Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Dr. Michael A. Yassa is professor of Neurobiology and Behavior, director of the UCI Brain Initiative and co-director of the UCI Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. As the BioSci inaugural associate dean of diversity, equity and inclusion, he is deeply committed to supporting all members of our Bio Sci community and ensuring that they are situated in a working and learning environment that allows them to thrive and promotes their success.
Dr. Aimee Edinger is professor of Developmental and Cell Biology and has served as the Biological Science Equity Advisor over the four years. She participates in faculty recruiting by approving search strategies and raising awareness of Best Practices. Additionally, she organizes faculty development programs, with both formal and informal mentoring, and addresses individual issues raised by women and underrepresented minority faculty.
Director of Diversity Initiatives
Dr. Raven Baxter joined UCI BioSci in 2021 with a background in molecular biology, science education, and science communication. As the Director of Diversity Initiatives, she focuses on building strong communities within the sciences to enhance and support innovative and diverse science learning, teaching, and working environments within the School of Biological Sciences. Dr. Baxter is an enthusiastic biology educator and works with faculty and staff to translate engagement and a sense of belonging into classroom experiences at UCI BioSci (and some fun, too!).
Director, Communications and Special Projects
Diana Lofflin manages all aspects of the campus wide End Racism Initiative (ERI) and other related efforts. She also serves as Director of Communications and Operations at the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. She previously served as the Director of Communications in the Office of the Provost where she worked on many cross-disciplinary projects and community engagement initiatives. Diana is passionate about supporting inclusion and diversity and was integral to the creation of the ERI.
Vicki Thomas joined UCI over five years ago, bringing with her a background in financial management and a history of working with c-level executives in Corporate America. In the Dean’s Office, she effectively oversees time and schedules for various staff, faculty and faculty committees. Mostly, she enjoys meeting and talking with our students. Asked what she’s most proud of, she quickly replies that she and her husband, Jeff, raised two successful UCI alumni, ’15 and ’17!
Minority Science Programs
Director, BioSci Outreach & Minority Science Programs
Dr. Luis Mota-Bravo has directed the UCI School of Biological Sciences Outreach, Research Training and Minority Science Programs (MSP) since 2000. He is a UCI PhD alum ’93 in Biological Sciences. Dr. Mota-Bravo is the principal investigator of the NIH training grants that support MSP: IMSD, MARC, BRAiN, and Bridges to the Baccalaureate. His laboratory studies antibiotic resistance genes in the environment to understand the biological basis of multi-drug resistant bacteria (one of the biggest threats to global health).
Marlene De La Cruz
Director, Student Academic Development
Dr. Marlene de la Cruz is the Director of Student Academic Development at MSP. She is the Principal Investigator of three NIH research training grants to increase the number of underrepresented minority students obtaining Ph.D. degrees in biomedical sciences. She received her Ph.D. in plant genetics at UC Riverside and was Associate Professor at UNAM in Mexico. In 1998, she returned to UC as a Visiting professor, then as officer of the system-wide initiative UCMexus until 2004 when she transitioned to MSP.
Dr. Andrei Tatarenkov strives to involve undergraduate students from underrepresented groups in research to prepare them for successful research careers in biological and biomedical sciences. The focus of this research is mainly on evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Andrei received his B.Sc. in Biology from Far Eastern State University in Vladivostok, Russia and Ph.D. in Genetics from St. Petersburg State University. He completed postdoctoral training at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and at UCI.
Ivan Munoz Gutierrez
Dr. Ivan Munoz-Gutierrez is a molecular microbiologist devoted to training undergraduate students from underrepresented groups who want to pursue a scientific career. He completed his Ph.D. on engineering bacteria to produce biofuels at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. He continued his research in Israel, first in Tel-Aviv University and later in the Weizmann Institute of Science, studying how bacteria sense their environments. Currently at UCI, he investigates antibiotic-resistant bacteria isolated from aquatic environments.
Admin Assistant, Minority Science Programs
Reham Riad is a UCI alumna and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology in 2016. She returned to UCI in 2017, where she now coordinates the logistics of different programs under the MSP as well as recruits and assists undergraduate students in the program with pursuing their goals of attaining research careers in the biomedical sciences.
Fiscal Officer, Minority Science Programs
Liz Alvarez-Neddeau is a UCI alumna who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology in 2017. She is currently serving as the fiscal officer for the MSP program, where she provides financial management of the department’s accounts and support to incoming and current students. Her goal is to continue to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups in STEM.
DECADE MENTOR | Professor, Neurobiology and Behavior
Dr. Susana Cohen-Cory is professor of Neurobiology and Behavior and DECADE mentor for the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program (INP) as well as the Neurobiology and Behavior PhD program. Her research focuses on synapse formation in the developing nervous system.
DECADE MENTOR | Professor, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
Dr. Matt Inlay is associate professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and DECADE mentor for the Cellular and Molecular Biosciences (CMB) Program, as well as the Developmental & Cell Biology and the Molecular Biology & Biochemistry PhD programs. His research focuses on understanding the origins of the blood system in embryonic development.
DECADE MENTOR | Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Dr. Donovan German is associate professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and DECADE mentor for the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology PhD Program. His research focuses on understanding how organisms are specialized to use specific resources and the consequences of specialization to ecosystem fluxes.