Research Group



Sonali Mali
Bautista Lab
3rd year

My name is Sonali (she/her), and I grew up in the Midwest before coming to Berkeley for grad school. I am a third-year in Dr. Diana Bautista’s lab where I am excited about studying ion channels and discovering how my favorite non-excitable cells –epithelial cells!– actively contribute to sensation and pathology. I believe the most exciting discoveries in science will happen when inclusion and justice are at the core of how we do science, and I am excited to work with iMCB to develop strategies for a more inclusive and just science.

Danielle Spitzer
Hariharan Lab
4th year

My name is Danielle Spitzer (she/her) and I grew up in upstate New York. I studied Biology and Women’s & Gender Studies in college, and I’m currently a fourth year MCB graduate student in the Hariharan lab researching cell adhesion and development. I am especially passionate about advocating for evidence-based teaching practices that both improve learning and reduce inequities in undergraduate STEM education.

Maia Reyes
Brar Lab
2nd year

Hello! My name is Maia (she/her), a first generation Filipino American. I grew up in two places - Ladera Ranch, CA and Middleton, MA. After completing undergrad, I decided to move back to California and am now a PhD student in the Brar Lab. I am super excited to be studying how changes in protein complex composition affect meiosis in budding yeast! I care a lot about how we can make the scientific community inclusive and equitable, demystifying grad school, and navigating mentoring relationships.


Anthony Rodriguez-Vargas
Collins Lab
2nd year

I grew up in a small coastal town (Guayanilla, Puerto Rico) and my curiosity for the marine environment introduced me to science. My access to research and mentors was limited and, as a result, had an unusual path defining my scientific interests. Currently, I am a first-generation PhD student in the Collins lab, studying the encoded proteins of jumping genes (RNA-based). A select few have opportunities like these; I care deeply about increasing diversity in science and truly hope that for every occasion someone becomes aware of these issues it will take one less generation to solve them. 

Molly Brothers
Rine lab
4th year

Hi iMCB! I grew up outside of San Antonio, Texas, in a low-income, single-parent family. Now I am a PhD student in Jasper Rine’s lab, and I study the formation of heterochromatin domains in the budding yeast, S. cerevisiae. In addition to my passion for science (and yeast!), I care greatly about fostering a scientific and academic culture that makes everyone feel like they belong. Anyone that wants to be a scientist should have the opportunity and support to do so.

Christiane W. Voufo
Feller Lab
4th Year

Hi everyone! My name is Christiane and I was born in Dschang, Cameroon. I moved to the Bronx, New York in August of 2005. I made my first venture over to the West Coast when I interviewed at UC Berkeley and loved it. I completed my undergraduate B.S. degree at Syracuse University, where I worked in Katharine Lewis’ lab studying transcription factors and neurotransmitter fate specification. Right after undergrad, I started my PhD career here at UC Berkeley in Marla Feller’s lab, where I study spontaneous activity in development. Being the only black woman in my program and one of two black graduate students in my department, I feel like it is my duty to ensure that the current environment within my program and others is more hospitable to future generations of URMs.

Sophia Friesen
Hariharan Lab
4th year

Hi, I’m Sophia (they/them)! Born and raised in central Ohio, my first time on the West Coast was my admissions interview for Berkeley. I’m now studying how conserved cell-signaling pathways regulate tissue growth and proliferation in the Hariharan lab. As a graduate student, I feel uniquely positioned to work towards a more caring and inclusive MCB department that supports scientists at all levels and from all backgrounds.


Amanda González-Segarra
Scott Lab
4th year

Hi! I am Amanda González Segarra (she/her). I grew up in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. As an undergraduate student, I characterized the motor nervous system of the sea cucumber Holothuria glaberrima. I currently study how neurons coordinate hunger and thirst to drive feeding in Drosophila melanogaster in Kristin Scott’s lab. I strongly believe there is a need to make STEM careers available to a broader community. I am excited to work with iMCB to develop evidence-based techniques that promote inclusion in our department.

Adriana Mendizabal
Ünal Lab
2nd year

My name is Adriana Mendizabal (she/her) and I grew up in northern New Jersey. I’m currently a second-year PhD student in the Ünal lab where I study the mechanisms involved in coordinating dynamic gene regulation. I care deeply about breaking down the barriers that BIPOC and others from underrepresented groups face in STEM and fostering an atmosphere of diversity, inclusion, and belonging within the MCB department.

Kent Gorday
Kuriyan Lab
3rd year

Biophysics PhD student