Skip to content Skip to navigation
hsri member nancy burke


(415) 514-9419

Hometown: Nashville, TN

  • B.A.: UT Knoxville
  • M.A.: University of Oregon
  • PhD.: University of New Mexico

Joined UC Merced: 2015

Current Research Focus:

Current work focuses on a number of topics including:

  • Organizational health literacy innovative models and care for the structurally vulnerable
  • Understanding and promoting oral health literacy
  • Tobacco cessation interventions for LEP groups
  • Breast cancer screening and survivorship

Past Research Topics:
  • Oral Health Disparities
  • Cancer Clinical Trial Recruitment
  • Filipina Breast Cancer Suvivorship

Medical Anthropology

Areas of expertise:
  • Global Health
  • Cancer
  • Oral Health
  • Social Inequalities
  • Health Literacy
  • Clinical Trials Recruitment
  • Suvivorship
  • Tobacco Cessation
Graduate Student Research:
  • Health effects of immigration policy
  • Social capital and networks among rural African Americans
  • Breast cancer screening disparities
  • Family networks and long term care in Merced, Co.
  • Refugee Oral Health
  • Ethnography of Behavioral Health

Teaching Responsibilities

Undergraduate Courses: Qualitative Research Methods
Graduate Courses: Grant writing, Professional Seminar, Qualitative Research Methods, Mixed Methods, Health Behavior Theory
Current Graduate Students: 4

Community Affiliation:
  • Shanti Breast Cancer Program
  • Pilipino Senior Resource Center
  • Member of HSRI Executive
Current Funding Needs:
  • Funding to support community led research partnerships
  • Graduate student funding for health literacy and cancer disparities research
Recent Success:
  • Principal Investigator of National Institute of Nursing Research R01 (Health literacy systems in the safety-net: Lessons from complex care management.)

Acting Associate Professor

Hometown: Madrid, Spain

  • B.Sc.: University Complutense, Madrid
  • M.S.: University Complutense, Madrid
  • PhD: Spanish National Research Council

Post Doc: NIH

Joined UC Merced: 2017

Current Research Focus:

Applying our research findings to engineer proteins with altered functionality to serve as templates for potential therapeutic targets, and to the biotechnological application of protein molecular platforms and ultra-structures.

  • Molecular mechanisms that control cellular processes essential to life from a biochemical and biophysics perspective
  • Regulation of inflammation & programmed cell death
  • Autoimmune disorders, cancer, neurological and cardiovascular diseases

Past Research Topics:
  • Molecular bases of Inflammation and programmed cell death NMR Spectroscopy


Areas of expertise:
  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Protein Engineering and Design
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance
  • Electron Microscopy
  • Inflammation
  • Programmed Cell Death
Graduate Student Research:
  • Application of biophysical techniques to the study of bio-macromolecular assemblies

Teaching Responsibilities

Undergraduate Courses: Biochemistry for Bioengineers
Graduate Courses: Potentially: Macromolecular Assemblies in Biology; Advanced Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
Current Graduate Students: 0

Community Affiliation:
  • Red Cross
  • Member of HSRI Executive Committee
Current Funding Needs:
  • Funding for research on the structure, function and biotechnological applications of biomacromolecular assemblies
Recent Success:
  • Watch this Space
Dr Sidra Goldman-Mellor

Assistant Professor

(209) 228-2498

Hometown: Tucson, AZ

  • B.A.: Cornell
  • MPH.: UC Berkeley
  • PhD: UC Berkeley

Post Doc: UNC / Duke

Joined UC Merced: 2014

Current Research Focus:

The majority of work focuses on understanding how the social environment can affect risk for psychological problems like depression, anxiety, and suicidal behavior – and, in turn, how those psychological problems affect our risk for other kinds of poor health outcomes. Current research examines the causes and long-term health consequences of suicidal behavior.

Past Research Topics:
  • Social factors as causes of psychological disorder
  • Effects of psychological disorder on physical health and economic outcomes

Mental Health / Epidemiology

Areas of expertise:
  • Suicide epidemiology
  • Depression & anxiety
  • Links between mental and physical health problems, including violence
  • Economy & mental health
Graduate Student Research:
  • Access to and quality of behavioral health care in rural California.
  • Use of technological innovations in improving elders’ health and quality of life.

Teaching Responsibilities

Undergraduate Courses: Intro to Epidemiology; Research Seminar: Analysis of Epidemiologic Data.
Graduate Courses: Epidemiology; Research Methods
Current Graduate Students: 2

Community Affiliation:
  • Involved in Fresno County Suicide Prevention Collaborative.
  • Serves as Director of HSRI Biostatistics & Data Support Core.
  • Memeber of HSRI Executive Committee
Current Funding Needs:
  • Research funding for graduate students
  • Staff funding for HSRI Biostatistics & Data Support Core to better support medical research being conducted by healthcare providers within the San Joaquin Valley
Recent Success:
  • Awarded $750,000 NIH grant in 2017 to evaluate health outcomes of suicidal behavior in CA
HSRI member Ajay Gopinathan

Associate Professor

(209) 228-4048

Hometown: Novi, MI

  • B.A: Vanderbilt University
  • PhD: University of Chicago

Post Doc: UC Santa Barbara

Joined UC Merced: 2012

Current Research Focus:

Translating mathematical and computational understanding of biological systems to predict strategies for controlling or optimizing processes such as transport within cells, metastasizing tumors, division & growth in bacteria to aid development of therapeutic interventions.

Past Research Topics:
  • Actin based Motility
  • Polymer transport
  • Elasticity of thin sheets
  • Colloidal dynamics

Theoretical and Computational Biological Physics

Areas of expertise:
  • Intracellular Transport
  • Bacterial cell growth, division and shape maintenance
  • Protein Biopolymer Structure and Dynamics
  • Collective dynamics of flocks and swarms
Graduate Student Research:
  • Cargo transport in complex intracellular environments
  • Foraging in networks and in groups
  • Disordered proteins transport

Teaching Responsibilities

Undergraduate Courses: Biophysics, Physics for Biological Sciences
Graduate Courses: Statistical Mechanics
Current Graduate Students: 5

Community Affiliation:
  • Member of HSRI Executive Committee
Current Funding Needs:
  • Graduate student funding for research: Collective motility in cellular clusters, flocks and swarms
  • Graduate student funding for research: Mechanisms of bacterial growth, division and shape
Recent Success:
  • Director, NSF-CREST Center for Cellular and Bimolecular Machines
  • James S. McDonnell Foundation. Grant awarded for research on complex systems that "breaks new ground or challenges common assumptions".
hsri member sachin goal

Assistant Professor

(734) 576-2200

Hometown: Agra, India

  • B.Tech.: IIT-Varanasi, India
  • M.S.: University of Michigan
  • PhD: University of Michigan

Joined UC Merced: 2012

Current Research Focus:

The Biomechanics and Mechano-biology program focuses on research in core areas of Mechanics, Dynamics or Controls with applications to Biology and Medicine:

  • Deformations of Biological Filaments
  • Constitutive Modeling from Atomistic Details
  • Understanding Motor Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) from Controls Theory
  • Early Diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease
  • Effect of Deep-Brain Stimulation on PD
  • Management of Motor Symptoms of PD from the Perspective of Human Biomechanics

Past Research Topics:


Areas of expertise:
  • Dynamics and Controls
  • Mechanics of Biological Filaments
  • Human Biomechanics
Graduate Student Research:
  • Inverse Methods for Mapping Constitutive Law of Biological Filaments
  • Dynamics of Active Filaments

Teaching Responsibilities

Undergraduate Courses: Strength of Materials, Introduction to Multi-body Dynamics
Graduate Courses: Introduction of Multi-body Dynamics, Continuum Mechanics
Current Graduate Students: 3

Community Affiliation:
  • Member of HSRI Executive Committee
Current Funding Needs:
  • Graduate student, post-doc research
  • Collaborative research on Parkinson’s disease
Recent Success:
  • ILTI grant for development of Online course on Strength of Materials
hsri member changqing li

Assistant Professor

(209) 228-4777

Past Research Topics:

Areas of expertise:
Graduate Student Research:

Teaching Responsibilities

Undergraduate Courses:
Graduate Courses:

Community Affiliation:
Current Funding Needs:
Recent Success:
HSRI member Nestor Oviedo

Associate Professor

(209) 228-4541

Hometown: Caracas

  • B.S.: Univ. Centroccidental
  • PHD: IVIC/University of Utah

Post Doc: Harvard Medical School

Joined UC Merced: 2009

Current Research Focus:

Stem cells are undifferentiated cells critical for embryonic development, adult tissue maintenance and injury repair. Stem cells play essential role in cancer and degenerative diseases, but the molecular basis regulating their behavior remains poorly understood. Our group investigates the fundamental mechanisms of stem cell regulation to gain insights on the process of regeneration, malignant cell transformation and the renewal of adult tissues.

Past Research Topics:
  • Tissue regeneration
  • Cancer
  • Adult tissue maintenance

Biomolecular Research

Areas of expertise:
  • Stem Cells
  • Cancer
  • Planarian biology
  • Cell signaling
  • Developmental Biology
Graduate Student Research:
  • Repair of DNA damage
  • Host-pathogen interactions
  • Electrophysiology

Teaching Responsibilities

Undergraduate Courses: Undergraduate and graduate courses in biology
Graduate Courses: Introduction Molecular Biology; Cancer Genetics and Tumor Biology cells; Tissues and Organs
Current Graduate Students: 7

Community Affiliation:
  • Member of HSRI Executive Committee
  • Chair Educational Policy QSB Graduate Program
Current Funding Needs:
  • Funding to support graduate students
  • High-throughput sequencing
Recent Success:
  • Principle investigator in grants from NIH to support research in cancer and tissue regeneration
hsri member mark sistrom

Assistant Professor

(203) 623-9979

Hometown: Sydney, Australia

  • B.S.: Macquarie University
  • M.S.: Victoria University
  • PhD.: University of Adelaide

Post Doc: Yale University

Joined UC Merced: 2015

Current Research Focus:

Understanding the evolutionary processes which drive the emergence of antibiotic resistant pathogens and develop new strategies to combat them:

  • Examining how microbes evolve over time and space using a broad range of organismal systems, with a focus on microbiome studies, multi-drug resistant bacteria and RNA viruses. Utilizing high throughput genetic sequencing to provide genomic scale data, which is then analyzed to test developed hypotheses.

Past Research Topics:
  • Molecular ecology
  • Phylogenetics
  • Comparative genomics of trypanosomes

Bioinformatics and Genomics

Areas of expertise:
  • Genomics
  • Comparative genomics
  • High throughput sequencing
  • Evolutionary biology
  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Microbiomes
Graduate Student Research:
  • Microbial symbioses and venom production
  • Antibiotic resistance evolution and transfer

Teaching Responsibilities

Undergraduate Courses: Genetics, Evolutionary Medicine
Graduate Courses: Evolutionary Dynamics
Current Graduate Students: 2

Community Affiliation:
  • Society for the Study of Evolution
  • Society of Systematic Biologists
  • Memeber of HSRI Executive Committee
Current Funding Needs:
  • Funding to support research staff and generate sequence data for antimicrobial resistance studies.
Recent Success:
  • 2017 Hellman Fellowship
  • 2017 Mexus Award
  • 2016 JGI CSP Grant
  • 2016 UC Merced Faculty Research Award
  • 2016 JGI Director’s Grant

Associate Professor

(209) 228-4591

Hometown: West Bloomfield, MI

  • B.A.: University of Michigan
  • M.A.: UC Davis
  • PhD: UC Davis

Post Doc: UCSF

Joined UC Merced: 2008

Current Research Focus:

Understanding processes and developing the means to inform individuals, from teens to policy makers, to make better decisions that impact their health. Current research focuses specifically on:

  • Adolescent and Young Adult Risk Behaviors
  • Health Disparities in Health Behavior

Past Research Topics:
  • Personailty Profiling

Health Psychology; Psychological Epidemiology

Areas of expertise:
  • Tobacco Use
  • E-Cigarettes
  • Poly-Substance Abuse
  • UnHealthy Eating Patterns
  • Beliefs on Risks, Benefits, and Consequences Associated with Behaviors
  • Cultural Factors Affecting Health DIsparities
Graduate Student Research:
  • Smoking risk perceptions in adolescents and young adults
  • Eating and exercise behaviors

Teaching Responsibilities

Undergraduate Courses: Health Disparities and Personality Psychology
Graduate Courses: Health Disparities and Health Risk Behaviors
Current Graduate Students: 2

Community Affiliation:
  • American Public Health Association
  • HSRI's Translational Research Group
  • Memeber of HSRI Executive Committee
Current Funding Needs:
  • Funding to support research staff to facilitate participant recruitment and data collection
Recent Success:
  • Co-Primary Investigator on $3 Million grant NCI Grant Examining the Effect of Tobacco Advocacy at the State Level
  • Author for the last Surgeon General’s report on adolescent tobacco use (2012)
Deborah Wiebe


(209) 228-4614

Hometown: Beatrice,NE

  • B.A.: Bethel College, Newton, KS
  • MPH: University of Alabama
  • PhD: University of Alabama

Joined UC Merced: 2013

Current Research Focus:

Health and illness occur in the context of daily family life; by understanding these processes, we have the potential to promote better health, better illness management, and better family relationships.

  • Parent-child relationships and diabetes management
  • Ethnic disparities in diabetes management
  • Managing diabetes during adolescence
  • Executive functions and illness management; Depression and diabetes.

Past Research Topics:
  • Family interventions to promote HPV vaccine uptake in pediatric care
  • Stress, coping and health
  • Couples coping with prostate cancer

Health Psychology; Pediatric Psychology

Areas of expertise:
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Pediatric Psychology
  • Health Psychology
  • Adolescent Health
  • Emerging Adulthood
Graduate Student Research:
  • Socioeconomic and ethnic disparities in pediatric disease management
  • Resilience, stress, and health
  • Social support and diabetes management

Teaching Responsibilities

Undergraduate Courses: Health Psychology; Clinical Psychology
Graduate Courses: Relationships and Health; Teaching Practicum
Current Graduate Students: 3

Community Affiliation:
  • UCM Alliance for Child & Family Health and Development
  • Member of HSRI Executive Committee
Current Funding Needs:
  • Funding to support research staff to facilitate participant recruitment and data collection in health clinics and hospital settings
Recent Success:
  • Scholarly lead on a special issue of the American Psychologist to inform a wide audience (patients, providers, researchers, clinicians) about the central role of psychology in diabetes.