Current Sociology Students


Berty Arreguin

Key words: social inequalities in health, type II diabetes; socioeconomic status, race, sex/gender, and aging; theory, mixed research methods.

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Berty Arreguin is a Mexican-American woman, a first-generation college graduate, and the first in her family to gain acceptance into a doctoral program. In past research, she analyzed variations in how people in California self-rate their health based on their socioeconomic status, education, race, sex, and age. She wants to expand this research to include chronic disease, specifically type II diabetes, in the San Joaquin Central Valley where she grew up. Although type II diabetes can affect many people, some groups face a higher risk—specifically Mexican-Americans women. She wants to investigate how this chronic disease affects the way Mexican-Americans women self-rate their health condition, and to understand whether they practice self-care after a diagnosis. If not, what prevents them from participating in self-care behaviors? She can be contacted at [email protected].


 Stephanie Arteaga

Keywords: Health equity, reproductive justice, mental health, qualitative methods, community-based methods, Latinx populations

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Stephanie Arteaga is a doctoral student in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, and a Research Associate with the Sexual Health and Reproductive Equity (SHARE) Program at the University of California, Berkeley. For nearly ten years, Stephanie has worked in health research with a focus on reproductive justice, health equity, and improving health outcomes for communities of color. Her interests include the impacts of structural racism and trauma on mental and reproductive health for BIPOC communities and engaging community in research to tell their own stories through qualitative methods. As a first generation Mexican American, Stephanie is particularly interested in how mental health and trauma impact reproductive decision-making among recently immigrated and early generation Latinas, and how government benefits program can best support people in realizing their reproductive desires. Stephanie earned an MPH in Maternal and Child Health at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health in 2016, and a BA in Sociology from San Francisco State University in 2013. In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys baking, reading, and spending time with her family and dog, Lobo. Email: [email protected]



Sutina Chou

Keywords: global health, international health organizations, biomedicine/biopolitics, politics of expertise and authority, qualitative and interpretative methods

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Sutina is a PhD student interested in studying the politics of expertise and authority associated with the predominance of biomedical approaches to global health. Her work draws on global historical sociology, medical sociology, and science and technology studies to investigate how biomedical knowledge and expertise in global health enable and are enabled by global power dynamics. Currently, they are focused on the character and aesthetics of information involved in discourses of (de)politicization within the World Health Organization. Sutina holds an MA in Political Science from the University of Minnesota, and a Bachelor of Arts and Science from McMaster University. 

Email: [email protected]



  Chuck Cloniger


  Jennifer Templeton Dunn, JD

Keywords: reproductive justice, abortion, contraception, respectful maternity care, health disparities, race/class/gender, intersectionality, and ethics.

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Jennifer Dunn, JD, is a doctoral student in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, with a concurrent faculty appointment in UCSF’s Department of Family Health Care Nursing. Jennifer’s research and advocacy focus on contraception, abortion, and respectful maternity care. She is teaching faculty in the UCSF Global Health Sciences program, affiliated-faculty with the UCSF/UC Hastings Consortium, and serves as the UC Hastings Faculty Ambassador to the UC Center on Women’s Health, Gender & Empowerment. Jennifer also serves as the Director of the California Alliance for Abortion Care. She can be contacted at [email protected].


  Thais Forneret

Keywords: qualitative methods, theory, race/class/gender, mental health

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Thais /ty-EES/ is a doctoral student in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco. Her research focuses on how social forces affect the mental health of various social groups, particularly that of mixed-race individuals. Thais is interested in qualitative methods of research, especially ethnography and in-depth interviews, and sociological theory. Thais earned her Bachelor's degree in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley, and her Master's degree also in Sociology from the California State University, Sacramento
Email: [email protected]


Julia Gordon

Key Words: chronic disease, health equity, science and technology studies (STS), clinical research, sociology of embodiment, qualitative methods and discourse analysis

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Julia Gordon is a doctoral student in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco. Prior to UCSF, Julia worked for five years conducting pediatric clinical research at the Mount Sinai Hospital Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) center in New York, NY. As an author and researcher in science and technology studies (STS), pediatric gastroenterology, and genomics, Julia is interested in examining how sociocultural and political structures shape the construction of medical biotechnologies, education models, treatment practices, and patient decision making paradigms. Her research explores how constructs of gender, sexuality, and race shape subjective experiences of chronic disease embodiment, and how they are used by biomedical professionals when designing and interpreting biomedical research. At the heart of her academic and intellectual aspirations is a commitment to fight for equitable, anti-racist clinical research design and biotechnology access for BIPOC, queer, and trans patients with chronic disease. She hopes to collaborate with clinicians and pharmaceutical/biotechnology companies to design culturally inclusive study protocols that are more accessible to marginalized communities. Julia received her BA in Biology and Science in Society from Wesleyan University. She can be reached at [email protected].


 Carmen Green

Keywords: Birth equity, Black femme theory, Reproductive Justice applications, sexual & reproductive health, gerontology & aging, social policy

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Carmen Green is Vice President of Research & Strategy at National Birth Equity Collaborative (NBEC), creating solutions that optimize Black maternal and infant health through training, research, policy advocacy and community-centered collaboration. Her research priorities are in operationalizing anti-racist frameworks and Black feminist theory in healthcare, policy, and culture. She is also interested in gerontology and access to long term care and end of life services. She is a former Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, State Policy Fellow. Then, based at Louisiana Budget Project in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Carmen focused on health policy, long-term care support and predatory lending protections for low and moderate-income families. She created Hazel Green, LLC in 2017 to provide grant writing assistance for Black-owned community-based programs and family serving nonprofits. She has earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from Wake Forest University, and master's degrees in maternal and child health and community health education from Tulane Universities. Carmen is a writer, reproductive justice activist and doula in training, whose continued commitment is to Black families experiencing wellness and joy.


 Paige Logan 

Key words: reproductive justice, gender equity, Asian diasporas, caregiving, structural determinants of health, participatory and feminist methods

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Paige Logan is a doctoral student in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. She is currently a Policy and Advocacy Advisor at Ipas where she works with community members, advocates, and policymakers to create enabling environments that prioritize reproductive freedom and equitable access to sexual and reproductive health care. She has cross-movement advocacy experience at international, national, and state levels and hopes to pursue community-driven research that explores structural determinants of health to support economic, social, and cultural change. Her research interests include reproductive justice, Asian diaspora and identity, and caregiving, as well as qualitative and participatory methods. Paige has an MPH from UNC Chapel Hill and a BS in psychology from Davidson College. She can be reached at [email protected]


  Luis Gutierrez-Mock


  Abou Ibrahim-Biangoro

Keywords: Immigration, second-generation immigration, identity, race, social medicine, public health, mental health

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Abou Ibrahim-Biangoro is a PhD candidate at UCSF in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. She identifies as a Cameroonian American, and her research focus is on the health (mental and physical) outcomes of second-generation immigrants. Her goal after finishing her doctoral degree is to utilize her research to build the foundation of improved healthcare for immigrants through a lens of social medicine. Her previous work was in nonprofit, educational program management, as well as coaching. Many of her experiences shaped her interest in mental health, mindfulness, and public health. She has done talks and lectures on these subjects and is always eager to learn more. Abou received her Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from UC Davis, and completed her Master's in Public Health from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. She can be reached at [email protected]. Her personal website is


  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.

Email: [email protected]


Cristin Kearns
Cristin Kearns, DDS, MBA

Key words: Commercial determinants of health, sociology of health professions, surveillance studies

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For the last decade, Cristin Kearns, DDS, MBA has been working to establish food industry documents research as a new area of investigation that transforms the way people think about sugar and the sugar industry’s role in promoting health inequities related to dental caries, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. In 2018, her research and document collecting efforts culminated in the launch of the UCSF Food Industry Documents Archive (FIDA), a collection of more than 600,000 sugar-industry related documents, which is part of the UCSF Industry Documents Library (IDL). The IDL is a digital archive of documents created by industries that influence public health. Originally established in 2002 to house the millions of documents publicly disclosed in litigation between US States and the seven major tobacco industry organizations, the collections have been expanded to include documents from the food, drug, chemical, and fossil fuel industries. UCSF has a long and continuing history of excellence in research on the commercial determinants of health built around the IDL. Dr. Kearns is part of a core group of faculty engaged in innovative documents-based analyses that have been influential in the public, academic, and policymaking spheres. As a PhD candidate in the UCSF Sociology program, Dr. Kearns will be exploring sugar industry influence on the health professions. She can be contacted at [email protected]



Natalie Keller


Erin Johnson, PhD (cand)
  Erin R. Johnson, MPH


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Erin Johnson is a PhD candidate at the University of California San Francisco, where she has been a Cota-Robles and Rosenberg Hill Fellow. She specializes in mixed methods research and evaluation, with a particular focus on increasing access to care for disadvantaged populations. Erin earned her Masters of Public Health from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, where she worked on several community-based HIV prevention projects. Since that time, Erin has worked at American Institutes for Research as a Research Associate and at Behavioral Health Concepts, Inc., as a Data Analyst. Erin’s research seeks to understand how our social construction of the “female” body as fertile and the valorization of motherhood as the ultimate feminine virtue affects health policy, medical practice, and personal experience around menstruation, contraception, and abortion. She is particularly interested in the ways socio-political systems punish individuals assigned female at birth who reject (or even appear to reject) motherhood, how they prioritize the health of potential future children over the health of patients capable of becoming pregnant, and how individuals and communities work to resist these oppressive systems.



Selam Kidane

Keywords: race/ethnicity, immigrant mental health & health disparity, global health systems, qualitative methods

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Selam Kidane is an Eritrean-American, she is interested in further analyzing issues related to mental and physical health amongst the East African diaspora and communities of color. Her interests draw upon her work as a licensed clinical social worker. Selam currently works with dialysis patients who live with chronic kidney disease. Her work with patients of color and immigrants has helped her recognize the significant barriers that exist with navigating the healthcare system. She hopes her work can guide future policy and program development to better understand and serve immigrant populations and communities of color. Selam earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in ethnic studies from Saint Mary’s College of California and her master’s degree in social work from the University of Southern California. She can be reached at [email protected].


 Kate LaForge

Keywords: suicide, mental health, mental health crises, chronic pain, health services, qualitative methods, community-based participatory research


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Kate's research focuses on questions related to suicide. Kate is particularly interested in the way people use technology, mental health services, and crisis text lines for mental health. Kate's work is motivated by the biopsychosocial model of suicide, which considers the complex and interwoven social, physical, and historical factors that contribute to suicidality.



  Maya Manian

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

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Maya Manian is a PhD student at the University of California San Francisco where she is pursuing a degree in Sociology. Prior to joining UCSF, she received a JD from Harvard Law School. She has been a Visiting Professor at American University Washington College of Law, Howard University School of Law, and University of California Berkeley School of Law, as well as a Professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law. Her legal research investigates the relationship between constitutional law, family law, and health care law, with a particular focus on access to reproductive health care. Her current research interest applies sociological theories to the study of laws regulating access to abortion. Her dissertation aims to understand how laws restricting access to abortion might constrain a wider range of women’s medical care. Through in-depth interviews with prenatal genetic counselors and physicians, she seeks to understand how reason-based abortion bans for genetic anomalies and gestational limits on abortion care might be reshaping prenatal care. The primary objective is to create a more nuanced understanding of whether and how abortion laws and policies impact women’s health care beyond the very significant harms of denying abortion care itself. A fuller understanding of the wider impact of abortion regulations could be used to encourage policymakers and the public to protect women’s health by rejecting further restrictions on access to abortion care.


  Tessa Nápoles, MS

Keywords: residential instability, gentrification and displacement, homelessness, food insecurity, chronic illness and comorbidity, structural violence, race/class/gender, US urban health safety net, qualitative methods

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Tessa Napoles, MS is a Doctoral Student and Research Analyst in the Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences. 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 currently supports the UCSF SocNet study (PI: Janet K. Shim) which is exploring the social network dynamics of chronic care management program patients in the US urban health safety net. Email: [email protected]


Kourtney Nham


  Jeff Nicklas

Keywords: Politics of storytelling, mental health, game studies, sociology of knowledge, ethnography, qualitative methods, science & technology studies

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Jeff Nicklas earned his Master of Science in Medical Anthropology from the Boston University School of Medicine where he conducted ethnographic research on forced migration and healthcare in the United States. Prior to joining UCSF, Jeff supported multiple studies examining eHealth and chronic care management at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Broadly, Jeff’s research interests focus on the politics of storytelling and how biomedical and scientific mental health knowledge is conveyed and taken up within emerging and existing forms of media. He is especially interested in the social and cultural implications of how mental health knowledge and stories are constructed, narrated, and responded to within video games. He currently supports the UCSF SocNet study (PI: Janet K. Shim) which is examining social networks and chronic care management within the US urban health safety net. Email: [email protected]


  Dimpho Orionzi

Keywords: Health equity and inequities, community based research methods and approaches, community institutional partnerships, systems change in healthcare, healthcare policy, data collection methods, mixed methods

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Dimpho’s family is from Uganda in East Africa, she was born in Lesotho in Southern Africa, and spent most of her life in the Minnesota. As a scholar, Dimpho is interested in process, and methods and approaches to reducing race and gender-based inequities. She is particularly interested in how social change happens at the institutional, community level, and at the intersection of the two. Dimpho is a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Research Scholar (HPRS).
Contact:  [email protected]


  Esperanza Padilla

Keywords: Neurodiversity, intersectionality, mixed-research methods, health and aging, social policy, and ethics.

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Esperanza Padilla (she/her) is a first-generation college graduate and the granddaughter of migrant farmworkers from Mexico. As a re-entry student at UC Berkeley Esperanza began her investigation into the causes and consequences of masking/camouflaging for Autistic adults which earned her the citation award in Sociology upon her commencement. Her later-in-life diagnosis of Autism/ADHD influences her research passion for Neurodiversity which she seeks to couple with policy change.

Email: [email protected]


  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 [email protected].


 Giselle Pérez-Aguilar

Keywords: Latinx immigrant health, indigenous healing, racialized health inequities, mental health

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Giselle Pérez-Aguilar is a first-generation Mexicana Indigena doctoral student, inspired by her Boyle Heights roots, Zapotec ancestors, and educational endeavors at UC Berkeley and the University of Michigan School of Social Work. She was introduced to health research in 2010 and has worked closely with her mentors Dr. Nancy S. Wu, Dr. Alejandra Casillas, Dr. Rebecca Dudovitz, and other scholars, to address health inequities and deepen our understanding of adolescent substance abuse, adolescent mental health, and barriers to electronic health records for BIPOC communities. Giselle’s main interest lies in bridging indigenous healing practices with western mental health, using psychoanalytic approaches, spirituality, and environmental justice, to help undocumented women of color heal from complex trauma, reclaim their power, and become earth stewards. During her doctoral journey, Giselle hopes to use her clinical social work skills to give back to the communities that have uplifted her throughout the years and move health research in the direction of humanistic/liberation approaches. She currently collaborates with Dr. Stacy Torres and Dr. Jennifer James at UCSF and can be reached at [email protected]



  Brittney Pond

Key words: Aging, Alzheimer's disease, emotion work, death and dying, caregiver trauma, qualitative methodologies, ethnography.

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Brittney Pond is a Doctoral Student in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Psychology in 2018 and completed a thesis in which she used ethnographic methods to study formal caregivers working with people who have Alzheimer's disease. Currently, she is a Graduate Research Assistant for UCSF studying tobacco use and lung cancer. Her main research interests focus on perceptions of aging, "dying well," and elder agency, especially for those with Alzheimer's disease. She is engaged in questions regarding emotion work, caregiver burnout, and qualitative methodologies.


Adrienne Shatara
  Adrienne Shatara, MPH

Keywords: Social determinants of health, trauma informed care, adverse childhood experiences, mental and behavioral healthcare, healthcare design research; maternal, child, and adolescent health (MCAH); children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN)

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Adrienne Shatara, MPH is a PhD student in the UCSF department of Sociology and Behavioral Sciences, and a Research Manager at the Family Health Outcomes Project in the UCSF department of Family and Community Medicine. Her interests are around the Social Determinants of Health and Trauma Informed Care, and how these two concepts can be addressed together to inform policy and person-centered healthcare and mental healthcare design for vulnerable populations. She can be contacted at [email protected]


 Kylie Sloan

Keywords: implementation science, qualitative methods, safety-net, age-friendly, person-centered care

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Kylie Sloan, MSW, MPH is a PhD student at the University of California, San Francisco in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. She is from Palo Alto, CA and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2013. After working as a yoga teacher for 7 years teaching therapeutic and trauma-informed yoga, she returned to school to pursue graduate degrees in social work and public health at the University of Southern California (USC). Kylie graduated with MSW/MPH dual-degrees and a concentration in health services and policy from USC in 2021. Prior to beginning the sociology doctoral program at UCSF, she worked as a research specialist at USC in the Department of Family Medicine and Department of Population and Public Health Sciences, supporting multiple projects in cancer prevention for communities that are medically underserved and street medicine for people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. Her interests include implementation science, qualitative and mixed-methods research with a focus on person-centered models of care for older adults and individuals with multiple chronic conditions in safety-net healthcare settings. Email: [email protected]



 Keridwyn Spiller

Keywords: maternal health care; patient experience; sex and gender; race; intersectionality; feminist theory; sexual and reproductive health; social inequalities in health

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Keridwyn (Keri) Spiller is a sociology doctoral student in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at UCSF. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Women's & Gender Studies from Texas A&M University in 2019. Her interests include maternal health care and labor and birth experience, with a focus on how gender, race, and other identities impact maternal health. Keridwyn is currently finishing a coauthored sociological paper connecting traumatic birth experiences and sexual assault, based on primary research of forced, coerced, and pressured medical procedures during labor and birth in The United States. She hopes to continue researching people’s experiences in maternal health care and work with individuals in the healthcare industry to develop solutions that can help people have more empowering, less life-threatening, and less traumatic, labor and birth experiences. She can be contacted at [email protected].


Melissa Victor

Keywords: mental and behavioral healthcare, violence prevention, social determinants of health, racialized health inequities

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Melissa is a doctoral student in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Prior to joining UCSF, she worked as a CDC ORISE Fellow to support the domestic COVID-19 Response where she provided technical assistance to Tribal Nations and Tribal-serving organizations. She is interested in violence prevention and mental health promotion, particularly amongst racial and ethnic minority populations. She hopes to examine how social determinants of health can mitigate the effects of intergenerational trauma and adversity. Melissa holds a BA in Sociology from Wheaton College in Massachusetts and an MPH from Emory University.


  Rebecca Wolfe

Keywords: race/class/gender, body and embodiment, religion, eating disorders

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Rebecca is a doctoral student in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at UCSF. She is interested in the intersection of race/class/gender, religion, embodiment, and eating disorders. She is currently focused on the impact of the protestant evangelical movement known as “Purity Culture” on the development of eating disorders in young women raised within that movement. She is also currently working with Dr. Kristen Harknett on the Shift Project, looking at work schedules and family health. She earned her B.A. in Sociology from Seattle Pacific University in 2016. She can be reached at [email protected].



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 [email protected] that includes:

  • A picture of you : at least 200px wide
  • 5 keywords that reflect your interests/ research
  • A short paragraph describing your background, interests, current research, etc. that is 200 words or less, written in 3rd person narrative.
  • Optional – email for contact and/or your personal website