The 2021-2022 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 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. Outside of the lab, she enjoys being involved in student and community organizations at Berkeley which have a focus on STEM outreach, science education, and mentoring. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, doing yoga, running, baking, reading and writing. She aspires to be a program manager with a focus on STEM education, DEI, and mentoring programs.

Jess Johnson

Co-Director, Logistics Lead

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.

Meghan Turner

Co-Director, Finance Lead, Media, Speakers

Meghan is a 6th year PhD candidate in the interdisciplinary Biophysics Graduate Group. Her research harnesses live fluorescence imaging and computational image analysis to quantify the regulation of gene expression during embryonic development. Outside of research, she enjoys communicating science to the public as a scientific illustrator/designer for the Berkeley Science Review magazine and blog. In her free time, Meghan loves exploring California via rock climbing, hiking, backpacking, and skiing.

Yana Zlochistaya

Co-Director, Speakers Lead

Yana is a third 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.

Cara He

Logistics, Speakers

Cara is a 5th year Ph.D. candidate in the Integrative Biology program at UC Berkeley. Her research focuses on understanding the role of reproductive hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone, in gonad differentiation. Outside of the lab, she enjoys being involved in organizations at Berkeley which have a focus on professional development, community outreach and mentoring. In her free time, she enjoys exercising (pilates, HIIT, running, hiking, weightlifting, etc.), trying new food places and watching nature documentaries.

Frank Hidalgo

Media Lead, Finance

Frank is a 6th 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.

Alexandra Kahn

Media Lead, Speakers

Alexandra is a fifth year Ph.D Candidate in Environmental Science, Policy and Management. Her research focuses on the evolution bacterial plant pathogens. Her work spans many areas, including computational studies, growing bacteria in the lab, testing for pathogens in the field, and contemplating international policy on plant disease. She has taught courses on evolution, insect biology, population genetics, and introduction to R. Outside of the lab, she is a ceramicist, tennis player, and lizard mom.

Urtė Laukaitytė


Urte is working within philosophy of psychiatry, aiming to formulate a broadly mechanistic account relevant to phenomena like psychogenic conditions, placebo/nocebo, culture-bound syndromes, transient mental illness, mass hysteria, hypnosis, and suchlike. A good deal of her thinking draws from empirical research within the so-called predictive processing/active inference framework. In addition, Urte is a massive arthouse film buff. As a result of fairly wide-ranging interests, she is slowly venturing into the world of published writing for a general audience, mostly covering various historical curiosities, such as The First Soviet in Ireland or Mesmerism and the Modern Clinical Trial. To popularise this topic further, Vox created a fun video about it as well.

Siying Li


Siying is a third year PhD student in the department of Materials Science & Engineering. Her research focuses on understanding dislocation core structures and mechanical properties of titanium alloys with different computational materials simulation methods. Outside of the lab, Siying loves to volunteer in activities that bring science and engineering learning to life for children. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and hiking.

Rebecca Lomnicky


Rebecca Lomnicky is a seventh year Ph.D Candidate in Ethnomusicology. Her dissertation examines the relationship between precarity and labor in the context of Scotland’s traditional music scene. In addition to her research pursuits, Rebecca is an avid performer of Scottish fiddle music. She has lived across the world, been featured on BBC Radio, and currently performs regularly with her Scottish music trio “The Fire.” When she’s not playing music or writing her dissertation, you’ll find Rebecca out on a run or hiking the nearest mountain.

Sean Perez


Sean is a fifth 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.

Jenna Tan


Jenna is a fifth-year PhD Chemistry candidate at UC Berkeley. Her research focuses on the crystallization of organic semiconductor molecules for thin-film applications using various types of microscopy. Outside of the lab, Jenna is involved with organizations focused on mentorship and science communication (Popping the Science Bubble seminar series at the Berkeley Public Library). In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and trying new foods.