The 2020-2021 Team

Beyond Academia is run by volunteers

The Beyond Academia team is comprised entirely of current graduate students and post-docs at UC Berkeley. They volunteer their efforts and time outside of doing research, writing articles, teaching courses and mentoring students.

Angélica M. González-Sánchez

Co-Director, Logistics Lead, Media

Angélica is a fifth year PhD candidate in the Comparative Biochemistry program at UC Berkeley. Her research focuses on understanding the regulation of protein synthesis mediated by the eukaryotic initiation factor 3 (eIF3) in human cells. Outside of the lab, she loves to be involved in student and community organizations at Berkeley, especially those aimed at promoting access to science education and mentoring. In her free time, she enjoys doing yoga and reading.

Elyse Kedzie

Co-Director, Speakers Lead

Elyse is a 3rd year PhD candidate in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department. Her research focuses on understanding the fundamental electrochemical processes in lithium- and sodium-air batteries. She also serves in the graduate student government as a delegate and has an interest in science outreach and policy.

Jonathan Liu

Co-Director, Finance Lead, Speakers, Media

Jonathan is a 5th year Physics PhD student at UC Berkeley studying the biophysics of gene regulation in embryonic development. Outside of research, he has dabbled in various campus organizations, from promoting science communication through Grounds for Science and the Berkeley Science Review to singing regularly with the UC Berkeley Chamber Chorus. In his free time he likes playing piano, drinking tea, and cooking.

Christina Azahar

Media Lead, Logistics

Christina is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Music at UC Berkeley specializing in feminist studies and Latinx popular music. Her research examines feminist music and activism in Chile since 1990. She has held two internships at the Smithsonian Institution - at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and at the Traveling Exhibition Service. When not busy writing or teaching, you can find Christina volunteering at La Peña Cultural Center, singing in community choirs, or hiking.

Frank Hidalgo

Speakers, Finance

Frank is a 5th year Chemical Biology PhD student at UC Berkeley. His research focuses on understanding the mechanism by which mutations in a protein called Ras lead to tumorigenesis. More specifically, he aims to integrate high-throughput mutagenesis, coevolutionary analysis and machine learning algorithms to generate a predictive model. In his free time, he dances tango, plays tennis and does yoga."

Jess Johnson

Logistics, Speakers

Jess received her B.A in Art History from New York University in 2013 and her M.A in Egyptian Art History and Archaeology and a Graduate Certification in Museum Studies from the University of Memphis in 2015-16. Jess's interests include Demonology and narrative constructions within religious texts, tombs, and temple wall decorations. Jess is also interested in museums and public outreach. She has experience working within the museological field for the past ten years within university settings, galleries, and auction houses. In her spare time, Jess enjoys the outdoors, baking, and playing piano.

Sarah Morris

Speakers, Media

Sarah is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Biochemistry at UC Berkeley. She has worked on multiple disease models and she prefers a top-down approach to her scientific method. Her current project utilizes CRISPR/Cas-9 whole genome screen technologies to find novel genes in lipotoxic death pathways. In a quiet moment, you can find her reading the latest dystopian Sci-Fi novel; otherwise, she’s outdoors scuba diving or coaxing the clay soil to yield a sustainable garden. Sarah is on the Beyond Academia Speakers committee.

Iris M. Steine


Iris M. Steine is a visiting postdoctoral researcher at the UC Berkeley Department of Psychology, where she does research on long-term health consequences of adverse childhood experiences. She is passionate about science, science communication, nature, traveling, live music and interacting with people from all over the world.

Meghan Turner

Speakers, Media

Meghan is a 5th year PhD candidate in the interdisciplinary Biophysics Graduate Group. Her research harnesses live fluorescence imaging and computational tools to quantify the regulation of gene expression in the developing Drosophila embryo. Outside of research, she participates in science outreach to 4th & 5th graders through the Bay Area Scientists in Schools (BASIS) program and exercises her interests in scientific illustration and science communication as a designer for the Berkeley Science Review magazine and blog. In her free time, Meghan enjoys embroidery and loves exploring California through rock climbing, hiking, and skiing.

Yana Zlochistaya

Speakers, Media

Yana is a second year PhD student in the Comparative Literature department. She studies primarily Russian and English literature of the 19th and 20th centuries, and her areas of interest include translation theory, narrative theory, the novel, and urban studies. Outside of campus, Yana enjoys translating contemporary Russian prose, camping, travelling (pre-quarantine, that is), and knitting while listening to podcasts.

Sean Perez

Speakers, Finance

Sean is a 4th year PhD candidate in the department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. His research utilizes genetic, chemical, and computational methods to elucidate the biosynthesis and evolution of insect chemical defenses. Outside of research, he has been involved in several organizations including the research seminar series the Essig Brunch, and the educational outreach programs Bay Area Scientists in Schools and Be a Scientist. In his free time he likes climbing, backpacking, surfing, and improving his coding skills.