Meet the Ambassadors
Our ambassadors represent the core of STEM*FYI and come from an incredible diversity of backgrounds and experiences.
This cohort of 15 ambassadors spans across 11 STEM departments and includes many ambassadors who identify as underrepresented in STEM, people of color, as well as first-generation students. Read more about our ambassadors below!
Meet the Graduate Student Coordinator of STEM*FYI
Ali Bhatti (he/him)
3rd year PhD student in Science and Math Education (SESAME)
Hello! I’m Ali. I was born in Pakistan and as a child, I immigrated to the United States with my family. We settled in Englewood, NJ and I consider myself a proud New Jerseysan. My identity is very much influenced by my cultural and religious upbringing as a Pakistani-Muslim growing up in the US post-9/11. I was always the “Muslim” kid in my classes and growing up in the tri-state area only accentuated that label. However, once I got to college, I began to see how my faith, culture, and science (particularly biology) were mutually reinforcing and connected. Now, as a grad student, I’m continuing to see those personal connections, which has led me to become interested in the science identity development of other students in STEM. Outside of being a grad student, I love sports, so you can catch me on the basketball court missing wide open 3’s or turning off the TV in frustration as my favorite teams (Nets, Mets, AC Milan) maintain their mediocrity.
Ph.D. candidate Comparative Biochemistry
Hi Everyone, This is Teena Bajaj, an international graduate student in Comparative Biochemistry (working in Bioengineering). My research interest is translational sciences – merging the basic and clinical sciences. I am implementing my basic sciences background (biochemistry and structural biology) to bring new discoveries from bench to bedside and contribute towards human welfare. I am associated with a couple of organizations on campus, STEM*FYI, GWE and LAGSES. I am happy to assist incoming students in becoming a part of this diverse community of developing scientists. Apart from this, I love to connect with nature in my leisure time like growing plants and walking in the sun. I am culturally enriched and love to celebrate festivals. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions and concerns.
Hari Prasanna Das (he/his/him)
Ph.D. candidate in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences
Hello, I am Hari Prasanna! I am an international student from India in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. I study the application of machine learning to tackle climate change, particularly via making buildings smarter and energy efficient. I love mentoring students and participate in events that motivate diversity and inclusion in STEM. I love hiking and volleyball.
Gabriel López-Marcial (he/him/his)
PhD Candidate in Mechanical Engineering
Wepa! I’m Gabriel, a PhD candidate at the Berkeley Biomechanics Lab under Dr. Grace O’Connell. My work focuses on the mechanical behaviors of hydrogels that we use for tissue engineering. More specifically, I’m interested in the effects of extra-cellular matrix components like collagen on the time-dependent mechanical properties of hydrogel scaffolds and native tissues. I’m originally from Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, the most beautiful little place in the world. In my free time, I love playing with my cat Kaos, consuming as many team sports as I can, and catching up on my fantasy and sci-fi reading list! If any of that aligns with your interests, don’t be shy, let me know!
Gwen Hanley (she/her)
Ph.D. candidate in Physics
Hey, I’m Gwen! I work up the hill at Space Sciences Laboratory studying how Mars is losing its atmosphere. More specifically, I’m investigating what processes provide ions enough energy to escape from Mars’ gravity. I’m also a coordinator for a peer-led sexual violence and harassment prevention training called Respect is Part of Research, and I work with a couple of informal groups to advocate for diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism in physics, astronomy and the Earth and space sciences. To relax, I like to play video games (alternating between Animal Crossing and Witcher 3 right now), bake, and watch TV with my cat, Gandalf.
Han Le (she/her)
3rd year Ph.D. candidate in Chemistry
Hi, I’m Han! I’m a third-year PhD candidate in the Chemistry department and an NSF-GRFP Fellow. I study phase transitions of so-called perovskite materials in order to design better and more stable solar cells. I spent the first 15 years of my life in Vietnam before moving to the US. As a first-gen immigrant and student, creating a supportive and inclusive environment is important to me, and I’m passionate about fostering effective mentorship and increasing STEM retention and participation among URMs. In my free time I like to destress with ballroom dancing, yoga, exploring different cuisines or reading a good book.
Arianna Avellán (she/her)
4th year Ph.D. candidate in Materials Science and Engineering
Hey, I am Arianna! I was born and raised in Guayaquil, Ecuador before moving to the US in my teens. I am currently investigating different synthesis methods to make mucoadhesive particles for drug delivery purposes. I am also involved in other organizations like Latinx Association of Graduate Students in Engineering and Science (LAGSES) and Getting Into Graduate School (GIGS). I am a huge advocate for the advancement and retention of Latinas in STEM. If any of this sounds interesting, then feel free to reach out to me. In my free time I like to go to the beach, take nature walks, do yoga and drink coffee. I also like to watch thriller or true crime movies/shows.
Alina Nguyen (she/her)
5th year Ph.D. candidate in Integrative Biology
Hi, I’m Alina! I study how chemical treatments affect the brain and behavior of Xenopus laevis frogs. My parents came to America as refugees from Vietnam, and some time along the way they met in Minnesota and I was born 🙂 I grew up surrounded by the beautiful lakes in Minnesota and spent most of my childhood outdoors. I was curious about how and why the animals I encountered behave and that’s how my interest in science began. My goal, through education, is to promote inclusion and increase representation of minority groups in STEM.
Marie Pelagie Elimbi Moudio (she/her}
Ph.D. candidate in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research
Pelagie is a PhD student in the Industrial Engineering and Operations Research department. Her research interest lies in modeling decision support systems to aid natural resource management focusing on forests management.
Cara He (she/her)
5th year Ph.D. candidate in Integrative Biology
Jackie Galvez (she/her)
3rd year Ph.D. candidate in Integrative Biology and Museum of Vertebrate Zoology
Hi friends! My name is Jackie and I’m a 3rd year student in the Integrative Biology department. I’m originally from the Los Angeles area and am the first in my family to pursue an advanced degree. I study dietary specialization and niche partitioning in Cameroon crater lake cichlids. Basically, I’m interested in what fish eat, how they eat it, and the connections between diet and evolution. In addition to research, I’m very passionate about K-12 science education. I’m involved in two programs here at Berkeley, Bay Area Scientists in Schools (BASIS) and Expanding Your Horizons (EYH), which provide grad student-led STEM lessons and workshops to K-8 students. Feel free to reach out to me about these programs! My non-science interests include bullet journaling, hiking, thrift shopping, and spending too much time (and money) at coffee shops. If you’re looking for someone to talk to about the enneagram or the latest episode of the Bachelorette, I’m your gal!
PhD Student in Architecture
Hi, I’m Yasaman! I’m a PhD student in Architecture. My interdisciplinary research seeks to build dynamic links between architecture and structural engineering. My focus is on developing new efficient and sustainable workflows for construction of concrete gridshell structures that sync architectural, structural and construction elements from early stages of the design. In my free time, I hike, paint and watch TV series. I enjoy talking about plants, hand crafting and decorations!
Theo McKenzie (he/him/his)
5th year Ph.D. candidate in Mathematics
Hey! My name is Theo and I’m a fifth year math PhD hailing from Brooklyn, NY. I study probability theory and combinatorics, focusing on graph theory. Specifically, I’m interested in using linear algebra to control the expansion of networks. I’m also the lead instructor for Pre-Calculus at Mount Tamalpais College (formerly the Prison University Project) at San Quentin State Prison. If you’re interested in the program or other programs at the prison, let me know. I’m a squash player and am in the Cal Squash Box League. I’m also interested in basketball and soccer. If you’re interested in the Premier League or want to play an online chess game, shoot me an email!
Mickey Boakye (He/Him)
2nd Year Ph.D. candidate in Mechanical Engineering
Hey y’all! I’m Stephanie. I was born in the maple syrup capital of Ohio, but raised in the small town of Waxhaw, North Carolina (referred to as “The ‘Haw” by the cool kids!). I’m currently getting my PhD in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Biomechanics and a minor in Neuroscience. I work in Dr. Lydia Sohn’s lab playing with brain organoids, trying to study the pathways of aging and age-related neurodegenerative diseases in the brain. Mentors guided me here, and now I want to play that role for someone else. Through STEM*FYI I hope to become a friend, cheerleader, and support system for whomever needs it. I enjoy hiking, surfing, reading, soccer, painting, and traveling. Please feel free to say hi!
3rd year Ph.D. candidate in Integrative Biology
Hi! I’m Daisy, a third year PhD candidate in Integrative Biology. I am a student in Dr. Eileen Lacey’s lab based in the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (MVZ). I’m currently studying chemical communication and pre-mating barriers in the California vole, a small grassland rodent which inhabits the entire length of California! I am from Austin, Texas, first-gen, and proudly CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) to two deaf parents. As someone who has personally benefited from outreach opportunities available to me, I’m eager to help build strong communities and increase the educational opportunities available to students from underrepresented groups. In my free time I love to be out in nature (hiking, camping, etc) and I really enjoy doing any type of art/crafting!