UROC Alumni

Alexa Aburto UROC Research Ambassador

Alexa Aburto is originally from the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. Born to hardworking and kind Mexican immigrants, she is a first generation college student. As a junior majoring in English and minoring in Creative Writing, she is an advocate for the influential power of self-expression through the written word. Growing up with a special needs brother, she is deeply passionate about inclusion politics, specifically, disability rights, both inside and outside the classroom. As a self-proclaimed and proud Latina feminist, Alexas research focuses on the personal and social effects anti-abortion policies have against the female body, both literally and metaphorically. Other research interests include: examining the consumption of alcohol by Latin American men through a medical/biological anthropological lens; disability studies and cultural studies.

Istifaa Ahmed is a Bengali, critical race feminist. Istifaa majored in Ethnic Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies, and minored in Global Poverty and Practice. Traditionally, she is attached to a legacy that commits colonial sexual violence and erasure against her body. In her research, Istifaa analyzes sexual violence through women of color performance art. She examines how various women of color performance artists have used performance art as a platform to contest the secrecy of violence committed against them in the hidden and private, through the use of their bodies and its inhabitation, exhibition, and control over public space and audience. She also does research on gendered Orientalism, how the construction of Muslim womanhood justifies the War on Terror and imperialism into Muslim nations, and how this discourse is produced in such a way that seduces a national to want to engage in this violence and warfare.
Feel free to reach out to Istifaa as a resource! She’s happy to get to know you, help develop your research interests or proposals and methodologies, integrate modes of decolonization into your research, apply for research programs and grants, and help find/create platforms to apply and share your research. She can meet individually and offer group workshops.
Research interests: Race, Gender, Sexual Violence, Women of Color Performance Art, Transnational and Third World Women of Color Feminism, War on Terror, Orientalism, Colonialism, Slavery, Imperialism, Decolonization, Mass Incarceration, Prison Abolition

Daniel Felipe Cardozo Pinto

Daniel was born in Bogota, Colombia and immigrated to the United States at the age of five. In high school, his work tutoring students with attention deficit disorders led him to develop a deep interest in the fundamental workings of the brain. After a summer completing psychology coursework at Stanford, he declared a double major in Psychology and Molecular and Cell Biology at UC Berkeley specializing in neurobiology. He has experience in both cognitive neuroscience researching visual working memory using functional brain imaging, and in optogenetics using molecular techniques to characterize neural circuits implicated in animal models of depression and addiction. He is passionate about increasing scientific literacy in the general population and about the inclusion of Latinos and other underrepresented communities in science. If you have questions about finding research opportunities on campus, securing summer funding for your work, or applying to graduate school – or if you are simply interested in psychology, biology, or anything brainy – please get in touch!

Gladys Cortez

Gladys is a senior majoring in Cognitive Science and minoring in Education. Before coming to UC Berkeley she received her AA in Social and Behavioral Science from College of Marin. Previously, Gladys has worked in the CITRIS Social Apps Lab as a user research assistant helping develop a social activism platform. Currently, she is working as a Research Assistant in the UC Berkeley Experimental Social Science Laboratory (Xlab).

Cristina Gomez-Vidal, MSW UROC Co-Founder

Cristina Gomez-Vidal is a doctoral student in the School of Social Welfare at UC Berkeley. Her research focuses on how political bodies and processes contribute to the manufacturing of health inequities. Cristina’s professional experience includes over twelve years in the health and nonprofit management sector in California’s Central Valley. She is dedicated to lifting up the visibility of those who are rendered insignificant through lack of representation in research and  local and state government systems and policies, including small populations that live in our urban fringes and rural unincorporated communities. Currently, she is examining maternal and infant health in unincorporated communities and underrepresentation as a fundamental cause of health. Cristina is also currently a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholar and Berkeley Empirical legal Scholar.

Alex Mabanta

Alex Mabanta graduated with degrees in political science and rhetoric and a minor in human rights. His research encompassed the politics of religion in India, the rise of body camera technology in the United States, and racial profiling in the city of Berkeley. A Filipino-American, he continues to mentor and cultivate the next generation of underrepresented researchers of color.

Shelby Mack UROC Research Ambassador

Shelby Mack graduated from UC Berkeley with a major in American Studies concentrating in African American Studies and Education. Shelby was part of the Haas Scholar’s Research Program and an undergraduate recipient for the Center for Race and Gender Studies. She presented her research findings at the Haas Research Symposium in January of 2018. Her research question is based on understanding the different phases of the first Black female enrichment program of Oakland Unified School District named African American Female Excellence Program (AAFE) and how AAFE workers are using different healing methods (i.e. healing circles, restorative justice, spirituality) as a way to heal Black girls from dehumanizing school practices. The final report of her research project will be submitted as an honors thesis to the Department of American Studies at U.C. Berkeley 2018. The reason why Shelby chose this research topic is because she has been systematically targeted and impacted by zero tolerance policy practices and wants to find alternative solutions to solving the school to prison pipeline epidemic among Black girls.

Sofia Martinez Former UROC Co-Director

Sofia Martinez transferred as a sociology major from Santa Rosa Junior College in the fall of 2014. Since transferring Sofia has been conducting an independent research project through the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program. Her research aims to understand how medical discourse concerning a hormonal condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome perpetuates normative understandings of gender. In the past Sofia has also done research with Dr. Marcin Smietana and Dr. Charis Thompson, on surrogacy within LGBT communities. In her spare time Sofia enjoys spending time with her pets and peer advising at the sociology department. In the future, Sofia hopes to continue her education and continue making the best of her time at UC Berkeley.

Peno McLean-Riggs UROC Research Ambassador

Peno Mclean-Riggs is a 4th year Spanish Literature and Languages major. Her research interests include community-engaged scholarship around county jails and categories of belonging in modern Latin American literature. She has also researched the language used by the CIA to describe indigenous people in the Guatemalan Civil War. The social-science research, which inspires her, uses the expertise of community members as a crucial part of the research project. She also has a chihuahua named Luna who is the light of her life!

Kevin Reyes

Kevin D. Reyes is nonresident fellow at the Human Rights Center (HRC) at UC Berkeley School of Law, recipient of the 2015 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. At HRC, he was previously visiting research associate, research assistant on war crimes and sexual violence, and administrative assistant.
Reyes recently completed a B.A. from Berkeley in American foreign relations history and international political economy. His research interests address the intersection of various fields, including grand strategy, human rights, international law, and security. He is the author of articles published in the Columbia East Asia Review and the Global Societies Journal as well as a forthcoming Institute of Governmental Studies working paper on national security and computer science issues in the 1980s Strategic Defense Initiative. His current research projects explore comparative transitional justice in Latin America; the role of modernization theories in international justice and capacity-building; and (with Waldo E. Martin, Jr.) human rights discourse in the black freedom struggle from the late 1940s to the present.
After serving as managing editor of Clios Scroll (Berkeleys undergraduate history journal), he now chairs the journals advisory board.
Reyes has been a Washington fellow of the Goldman School of Public Policys Center on Civility and Democratic Engagement, where he served in the Americas program at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and authored a report on accountability for enforced disappearance in Mexico. Moreover, Reyes has contributed to work with the International Criminal Court, United Nations, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Colombia Steering Committee, and the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Reyes was a UROC program designer from 2015-16. Connect with him on Twitter (@KevinDReyes) or visit his website (kevindreyes.com).