The 2019-2020 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.

Jennifer Wiederspahn

Co-director, Media lead, Finance, Speakers

Jennifer is a third year Ph.D. student in the Comparative Biochemistry program at UC Berkeley. Her research focuses on understanding the underlying mechanisms of Breast Cancer progression. More specifically, she aims to integrate insights in cell biology, clinical data, as well as state of the art machine learning algorithms to improve diagnosis and predictive models. Jennifer has taught Molecular and Cell Biology classes and lab courses at UC Berkeley. In her free time, she teaches science lessons at Elementary schools in the Berkeley/Oakland area, works on her personal “zero waste” project, cooks, does yoga, and loves to sail.

Praveen Vayalamkuzhi

Co-director, Finance lead, Development

Praveen is a Postdoctoral researcher in the UC Berkeley Safe Transportation Research and Education Center affiliated with the Institute of Transportation Studies. His research work focuses on the transportation operation and safety of highway network leading to saving lives. Praveen is also involved with the Berkeley Postdoctoral Association which is a volunteer organization of postdocs working to advocate for the postdoc and visiting scholar community at UC Berkeley. Outside of research, Praveen enjoys traveling and cooking.

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.

Jacob Raterman

Logistics lead

Jacob is a 5th-year Ph.D. candidate in the French Department. His work interrogates the ways in which aesthetic debates in the naturalist and decadent literature of fin-de-siècle France were interwoven with discourses around non-normative sex and gender roles. He is also passionate about second-language acquisition and world language pedagogy. In his leisure time, Jacob indulges in his wide-ranging cinephilia and love of baking.

Angélica M. González-Sánchez

Logistics, Media

Angélica is a fourth year Ph.D. 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. More specifically, she integrates biochemical and structural approaches in order to understand how eIF3 interacts with mRNAs and regulates their translation. Outside of the lab, she loves to be involved in student and community organizations at Berkeley. Angélica is passionate about STEM outreach and science education, so she volunteers for the Bay Area Scientists in Schools (BASIS) program and for the “Be a Scientist” program, through which she brings hands-on Science lessons and mentoring to elementary and middle school students. In her free time, she enjoys doing yoga and cooking.

Caitlin Kearns


Caitlin is a 6th year PhD candidate in the Economics department whose research focuses on evaluation of school finance and school choice policies. While at Berkeley, Caitlin has worked with the Haas School of Business, the Graduate School of Education, and the Petris Center on Health Care Markets, and has also interned at American Institutes for Research and Uber. Outside of campus, Caitlin can often be found at a Berkeley movie theater or browsing Moe’s Books.

Iris M. Steine


Iris 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.

Christina Azahar


Christina is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Music at UC Berkeley who specializes in feminist studies and Latinx and Latin American popular music. Her dissertation research examines how feminist musical practices in Chile have transformed understandings of space and place since the end of the country’s military dictatorship in 1990. During her time as a graduate student, she has also held two internships at the Smithsonian Institution, in the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and the Traveling Exhibition Service. When not busy writing or teaching, you can find her participating in community choirs and spending time outdoors.

Jonathan Liu


Jonathan is a 4th 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.

Geoff Bacon

Speakers, Media

Geoff is a Ph.D. Candidate in computational linguistics and a Senior Data Science Fellow at D-Lab. He builds computational models of language, and uses those models to i) answer interesting questions and ii) solve important problems. He teaches Python, NLP and Data Science. Outside of work, he enjoys discovering new cafes, bars and restaurants in the SF Bay Area and hiking California's beautiful trails.

Ata Sunucu

Media, Speakers

Sarah Morris