Represent in Science: SF BUILD Celebrates First Alumni PhD and Former Co-Director Turned Dean

Author: Leticia Márquez-Magaña, PhD
April 30, 2022
SF BUILD celebrates first alumni PhD and former co-director turned Dean.

Former SF BUILD leader Teaster Baird, Jr., PhD, is new associate dean 

Former San Francisco State University BUILD co-lead Teaster Baird, Jr., PhD, was announced the new Associate Dean of the College of Science and Engineering. Baird was a cornerstone member of the faculty team that prepared the original SF BUILD grant application, and was instrumental in its launch as Co-Leader of the Student Training Core. In this role, he used his decades of experience with federally funded student training programs as both a trainee and a leader of the NIH MARC, NIH Bridges, LSAMP programs at SF State to change practices. Instead of focusing on student deficits, Professor Baird developed practices for affirming student assets and for working with research mentors to recognize and address bias. 

Baird credits SF BUILD for motivating his route to becoming an Associate Dean.

 “SF BUILD played a huge role in my decision to go this route,” Baird said. “[The project] made me believe that institutional change can actually happen.” 

He aims to continue his institutional transformation efforts, which includes service as a diversity, equity and inclusion facilitator and leader for faculty affairs, as well as several university and academic senate committees. 

Juan Castillo, PhD, becomes first SF BUILD Scholar to earn doctoral degree


SF BUILD alumnus Juan Castillo, PhD, graduated with his doctoral degree in Analytical Chemistry from the University of California, Davis (UCD) in late 2021. He is the first SF BUILD scholar to earn a PhD and credits his success in science to the community of peers and mentors he gained as a member of its inaugural cohort. 

While in BUILD, he developed resistance to stereotype threat and nurtured his “giving back” values. As an undergraduate at SF State, Castillo tutored other students in chemistry and as a graduate student at the University of California, Davis, he participated on panels as an authentic role model for other historically underrepresented students in science. In the last year of his doctoral program Castillo shared his story in a video feature created by SF BUILD

“SF BUILD has helped me out in general [and] gave me a lot of support and mentorship,” Castillo said in the video feature. “That’s what I really needed. A lot of community members have a whole bunch of talent and I think what they need is mentorship and exposure to all these wonderful opportunities.”

With his doctoral degree in hand, Castillo will continue his journey as a research scientist on the analytical operations team at Gilead Sciences, where he will be working on small molecule therapeutics for people with life-threatening diseases.