The Beyond Academia team is comprised entirely of graduate students and post-docs at UC Berkeley. They volunteer their efforts and time outside of doing research, writing articles, teaching classes, and mentoring students.


Co-director

Mikel Delgado

Mikel is a 5th Year PhD Candidate in the Psychology Department at UC Berkeley. Her research interests include the decisions that fox squirrels make when storing food, the relationships between people and their pets, and how companion and wild animals can promote public interest in science. Mikel is a recipient of the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship and the UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Fellowship. She also blogs about science and animal behavior at catsandsquirrels.com and for the Berkeley Science Review. When she’s not wearing her scientist hat, Mikel is a business owner and cat behavior consultant at Feline Minds, and a DJ at UC Berkeley’s radio station, KALX.

Co-director
Kate Alfieri

Kate Alfieri

Kate is a 5th year PhD student in the Department of Chemistry, working at the interface of physical chemistry and biology. Her research focuses on the molecular basis of self-antigen recognition in T cells isolated from patients with autoimmune diseases. When not in the lab, she is an advocate for STEM outreach, volunteering in local elementary school classrooms and serving as a Steering Committee Member and Volunteer Campus Coordinator for Community Resources for Science, a non-profit organization that provides practical support for science education in local elementary schools.

co-director
Christina Gambacorta

Christina Gambacorta

Christina is in her 4th year of the Vision Science PhD program, a multidisciplinary group that studies how we see, how and why vision fails, and what can be done about it. Christina is interested in integrating our knowledge of neuroplasticity and multisensory perception to create technologies that improve our lives and are enjoyable to use. She is currently testing the use of specialized video games to treat children with visual impairment, and investigating the role of eye movements on visual attention in this population. Before coming to California, Christina graduated with a BA in Biological Psychology at the New College of Florida and worked as a research assistant in assistive technology in Boston, MA. When she’s not in the lab, you are likely to find her backpacking and rock climbing in the Sierra Nevadas.

Recruiting, logistics
Justin Crest

Justin Crest

Justin is a Damon Runyon Postdoctoral Fellow in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology. His research focus is to understand how organ shape and architecture is properly formed from molecular and mechanical instructions, and how these instructions change during cancer. He received his Ph.D. from UC Santa Cruz where he founded a series of educational outreach programs meant to foster more women and minorities in STEM fields.

Finance
Zach Helft

Zach Helft

Zach is in his 3rd year of the Vision Science PhD program, working to photochemically restore visual responses in degenerated retinas which lack functional photoreceptors. Zach has been involved with numerous science outreach organizations within the Bay Area and in the Albany, NY area. After receiving his BS of Cellular Neuroscience from Colgate University, Zach worked in the commercial manufacturing branch of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals helping to mass produce biologics. Zach is also the co-founder of a local startup focusing on bringing high precision eye tracking to a research and clinical setting for the delivery of light to the retina in a cell-specific manner.

Marketing/Social Media, Speakers
Emma Bruehlman-Senecal

Emma Bruehlman-Senecal

Emma Bruehlman-Senecal is in the final year of her PhD program in psychology. Her research interests center on stress, emotion-regulation, resilience and health. Before starting her PhD, Emma was involved in K-8th grade environmental education and studied how green spaces, such as urban parks, help to support well-being. Emma is passionate about interdisciplinary research aimed at promoting health and wellness at the individual and community level. She is excited to team with Beyond Academia to help bridge the divide between academia and non-academic career opportunities.

Marketing/Social Media, Speakers
Claire Bendix

Claire Bendix

Claire is a 5th year Plant Biology PhD student whose research focuses on the plant circadian clock in maize. She is interested in how centuries of breeding to improve crop yields and select optimal flowering times have altered the circadian clock, and in developing an understanding of these changes at a molecular level to inform future breeding efforts. Outside of the lab, Claire volunteers with WriterCoach Connection, a community based program where coaches work one on one with students on their writing assignments. She believes that all scientists should be communicators, and that there are many fulfilling career paths.

Marketing
Veronica Huang

Veronica Huang

I am a post-doc in Molecular and Cell Biology department. I got my PhD in Chemistry from Boston College. My current research is focused on a pore-forming toxin LLO produced by an intracellular pathogen L. monocytogenes. I am interested in the molecular modifications/interactions that regulate LLO toxicity in vivo for the optimal pathogenicity. Outside of work, I love travel and outdoor activities. I feel the strong need in connecting PhDs in academia and professionals from the society. I also work in postdoc industry exploration program (PIEP) at UC berkeley, a postdoc-organized program serving the same goal as beyondacademia. I am proud and excited in helping accelerate it through my work.

Outreach, Speakers
Rose Kantor

Rose Kantor

Rose is a 5th year Ph.D. student in Plant and Microbial Biology, UC Berkeley, where she uses DNA sequencing to study a group of microbes that degrade water contaminants from gold mining. This work is a collaboration with researchers at the University of Cape Town, for which Rose was awarded an NSF-GROW/USAID fellowship. More broadly, Rose is interested in biotechnology and community partnerships for environmental safety and sustainability in the US and the developing world. When not in the lab, she serves as peer advisor in her department and enjoys hiking and dancing.

Finance, Logistics
Sam Israel

Sam Israel

Samuel is a 5th year PhD Candidate in the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at UC Berkeley. His research focuses on the neuronal circuitry of olfactory driven behaviors in zebrafish. As an avid supporter of science mentorship, he has helped organize the UC Berkeley Amgen Scholars program for the past two years and has led neuroscience courses at San Quentin State Prison. After attending the 2014 BA conference, he jumped at the chance to help Beyond Academia for its third year. A huge proponent of work life balance, Samuel encourages all academics to seek out new exciting hobbies. His hobbies include biking through the berkeley hills and mastering Krav Maga.

Marketing/Social Media, Speakers
Billy Hart-Cooper

Billy Hart-Cooper

William M. Hart-Cooper is a fifth year PhD student in synthetic chemistry. His current research interests involve the preparation and study of synthetic enzyme mimics. He is interested in (1) helping other PhD students and postdocs become educated about career options and (2) facilitating communication between industry and academia in a mutually beneficial manner.

Social Media
Andrea Davis

Andrea Davis

Andréa Davis is in her 5th and final year of her PhD in linguistics. She specializes in how people learn and use the sound system of a language. In particular she studies how learning from variable examples helps with learning similar-sounding words, like flempet and slempet. She spent this past summer in Taiwan as an NSF East Asia Pacific Summer Institute fellow, working on research for her dissertation as well as serving as an ambassador for her field. She wrote about her research in Taiwan here. While she loves phonetics, she is broadly interested in science, and likes to think about its history, philosophy, and the importance of scientific methodology to making valid conclusions. This has led her to become interested in data science, and the question of which methods are best for making reliable conclusions from messy data – a question that is also very present in experimental phonetics and psycholinguistics. In her free time, Andréa enjoys cooking, knitting, dancing, traveling, and scuba diving. An attendee at last year’s conference, she is very excited about being a part of the BA team this year, and helping to expand the career options of academics.

Marketing, Social Media

Irene Cai

Irene is a 2nd Year PhD Candidate in the Department of Chemistry at UC Berkeley. Her current research focuses on understanding the reactivity of low-coordinate first-row transition metal complexes, a category of molecules which still remains to be thoroughly explored. Outside the lab, Irene is excited about providing graduate students with the information and preparation they need to succeed in their post-graduate life, through organizations such as Beyond Academia. In her spare time, Irene enjoys trying new things, whether it’s learning a type of social dancing, going to an art exhibition, or eating a different cuisine of food.

Social Media, Marketing
Sharanya Prasad

Sharanya Prasad

I received my Ph.D in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley in May 2014. My research was focused on studying an immunological process called antigen presentation and how certain unconventional or cryptic antigens are generated and presented to the immune system. Apart from research, I was the Event Coordinator for the student organization called SPICMACAY at Berkeley (Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth) and helped organize various concerts by Indian classical musicians, on campus. I was also involved with different educational initiatives such as Asha for Education (a non-governmental organization) and was the Campus Ambassador for the Teach for India program. I am presently a part-time Lecturer at University of San Francisco and a part-time Faculty at Kaplan, Inc. I am also actively seeking opportunities in industry.

Speakers
Tatiana Ecoiffier

Tatiana Ecoiffier

Tatiana did her master in biotechnology in France, Germany, and Switzerland. She then moved to Boston, MA to investigate the immunological mechanism of Dry Eye Disease. She further pursued her education with a PhD and a postdoc in the Vision Science Program at UC Berkeley. She collaborated with research teams internationally and investigated vascularization in the eye and inflammation. In parallel of graduate school she went to Haas Business School for her startup project at the intersection of nutrition and gut microbiome. She learned how to work in multidisciplinary team, pitched at business competition, and realized that she had a fantastic time interacting with a wide range audience: from physicians to Venture Capitalist. She is currently looking to transition to industry and explore biomedical communication.
On the side she plays viola with indie band and DJ. She takes singing lessons, trains to be a yoga instructor and loves to swim.


Advisory Board

Advisory Board
Els Van der Helm

Els Van der Helm

Els van der Helm was the founder and lead organizer of the Beyond Academia 2013 conference and now serves a member of the Beyond Academia advisory board. Els hopes Beyond Academia will continue to help fellow-PhD students and post-docs find their way in the non-academic world. She is a sleep expert who founded Shleep – the sleep company, a start-up focused on coaching large organizations and leaders on how to improve effectiveness, health and engagement through better sleep management. Shleep provides in-person support (e.g., sleep workshops) and a sleep coaching app (Shleep). For over 2.5 years she worked as a management consultant at McKinsey where she combined her passion for leadership development and sleep. As a Fulbright scholar she studied the effects of sleep on the brain during her PhD in Psychology (University of California Berkeley) resulting in peer-reviewed articles in Current Biology, PLoS One, Psychological Bulletin, SLEEP, PNAS and several book chapters. For more information, email at els@shleepbetter.com or visit www.shleepbetter.com.

Advisory Board
Claire Oldfield

Claire Oldfield

Claire received her PhD in Neuroscience from UC Berkeley. Her research was focused on the molecular and cellular mechanisms of learning using state of the art optogenetic techniques. A past Boehringer-Ingelheim Fonds fellow, she has a BA in Biology and a Masters in Neurobiology (Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris). Claire feels strongly about bridging the gap between academic and non-academic career paths. She is now a consultant at Bain.

Advisory Board
Bryan Alvarez

Bryan Alvarez

Bryan earned his PhD from UC Berkeley studying an unusual sensory blending called synesthesia. He has committed his life to education. In 2008 he co-founded Mind and Brain Outreach, which hosts large collaborative in-school events that teach mind and brain science to thousands of K-12 students in local unrepresented schools in the East Bay. Since assisting Els in founding Beyond Academia in 2013, he has transitioned to K-12 education with his most recent start-up, Mind My Education™(MME). MME is cultivating a compassionate society of attentive, curious, and empowered learners by bringing mind and brain science to young learners (www.mindmyeducation.org). Bryan is also a very passionate musician and creative artist.

Advisory Board
Jane Hu

Jane Hu

Jane C. Hu has a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of California–Berkeley and was a 2014 AAAS Mass Media Fellow. Her research focused on social cognition and learning in preschool-aged children. A consultant for Little Spark, an early childhood development company, and a former editor of the Berkeley Science Review, she is passionate about science outreach and communication. She is currently at the University of Washington’s I-LABS working in research outreach.
Follow Jane on Twitter @jane_c_hu, or check out her cogsci blog: metacogs.tumblr.com

Advisory Board
Doug Kalish

Doug Kalish

Doug Kalish is an educator, consultant, and serial entrepreneur who has founded or been an early executive in three companies. With a deep life sciences and information technology background and over 30 years of management experience, Doug provides strategic business and product advice to the information technology and biotechnology industries, with an emphasis on organizational design, collaboration, and knowledge and content management. Doug is also a Visiting Scholar in the Management of Technology program at the Haas School of Business, UC-Berkeley.

Advisory Board

Chris Holdgraf

Chris Holdgraf is a graduate student in Bob Knight’s cognitive neuroscience laboratory. He uses computational modeling and machine learning to study the ways in which our internal assumptions affect the way that we perceive and understanding the world around us. He’d like to think that brains are more similar to computers than we’d all like to imagine, and hopes to discover ways in which we can improve our knowledge of the brain by drawing inspiration from machine learning and computational methods (and vice versa!).
He is also an avid science writer, blogging, editing, and managing for the Berkeley Science Review, a student-led publication and blog that covers science at Berkeley and Beyond. He believes that scientists should be skilled communicators as well as researchers, and has a particular love of making complex ideas understandable to everyday people.

Advisory Board
Bradley Voytek

Bradley Voytek

Brad is an Assistant Professor of Computational Cognitive Science and Neuroscience at UCSD. He is also the Data Evangelist for the on-demand car service company, Uber, Inc. In his neuroscience life, Brad studies cognition and neural network communication using data-mining, lesion experiments, human intracranial recordings, brain-stimulation, brain-computer interfacing, and whatever other tools he can get his hands on. For Uber, Brad does exploratory data analytics and communicates the importance of data in driving Uber. He co-created the meta-analytic neuroscience research aggregation tool and hypothesis generation sitehttp://brainSCANr.com with his wife Jessica Bolger Voytek. He’s an avid science teacher and outreach advocate and is the world’s zombie brain expert (seriously).

Advisory Board
Jake Klamka

Jake Klamka

Jake Klamka is the founder of the Insight Data Science Fellows Program, a post-doctoral fellowship that helps quantitative PhDs transition from academia to careers in data science. Insight Fellows are now data scientists at top tech companies like Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, Square and many others. Jake was an entrepreneur in the Y Combinator winter 2011 session and prior to that was a particle physicist at the University of Toronto, working on the Large Hadron Collider experiment. As a panel speaker at Beyond Academia 2013, Jake will provide an introduction to data science and share stories of scientists who have transitioned from academia to the tech industry.

Advisory Board
Katja Brose

Katja Brose

As Editor of Neuron, Katja represents the journal within the scientific community and is responsible for all aspects of the journal’s management, operations, and strategic vision. Katja received her PhD from UCSF, where she studied biochemistry and neuroscience. Katja joined Cell Press/Elsevier in 2000 as a Senior Editor and was appointed Editor in Chief in 2004. In 2007, with Cell Press’ acquisition the Trends group of review titles, Katja was appointed as Executive Editor of the Neuroscience Portfolio, which includes, in addition to Neuron, the review journals Trends in Neurosciences and Trends in Cognitive Sciences. She currently also serves as Editorial Director for Reviews Strategy for Cell Press and is a member of the Cell Press Senior Management Team. She speaks frequently on topics related to scientific publishing and communication, including publication ethics.

Advisory Board
Sahar Yousef

Sahar Yousef

Sahar is a 5th year PhD student in Vision Science. Her research interests are centered mostly on neuroplasticity—the possibility of the brain changing for the better, and applications for tools and therapies stemming from these changes, specifically aiming to train attention and memory. Before and during her BA in Cognitive Science at UC Berkeley, she was active in community building and leadership, elected as the youngest student member of the Ohlone College Board of Trustees to date. Sahar co-founded and directed the California Cognitive Science Conference, served as President to multiple organizations, and was granted several awards for leadership excellence. Sahar has also been facilitating a course at Cal teaching Tamarkoz® (Sufi meditation) since 2010.

Advisory Board
Arne Bakker

Arne Bakker

Arne is a graduate careers advisor at Stanford University. He was formerly a Postdoctoral Fellow working in the Molecular and Cell Biology department, where he studied the adaptive immune system. He received his PhD at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam. After obtaining his PhD and before moving to California to pursue his research goals, Arne worked as the Director of the Discovery Festival, a Dutch science festival combining live experiments, art, and new music into a progressive nighttime event.

Front page campanile image: Helen Chen and Wikimedia


About the Author

Chris Holdgraf

Chris Holdgraf is a graduate student in Bob Knight’s cognitive neuroscience laboratory. He uses computational modeling and machine learning to study the ways in which our internal assumptions affect the way that we perceive and understanding the world around us. He’d like to think that brains are more similar to computers than we’d all like to imagine, and hopes to discover ways in which we can improve our knowledge of the brain by drawing inspiration from machine learning and computational methods (and vice versa!).
He is also an avid science writer, blogging, editing, and managing for the Berkeley Science Review, a student-led publication and blog that covers science at Berkeley and Beyond. He believes that scientists should be skilled communicators as well as researchers, and has a particular love of making complex ideas understandable to everyday people.