Graduate Fellows

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Founded in 1976, the Graduate Fellows Program (GFP) provides an interdisciplinary, intergenerational, and inclusive environment for research and training at the Berkeley campus. The GFP plays an integral part in training scholars to address the pressing challenges that face California, the nation, and the world. Read more about the program here. See books by our alumni here.

Make a gift to the Graduate Fellows Program Fund here. 

Your gift will be used to provide training and mentorship to a new generation of scholars engaged in research on race, ethnicity, gender and class in the United States.


Xavier Durham, Sociology

Xavier Durham (he/him) is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Sociology at UC Berkeley whose interests revolve around policing, surveillance, state violence, punishment, inequality, and urban sociology. His current project focuses on the precarious convergence between formerly-incarcerated people and neoliberal security practices in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, examining how the policed become the police as they navigate a constrained labor market. Previously, he has done extensive work on police use of force during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as well as the constitutional ramifications of private policing and what that means for carceral abolition. Xavier’s work has received generous support from the National Science Foundation, Mellon Mays Social Science Research Council, and the Berkeley Center for the Study of Law and Society. He holds an M.A. in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.A. in Sociology (with special honors) from the University of Texas at Austin. 


Irene Farah Rivadeneyra, City and Regional Planning 

Irene Farah Rivadeneyra is a PhD candidate in City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley. Broadly, her research revolves around themes of inequality, focusing on topics of urban informality, governance, health, and spatial analytics. Currently, her research interest is on urban governance and the management of public space. In particular, she analyzes how legal instruments and political institutions in Mexico City and San Francisco impact how street vendors, street level bureaucrats, and local politicians negotiate over public space. Another line of her work focuses on the retail food environment and the importance of incorporating informal outlets in food policy interventions. Lastly, she is building a teaching curriculum which integrates methods of spatial analysis with critical theory to improve the ways policymakers and planners use spatial statistics to reduce inequities in cities.


Daryl Mangosing, Public Health 

Daryl Mangosing (they/he/she) is a DrPH Candidate in Berkeley Public Health whose interests lie at the intersection of LGBTQ+ health disparities, community-engaged research, mixed-methods, and Critical Theory. For their dissertation, Daryl is studying sexualized drug use (i.e., recreational or illicit drug use to facilitate and enhance sexual activity), harm reduction practices and strategies, and health outcomes among sexual and gender diverse people in the context of HIV prevention and online dating applications. Previously, they served as a Research Communications Specialist at the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies and Prevention Research Center in the Division of Prevention Science at University of California, San Francisco, where they drove communication efforts and disseminated HIV prevention and public health research. A queer Filipinx from Guam, they received their MPH (Health Communication) from Tufts University and their BA (Health Sciences) from Berea College. Daryl is the Berkeley Public Health Graduate Fellow.


Martha Ortega Mendoza, Education

Martha Ortega Mendoza is the proud daughter of two former restaurant cooks. Currently, Martha is a Ph.D. candidate in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation builds upon the scholarship focused on undocumented students by documenting and uplifting the academic, social, and financial experiences of undocumented graduate students. Through her research, Martha identifies how institutional agents (e.g., staff, administrators, and faculty) can attract, retain, and help undocumented graduate students complete their graduate studies. In her spare time, Martha loves visiting new restaurants and sharing meals with her husband, family, and friends.



Catherine Park, Education

Catherine Park is a Ph.D. candidate in Education at the University of California, Berkeley with a designated emphasis in Global Metropolitan Studies. Catherine's research centers on how Mandarin-English dual immersion programs offered in private and public/charter schooling interact with not only sociospatial politics of urban spaces, but also transnational movements of capital, peoples, and power. She holds a B.A. in English Literature and Psychology from Swarthmore College, an M.A. in China Studies from Zhejiang University, and has taught in NYC public high schools, where she started her journey as an educator. Catherine is one of the Asian American Research Center Graduate Fellows.



Valentín Sierra, Social Welfare

Valentín “Val” Sierra is a Ph.D. student at the UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare. Val’s clinical and research agendas focus on eliminating mental health disparities, particularly suicide and depression, for urban Native American young people through culturally grounded practices and interventions. They hold a M.S.W. from Berkeley Social Welfare and a B.A. in Native American Studies, with highest honors, from UC Davis. They are currently working on a community-based research project in partnership with the Sacramento Native American Health Center, Inc. to develop an Indigenous culture-based suicide screener. Val is an Associate Clinical Social Worker and an active member of the California Yaqui (Yoeme) Indian community. 



Rashad Arman Timmons, African Diaspora Studies

Rashad Arman Timmons is a community builder, keyboardist, writer, and black feminist educator from Detroit, Michigan. A beloved child of factory workers, urban gardeners, prayer warriors, and musicians, Rashad is a lifelong student of the ways black folk manipulate and adorn the built environment to envision freedom. A doctoral candidate in African Diaspora Studies with a Designated Emphasis in New Media Studies, Rashad’s dissertation explores urban infrastructures as critical sites where the lived social relations that come to define blackness are enacted, visualized, and challenged. His project focuses on Ferguson, MO, and engages how black subjects in the region have reordered sedimented geographies of power by seizing infrastructures as sites of black political insurgency, wake work, tactical disruption, and sabotage. Rashad received his M.A. in African American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and earned a M.A. and B.A. in Journalism from Michigan State University.


Diana Casanova, Education

Diana Casanova is a Ph.D. candidate in Education whose research examines the policies and practices that build power for family and community stakeholders to affect social change. Her dissertation analyzes the ways that Oakland families participate in district-level governance, impact budgeting and planning decisions, and it investigates the relationship between democratic engagement and institutional change. Diana holds a B.S. in Journalism from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and an M.A. in Education from UC Berkeley.



Akilah Favors, Sociology

Akilah Favors is an energetic free-spirited activist who loves to smile. She is a Ph.D. student in Sociology at UC Berkeley who researches race, class, social movements, gentrification, and the politics of inclusion. Her work investigates how Black middle-class organizers mobilize low-income renters against urban displacement rooted in neoliberalism and systemic racism in Atlanta, GA. She employs urban ethnography and in-depth interviews to analyze how both practices of division and solidarity influence the sustainability of Blackness in the city. Her work contributed to a national report with the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund Grants. Akilah received her B.A. in Sociology from Spelman College and her M.A. in Sociology from UC Berkeley. She passionately serves as the associate director of the HBCU pipeline program, Summer Scholars of Race at UC Berkeley. In her spare time, Akilah loves weightlifting, biking, traveling, promoting Black businesses, competing in games, and hanging with family.


Fabián Fernández, Medical Anthropology

Fabián Fernández is a student in the joint UCSF-UCB M.D./Ph.D. program in Medical Anthropology. He researches issues of safety, workplace violence, and policing in U.S. Emergency Departments. In his time in the Bay Area, he has organized with healthcare workers from Do No Harm Coalition fighting against wage theft, evictions, and police sweeps. He has also worked to support individuals and families affected by police violence. He models his healing work from years of practice with Clínica Martín Baró, a student-run free clinic grounded in latin-american liberation psychology. He grounds himself in music, spoken word, somatic practices, and ancestral healing.



Nate Gong, Education

Nate Gong (江幸運) traces his ancestry to Toisan (Southern China), Transylvania (Romania), Alsace (France/Germany) and Essex (England) and was raised in unceded territory of Huichin, otherwise known as Oakland. A former high school teacher at his alma mater, he is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Education with a designated emphasis in Indigenous Language Revitalization. His research focuses on strategies for cultural revitalization in Indigenous diaspora. His dissertation is a collaborative research project with a Bay Area Pacific Islander educational non-profit involving place-based and multimodal arts-based methodologies to examine the potentialities for decolonial pedagogies whilst in diasporic transit. He is the father of two and committed to community-centered research, land and ocean stewardship, and compassionate and holistic educational futurities. Nate is one of the Asian American Research Center Graduate Fellows.


Brenda Mathias, Social Welfare

Brenda Mathias is a Ph.D. Candidate in Social Welfare at UC Berkeley. Her research focuses on urban spaces, youth well-being, social justice, and community-based participatory research methods. Brenda currently serves as a pre-doctoral fellow with SOULLAB utilizing technology as an empowerment and organizing tool among BIPOC communities. Prior to attending Berkeley, Brenda managed several randomized controlled trials evaluating youth summer jobs in Philadelphia. She has worked on community-led revitalization efforts in Cleveland, OH, and service coordination with urban public schools. Brenda holds a bachelors from Temple University and a masters from Case Western Reserve. 



Brie McLemore, Jurisprudence and Social Policy

Brie McLemore is a Ph.D. candidate in Jurisprudence and Social Policy with a designated emphasis in Science and Technology Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She has a Masters in Public Policy/Master of Arts in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Brandeis University and a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Gender Studies from New College of Florida. Her research focuses on the adoption and integration of technology in urban spaces and the implications for surveillance. She is a Health Policy Research Scholar at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.




Karen Villegas, Education

Karen Villegas is a Ph.D. candidate in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley. Karen’s dissertation analyzes the ways in which economic and language ideologies work together to socialize aspiring U.S. citizens to be literate in a ‘neoliberal’ ideation of citizenship. The context of the study is an adult, English as a Second Language (ESL), naturalization course with a focus on the social organization of the practices, the ideologies indexed in these practices, and the ensuing formations of literacies produced in these settings. Karen received her M.A. in Education from the University of California, Berkeley, and her B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles.



Make a gift to the Graduate Fellows Program Fund here. 


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