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UC-Mexico Farm Labor Research Cluster

The People Behind the Program

Leadership

Federico Castillo

Project Scientist, Berkeley Food Institute

Federico Castillo is an Environmental/Agricultural Economist with PhD and undergraduate degrees from UC Berkeley. Federico’s research centers technology transfer and innovation, economic valuation, socio-economic impacts of climate change, and the economic aspects of protected areas and migration. He contributes in developing a research agenda on climate change, agriculture and population issues in Berkeley. He is also engaged in research with scholars from The Tropical Agricultural Research Center (CATIE), the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), The Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) and UC Davis in projects over ecosystem based adaptation to climate change, the socio economic impact of weather extremes in California agriculture and climate change impacts on migration from Mexico to the US. He has taught courses related to migration to the United States, natural resource economics, and economics of climate change and sustainable business practices.

Nathalie A. Muñoz

Community Engagement Program Manager

she/her

Nathalie A. Muñoz is a 2018 UC Berkeley graduate with a BS in Environmental Sciences. Before joining the Berkeley Food Institute team, she was the Contracting and Purchasing Agent for the Berkeley Student Cooperative where she procured the food and supplies for 1,300 student-members. As a first-generation transfer student at Cal, she was a student researcher for BFI, working on the Berkeley Foodscape Mapping Project to help collect data on campus gardens, student food groups, and UC Berkeley food course historical trends. As the descendant of a Bracero farmworker, she is passionate about uplifting the marginalized voices of our food labor force.

Susana Matias

Assistant Professor of Cooperative Extension Nutrition, UC Berkeley

Susana Matias is an Assistant Specialist/Assistant Professor in Cooperative Extension Nutrition and one of the Berkeley Food Institute Co-Associate Directors at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Matias is a public health nutrition researcher with +15 years of experience in this field. Her research focuses on nutrition issues of public health relevance, such as food security, diet quality and their association with health and wellbeing. She uses different epidemiological research designs (e.g. observational, longitudinal, randomized trials) to study these topics on women and children (e.g. WIC population), Latino immigrants (e.g. farmworkers) and other underserved groups. Dr. Matias holds a Ph.D. in Epidemiology, with Emphasis in International and Community Nutrition, from the University of California, Davis. Previously, she completed graduate and undergraduate studies in Psychology at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. Prior to joining UC Berkeley, Dr. Matias worked as a research scientist at UC Davis and the California Department of Public Health.

Moncerrat Hernandez

Undergraduate Agricultural Labor Research Fellow

she/her

Undergraduate, Environmental Sciences. Moncerrat is a first year undergraduate student from Oxnard, California. Growing up in an agricultural city, she engaged with matters impacting farmworkers’ health. Her interests include environmental justice, technology, and medicine. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family, traveling, and gardening. She looks forward to being a part of a collective effort and connecting with community members.

Anaid Linares Rojas

Research Engagement Coordinator, ALIANZA Mexico

Responsible for engaging with representatives from higher education, government, and other organizations to enhance research development opportunities; designing, implementing, and evaluating binational research programs; and coordinating events and other academic activities from Casa de la Universidad de California in Mexico City.

Jail Ixel Cruz García

Strategic Research Initiatives Coordinator, UC AlianzaMX

Coordinates engagement between University of California (UC) researchers and non-academic stakeholders such as governments, NGOs private sector, and others involved in the US-MX binational transition to zero- emission vehicles (ZEV) and other Strategic Research Projects funded by AlianzaMX such as “Economics of Migration”, “Farmworkers Health”, “Water Management”, “Gender in the Mexican Revolution”, etc. Jail Identifies opportunities for future UC research on issues relevant to the US/CA-MX relationship which include but are not limited to Sustainable Development (SDG implementation and monitoring), lithium and critical minerals, climate change, oceans, biodiversity, and health. She supervises and leads interns, establishing objectives, activities, deliverables, and timetables for the internship. She supports collaboration for the inclusion of students of the Climate Ambassadors Program in the Research and Innovation team, defining the profile, activities and participating in the selection process.

Veronica Barroso

Associate Director of Operations for Casa de California, ALIANZA Mexico

Responsible for overseeing the administration and development of activities as well as providing logistical support for special events from Casa de la Universidad de California en México.

Agricultural Production

Francisco Benítez

Project Scientist, Berkeley Food Institute / UC Agriculture & Natural Resources

Francisco Benítez Altuna (he/him) was born in Quito, Ecuador, where he earned an engineering degree in agro-industry from the EPN and managed the yellow corn value chain at the Ministry of Agriculture. He received a dual MA in agribusiness and rural development from the University of Göttingen and the University of Talca. He holds a Ph.D. from Wageningen University, focused on sustainable food value chains. He is a Project Scientist in a joint position with the Berkeley Food Institute (BFI) and the University of California (UCANR). His research addresses policy and socioeconomic barriers toward sustainable food systems. He is interested in analyzing governance mechanisms, farmers’ learning process, contracting, market orientation, and equity inclusion of the actors involved.

Gabriela Ortiz

Doctoral Candidate in Medical Anthropology, UC Riverside

Gabriela Ortiz is doctoral candidate in medical anthropology at UC Riverside. Her dissertation research examines the political economy of health, health infrastructures, infrastructural violence, and access to health services among Latinx and Indigenous Purépecha farm-working communities in the Eastern Coachella Valley.

Javier Warman

Director of Natural Resources, The World Resources Institute (WRI) Mexico

Lorena Isabel Quintanar Villarreal

Head of the Department of the General Coordination of International Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Mexico

Yaneth Sanchez

Agricultural Technician, PRONATURA Mexico A.C.

Daniela Gutierrez

Program Manager “AceleraCero” (Net Zero), PRONATURA Mexico

Eduardo Chan Gaxiola

Assistant Manager of Operation in the Irrigation Districts Management Department, CONAGUA Mexico

Verónica Bunge Vivier

Director of Climate Change Attention in Priority Areas, Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development Mexico

Sergio Macías Ruíz

Area Director, Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development Mexico

Data and Technology

Dora-Luz Flores

Professor of Bioengineering, Autonomous University of Baja California

Dora-Luz Flores is a computer engineer and a professor in the Department of Bioengineering at the Autonomous University of Baja California. She holds a Master of Science degree from Instituto Politécnico Nacional and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from UABC. Dr. Flores is a prominent member of the National System of Researchers and leads the pioneering Bionanoengineering research group. Her academic portfolio boasts over 30 peer-reviewed publications and six book chapters, reflecting her expertise in artificial intelligence applied to biological systems, simulation of complex systems, computational biology, and agent-based systems.

Dr. Flores is a mentor to nearly 20 undergraduate and postgraduate students. She serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the Mexican Journal of Biomedical Engineering for the term 2022-2025. In 2018, her contributions were recognized with a Fulbright-García Robles scholarship, which allowed her to conduct research at the University of California Irvine. Additionally, Dr. Flores is a member of the Liaison Committee of the ISC Regional Focal Point for the Latin American and Caribbean Region and currently serves as the General Coordinator of Research and Postgraduate Studies at UABC.

Federico Castillo

Project Scientist, Berkeley Food Institute

Federico Castillo is an Environmental/Agricultural Economist with PhD and undergraduate degrees from UC Berkeley. Federico’s research centers technology transfer and innovation, economic valuation, socio-economic impacts of climate change, and the economic aspects of protected areas and migration. He contributes in developing a research agenda on climate change, agriculture and population issues in Berkeley. He is also engaged in research with scholars from The Tropical Agricultural Research Center (CATIE), the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), The Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) and UC Davis in projects over ecosystem based adaptation to climate change, the socio economic impact of weather extremes in California agriculture and climate change impacts on migration from Mexico to the US. He has taught courses related to migration to the United States, natural resource economics, and economics of climate change and sustainable business practices.

Juan Luis Hernández Pérez

Professor, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Juan Luis Hernández Pérez is a researcher and professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) associated with the Institute of Social Research (IIS). His main research fields are technological and social innovations, agricultural economics and rural sociology, food systems and globalization, climate change, and rural livelihoods.

María Josefa Santos Corral

Professor of Social Anthropology, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

María Josefa Santos Corral is a doctor of social anthropology. Her area of ​​specialty is related to social problems of knowledge transfer, within the lines of technology and culture and social studies of innovation. She has worked with different groups ranging from large Mexican companies to small agricultural production, including libraries and small businesses owned by Mexican migrants in the United States. In these areas she has edited 7 books and articles in specialized journals. She has also supervised numerous bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral theses. The results of her research have also supported decision-making in technology and knowledge transfer projects.

Nathalie A. Muñoz

Community Engagement Program Manager

she/her

Nathalie A. Muñoz is a 2018 UC Berkeley graduate with a BS in Environmental Sciences. Before joining the Berkeley Food Institute team, she was the Contracting and Purchasing Agent for the Berkeley Student Cooperative where she procured the food and supplies for 1,300 student-members. As a first-generation transfer student at Cal, she was a student researcher for BFI, working on the Berkeley Foodscape Mapping Project to help collect data on campus gardens, student food groups, and UC Berkeley food course historical trends. As the descendant of a Bracero farmworker, she is passionate about uplifting the marginalized voices of our food labor force.

Oscar Pita Diaz

Engineer, CONAGUA Mexico

Emmanuel Nava Perdomo

Engineer, CONAGUA Mexico

Benjamin Jimenez

Deputy Manager of International Cooperation, CONAGUA Mexico

Miguel Tirado

Professor Emeritus of Health and Human Services, California State University, Monterey Bay

Miguel D. Tirado is Professor Emeritus of Health and Human Services and former Dean of Graduate Studies at California State University, Monterey Bay. He has served as a Research Associate with the Center for Telehealth and Cybermedicine at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. He is a noted expert on digital health and the training and assessment of cultural competency for health care professionals. As a Research Associate at the University of California, San Francisco and the Stanford University School of Medicine he developed and conducted training sessions in cross-cultural health for physicians and nurses at Stanford University, San Francisco Zuckerberg General Hospital and the University of New Mexico Family Medicine Residency Program. Dr. Tirado is responsible for developing national standards for health care professionals serving culturally and linguistically diverse populations. He also served as a member of the Federal Government’s Special Panel on Telehealth and Underserved Populations and administrator of a National Science Foundation funded Mexico/US Bi-National Mexico/US Environmental Management Project

Mauricio Ruiz

Consultant, Observatory of Regional Development and Social Promotion Mexico

Law and Migration

Martha Judith Sánchez Gómez

Research Professor, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Martha Judith Sánchez Gómez is a senior researcher at the UNAM Social Research Institute. She has a doctorate in Social Sciences with a specialty in Sociology from El Colegio de México. She has carried out research stays in the United States at UC Berkeley (with a Fulbright scholarship), in Spain at the universities of Valencia and Burgos and in Argentina at the CEIL-Conicet. She has conducted research in different rural and urban areas in Mexico and the United States, analyzing the migration and settlement of Mexican, Indigenous and mestizo migrants and their relationships with their communities of origin. She has also carried out the study of wine-growing areas in Spain in Ribera del Duero and in Argentina in the province of Mendoza. Her intellectual concerns have focused on the field of rural studies, migrations and national and international mobilities, and the issues of gender, ethnicity, living conditions, work and settlement of workers in the vineyards, changes in rural territories and recently in wine tourism.

Rafael Alarcón Acosta

Research Professor, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte

Rafael Alarcón Acosta is research professor in the Department of Social Studies at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Tijuana, Mexico and holds a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2022, he was distinguished as a National Emeritus Researcher by Mexico’s Sistema Nacional de Investigadores. As a specialist on international migration, he has published research on:the economic and social effects of migration, the integration of immigrants, the immigration policies regarding skilled persons and the criminalization and deportation of migrants. In 2022 with Telésforo Ramírez, he coauthored the article: “Esenciales pero vulnerables: trabajadores agrícolas mexicanos ante la pandemia del COVID-19 en Estados Unidos” Mexican Studies / Estudios Mexicanos Vol. 38, Num 1. In collaboration with Luis Escala and Olga Odgers, he coauthored the book: Making Los Angeles Home. The Integration of Mexican Immigrants in the United States (University of California Press, 2016).

Susana Ramírez

Associate Professor of Public Health, UC Merced

As an infodemiologist, Dr. Susana Ramírez applies communication science to advance public health goals. She is a nationally recognized expert on media, inequality, and health. Her research—published in Social Science & Medicine, American Journal of Public Health, Journal of Health Communication, and other journals—has examined the development and effectiveness of culturally tailored messages for Latinas, centering an interrogation of “culture” and acculturation processes in message effectiveness studies. Her current work examines policy discourse and media advocacy strategies pertaining to population health and builds on a framework for racialized marketing. She is a co-editor of the forthcoming Handbook of Language in Public Health and Healthcare (Wiley, 2024). She is currently an Associate Professor of Public Health Communication at the University of California in Merced.

Telésforo Ramírez García

Researcher, Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología

Telésforo Ramírez García has a doctorate in population studies from El Colegio de México, a master’s degree in demography from El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (El Colef) and a degree in Agricultural Economics from the Universidad Autónoma Chapingo (UACh). Throughout his career he has worked as a professor of research methodology, statistics, international migration and aging at different universities and higher research centers in the country. Between 2011 and 2013 he was director of the area of ​​Socioeconomic Studies and International Migration of the Consejo Nacional de Población (Conapo). He is a member of the Sistema Nacional de Investigadores (SNI) Level I. He currently works as a Researcher for Mexico of theConsejo Nacional de Ciencia, Humanidades y Tecnología (Conahcyt) at the Centro Regional de Investigaciones Multidisciplinarias (CRIM) of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).

Alvaro Espina Sanchez

International Cooperation Manager, CONAGUA Mexico

Pauline Mollard

Program Director/Latin America Migration Issues Specialist, Redes Sociales para el Desarollo, (REDDES) Mexico

Community and Health

Ann Cheney

Associate Professor, UC Riverside School of Medicine

Ann Cheney, PhD, is associate professor in the Department of Social Medicine Population and Public Health at the University of California Riverside School of Medicine. She is a medical anthropologist and conducts community based participatory research as a vehicle to empower grassroots leaders to activate communities and change narratives of health and wellbeing. Dr. Cheney’s current work focuses on the impact of structural inequality in health with a focus on Latinx and Indigenous Mexican immigrants in rural desert communities in Inland Southern California. She is founder of the HABLAMoS (Hispanic And Bilingual Ambulatory Medical Studies) curriculum and faculty director of the Coachella Valley Free Clinic.

Armando Sánchez Vargas

Director, Institute for Economic Research, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Dr. Armando Sanchez-Vargas is Director of the Institute for Economic Research of UNAM (IIEc). He has an award from the Mexican National Research Council (SNI 2). He has published articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Climatic Change, Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, and Journal of International Money and Finance He has been a leader for national and international research projects relating to agricultural economics.

Carlos Martinez

Assistant Professor, UC Santa Cruz

Carlos Martinez, MPH, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Latin American and Latino Studies and core faculty member of the Global and Community Health program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Trained in public health and medical anthropology, Carlos’ research examines the health consequences and sociocultural implications of migrant policing, deportation, our fractured asylum system, environmental injustice, and the global War on Drugs. His primary research project has consisted of long-term ethnographic fieldwork examining how U.S. asylum deterrence and deportation policies have transformed the U.S.-Mexico borderland region into a zone of captivity for asylum seekers and Mexican deportees. He is also involved with several community-engaged and interdisciplinary research projects in Tijuana, the Bay Area, and the Santa Cruz area focused on the health-related impacts of environmental injustice, climate change, and punitive drug policy on Latinx communities.

Michael Méndez

Assistant Professor of Environmental Policy & Urban Planning, UC Irvine

“Dr. Michael Méndez is an assistant professor of environmental policy and planning at the University of California, Irvine, an Andrew Carnegie Fellow, and Visiting Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (through a National Science Foundation Early Faculty Career Award). He previously was the Pinchot Faculty Fellow in Sustainability Studies at the Yale School of the Environment. Michael has more than a decade of senior-level experience in the public and private sectors, where he consulted and actively engaged in the policymaking process.

His first book “Climate Change from the Streets,” published through Yale University Press (2020), is an urgent and timely story of the contentious politics of incorporating environmental justice into global climate change policy. The book was the winner of the Harold and Margaret Sprout Award, sponsored by the International Studies Association and the Betty and Alfred McClung Lee Award by the Association for Humanist Sociology. In 2021, he became the first Latinx scholar to receive the National Academies of Sciences’ Henry and Bryna David Endowment Award for his wildfire and migrant research. The David Endowment makes an annual award (research grant) to a “”leading researcher who has drawn insights from the behavioral and social sciences to inform public policy. In addition, he was awarded the 2023 William R. and June Dale Scholar Prize. The Dale Prize honors scholars and practitioners for excellence in urban planning and environmental justice work and research.

Michael Wehner

Senior Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Dr. Wehner’s current research concerns the behavior of extreme weather events in a changing climate, especially heat waves, intense precipitation, drought and tropical cyclones. Before joining the Berkeley Lab in 2002, Wehner was an analyst at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the Program for Climate Modeling Diagnosis and Intercomparison. He is the author or co-author of over 250 scientific papers and reports. He was a lead author for the 2013 Fifth and 2021 Sixth Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the 2nd,3rd, 4th and 5th US National Climate Assessments. Dr. Wehner earned his master’s degree and Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and his bachelor’s degree in Physics from the University of Delaware. He received the 2022 LBNL Director’s Award for Exceptional Scientific Achievement and was named a Clarivate Highly Cited Researcher in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Matt Sparke

Professor of Politics, UC Santa Cruz

Sparke’s work focuses on the changing geography of politics and citizenship in the context of globalization, including most recently various forms of sub-citizenship and suffering among farmworkers amid climate change. His older research has examined how borders, geopolitics and national sovereignty are remade in the context of trade liberalization. His work in North America, Europe and South East Asia complicated simplistic ‘geoeconomic’ meta-narratives about ‘the end of the nation-state’ and a ‘borderless world’ in the new millennium. It showed instead how forms of national sovereignty were still being drawn upon to enforce pro-market governance and neoliberal norms of citizenship at a transnational scale. As well as being written-up and published in a wide variety of articles and book chapters, this work also informed his first book, In The Space of Theory: Postfoundational Geographies of the Nation-State (Minneapolis, 2005).Funded by a NSF CAREER award and support from other foundations, Sparke continued to study the impact of globalization on governance and citizenship into the present, including in his second book, Introducing Globalization: Ties, Tensions and Uneven Integration (Oxford, 2013).

Ricardo Cisneros

Associate Professor of Public Health, UC Merced

Ricardo Cisneros is an associate Professor of Environmental Public Health at the University of California Merced. He received a PhD from the University of California at Merced in Environmental Systems. He also completed a two year postdoctoral appointment in exposure science from the University of California Davis, Department of Public Health Sciences.

Sam Ying

Assistant Professor of Soil Biogeochemistry, UC Riverside

Sam Ying (she/they) is an Assistant Professor in the Environmental Science Department at UC Riverside. Sam’s research unravels complex processes within soils that shape water quality, and food security. Their work seeks to provide soil and water management practices for a healthy and sustainable future while training the leaders of tomorrow through interdisciplinary collaborations with researchers from fields such as economics, public policy, sociology, and biomedical sciences, and engagement with community-based organizations. Sam currently serves as co-director of the UC Global Health Institute Planetary Health Center, director of the UCR chapter of Latinxs and the Environment program, and core lead for the UCR Health Disparities Research Center. Sam received their B.S. degrees in physical geography and microbiology from UC Santa Barbara, a Ph.D. in Earth System Science from Stanford University followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the Woods Institute for the Environment.

Susana Matias

Assistant Professor of Cooperative Extension Nutrition, UC Berkeley

Susana Matias is an Assistant Specialist/Assistant Professor in Cooperative Extension Nutrition and one of the Berkeley Food Institute Co-Associate Directors at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Matias is a public health nutrition researcher with +15 years of experience in this field. Her research focuses on nutrition issues of public health relevance, such as food security, diet quality and their association with health and wellbeing. She uses different epidemiological research designs (e.g. observational, longitudinal, randomized trials) to study these topics on women and children (e.g. WIC population), Latino immigrants (e.g. farmworkers) and other underserved groups. Dr. Matias holds a Ph.D. in Epidemiology, with Emphasis in International and Community Nutrition, from the University of California, Davis. Previously, she completed graduate and undergraduate studies in Psychology at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. Prior to joining UC Berkeley, Dr. Matias worked as a research scientist at UC Davis and the California Department of Public Health.

Magali Hurtado-Díaz

Environmental Health Researcher, National Institute of Public Health (INSP) Mexico

Magali Hurtado-Díaz is an environmental health researcher at the National Institute of Public Health (INSP) in Mexico. In the research field, since 2007 she has been doing research on the impacts of climate change on human health. She leads the research group that generates knowledge on direct and indirect climatic hazards and air pollution exposures which increase the risk of adverse health effects. She collaborates with the Multi-Country Multi-City (MCC) Collaborative Research Network coordinated by a research team from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. She teaches a course on climate change and public health in postgraduate programs, national short courses, and international workshops. She participated in the National Ambient Air Quality Standards updated in 2014 and 2019, the National Air Quality Index and the public health chapters for the Third and Fourth National Communication to the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Carly Hyland

Assistant Professor of Cooperative Extension, Environmental Health Sciences, UC Berkeley

Dr. Hyland is an Assistant Professor of Cooperative Extension in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences in the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. Her work focuses on using community engaged research methods to mitigate climate-intensified hazards among agricultural workers, with a focus on pesticides, heat and wildfire smoke.

Evelyn Vazquez

Assistant Professional Researcher, UC Riverside

Evelyn Vázquez, Ph.D., M.S. (she/ella), born in Guerrero, México, is the founder of Healing the Academy and a community psychologist. She specializes on the study of social factors that harm the health and quality of life of historically marginalized communities, including racial and ethnic minorities, sexual and gender minority populations, low-income, immigrants, farmworkers, people with disabilities, and first-generation college students. Her methodological expertise is in qualitative research and transformative research (e.g., action-research and community-based participatory research). In 2021, she co-authored “Capítulo IV. Entre el miedo y la incertidumbre,” addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Mexican migrants in California. It was published in Migración y Salud, an annual publication edited by the Secretaría de Gobernación through the Consejo Nacional de Población (CONAPO).