About Us



Jaemyoung Choi 

I’m an Assistant Specialist in plant biology. I study how environmental change can induce heritable change of genome. Because it’s an evolutionary conserved mechanism, using plants can be a humane and economic way to study this subject. It can be applied to study, for example, how stress affect human genome epigenetically and cause cancer (in a very broad sense). I think there’s no doubt that a union of Academic Researchers can contribute to make a better working environment. And once we could achieve that, then more people will be interested in studying science, which greatly benefit society.

Vincent Guacci 

I am a Senior Scientist, and I study how chromosomes are built to ensure that when cells divide, the chromosomes segregate properly into the daughter cells. I have always been treated well, but the rights of Researchers and science funding are under attack today. A union will provide protection and security to lessen anxiety and enable me to focus on my research.

Felipe Lee Montiel 

I am a Project Scientist in Bioengineering working on the development of organ-on-a-chip devices as surrogates of humans to be used by Pharma in drug discovery and toxicology. I want to form a union of Academic Researchers because I think it will strengthen the scientific community within the the university, as well as to help protect and improve rights and benefits of ARs, and all workers.

Elizabeth Noth 

I am an Assistant Researcher at the School of Public Health. My research is focused on air pollution exposures to children and adults. I want to form a union because I believe workers should have a voice in their working conditions, rights, and benefits.

Karen Orlando

I am a Coordinator of Public Programs at the Center for Labor Research and Education where I develop curriculum and lead training programs for members of the broader labor community. My areas of expertise are: strategic campaign planning, organizing, and leadership development of women in unions.

Coming from the labor movement, I am a strong believer in unions. I want a union in order to level the playing field. As one worker, my voice is only heard when those in power choose to listen. With a union of 5000 AR’s, together our voices are stronger and our power is greater. Together we can determine a shared vision and use our combined leverage to make the changes we seek. I want to work toward creating increased job security, more emphasis on career development, and a pathway to promotion. I’ve also seen how my coworkers who are in a union have a grievance procedure with a clear and binding process for when issues arise. I’ve seen first-hand how they have more protections than I do. Even though I may never need to use it, I’d like to have that protection as well.

Jessica Penchos

I am a Coordinator of Public Programs at the Lawrence Hall of Science, developing curriculum for a national K8 science program, incorporating educational research and best classroom practices to address national science standards.

I want to form a union because those of us who work for the University are passionate about what we do, and I want to maintain employment and advancement fairness so that we can continue to work for the state and do what we love.

Sally Picciotto

I am an Associate Researcher in the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley, and my research is in occupational epidemiology: the study of how exposures at work can affect health. A major concern in my field is the fact that a harmful workplace exposure may cause people to leave their jobs, which means that the healthiest workers are the ones who accumulate the most exposure—causing it to appear as if that exposure were actually good for you. I specialize in ways to do statistical analyses that account for this problem, because passing effective regulations to protect worker health first requires research proving that exposures are harmful.

Considering that my research concerns worker health, I support a union on principle. Unions have historically fought for protections from harmful workplace exposures.

Isabella Rauch 

I am an Immunologist. I work on the innate immune system of the digestive tract. The research I do will help us to understand gastrointestinal infections and how the body reacts to them. This is especially important in newborns and people with immunocompromising diseases. I believe that forming a union will give Academic Researchers more visibility and bargaining power. This will ensure equal and fair salary and benefits for ARs.



Zhong Jian 

I am an Associate Specialist in Pharmacology, and I have established an interdisciplinary research program combining biophysics and cardiology, with a specific focus on cell sensing and signaling. I support forming a union for Academic Researchers because through a union we can build a community at UC Davis that supports everyone and enables us to maximize our careers.

Anna Kalashnikova

I am an Assistant Project Scientist studying how DNA is compacted to fit into the nucleus, and how certain proteins remodel this compacted DNA in order to have access to information, encoded in DNA, and to repair DNA damage to better understand healthy states, and changes during heart disease and cancer. I want to form a union of Academic Researchers, because only together we can have power to affect the political climate in America today, and help protect science and education.

Karam Kim 

I am an Assistant Project Scientist studying the molecular mechanism of learning, memory and cognition using a hippocampus of rodents. Scientists and researchers have not been considered as ‘laborers’ in the traditional sense, but we are also a part of a society and we need to have an organization to represent our opinion. Having an union is important not only for our own rights and benefits, but also for participating in decision-making processes of our institution and country, especially in our current and future society as science and technology are getting more and more important.



Benjamin Gunn

I am a Project Scientist in Anatomy and Neurobiology, where I am using electrophysiological techniques to investigate the effects of stress upon memory function in the hippocampus. I believe that forming a union of Academic Researchers is necessary to enable AR’s to collectively bargain with UC on essential rights (such as salary, parental leave and visa issuance), as well as to ensure that there is the necessary framework for career progression within academia.

Briac Halbout 

I am an Assistant Project Scientist in the School of Medicine at UC Irvine. I study how drugs, when abused, disturb normal learning and decision-making processes, and how drugs change the neural circuits that are responsible for these adaptive behaviors. I find it necessary to form a union to set the standard in terms of working conditions, parental rights, access to benefits, and career development opportunities. All of these are necessary for academic researchers to work in conditions that will foster good science and a meaningful contribution to our society!

Lei Shi 

I’m a Project Scientist in Plasma Physics, where I am conducting exascale computer simulations on plasma turbulences in magnetic confinement fusion devices. I want to form a union of Academic Researchers because I believe young researchers at my level should have a say in what career development opportunities are available to us, and to be able to influence position-related policies and rights, etc. It would also be very helpful for Academic Researchers to have the power to collectively negotiate with UC on various topics, e.g. salary, parental leave and visa issuance.

Amanda Wortman

I am a Specialist who manages the research of the Connected Learning Lab at UC Irvine. The Connected Learning Lab supports interdisciplinary research and design, and partners with a broad network of educational practitioners and technologists. The CLL’s focus is defined by the “connected” in connected learning, which refers to both social relationships and emerging digital and networked technologies. Academic personnel play a crucial role in fulfilling the mission of the University of California, both by being at the forefront of hands-on research and administration, and through the mentorship of Postdoctoral scholars, graduate, and undergraduate students. As highly skilled workers who have dedicated our lives towards this mission, it is essential that we form a union in order ensure that we continue to have access to essential benefits needed to maintain an adequate quality of life.



Michelle Castelletto 

I am an Assistant Project Scientist in MIMG, and I study the behavior of parasitic worms. In order to afford my one bedroom apartment in a non-fashionable section of Los Angeles, I would need to earn $90,000. This is impossible under the status quo. United together as a union of Academic Researchers, we could push for reforms like an increase to salaries, or we could compel the University to confront the housing inaccessibility situation in California, and provide a timely, workable solution for its workers.

Sonia Guha 

I am an Assistant Project Scientist in the Stein Eye Institute at UCLA. I study hereditary eye diseases and investigate novel strategies to treat them. I want to form a union because I believe it is imperative that Academic Researchers have the power to collectively bargain on equal footing with the University on essential rights and benefits including salary, pay hike, pregnancy disability leave, and job security.

Dennis Montoya 

I’m an Associate Project Scientist in Computational Immunology. I am currently developing tools to mine “big data” to discover molecular markers for the diagnosis or prognosis of diseases such as tuberculosis, colon cancer, and diabetes. With these tools, we hope to contribute to precision medicine leading to better diagnoses and treatment of patients using non-invasive molecular tests. I believe forming a union will allow us as scientists better vocalize our rights, and highlight our contributions to the economy, health, and education.

Christina Priest 

I am a Project Scientist in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, where I am investigating the molecular mechanisms of metabolism. I want to form a union of Academic Researchers because I believe that by doing so, AR’s will have the collective power to negotiate better health and childcare benefits, which will help working families like mine.

Lorena Saelices 

I am a Project Scientist in Biological Chemistry where I study the molecular basis of amyloid diseases to design effective and safe therapeutics. As an immigrant female scientist, I see of particular importance to unionize in order to help set the standards for salaries, working conditions, maternal and paternal rights, and the overall quality of life for Academic Researchers. Forming Academic Researchers United will give us the strength to fight for and protect our rights as UC workers.



Ahmed Farouk Salem 

I am a Project Scientist in School of Medicine. I aim to treat cancer and neurodegenerative diseases by designing novel protein-protein inhibitors. I want to form a union of Academic Researchers because I have seen that by forming a union, Postdocs at UC have been able to gain more power while negotiating with the university and have won pay increases and improved benefits for all Postdocs, and I believe that by forming a union, Academic Researchers can achieve a similar level of power.

Maria Irigoyen

I am an Assistant Project Scientist in Plant Biology. My project is focused on unraveling the cassava resistance mechanism against whitefly. Our final goal is to provide farmers in Africa with a durable solution against ongoing pandemics. I think that being part of a union will give us more strength for our rights as Academic Researchers. The previous experience of the Postdoc Union in the UC system is a perfect example of the improvement in benefits that can be achieved as a group. My particular interest would be more focused on parental leave rights, health insurance improvement and the rights of International scholars.



Heda Agić 

I’m a Visiting Researcher in paleobiology at the Department of Earth Science, on an international postdoc grant from the Swedish Research Council. Through field-based and lab research, I study microscopic fossils in c. billion-year-old rocks to understand the evolution and ecology of early eukaryotes – complex cells like plants, animals and protists. The broad academic community includes people holding a variety of untenured positions, not all of whom get to be heard often. I think that by forming a Union of Academic Researchers, we can create a better working place, and help everybody feel like a part of the UC community.

Evangeline Ballerini 

I am a Project Scientist in Evolution, Ecology, and Marine Biology, where I use the latest genomic techniques to study how genetic variation shapes phenotypic, and how this variation influences the processes of adaptation and speciation. Academic researchers play a crucial role in fulfilling the purpose of the University of California, both by being at the forefront of scientific discovery and through the active mentorship and education of graduate and undergraduate students. As highly trained individuals who have dedicated our lives toward advancing these causes, the ability to collectively bargain will help ensure that we have access to essential benefits needed to maintain a decent quality of life.

Delany Rodriguez 

I am an Associate Specialist, and my research focuses on understanding the cellular and physiological changes associated with age in vascular cells. I believe that Academic Researchers will benefit from a union that will give us power to collectively bargain on equal footing with the UC on essential rights, benefits (including salary), and parental leave, among others.



Sergio Covarrubias 

I am an Associate Specialist in the Carpenter Lab (and former Postdoctoral scholar), where I study the role of long noncoding RNAs in the regulation of the immune system. I feel that we as Postdocs, Specialists, and Project Scientists together are the engine that drives research and innovation. This university underappreciates our labor, and underestimates our value. I feel that needs to change, and forming a Union is a great way to make that change.

Eva Hrabeta-Robinson 

I am a senior research scientist and Associate Specialist managing the wet lab where we conduct computationally-led experimentation to address the role of alternative messenger RNA splicing in cancer. Along with managing the wet lab, I train and assist students at all levels with individual projects, design and perform experiments for my own project, and contribute to grant and paper writing in the lab. I have been part of the UC system as a student, Postdoc, and staff scientist for 35 years, giving me a unique perspective on how the UC system meets the challenges faced by researchers desiring to make long-term commitments to projects on our UC campus. I believe that, as the UC system continues to encourage more young women and men to consider STEM careers through its outreach programs, we should also be updating our own infrastructure to accommodate the shifting needs of a growing population of STEM careers within our own system. By forming a union of Academic Researchers, AR’s can help to implement changes that will improve conditions for the next generation of researchers so that our universities can continue to lead in the progress of scientific research and education.

J. Paul Mattern 

I am an Assistant Researcher at the Institute for Marine Sciences. By bringing together computer models and observations of ocean properties, I am using mathematical techniques to investigate changes in ocean physics and biology. I saw the advantages of being part of a union in my previous position as a Postdoc, where we were able to secure good health insurance and salary increases for all Postdocs. And I am looking forward to forming the AR union in order to win similar improvements for Academic Researchers.

Lisa Schwarz 

I am an Environmental Statistician and an Assistant Professional Researcher studying marine mammals at the Institute of Marine Sciences. Using long-term data from many species, I quantify how seemingly small human-made disturbances, like noise exposure, can result in poorer health of individuals, which can eventually lead to population-level effects via reduced reproduction and survival. I believe Academic Researchers are fundamental to the success of the University. Forming a Union will give us a collective voice, and we will have more influence over how the university provides for our essential rights and benefits.

Stella Villegas-Amtmann 

I am a Project Scientist in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at UCSC, I work with ecology and physiology of marine mammals. I want to form a union of Academic Researchers because as a Postdoc here at UCSC before I transferred to being a Project Scientist, I was able to experience the improvements we were able to win as a Union of Postdocs at UC, specifically for health benefits and salary, which along with many other benefits and working conditions are not as good for Academic Researchers.



Samuel Bertin 

I am an Assistant Project Scientist in the Department of Medicine at UCSD. My research focuses on inflammation and related pathologies such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). I recently transitioned from being a senior Postdoc to an Assistant Project Scientist position and I noticed the need of having a union for staff scientists. For example, I had a baby a few months ago and I was surprised that paid parental leave wasn’t part of my benefits, whereas it is a guaranteed benefit for all Postdocs. I believe that having a union will help us to bargain with the university and improve our work situation including salary, parental leave and health care benefits.

Hugo T. Carreira Pedro 

I am an Assistant Project Scientist at the Center for Energy Research (MAE) where I investigate modeling and optimization tools to create and improve forecasting algorithms for solar and wind power production and the impact of renewables on the reliability of power grids. The goal of my research is to reduce the uncertainty in variable renewable energy resources and enable their integration into the electrical grid. I support the formation of a union, because I believe that Academic Researchers must organize to ensure access to essential rights and benefits.

Ching-Wen Chang 

I am an Assistant Project Scientist in the Pathology department studying the mechanisms underlying the hypoxia-induced trophoblast differentiation during early human placental development. I believe that forming a union of Academic Researchers will give our community a strong voice to match our important role within the university. I anticipate we will improve our compensation and expand the benefits including salary, parental leave and visa issuance by collectively bargaining a contract.

Andrew Gilder 

I am an Assistant Project Scientist in the Pathology Department at UCSD. I study cell signaling pathways in cancer. I support forming a union of Academic Researchers because a unified voice is important to ensure our well-being and allow AR’s to focus on our research.

Heike Kroeger 

I am an Assistant Project Scientist working in the Pathology Department at UCSD. My field of expertise is human stem cell research, with the main focus on neurodegenerative diseases. I am generating 3-D cultures (Organoids) to mimic the development of the eye and how certain gene mutations affects its developmental stages that have the potential to result in eye diseases. I support the formation of a union, because I believe that Academic Researchers must organize to ensure that we have essential rights and benefits. Forming a union is a great opportunity for us as scientists to build a powerful network through to which to address workplace issues and be heard at a much greater level.

Hieu Pham

I am an Assistant Project Scientist in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. I construct computational fluid dynamics simulations to investigate turbulent processes in oceans. I support forming a Union of Academic Researchers because with a union we have the power to bargain, protect, and improve essential rights and benefits for all Academic Researchers.

Daryl Preece 

I am an Assistant Project Scientist in Nano Engineering using Bio photonic methods to study cellular repair mechanisms. Unionization helps guarantee employee rights which in turn helps create a happier and more prosperous work environment, which in turn attracts the best talent to the university and benefits students and staff alike.

Laleh Quinn 

I am an Associate Project Scientist in the department of Cognitive Science at UCSD. My area of expertise is in Behavioral Neuroscience where I am currently focusing on the neurophysiological underpinnings of empathy and other pro-social behaviors. I have been a Project Scientist at UCSD for over a decade and I have seen how difficult the position can be for many of my colleagues. Issues such as lack of parental leave, immigration nightmares, the placement of salary caps even when our salary is not provided by the university but often provided by grants we obtain, and the lack of acknowledgement of the extent of mentorship and teaching of students that occur on a daily basis, result in a sense of invisibility and unfairness. The Academic Researcher is arguably the most highly educated and skilled component of the University and should be treated as the invaluable resource it is. I support the formation of a union so that these issues and all the others plaguing the Academic Research track in the UC system can be remedied within a community that has historically cared about and upheld worker/human rights. The success of the recently established postdoc union is heartening and provides hope that our community will also see similar results.

Hye-Won Song 

I am an Assistant Project Scientist in Reproductive Medicine, where I am studying the molecular mechanism of germ cell development. I want to form a union because I believe it helps protect our rights as Academic Researchers, which are essential to create a better work environment.

Thomas Touboul 

I am a Project Scientist at UCSD, studying the mechanisms of regulation of human pluripotent stem cells during differentiation. I believe forming a union will help us to get the University to be more receptive to our needs regarding career development, family life and benefits. I’m excited to be a part of changes that will allow us to be equal partners with the university in providing the best possible supporting environment for all Academic Researchers.

Gunnar Voet 

I am an Assistant Project Scientist in Physical Oceanography where I study deep ocean currents, their role in the global climate system, and the physical processes driving and modifying them. I believe in the strength of workplace organizing for collective bargaining and beyond. By coming together as a union, our research community will be stronger to support all our members on issues like immigration, health care, and other essential rights.



Adam de Smith 

I am a genetic epidemiologist researching the causes of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common cancer in children. As an Assistant Professional Researcher I believe Academic Researchers (ARs) should be recognized as an essential group of employees in the UC system and, as such, we are forming our own union to help bargain for important benefits, such as parental leave and access to UC housing, which are not currently available to ARs.

Jesse Elias 

I am an Assistant Specialist at the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. I research previously secret tobacco industry documents to understand how Big Tobacco promotes “safer” products to withstand adverse regulatory environments. Academic Researchers need a voice and a seat at the table with the UC in order to secure better salary and benefits. The union is that voice.

Juliette Jackson 

I’m an Assistant Specialist at the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education where I research and write about the politics that influenced the passage and defeat of local and state tobacco and marijuana policies in Alaska and Georgia. I have experienced first-hand the grievance process at UC regarding many work issues related to sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying. I believe Academic Researchers need a union, because as a union we have much more power to fight back against discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

María Luisa Mandelli 

I am a Professional Researcher in the Department of Neurology at UCSF. I have an engineering background, specializing in brain magnetic resonance imaging. My expertise resides in applying advanced neuroimaging techniques, such as structural and functional MRI, tractography, graph theory analysis, and machine learning algorithms to a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases including primary progressive aphasia, fronto-temporal dementias, and learning disabilities. I am responsible for the acquisition, processing and statistical analysis of structural MRI and fMRI data, and I oversee and train other team members in optimal strategy for imaging acquisitions and in advance imaging techniques. I am a strong believer in community and the possibility to make change when people come together. I think that by forming a union of Academic Researchers, not only can we share experiences, but we also have a place to talk, face our struggles, and utilize our collective power to overcome them together.

Mary McMahon 

I am an Associate Specialist and RNA enthusiast exploring the roles of non-coding RNAs and RNA modifications in cell biology and in human diseases including cancer. I believe a union will empower Academic Researchers, provide awareness, and help achieve equal rights and benefits for ALL researchers.

Nicole Nasholm 

I am an associate specialist in the department of Pediatrics. Our lab’s research focuses on targeting the aurora kinase-mycn interaction in the treatment of neuroblastoma. My research focuses on the invivo modeling of neuroblastoma and testing novel therapies that are developed in the lab. I want to form a union because i believe that everyone should be treated equally, regardless of their education or background. I am very passionate about job stability and benefits that allow a work-life balance—coming together to form a union will allow for a balanced, stable, working and living environment for all ARs.

Ajay Ravindranathan 

I work as a Specialist and my research revolves around the enzyme telomerase and the role it plays in cancer biology. To me, this is simply an issue of fairness: I believe being fairly treated is a basic human right and I believe forming a union of Academic Researchers will go a long way to address the same.

Veronica Steri 

I am a Lab Manager at the UCSF Mount Zion Cancer Research Center. Our lab studies the role of HER2 and HER3 as biomarkers of response and resistance to tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) therapy. I am responsible for managing the daily operations of the lab and I am in charge of in vivo animal studies. I believe in the power of collectivity, therefore bringing Academic Researchers together in a Union is a must to improve our working environment. Moreover, a Union will be helpful to encourage gender equality and promote commitment to advancing the careers of women in science and medicine in research.

Tanner Wakefield 

I am an Assistant Specialist researching and developing a report on the history and status of tobacco control in Louisiana. I believe a union is needed to protect the wellbeing and rights of Academic Researchers in the UC system. In a place as hierarchical as academia, it’s important for specialists to promote the valuable contributions we make to research and stand up for fair treatment. Organizing makes this possible!