Meet the SF BUILD Scholars

Meet the 2017 SF BUILD Scholar Cohort


Top Left to Right: Louis Contreras, Marsha Calvert, Jennifer Sanchez, Andrea Morales, Kayla Lam Little, Nikee Salamaca, Brianna Huerta, Elizabeth Urrutia, Imani Davis

Bottom Left to Right: Alma Barrios, Martha Arriaga, Jacob Gomez, Luis Chumpitaz, Imani Robinson


The 2017 SF BUILD scholars started the program on June 2017.  Over the summer, they rotated through three SF State research labs and one UCSF research program. The scholars will spend 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.

SF BUILD 2017 Scholars

Martha Arriaga

My name is Martha Arriaga and I am a Biochemistry major. I am from Pittsburg, California and have lived in California my whole life. I am currently in a neonatal brain disorders laboratory at UCSF which is specifically focused on hypoxic-ischemia affecting premature babies. I am interested in neuroscience research and plan to pursue a PhD in neurobiology after I get a Master’s in public health. SF BUILD has helped me so much by providing me with a supportive cohort of students, staff, and mentors that have influenced my growth these past few months and continue to provide me with resources and support.

Kayla Lam Little

Kayla is a Cell and Molecular Biology major with a minor in Health Education. She grew up in South Florida for her childhood and then moved to San Diego during her teenage years. Kayla has a specific passion for Reproductive Sciences and Women’s Health. She aims to fight to provide more resources within reproductive care and enhance reproductive freedom. Kayla looks forward to gain more confidence as a scientist through the help of SF BUILD to become a role model for others, especially mixed-raced women in science, like herself.

Luis Chumpitaz

Luis is an undergraduate Computer Engineering major with a minor in Physics. He was born and raised in Peru, moved to Los Angeles, California at the age of 15, and was always interested in science and technology being that the main reason why he moved to San Francisco. With the recent growth of technology and data science usage in the biomedical sciences, he is interested in applying his skills and learn more about such areas by doing research in a bioinformatics laboratory while in SF BUILD.

Brianna Huerta

Brianna is a Physiology major who despite growing up in San Francisco, never learned how to successfully parallel park. Her research interests include the physiological effects of frequent and prolonged sympathetic discharge in individuals with anxiety disorders. She hopes her future in academia allows her to explore the roots of mental health disparities among vulnerable populations and work toward eventual change. She looks forward to enhancing her technical skills in the lab and appreciates BUILD’s continued guidance on her journey.

Imani Robinson

Imani Robinson is a Biology major with an emphasis in Physiology. Hailing from Oakland, California, Imani was raised in a diverse community which allowed her to explore all possibilities- including that of becoming a scientist. Her research interests consist of establishing a biomarker for Alzheimer’s Dementia and expanding the knowledge surrounding increasingly resistant forms of common STD’s and STI’s. With the opportunities given by SF BUILD, she hopes to gain a more thorough knowledge of research practices and sharpen her skills as a scientist. In the future, Imani aims to connect her biomedical and clinical research interests to increase the health of her community.

Andrea Morales

Andrea Morales is a undergraduate studying Cell and Molecular Biology and Chemistry at San Francisco State.  Andrea and her family  live near the US/Mexico border in San Diego, shaping her into the passionate researcher she is today.  Her primary research interests include cell biology and oral health.  Andrea hopes to utilize the many meaningful resources and mentors offered by SF BUILD in order to pursue her desire to conduct research in a community setting.

Marsha Calvert

Marsha Calvert is a Biology/Physiology major with a minor in Race & Resistance Studies. She is born and raised in San Francisco, California. Marsha looks forward to researching cures for human diseases. She hopes to gain trusting connections, mentorship, and guidance through the SF Build program. 

Alma Barrios

Alma is a Biology major with a concentration in Zoology. She is an SF BUILD scholar and is interested in conducting research in the ecology of emerging infectious disease in amphibians. Her long-term goal is to pursue a PhD and conduct meaningful research in conservation biology.


Imani Davis

Imani Davis is a Cell and Molecular Biology from Oakland, CA. Her interests lie with in Health Disparities, Cell Biology and Cancer research. She is interested in learning more about how to engage our communities in research. She is captivated by how comprehensive biomedical research is and looks forward to learning how others have combined their interests to do research meaningful to them. 

Jennifer Sanchez

Jennifer Sanchez is a cell and molecular biology major at San Francisco State University. She grew up in Santa Ana, California. Jennifer feels very grateful and blessed to be a part of SF Build. She is looking forward to make great connections and expand her networking in the sciences. She enjoys to learn and is open to many fields but has an interest in neuro-oncology. 

Nikee Salamaca

Nikee is majoring in Biology(Physiology) and minoring in Chemistry. She was born in the island of Luzon in the Philippines. As an undergraduate student, she became fascinated with cell signaling and molecular mechanisms and how a malfunction within these processes can debilitate health. The topics that she was exposed to in class sparked her interest in exploring research. As part of the SF BUILD program, Nikee looks forward to experiencing the research culture and to gaining a better understanding of her career aspirations as well as developing relationships with the people that will share this journey with her.

Louis Contreras

Bio coming soon!

Elizabeth Urrutia

Bio coming soon!

Jacob Gomez

Bio coming soon!



SF BUILD 2016 Scholars

Natasha Crawford

Bio coming soon!

Sofia Kakaizada

Bio coming soon!

Bethany Morin

Bio coming soon!

YingCong Yan

Bio coming soon!


Scholar Alumns