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. She hopes to pursue an MPH and focus on her current passions in health and community involvement.

Sophia Li is a fourth-year Public Health transfer student at UC Merced. Currently, she sli.jpgtutors students who struggle academically due to cultural and language differences. She has previously worked as an ambassador for the UC Global Health Institute’s Planetary Health Center of Expertise, which seeks to create and support healthy environments through education and outreach. She hopes to pursue a joint MPH and MPP, and a Ph.D in Public Health.