Advisors

With the SURF application deadline fast approaching, applicants are expected to attend a draft workshop before scheduling a consultation with SURF Advisors. The consultations are scheduled for ten-minute appointments and it is important to provide a copy of your draft application before your appointment.

To sign up for an appointment with a SURF advisor, please use this link.

Kayli Martinez - Biological Sciences Advisor

Kayli Martinez is from Pennsylvania and graduated from Eastern University with a B.S. in biochemistry and a minor in astronomy in 2018. She is herself an alum of various summer research programs including the NSF-REU and Amgen Scholars Programs. Kayli’s current research in chemical biology focuses on the study of electrophysiology of cardiomyocytes using voltage sensitive dyes as a member of Evan Miller’s lab. She enjoys participating in campus organizations and events, going to the beach, finding new local coffee shops, and attending concerts. Kayli looks forward to working with the Summer 2022 SURF cohort throughout the next year!

Kayli’s office hours Tuesday 12 noon-2 PM.

Alec Apodaca - Social Sciences Advisor

I am an environmental archaeologist (Ph.D. program in the Anthropology Department) conducting historical ecological research on Indigenous stewardship practices over the past millenium in California, North America. I am carrying out this dissertation research collaboratively with Tribal organizations and natural resource agencies to evaluate how resource management strategies, like cultural burning, changed over long periods of time. The research will be integrated into contemporary stewardship plans, which seek to re-implement indigenous stewardship techniques in order to restore native plants, revitalize dormant cultural practices, and reduce the risk of wildfire along the coastal region of central California. Before coming to the graduate program at Cal, I worked for several years in the private sector doing cultural and environmental resource impact studies. I have a strong passion for mentoring and working with the next generation of multidisciplinary scholars who continue to inspire my own research as well. On the weekends, you can find me tending plants, sunbathing with my cat, or cooking something on the grill.

Alec’s office hours are Monday 12 noon-2 PM

Claire Hilburger - Math and Physical Sciences Advisor

Claire graduated with a B.S. with honors in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University. Her past research focused on developing vesicle-based technologies by integrating synthetic biology building blocks and artificial membranes. She is an NSF GRFP fellow and a Ph.D. student in the UCSF-Berkeley’s Bioengineering program where she works in Professor Derfogail Delcassian’s lab developing mRNA-lipid nanoparticle technologies. She hopes to empower undergraduates in research by providing them a platform to build their confidence, technical abilities, and critical-thinking skills. In her free time, she enjoys playing soccer, hiking, trying new coffee shops and puzzles.

Claire’s office hours are Mondays 5:30-7:30 PM.

Jessica Stevenson Stewart - Arts & Humanities Advisor

Jessica is Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research. She earned both her Bachelor of Arts and PhD from UC Berkeley’s History of Art Department. A former Haas Scholar, she began her research journey as a participant in the URAP program. Her research has been sponsored by a number of major fellowships, including grants from the Kress Foundation, the Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts (CASVA), the Beligan American Educational Foundation, and the Fulbright Administration. She has taught extensively from museum collections, first as a Kress Fellow for the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco and then as the Associate Curator for Academic Engagement at Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center, and is an advocate for interdisciplinary research as well as project- and object-based inquiry. She is also deeply concerned with educational equity and expanding access to higher education.

Jessica’s office hours are Tuesdays 2-3 PM and Wednesdays 3-4 PM.

Valerie Vargas-Zapata - UROC STEM Advisor

My name is Valerie Vargas-Zapata (pronouns: ella/she/her) and I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, a beautiful island in the Caribbean. I obtained my B.S. in Biology/Biotechnology from the University of Puerto Rico-Ponce, a very small non research-oriented institution in the Island. Through my undergraduate career, I was engaged in biomedical research at a local research institute as part of the NIH RISE program and I participated in various summer research internships. One of my summer internships was here at UC Berkeley as part of the Amgen Scholars Program. That summer, I felt in love with the Bay Area and decided to apply to UC Berkeley for graduate school. I’m currently a 5th year PhD student in the Molecular and Cell Biology program. I’m part of the Coscoy lab where we study herpesviruses and how infected cells and the immune system respond to these pathogens. I am also the graduate coordinator for UROC. I’m the first in my family to pursue graduate education and the first scientist. There’re a lot of challenges that come with being the first, but I have had many mentors help me along the way and I’m excited to share what I have learned. I understand how isolating it can feel to not find a lot of people that look like you and/or share similar experiences in research spaces or in positions of power here on campus. This motivates me to help students like you get the resources they need to succeed and to facilitate access to research and higher education. Importantly, I want UROC to be a safe space where we can build community and cultivate belonging. 

Valerie’s office hours are Friday 10-11:30 AM.