Skip to main content

Board Members 2014-2015

Photo of Erin M. Arms.Erin M. Arms, 2013-15

Genetics Graduate Group
Other campus affiliations: Genetics Graduate Student Association Representative, UC Davis Policy Institute on Energy, Environment and the Economy

Erin is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate in the Genetics graduate group at UC Davis. She is interested in science policy and advising. Her dissertation work (in tomato) involves the characterization and mapping of traits associated with water stress tolerance introgressed from a related wild species. Erin graduated from the University of Washington in 2007 with a B.S. in Biochemistry and a B.A. in Anthropology. She worked as a research technician at the Center for Experimental Pathology at the University of Muenster, Germany before coming to UC Davis in 2009. In her free time she enjoys baking, swimming, and forcing her friends and family to watch animated movies with her.

Photo of Alejandro Castaneda. Alejandro Castaneda, 2014-15

Immunology Graduate Group
Other campus affiliations: Graduate Student Association Representative

Alex Castañeda is a fourth year immunology Ph.D. student currently working in the laboratory of Dr. Kent Pinkerton. His dissertation work is to understand the molecular mechanisms of allergy and asthma, including the role air pollution plays in enhancing these disease processes. Currently, he is investigating the use of dendritic cell inhibitors to attenuate allergic inflammatory responses. His interests also include pharmacology and drug development. Alex received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology from UC Irvine in 2008 and a Master’s of Science degree in Biology from CSU Bakersfield in 2011.

Photo of Joshua Claypool. Joshua Claypool, 2013-15

Biological Systems Engineering / Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering

Josh is a second-year Ph.D. student in Biological Systems Engineering working with a new faculty member, Chris Simmons of Food Science and Technology, on deconstructing food and agricultural residues as a source for biorenewable energy. Josh earned his B.S in Biological Systems Engineering from UC Davis in 2011, and his M.S. in Agricultural Engineering from Iowa State University in 2013. He is interested in improving STEM retention and recruitment and identifying methods for increasing funding for potential and current graduate students. In his spare time, he loves to cycle and spend quality time with his dog, Arnold. 

Photo of Chris Fortenbach. Chris Fortenbach, 2013-15

Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology Graduate Group and School of Medicine

Chris Fortenbach is a sixth-year student in the MD/Ph.D. program and is currently working on his Ph.D. in the Burns Lab where he is studying the visual system. He is a Davis native and attended UC Davis for his undergraduate studies, earning a B.S. in both Food Science and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Chris is passionate about patient advocacy and funding for medical research and has lobbied for continued support at both the state and national level. Throughout his education, he has sought to promote the health and fitness of his fellow students and hopes to make a larger positive impact as he joins the CGPSA.

Photo of Katja Herges.Katja Herges, 2012-15

German Graduate Program
Other Campus Affiliations: Chair of International Graduate Student Organization

Katja Herges is a Ph.D. student in German. Originally from Germany, she earned her M.D. from the University of Heidelberg before she was a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford University. At UC Davis, Katja integrates her background in medicine and neuroscience into the study of German literature and pursues research in the interdisciplinary field of medical humanities. Katja is particularly interested in improving the graduate experience for international graduate students. Beyond academia, Katja likes to backpack, climb, ski and bike in the Sierras.

Angel Hinzo, 2014-15

Angel M. Hinzo (Winnebago/Ho-Chunk) was born in Sioux City, Iowa and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Native American Studies with a designated emphasis in Feminist Theory and Research. She received her B.A. in history from the UC San Diego and specializes in history and federal Indian policy from mid-19th century to the present. She was a 2013-2014 Professors for the Future Fellow where she co-founded the Native American Studies Graduate Research Journal (NASGRJ). Angel continues to serve as an advocate for graduate and professional students in her role as Graduate Student Assistant to the Dean and Chancellor. She is developing strategies to address the concerns voiced in the 2013-2014 Diversity Dialogues on Graduate Education in collaboration with the Graduate Ally Coalition (GAC) and continues dialogues regarding social justice on the UC Davis campus.

Photo of Melissa Ibarra. Melissa Ibarra, 2014-15

School of Medicine

Melissa Ibarra is a first year master’s student in Public Health, concentrating in environmental epidemiology. She received her bachelor’s in Biological Sciences from Mount Holyoke College in 2012. She has since then worked at Cañada College helping students matriculate to four-year universities, and at the Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University conducting research. Melissa is especially interested in providing students with the resources necessary to achieve their highest potential. In her spare time, Melissa enjoys spending time outdoors, watching movies and hanging out with family and friends.

Photo of Peter Narby. Peter Narby, 2014-15

Peter is a master's student in the Soils and Biogeochemistry Graduate Group. His research focuses on the characteristics of soil that correlate with dustiness during land preparation practices in agricultural settings. He currently serves on the Faculty Executive Committee for the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and served as Public Relations Officer for the Graduate Student Association from July 2013 - July 2014. He was an Environmental Justice Fellow through the John Muir Institute for the Environment, earning the White Family Graduate Student Award in June 2013. Peter received his B.S. in Agricultural Science and Plant Sciences from Cornell University in 2012. Outside of academia, he performs regularly as an improvisational comedian and member of UC Davis's premier improv comedy troupe, Birdstrike Theatre.

Photo of Jerry Nutor. Jerry J Nutor, 2014-15

Jerry John Nutor is an international student from Ghana. He is a currently enrolled in the Masters of Nursing Science and Health Care Leadership program in the Betty Irene More School of Nursing at UC Davis. He obtained his associate degree in general nursing in 2008 from Ho Nurses Training College and Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing in 2012 from University of Cape Coast all in Ghana. He has three years clinical experience as medical-surgical nurse. His current research focuses on identifying household resources related to child mortality. As a 2014 recipient of the UC Davis Blum Center grant under Poverty Alleviation through Sustainable Solutions (PASS) program, Jerry plans to conduct research in Ghana to identify the factors leading to high maternal and child mortality. His vision is to develop new ways of improving health care for underrepresented segments of the population, including rural and urban communities. On the CGPSA he is working to increase the collaboration and team work among all the healthcare professional schools such as nursing, medicine, public health and tertiary at UC Davis. He spends his free time traveling and interacting with international students.

Photo of Vanessa Segundo. Vanessa Segundo, 2014-15

Education Graduate Group
Other campus affiliations: Education and Training Coordinator at the AB540 and Undocumented Student Center

Vanessa is a fist year Ph.D. student in Education within the Language, Literacy, and Culture emphasis area. Her current research interest include: critical student voice, creativity and resiliency among underrepresented student populations, and professional learning practices that promote conscious understanding of the role of educators. She is particularly interested in exploring ways graduate students can best direct and manage their educational experience. Originally from Illinois, she earned her M.S.Ed. in Adult and Higher Education, while serving as a Diversifying Faculty in Illinois Fellow. In her free time, she loves to run with her German Shepherd, pursue culinary ventures with her husband, and dance!

Photo of Venita Sivanami. Venita Sivanami, 2014-15

Graduate School of Management
Other campus affiliations: President, Women in Leadership Club

Venita is a second-year MBA student. She has focused her efforts on educational equity and leadership for nearly a decade and is passionate about closing the achievement gap. She is a Teach For America alumnus and serves on the Board of Directors for an international education nonprofit, Visions Global Empowerment. Venita completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development at UC Davis in 2007. While an undergraduate, she received the Mary Jeanne Gilhooly Award for Most Outstanding Graduating Senior Woman and the College Medal. In her spare time, Venita can be found on the dance floor, on a hike with her dogs, or on an adventure abroad.

Photo of Kristina Victor. Kristina Victor, 2012-15

Political Science Graduate Program

Kristina Victor is a fifth year doctoral student in Political Science. Her research examines the mobilization of Latino voters, the perception of threat among immigrant populations, and how emotions effect political attributions. Kristina earned an M.A. in International Affairs and a B.A. in International Relations from CSU, Sacramento. Kristina is especially interested in mentoring and retention programs for underrepresented minority graduate students on the UC Davis campus. In her free time, she enjoys running and watching as many baseball games as possible.

Photo of Michele Zugnoni. Michele N. Zugnoni, 2014-15

Michele Zugnoni is a first year Ph.D. student at UC Davis (a second year transfer student from UC Santa Barbara) interested in writing across the curriculum, writing assessment, and the effects of self-reflective writing on the alienation levels of incarcerated adolescents. She received her B.A. in History from California State University, Hayward in 2002; her J.D. from King Hall in 2008; and her M.A. in English, Concentration in Rhetoric and Composition from California State University, Stanislaus in 2013. Michele has a passion for creative and nonfiction writing, and has been honing her craft for the past twenty years. She has taught writing at two institutions of higher education, and has also served for eleven years as a substitute teacher, grades preschool through adult, at approximately fifty different school sites, many of them in impoverished areas. While an attorney, Michele worked in the fields of defense and public interest law.