HPRG Students

Graduate (PhD) Students

100198331Kimberly Sánchez, MPH, is a first-year Public Health PhD graduate student at UC Merced. She received a triple B.A. in Spanish, Public Health, and Psychology at UC Merced and completed a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) with an emphasis in Community Health Education at CSU Long Beach. Her research interests include immigrant health, specifically how policies affect the health of undocumented Latinos as well as research on obesity prevention. After receiving her Ph.D., she hopes to continue conducting research to improve access to resources and health among minority populations.


Kesia Garibay is a first-year doctoral student at UC Merced in the Public Health program with a focus in Health Policy. She received her B.A. in Public Health from UC Merced. Her research interests include the impact of health policy on underserved communities and understanding how policy addresses health disparities. She is currently working to develop a state obesity policy database with the Health Policy Research Group (PI: Dr. Denise Payán). Kesia is the 2020 recipient of the Future History Makers Award from Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE).

Undergraduate Student Research Assistants

Jocelyn Acosta HeadshotJocelyn Acosta is a fourth year undergraduate student at UC Merced from Sacramento, CA and is expected to graduate Spring 2020 with a BA in Public Health and a minor in Professional Writing. She is currently employed as a supervisor for the campus Recreation and Athletics Department and is an active community volunteer. She has previously participated in a paid fellowship supervised by Dr. Andrea Joyce examining the vector potential of Merced county mosquitoes and interning for the Nicotine and Cannabis Policy Center. She is currently a research assistant for the Health Policy Research Group led by Dr. Denise Payán evaluating past state healthcare legislation. Jocelyn is a Cal-IHEA 2020 Health Equity Scholar. She hopes to pursue an MPH and focus on her current passions in health and community involvement.

Jennifer Cisneros is a fourth-year undergraduate student at UC Merced who is IMG_9555majoring in public health. Her interests include nutritional discrimination and removing misinformation among low-income communities in the Central Valley about their overall health and well-being through education. She has interned with the California Health Collaborative for Tobacco Control in the Madera County Public health department with an emphasis on health disparities among the Latino community. Jennifer has also volunteered at a local elementary school for the Literacy By Third Grade Program and helped students gain core skills to further their education. After graduating, she plans to focus on health education and outreach for healthy communities.


Jesus Fraire is a fourth year undergraduate student at UC Merced. He is majoring in Public Health and received his Associate of Arts at East Los Angeles College. Through research, he discovered a passion for health policy, law, and social justice. He is currently a Public Relations officer for UC Merced’s Public Health Society and recently completed an internship with Merced County Department of Public Health (mentor: Ileisha Sanders). During his time there, he developed a communication and dissemination plan for the Health Impact Assessment and created infographics for dissemination. He plans to pursue a Masters in Public Policy and work in LA County to help others understand the legal system.