Interdisciplinary Social Science Mentor – Gates Foundation Predoctoral Fellow

I am an environmental archaeologist (Ph.D. program in the Anthropology Department) conducting historical ecological research on Indigenous stewardship practices over the past millenium in California, North America. I am carrying out this dissertation research collaboratively with Tribal organizations and natural resource agencies to evaluate how resource management strategies, like cultural burning, changed over long periods of time. The research will be integrated into contemporary stewardship plans, which seek to re-implement indigenous stewardship techniques in order to restore native plants, revitalize dormant cultural practices, and reduce the risk of wildfire along the coastal region of central California. Before coming to the graduate program at Cal, I worked for several years in the private sector doing cultural and environmental resource impact studies. I have a strong passion for mentoring and working with the next generation of multidisciplinary scholars who continue to inspire my own research as well. On the weekends, you can find me tending plants, sunbathing with my cat, or cooking something on the grill.

UROC – Undergraduate Coordinator

My name is Diana Ramirez (pronouns: she/they) and I am a first-generation transfer student majoring in Chicano studies. I am a daughter of Mexican immigrants and was born and raised in East Los Angeles. I am a 2021 URAP Fellow at UCSF with the Fuerte Program, where I work to support newcomer Latinx immigrant youth at-risk for traumatic stress and to increase their knowledge of and access to mental health services and resources. I am also in the process of cultivating my senior honors thesis this year.

Upon transferring to Cal from East Los Angeles College in Spring 2020, I immersed myself in the transfer community at the Transfer Student Center where I serve as a peer advocate lead in our Transitioning to Cal course. Here, I support first-semester transfer students in their transition to a four-year university. Having taken the course myself and now being a student co-facilitator for the course, I realize the profound and transformative impacts that I can continue to make in students from historically underrepresented backgrounds, especially within the transfer community, both as a student leader and as a researcher of color at Cal. My work and research are personal to me: it is a labor of love that centers the voices and experiences of my ancestors and communities. My hope is to continue to create a strong and inclusive community among the students of color at this institution with the goal of decolonizing academia.

Valarie Vargas

UROC Graduate Coordinator – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)

My name is Valerie (pronouns: she/her) and I’m a graduate student in Molecular and Cell Biology. Im interested in how pathogens interact with their host to cause disease and how the immune system responds to pathogens. I’ll be happy to hear what your research interest are! I’m from Puerto Rico! As a Latina woman and minority in the sciences, I understand how isolating it can feel to not find many people that look like you, share similar experiences, do research or hold important positions here on campus. This fuels my desire to help increase diversity and inclusion in the sciences and cultivate a sense of belonging within the community. I am passionate about helping students like you get access to research and higher education.

Emelliah Vaught

UROC – Undergraduate Coordinator

My name is Emelliah Vaught (she/her/hers) and I am an undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. I am majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology with an emphasis in Immunology and Pathogenesis and plan to minor in African American Studies. In the future, I hope to attend med school to become a Pathologist and base my research on communities of color. As a Black woman navigating a very white, colonist society, I have experienced the racial disparities that continue to taint the medical field today. I hope to eliminate these disparities in the future through my career of choice. I am passionate about encouraging students of color at Berkeley to continue taking up well-deserved space at this institution, and hope to bring a better sense of community and belonging through my work at UROC.