Current Sociology Students

Sarah Blake, MPH, MSc

Keywords: adolescence, sexual and reproductive health, health disparities, postcolonial feminist theory, critical global health, qualitative methods

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Sarah’s work focuses on the social and structural drivers of adolescent reproductive health in low resource contexts. She explores the interaction among global health and development discourse and practice, national policy, community social norms and processes, and programmatic interventions as they relate to adolescent girls’ education and health. Sarah has more than a decade of professional experience in international and domestic sexual and reproductive health related research, programming and advocacy. She currently supports the Population Council’s efforts to promote evidence-based, girl-centered programming in Sierra Leone, and with communities of practice working with and for girls affected by emergencies and economic inequity across various settings. Sarah holds a Master of Public Health (MPH), with a certificate in Sexuality, Sexual, and Reproductive Health from Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health; a Master of Science (MSc) in Gender, Development, and Globalization from the London School of Economics; and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Religious Studies from Pomona College. Email:


Chadwick Campbell


Chuck Cloniger


Taylor Cruz

Megan R. Dowdell, MA

Keywords: Ethics, chronic illness, intersectionality, religion, spiritual care.

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Megan is a PhD candidate interested in the relationships among religion/spirituality, ethics and health. While in doctoral training, Megan has pursued fellowship as a Unitarian Universalist minister and brings a chaplain’s heart to her research interests in medical sociology. She serves as a visiting assistant professor at Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, teaching and advising students preparing to be religious leaders and chaplains. Megan holds a BA in Society & Health from Simmons College in Boston and a MA in Ethics and Social Theory from the Graduate Theological Union. Her doctoral dissertation project is a phenomenological study on the religious/spiritual experiences of women of color with congestive heart failure.

She can be contacted at Her personal website is .

Nicole Foti

Keywords: politics of bioscience; sociology of scientific knowledge; gender/race/class; feminist theory; science, technology & medicine

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Nicole is a PhD student interested in work that focuses on bioscience within the context of social, political and cultural structures. She is interested in the relationship between medical research and interlocking systems of power including gender, race, class and sexuality. Her work is informed by the understanding that scientific knowledge both influences and is influenced by systems of oppression, and will explore how this knowledge is shaped by looking at which questions get raised in science, and why. Nicole has two BS degrees, one in Biology from Oregon State University and a second in Women’s and Gender Studies from University of Oregon. Prior to UCSF, she worked at a HIV/AIDS nonprofit organization serving nonmetropolitan areas in Oregon.  Email:


Luis Gutierrez-Mock

Jhia Jackson

Keywords: youth, aging, chronic illness, communication practices, body politics

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Jhia’s research interests stem from her experiences as a professional dance artist, a commitment to life-long learning, and her personal experiences. Her work routinely addresses questions such as: How do we know what we know? How do we communicate what we know? How are we understood by others? She enjoys hands-on opportunities to work with and among the very populations that inspire her, and she looks forward to delving deeper into research and program development for these communities.


Melanie (Mel) Jeske, MS

Keywords: modeling; measurement & standardization; biomedicine; science and technology studies; critical interdisciplinarity studies

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Mel Jeske’s research focuses on models, standards, and measurement used in biomedical research. Broadly speaking, her work focuses on social dimensions of knowledge production about human health and wellbeing. Mel’s dissertation uses ethnographic methods to examine how biomedical modeling practices have changed in the 20th and 21st centuries. She traces how laboratory practices are altered through the development and deployment of computational technologies. Her previous work analyzed the emergence of the obesity research enterprise and the use of standards and measurement in biomedical obesity research.


Rashon Lane

Rashon Lane

Keywords: sociology of survivorship, chronic disease, critical global health, disaster response, health equity

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Rashon is a doctoral candidate interested in how structural inequalities in society disproportionally marginalizes social and economic opportunities for survivors of public health epidemics. Her research is centered in documenting survivor narratives and community trauma in vulnerable populations. Her current project includes documenting how communities experienced disaster capitalism after the 2014-16 West Africa Ebola outbreak. Since 2007, she has served as a Behavioral Scientist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in cardiovascular disease prevention. She holds a masters in social psychology and program evaluation from Claremont Graduate University, and a bachelors in psychology from Tuskegee University. She can be reached at or


Mike Levesque

Maya Manian

Keywords: reproductive health care, health disparities, race/class/gender, intersectionality, law and society

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Maya’s research focuses on access to reproductive health care and the relationship between reproductive rights and gender equality. She examines how the law resists reforms aimed at gender equality and how this resistance differentially impacts women along lines of race and class. She is interested in exploring how abortion laws and policies filter into clinicians’ provision of women’s health care. Maya is a Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco School of Law. She earned a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Her USF Law School faculty website is She can be reached at


Amina Massey 


Susan Miller 


Ali Mushtaq

Tessa Napoles, MS

Keywords: chronic illness and comorbidity, structural violence, food and housing insecurity, race/class/gender, US urban health safety net, mixed methods/interdisciplinary research

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Tessa Napoles, MS is a doctoral student in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences and a Project Coordinator and Research Analyst in the UCSF Department of Anthropology, History, and Social Medicine and Division of HIV, ID, and Global Medicine. Since completing an MS at UCSF, Tessa has worked with over ten interdisciplinary, mixed methods studies examining chronic illness and comorbidity (HIV, HCV, diabetes, breast cancer), food and housing insecurity, and poverty in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is currently an ethnographer for the UCSF HEALSS study (PI: Nancy Burke) which is exploring the institutional and political management of chronic illness in chronic care management programs in the US urban health safety net. Email:

Grace Poudrier

Keywords: sociology of science, knowledge production, scientific uncertainty, health activism

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Grace Poudrier is a research coordinator and first year doctoral student in sociology at UCSF. She is interested in how activist groups use lay expertise and embodied illness experience to challenge orthodox science and public policy, particularly in the context of environmental health hazards. Prior to UCSF she worked at NYU Langone Medical Center, where she coordinated research on patient-reported satisfaction with gender affirming surgery. She studied health and environmental policy as an undergraduate and earned her BA from Sarah Lawrence College. She can be reached at

Ashley Perez

Keywords: Sexual minority health; health disparities; racial/ethnic minorities; intersectionality; HIV prevention

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Ashley Perez is a Graduate Dean’s Fellow and a doctoral student in sociology. Her primary research interest is sexual health and behavior among minority populations, particularly looking at the intersections of race/ethnicity, sexuality, and gender. Ashley has worked on HIV prevention projects in the U.S., China, and Brazil. Ashley holds a BA in Public Health and ScM in Social and Behavioral Health Sciences from Brown University. She can be contacted at

Florencia Rojo, BA

Keywords: structural violence, transgenerational trauma, race/class/gender, immigrant health, feminist theories

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Florencia Rojo is a Rosenberg-Hill Graduate Research Fellow and a doctoral candidate in sociology at UCSF. She is interested in understanding the intersections of multiple forms of violence. Her research explores transnational families’ violence experiences across generations. Florencia has worked with diverse communities in the U.S. and Latin America on community health and violence prevention/intervention initiatives. Florencia has a BA in sociology from DePaul University in Chicago, IL.

Sara Rubin

Keywords: Pain, methodology, sociology of knowledge, embodiment, biomedicalization

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Sara is an Earl C. Anthony Fellow and doctoral candidate in the department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Her work examines pain at the intersections of medical sociology, social studies of science, and embodiment studies. Sara is currently working on her dissertation, which explores how neuroscientific understandings of pain are produced, disseminated, and translated into clinical practice. Janet Shim chairs her dissertation committee, and Rina Bliss, Mara Buchbinder, and Victoria-Pitts Taylor are members.


Ulluminair Salim, MPH

Key words: Bioethics; Science, Technology, and Medicine Studies; Structural Determinants of Health; Disability Studies; Critical Theory; Qualitative Methods

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Ulluminair Salim is a Rosenberg-Hill Graduate Research Fellow and doctoral candidate in sociology at UCSF.  Ulluminair’s scholarship explores questions of whose lives matter, whose bodies count, and who decides; traversing the interstices between scientific progress and social responsibility. Her dissertation investigates the biopolitics of human enhancement and the prophesied “end of disability” with attention to markets of human rehabilitation and augmentation technologies such as bionics. At its most expansive, Ulluminair’s work examines intersections of neoliberalism, technoscience, and shifting conceptions of what it means to be human in the 21st Century. A native of the Bay Area, Ulluminair earned her BA degree in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley and MPH degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.


Zoe Samudzi

Zoe Samudzi, MSc

Keywords: transgender health; structural determinants of risk; community health; black feminist & postcolonial feminisms; qualitative methods

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Zoe is interested in the ways in which intersecting & mutually reinforcing structures of race, gender, and class drive health vulnerabilities and disparities. Most recently, as project coordinator of the Sheroes Project (a study within UCSF's Center of Excellence for Transgender Health), her work has focused on the development of culturally competent HIV prevention strategies for transgender women [of color]. She received her MSc in Health, Community, and Development from the Department of Social Psychology at the London School of Economics.


Ariana Jostad-Laswell

Ariana Thompson-Lastad, BA

Keywords: primary care, integrative medicine, health inequalities, immigrant health, mixed-methods

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Ariana Thompson-Lastad does mixed-methods and qualitative research focused on health inequalities, integrative medicine, chronic illness, and the impacts of stress and trauma on health. Her dissertation, funded by an NIH F31 fellowship, examines the use of group medical visits to increase vulnerable populations’ access to integrative medicine and support patient empowerment and engagement in care. Ariana has worked on research projects focused on complex care management programs; integrative treatment for chronic pain; Latina women’s birth experiences, and Latino parents’ perspectives on young children’s sleep. Her work as a health educator at a community health center sparked her interest in how innovations in primary care settings can help reduce health disparities. Ariana has a BA in sociology and human rights from Bard College. Outside of UCSF, she volunteers with Integrative Medicine for the Underserved and Hand in Hand: the Domestic Employers Network. She can be reached at:

Meredith Van Natta, MA

Keywords: immigrant health; citizenship; biopolitics; health inequalities; science, medicine, and technology studies

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Meredith Van Natta, MA, explores how discourses of risk and citizenship shape the health of undocumented immigrants living in the United States. After completing a master’s degree at UC Berkeley, Meredith worked for three years at Operation Access, a local non-profit that provides donated surgical and specialty care to low-income, uninsured Bay Area residents. This work drew her to the sociology program at UCSF, where she continues to explore the intersecting impacts of health and immigration policies on undocumented immigrants. While at UCSF, Meredith has also been a research assistant for the HEALSS study examining health literacy in complex care management programs in the safety net. She can be contacted at

Lily Walkover

Lily Walkover, BA

Keywords: sociology of knowledge, science and technology studies, critical global health, qualitative methods

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Lily Walkover, BA, is interested in what counts as knowledge in the field of global health, and how different knowledges (especially those designated as lay and expert, local and global) intersect in their production and uptake. Given that knowledge and health are both inherently political in their relationship to access to resources and the ability to sustain life, how are these dynamics related to histories of colonialism and resource extraction, and current and past paradigms of development? Her current research explores these dynamics, as well as how they intersect with histories of humanitarianism. Lily has a BA in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry and Science in Society from Wesleyan University, where her thesis focused on the role of modeling in the scientific process. Prior to UCSF, Lily worked with an HIV-focused non-profit in India, and at Hesperian Health Guides, a public health publisher. She volunteers at the Berkeley Free Clinic.


Rosie Winslow

Rosalie Winslow

Keywords: health inequities; electronic health records and eHealth/health technology; biomedicalization; science and technology; qualitative methodology

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Rosalie is a Rosenberg-Hill Graduate Research Fellow and doctoral student in Sociology. She is interested in health disparities in the context of biomedicalization. Specifically, she considers how Electronic Health Records and other standardization technologies are restructuring care standards and care delivery in the clinic, as well as how these structural shifts are navigated and experienced by both providers and patients. Rosalie started the program in 2015 after four years of work at a Brooklyn, NY hospital, where she was a patient advocate and worked in emergency medicine resident education. She earned her B.A. in Sociology and Women and Gender Studies from Bates College in Maine. She can be contacted at:


Jarmin Yeh


If you are a current student of the UCSF Sociology Doctoral program, we would love to feature your profile on this page. Please send an email to that includes:

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