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Diversity in scholarship and diversity in scholars

My parents, who only have an elementary school education, are the most well-educated people I know. Through school, I embodied their learning process–their curiosity, critical thinking, and tenacity. Eventually, I learned that the key to their knowledge was also their lived experiences. Now, as an educator and scientist, I believe that key to improving equity in the science is to advocate for diversity in scholarship and diversity in scholars. 


To improve diversity in the sciences, as scientists we must advocate and work, with an intersectional lens, to diminish the barriers to entering. In particular, it is important to mentor, train, and support students, regardless of their academic background and experience, in field and lab research. Therefore, as a graduate student I have invested time and resources to recruit research assistants, both high school and undergraduate students, in field and lab settings. Specifically, since I work in agricultural systems, I bring students from the local, rural community into my research.

So it is my pleasure to highlight some of the amazing undergraduate and high school student research assistants I have worked with and continue work with in my research.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Hadomi Aquino de Araujo

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2023 - present

Major: Biological Sciences, UC Irvine '25

Career goals: Learn about  how the smallest biological mechanisms can affect the globe; researching better farming and fishing techniques; after college, I intend to commission as an active duty Officer in the US army, before switching to the California National Guard and pursuing a Masters in Finance or Herpetology.

Martin Banuelos


2017 – 2018, 2020 – 2021

Major: Conservation & Resource Studies, UC Berkeley '20

Career goals: Develop skills in GIS systems and data analysis software to communicate food system issues.

Gisel DeLaCerda

Recording the field conditions before fi

2018 – 2021

Major: Environmental Science and minors in Forestry and Food Systems, UC Berkeley '21

Career goals: Attending graduate school to pursue research in agroecology.

Elizabeth Kondo

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2022 - Present

Major: Biological Sciences & Minor in Global Sustainability, UC Irvine '23

Career goals: Pursue research relating to environmental sustainability and hopefully make a small, but meaningful impact!

Marisol Montes

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2017 – 2019

Major: Conservation & Resource Studies and minor in Science and Math Education, UC Berkeley '19

Career goals: Continue conducting ecological research.

Conny Rios Escobar



Major: Molecular and Cell Biology and minors in Chicana/o Studies and Global Public Health, UC Berkeley '20

Career goals: Work towards food justice and equitable access to the outdoors.

Michelle Tampa Flores


2020 - 2021

Major: Microbial Biology,

UC Berkeley '21

Career goals: Interested in working in the public health field with a focus on environmental health science.

Paula Yang


2018 – 2020

Major: Biology, CSU – Fresno '20

Career goals: Obtain an M.D. and become a physician who serves the Hmong community.

Kenny Balderas

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2023 - present

Major: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UC Irvine '24

Career goals: Work for a federal organization like NOAA, USGS, or Fish and Wildlife as an Environmental Scientist

Marissa Chase


2017 – 2018

Major: Molecular Environmental Biology and minor in Forestry, 

UC Berkeley '18

Career goals: Pursue research in pollination biology/ecology and climate change.

Currently pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, Urbana–Champaign

Leke Hutchins


2017 – 2018

Major: Conservation & Resource Studies and minor in Food Systems, UC Berkeley '18

Career goals: Attend graduate school and engage in socio-ecological research.

Currently pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley

Nada Lamie


2019 - 2021

Major: Genetics and Plant Biology and Ancient Egyptian Archeology,

UC Berkeley '22

Career goals: Attend graduate school and participate in paleoethnobotanical research to learn about people's interactions with plants and their relationship to the land in the past.

Grace Pratt


2018 – 2020

Major: Conservation & Resource Studies and Spanish Language and Literature, UC Berkeley '20

Career goals: Use data science to address environmental problems.

Natalie Rodriguez

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Major: Biological Sciences and minor in Chicano/Latino Studies, UC Irvine '23

Career goals: Pursue a PhD focusing on above- and below-ground interactions and ultimately becoming a professor.

Emily Wagner


2018 – 2019

Major: Conservation & Resource Studies, UC Berkeley '19

Career goals: Work at a environmental NGO or non-profit that also addresses poverty.

And many more, including Christina Fuentes, Aaron McDowell-Sanchez, Neena Mohan, Josh Karalis, Monica Lee Wilkinson...

High School Student Research Assistants

Jennifer Becerra



Sunnyside High School '17

Fresno, CA

Major: (UCLA) pre-med, Chicanx Studies with a minor in public health

Career goals: Obtain my M.D. and become a physician in my community and pursue healthcare research

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Paulina Hernandez

2016, 2017

Alisal High School '17

Salinas, CA

Major: (UC Davis) Environmental Science and Management and minor in Spanish

Career goals: Establish a career in the soil sciences in order to begin implementing sustainable soil practices in the Salinas Valley


Julian Samano


Antioch High School '19

Antioch, CA

Intended major

Career goals

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Adela Contreras


Everett Alvarez High School '16

Salinas, CA

Major: (UC Davis)

Career goals

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Mae King


University High School '23

Irvine, CA

Intended major: Computer Science

Career goalsPursing the research and application of climate solutions through technology and environmental science


Lilliana Sandoval


Antioch High School '19

Antioch, CA

Intended major: Environmental Studies

Career goals: Become a wildlife conservation biologist

Play our field car's theme song!

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