Meet the Scholars

The SF BUILD scholars spend one to two academic years in the program and receive one-on-one mentoring and training to discover their research interests and motivate them to pursue a career in the NIH-funded workforce. Learn more about the training program.

Current Scholars

SF BUILD Cohort 5

Leyvi Campos


Leyvi Campos is a Biology major with a concentration in Physiology. Leyvi comes from a diverse community in Pittsburg, California. Which has allowed her to explore the possibility of being a scientist. Leyvi’s research interest consist of better understanding how cancer affects the human body and understanding how the environment they live in affects their health. Through her research she hopes to gain knowledge to give back to her community and help them increase their health with the help of SF Build.

Midley Michaud


Midley Michaud is a biology major with a concentration in physiology. Midley has a minor in chemistry. She is originally from Haiti where she was born and raised. Growing up she has seen and experienced health disparities within her own community. Having this exposure has motivated her to become someone who could help reduce health inequalities in many different communities. She‘s interested in biomedical research or in any research that would benefit and help the community around her. With the help of the Build program, Midley hopes to gain more knowledge in scientific research as well as more skills as a scientist. In the future, Midley aims to become a Medical Doctor to help diminished health disparities in her community and around the world.

Emilyn Nunez


Emilyn Nunez is pursuing a B.S degree in Biochemistry with a minor in Health Education. She’s expected to graduate in Spring 2021.Her goal is to help reduce health disparities and improve the mental health of Latinos diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. In her research, she wants to open the dialog of many intersectionality issue that strictly affect the mental health

Estrella Allen


Estrella Allen is a Peruvian and African American who grew up in Arizona, moved to Long Beach, and later attended San Francisco State University. Estrella is striving to obtain her B.S in Biochemistry and plans to minor in holistic health. Her research interests include clinical neuropsychology and pathology, and with these interests, she hopes to achieve a PhD and either be a neuropsychologist or pathologist. Estrella will build credibility, gain scientific knowledge, and obtain a mentorship through the resources SF BUILD offers. With everything she accomplished from SF BUILD. Estrella will help to aid those from mental illness and act on breaking the stigma of mental illnesses in the Latino and Black community.

Denashia Cloyd


Daneshia Cloyd is a student at San Francisco State University studying Computer Science with a minor in Health Education. Born and raised in Oakland, California, a diverse city, she has had an opportunity to work with children in her community teaching STEM concepts through NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers). She has an interest in health disparities in minorities, environmental science, computer science, and stem cells. Coming from a diverse place such as the Bay Area she is aware of health disparities and lack of resources that are present in her community and want to help those in her community be great and feel great through science and education. This inspires her to pursue her PhD. in Bioengineering.

Mireya Arreguin


Mireya Arreguin is an undergraduate student pursuing a B.S. in biology with an emphasis in Physiology. From San Fernando Valley, California, Mireya was raised surrounded with a majority population of Latinos. Her current research interest is finding an effective way to inform and find new efficient medications, so that minority families with children who have asthma understand the importance of these disparities more in depth. On her path and dedication to science she is hoping to be able to become an inspiration for people of color and an advocate for all communities just like hers. She is an aspiring medical doctor and advocate for underprivileged children and families. With the opportunity to be a part of the SF BUILD she hopes to be able to expand her knowledge as a scientist and be able to establish and discover more resources to directly help out underprivileged communities in need.

Samantha Christie

Samantha Christie is a Biology major with a Physiology concentration also pursuing a chemistry minor. Originating from Los Angeles, Samantha moved around frequently so houses would change, her environment would change, but her love for biology never changed. Her research interest is studying embryology and conducting research for understanding abnormalities in the development of the embryo from a fertilized egg. Given the resources provided by SF BUILD, Samantha hopes to apply the skills she has already attained in previous years to put towards discovering more about science and further advance her knowledge. In the future, Samantha will apply to PhD programs, and aims to use her research and knowledge to help advance health in communities around the world.


Eslah Alowdi is an undergraduate student pursuing an Integrative Health Bachelors degree and Holistic Health certificate. She expects to graduate in May 2020. Born in Yemen and a native to the Bay Area since she was two years old, she successfully merged her two cultures together to one. She will proudly bring her identity to the science field. Her aspiration is to engage in Holistic/Natural  remedies and community-based research and to pursue an advanced degree for a pediatric/primary doctor career. 



SF BUILD Cohort 4

          Jake Gibson

Jake Gibson is a psychology major focused on clinical research. Raised in several rural environments, Jake is familiar with the psychological repercussions of living in low-income communities. In addition to his queer identity, his upbringing motivates Jake to further his field’s knowledge regarding the prevention and treatment of psychopathology in marginalized communities. Jake’s research interests include investigating accessible mental health interventions, mood and compulsive disorders, and trauma. Through SF BUILD, Jake aims to develop the skills necessary to work alongside minority communities in promoting psychological resilience and wellbeing.



Clarissa Ferguson


Clarissa Ferguson is a Biology major with an emphasis in Physiology. Clarissa grew up in a Guatemalan household in Los Angeles, California. Being raised in a disenfranchised community, Clarissa was able to recognize and have compassion toward the people around her, no matter what social class, color, or ability. Her research interests consist of ways she can help disenfranchised communities and have them understand what occurs in their bodies. With the help of SF BUILD, she hopes to break down scientific terminology into everyday language to help people in different communities have a better understanding of science. Clarissa also hopes to become more knowledgeable in scientific research and gain more skills as a scientist. In the future, Clarissa aims to become a Medical Doctor with a lab of her own to conduct research on health disparities in her community and around the world.



Leeza Gaitan

Leeza was born and raised in San Francisco, California in the Mission District. Her major is Psychology and has a research interest in neuroscience specifically on how the brain with age can be a cause of Alzheimer’s as well as Dementia. Leeza’s goal is to be a Psychiatrist and help patients who need guidance by helping them with their mental health. Leeza wants to gain out of SF BUILD training the opportunity to grow and learn. This will bring her out of her comfort zone with being able to gain experiences in labs and mentorship and believe that she does belong in Science.

          Thricia Zabala

Thricia Zabala was born and raised in Quezon City, Philippines, and immigrated with her mother to the United States in her early pre-teens. She spent the rest of her teens San Francisco, California where she was exposed to a lot of social justice activism that inspired her to find a way to incorporate science with public health. Thricia is a current undergraduate majoring in Microbiology with a minor in Health Education at San Francisco State University. She is interested in researching diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, which affect low-income communities the most. She is hoping to earn her Ph.D. after she obtains a bachelor’s degree. She is looking forward to gaining research experience, exploring different routes in biomedical research, and learning how to use her research to give back to her community through SF BUILD.


Thai Hill

Thai Hill is a Mechanical Engineering major. Born and raised in the Bay Area, his exposure to a wide variety of cultural, social and economic backgrounds made him aware of the lack of resources provided to various ethnic and low income communities. His upbringing imparted upon him the importance of ethical and community focused progression. He is interested in creating a career focused on the intersection of engineering and biology in order to better the quality of living for individuals typically overlooked by the dominant culture of STEM. He is extremely excited to use the opportunities provided by SFBUILD to develop his skills as a scientist as well as introduce him to the bioengineering field. 

       Alexandra Shiffer

Alexandra Shiffer is a Physics major. She was born in San Francisco, California and raised in South San Francisco for the majority of her life. Growing up in a Hispanic dominant community where a large portion of the residents do not have access to healthcare has led her to wanting to become a scientist in the medical field. Her research interest is primarily in radiation oncology, which stems from her desire to study and develop more effective treatment of cancer using radiation. Participating in SF BUILD provides Alexandra with hopes to gain a better understanding of how research is conducted and also grow as a scientist. In the future, Alexandra strives to improve the health of her community by discovering safer and better radiation treatment of cancer.

Steven Lomeli

Steven Lomeli is a Kinesiology and Biology major at San Francisco State University. His interest include teaching and competing in martial arts, reading, cooking, running, yoga and being outdoors. Born and raised in Southern California, the passion that fuels Steven’s desire for research stems from devastating family circumstances, a reccuring component that each relative suffered from, encompassing both physical and biological factors. Steven hopes to integrate his interest in Atherosclerosis, diabetes, nutrition, and HIV to contribute to prevention practices with research that incorporates the respected disciplines. Steven aspires to utilize the training from the SF BUILD program to enter a PhD program, at the same time give back bridge the gap in health disparities amongst the Hispanic community. 

Andrea Muñoz


Andrea Muñoz is a Biology major with an emphasis in Physiology. Born and raised in the Bay Area, Andrea was exposed to a diversity of cultures and people which resulted in her interests in Public Health related research. Stemming from a Mexican immigrant family, Andrea incorporates family ethics into her work heavily. Her research interests consist of epidemiology related work such as obesity and diabetes related health issues in Latinos and the underlying causes in this community. Andrea anticipates her growth as a scientist in a lab setting, thanks to the opportunities brought by SF BUILD. Andrea hopes to bring her experiences from the Public Health field into the world of Biomedical Science.


Cohort 1

Cohort 2

Cohort 3

Cohort 4

  • Ghilamichael (Gila) Andemeskel

    • Biology

  • Tojo Chemmachel

    • Kinesiology

  • Martha Arriaga

    • Biochemistry

  • Azuka Atum

    • Microbiology

  • Juan Castillo

    • Chemistry

  • Natasha Crawford

    • Biology: Physiology

  • Alma Barrios

    • Biology: zoology

  • Derrick Chatad

    • Biology

  • Patricia (Ale) Castruita

    • Biology: Physiology

  • Tremone Fucles

    • Criminal Justine and Psychology

  • Marsha Calvert

    • Biology: Physiology

  • Brittany Contreras

    • Health Education

  • Shane Columbo

    • Psychology

  • Sofia Kakaizada

    • Biology: Physiology

  • Luis Chumpitaz Diaz

    • Computer Engineering

  • Maria Cruz

    • Biology

  • Maria (MC) Contreras

    • Biology: Physiology

  • Sugar McQuarn

    • Cell and Molecular Biology

  • Louis Contreras

    • Cell and Molecular Biology

  • Natalie Torres Cacho

    • Biology

  • Destinee Lanns

    • Biology: Physiology

  • Bethany (Beth) Kristi Morin

    • Cell and Molecular Biology

  • Imani Davis

    • Cell and Molecular Biology

  • Joi Lee

    • Biology

  • Chinomnso Okorie

    • Cell and Molecular Biology

  • Jacob Gomez

    • Biology: Physiology

  • Alejandra (Alex) Lopez-Macha

    • Cell and Molecular Biology

  • Michael Perez

    • Psychology

  • Brianna Huerta

    • Biology: Physiology

  • Daniel Mota

    • Cell and Molecular Biology

  • Monica Reynoso-Prieto

    • Biology: Physiology

  • Kayla Lam-Little

    • Cell and Molecular Biology

  • Cynthia Perez

    • Cell and Molecular Biology

  • Imani Walker

    • Microbiology

  • Andrea Morales

    • Cell and Molecular Biology

  • Natalie Warren

    • Biology: Physiology

  • (Johnson) YingCong Yang

    • Cell and Molecular Biology

  • Imani Robinson

    • Biology: Physiology

  • Nikee Salamanca

    • Biology

  • Jennifer Sanchez

    • Cell and Molecular Biology

  • Elizabeth Urrutia

    • Biology