine, where she just completed her third year. Through the school of medicine, she enrolled in the PRIME-HEq, a five-year MD/Master’s program committed to training physicians who can meet the needs of under-resourced communities. Kimberly chose to pursue her MPH at UCSD to continue to work on addressing health disparities that affect medically underserved communities. In her free time, Kimberly likes to spend time at the beach and explore the local San Diego cuisine.

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

  • Naomi Guy

    Naomi Guy

    My name is Naomi. I was born and raised in Arizona. I am super passionate about sexual health and positivity (enough to run a podcast all about it). I graduated with my Bachelors of Science in Community Health from Arizona State University in December of 2022. I am super excited to be living in San Diego and continuing my education at UCSD.

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

  • Vivian Han

    Vivian Han

    Vivian was born in Los Angeles but primarily grew up moving around, with Delano, California being a part of her upbringing. She obtained a double major from UCSB, earning bachelor’s degrees in Biological Anthropology and English.

    Health research was a field that Vivian always knew she was passionate about. Uncovering the origins of health issues and discovering potential solutions has the ability to change lives. Inspired by clinical trials and coding during her undergraduate studies, she was drawn to integrate these skills into the development of her research papers. Volunteering within the Santa Barbara community, alongside her service fraternity, further fueled her desire to pursue public health. Looking ahead, she aims to enhance her coding skills and contribute to addressing health-related challenges in low-income communities.

    During her leisure time, she indulges in a diverse range of hobbies. Some of these hobbies include stargazing constellations, exploring museums, taking walks, cooking, listening to music, playing video games, and watching anime.

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

  • Daniela Hannah

    Daniela Hannah

    From Fort Worth, TX and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BS in Exercise Physiology and certificate in Food and Society. During my time at the University of Texas, I was a research assistant in the Neuromuscular lab and Children's Research Center on campus. These experiences along with my coursework shaped my interest in both research and Public Health. My primary research interests are related to how climate change affects public health. In my free time I enjoy being outdoors with my dog and traveling with friends and family.

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

  • Rachel Ann Koehler

  • Chase Madison Kornacki

  • Theresa Lane

    Theresa Lane

    Theresa was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California. She completed her undergraduate studies at UC San Diego with a Bachelor of Science in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience. She developed a passion for mental health research through her work at the the Child and Adolescent Research Services Center, where she studied the effects of evidence-based practices in child therapy. After graduation, she worked as a Health Educator for the UC San Diego Public Health COVID Response Team. This experience motivated Theresa to pursue a degree in public health, where she hopes to combine her passion for research and healthcare to help improve the well-being of underserved communities. In her free time, Theresa enjoys traveling, hiking, reading books, and trying new foods.

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

  • Myunhee Lee

  • Jintao Li

    Jintao Li

    Jintao Li was born and raised in Hubei, China. He graduated from The University of Western Ontario in Canada with a Bachelor of Science degree, Honour Specialization in Statistics. During his studies in Canada, he took many courses about theoretical statistics method and applied them to real-life problems. He found his interest in the public health area when he took a survival analysis course and did a related project as an optional module in his senior year. After that, he decided to attend UC San Diego MPH program and he’s interested in epidemiology. He wants to learn more about epidemiology, apply them with statistical methods to public health and help solve many problems. In his free time, he likes playing soccer, learning languages and traveling.

    Pronouns: He/Him/His

  • Pedro Lopez

    Pedro Lopez

    I was born in a small town near Leon Guanajuato Mexico but was raised in Southeast San Diego. I am the first person in my family to go to college and graduated from UC San Diego in 2019 with a B.S. in Public Health. After graduating, I spent a couple of years working with underserved populations in various roles from being a homeless provider to managing a food bank, to working with individuals with substance issues. I am looking to pursue a Master in Public Health to help reform the healthcare system to better serve immigrant and BIPOC populations to have better access to Public Health Services. In my free time, I enjoy powerlifting and running!

    Pronouns: He/Him/His

  • Catherine (Cathy) Ikuma Lumeya

  • Samantha Mendoza

    Samantha Mendoza

    Samantha Mendoza is a San Diego native. She is a first generation college student. Her college journey started at Miracosta College and transferred to UCSD to finish her Bachelor of Science in Psychology with an emphasis in Human Health. She graduated with her B.S. in 2021 but since she was a pandemic student, she didn't feel prepared to go directly into a graduate program. She decided to go out into the work field and gain some real life experience. She quickly found her niche working on state and county grants that focus on moving policies in local jurisdictions that help to reduce youth access to tobacco products. While this job allowed her to grow and find that she really enjoys public health and seeing the difference she could make in her community, her passion is working in the mental health field. In the future, she hopes to work on grants that focus on behavioral health and children. Samantha is bilingual in Spanish as her family is Mexican. She has a love for languages and is currently learning Japanese so that she can be trilingual and reach even more people in her surrounding communities.
    Outside of school and work, Samantha enjoys doing community service. She even started her own initiative called "All Fur The Pets" and it is dedicated to up cycling old clothes no longer in use to create dog toys for shelter animals. This initiative started when she realized how much waste traditional toys create in her 1 pet household. Additionally, she found out that a lot of toys sold in store are actually harmful to pets' teeth. She uses social media to raise awareness on this issue and teaches people how to be more sustainable.
    Samantha also joined International Health Collective at UCSD this year and will be working on the Suicide Prevention Project. She hopes to gain more clinical experience though this opportunity to be able to get into Medical School to study Pediatric Psychiatry in the future.
    For fun, Samantha is an avid Pokemon GO player and Hello Kitty fan.

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

  • Natasha Elaine Orgeta Mortera

  • Elijah Mosley

    Elijah Mosley

    Eli is a recently graduated public health major who aspires to advance his career in health policy with the ultimate goal of teaching public health on a college level. He has conducted research on the prevalence of fentanyl in college aged students, and has hosted an international business conference that discussed ways different colleges/universities combated Covid-19 at its height.

    Recently, Eli has graduated from UCSD with a B.S. in public health with a concentration in epidemiology. He looks forward to honing in his knowledge and reaching the next level of expertise.

    In his free time, Eli likes to spar, play video games, write music, and sleep.


  • Paulina Munoz

    Paulina Munoz

    I was born and raised in San Diego, California. After graduating from a local community college, I transferred to Arizona State University and completed my Bachelors in Public Health. Deciding that I missed home, I came back to obtain my MPH at UCSD.

    My love for a career in Public Health grew during my time at an internship at Native Health, an amazing clinic in Arizona that caters to Native Americans, homeless individuals, and those on the low socioeconomic side. I loved helping every individual while showcasing the free/low costing resources Native Health had to offer, as well as the resources on the state and federal levels. I decided to continue my education in Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology at UCSD.

    In my downtime I like to read, paint, go to the farmers market with friends, and hang out with my rescued Catahoula Leopard dog mix, Azula.

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

  • Julian Nicholas

    Julian Nicholas

    Born and grew up in United Kingdom, and trained in medicine. I became very interested in Experimental Psychology as a student, a subject in which I received a PhD. I ended up going to Washington DC as a researcher, and later returned to medicine which I enjoy. I work in a medically underserved area, where there is a significant health burden at a far younger age than seen in the general population - this seems to cover many aspects of public health, which include a wide range of diseases including maternal and infant mortality, as well as diabetes, obesity and cancer that are not as well studied as other better communities. Its a terrible scourge on the community, and I would like to use my skills to understand the epidemiological factors which may lead to a better understanding of the disease morbidity and may ultimately lead to better health by using this information to influence better health policy.

    Pronouns: He/Him/His

  • Domonique Patterson

  • Samantha Amali Perera

  • Dheya Prathapan Pillai

    Dheya Prathapan Pillai

    Dheya was born and raised in Torrance, California. She earned her B.S. in Global Disease Biology with a minor in Public Health at the University of California, Davis. During her undergraduate studies, she developed a passion for research as she worked as a research assistant under the Van Winkle Laboratory at the Center for Health and the Environment. Here, Dheya was able to explore and contribute to research about the effects of environmental pollution and how exposure to lung toxicants alters normal lung biology.

    Dheya’s experience of working on campus for the Aggie Public Health Ambassador program during the COVID-19 pandemic allowed her to observe the health behaviors of the Davis community. As an ambassador, she was trained to address ongoing obstacles and promote healthy behaviors through outreach education to decrease the spread of COVID-19. Later, she worked under the Mental Health Ambassador program to accelerate stigma reduction and increase service utilization rates for mental health through outreach services, building awareness, encouraging help-seeking behavior, and connecting students with appropriate mental health resources. While working as a Mental Health Ambassador, she also participated in the Redwood SEED Scholars Program (Supported Education to Elevate Diversity) as an employment mentor, supporting current UC Davis students with intellectual disabilities during their employment and assisting them in developing valuable skills toward personal growth, job skills, and independence, all while promoting an all-inclusive community.

    With the skills she obtained from her undergraduate work experience, Dheya wants to pursue an MPH with a concentration in health behavior to understand more about social determinants of health, preventative care methods, health behaviors, and how to collaborate with professionals from multiple disciplines to push education and interventions that make healthcare more equitable.

    In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, gardening, watching movies, and hanging out with her childhood dog, Mushu.

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

  • Ali Elisabeth Punsalan

  • Yulong Qiu

  • Yassmine Shindy

    Yassmine Shindy

    Yassmine Shindy was born and raised near Pasadena, CA. She completed her undergraduate studies at UC San Diego with a BS in Neuroscience and Physiology. During undergrad, Yassmine spent time working as both a medical assistant and a student research assistant at UCSD Health-Hillcrest. There, her studies on Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in children introduced her to the intersection of clinical research, clinical practice/medicine, and public health practices. Her interest in public health furthered as she volunteered  with local food pantries and soup kitchens, as well as at nationally recognized health fairs such as Humanitarian Day and Dignity Day. Yassmine’s years at UCSD left a lasting impression on her by sparking her interest in both clinical medicine and public health issues. After graduating in 2021, she  returned to Pasadena to work as a medical scribe and administrator where she continued to learn more about community based practices, nutrition, and mental health disparities. During this time, Yassime volunteered with Elizabeth House, a home for pregnant women. This allowed Yassmine to formally enter the non-profit sector, where she began to grasp the complex issues and systemic challenges many marginalized communities faced when accessing essential  resources. Yassmine is currently working as a researcher and program developer at Sabil USA, an Orange County non-profit organization that  provides  food security , financial assistance, and mental health services to immigrants, refugees, and marginalized populations. Yassmine is committed to continuing her work in reducing health inequities in underserved communities such as the SWANA population and aims to improve mental health outcomes in those communities. When not spending time with family and four dogs, Yassmine enjoys trying new exercises, fluid painting, and visiting the beach.


  • Denise Tamashiro

    Denise Tamashiro

    Denise Tamashiro was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Asian American Studies from California State University, Fullerton in 2023. During her years at CSU Fullerton, Denise volunteered in the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology department at Kaiser Permanente as well as interned as a Behavioral Therapist at an ABA clinic. She was also a research assistant in Dr. Natsuki Atagi’s lab that focuses on understanding diverse language experiences and cognitive development in children and college students. As a Spanish-English bilingual, Denise translated study materials into Spanish, as well as collected and coded data in Spanish. When looking to further her education, Denise looked into the Public Health field and discovered UC San Diego’s program. It had exactly what she was looking for, a concentration in Public Mental Health. It combined both aspects that she always wanted to focus on, her psychology background of mental health as well as an individual's physical health. She hopes to learn and have a better understanding of how the mind and body works together while also applying methods to provide and protect those in the field of mental health. Denise hopes to continue her education further to become a Clinical Psychologist with an emphasis in Health Psychology. She strives to be a trustworthy professional who reduces mental health stigma and whom communities of color look to for resources and treatment. In her free time she enjoys trying new restaurants, watching professional sports (NBA, MLB, Soccer, Formula 1 Racing), discovering new music, as well as spending time with friends and family.

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

  • Jyanni Breann Thomas

  • Vivian Hoang Tran

    Vivian Hoang Tran

    Vivian was born and raised in Garden Grove, California, to a resilient family of Vietnamese refugees. Growing up in a low-income and single-parent household did not stop her from pursuing her dreams of improving the quality and access to healthcare services in underserved areas. She was the first in her family to pursue education past the high school level - obtaining two Bachelor's degrees in Molecular and Cell Biology & Integrative Human Biology, as well as minoring in Global Public Health during her time at UC Berkeley. As an undergraduate student, she worked alongside the Innovative Genomics Institute and Nobel Laureate Jennifer Doudna to aid in free COVID-19 saliva-based testing at the start of the pandemic. Vivian also honed her wet and dry lab skills from working in the Bustamante Lab and Madsen Lab at UC Berkeley, studying the primary mechanism of Mycobacterium tuberculosis RNA polymerase transcription to develop treatments and identifying trends in health outcomes in relation to sugary drink consumption. She also played a pivotal role as a COVID-19 Outbreak Research Assistant with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), interviewing a diverse population of cases and controls across all counties to better understand vaccine efficacy, risk factors, and exposures, which led to groundbreaking publications featured in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and world-renowned epidemiology journals. Outside of research, she volunteers at basic needs organizations, works at a local clinic as a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA), and enjoys exploring the food scene wherever she's at. Vivian is currently a first-year Master of Public Health student concentrating in Health Behavior at UC San Diego, striving every day to make a positive difference in her community. She continues to work towards improving health education to tackle disparities in health as a result of socio-economic factors and systemic racism.

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

  • Sesil Mariya Varghese

    Sesil Mariya Varghese

    I am a person who is passionate about healthcare and research in the community.

    I was born and raised in India. As I was passionate about the health care, I joined medical school. Before moving to US, I worked as a research assistant in community medicine where I found my interest towards public health. I also volunteered in the department of public health at Santa Clara Valley medical center which increased my interest toward the society.

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

  • Sydney May Willden

  • Xinqian Zhong