Meet Our Team

Founders and Staff

John Matsui, Director & Co-Founder

2016 Valley Life Sciences Building

(510) 643-9768

matsui@berkeley.edu

I grew up in a low-income household in the flats of West Berkeley. Like myself, all of my friends came from families in which no one had gone to college. And the expectation was that neither would we. Today, I am here at UC Berkeley because of the help of caring mentors and a lot of hard work.


The reason I chose to start BSP is captured by the phrase “professional is personal” – where my personal background and experiences have driven what I have done professionally. As Director and co-Founder of BSP my commitment is to make biology at Berkeley accessible to all students with an interest. Through the BSP, my goal is to "level the playing field"  for individuals who, like myself, do not fit the historical profile of success and to help them become leaders in their future science-related careers. For more than 26 years, I have learned from over 3,500 program members how Berkeley can better train and support its undergraduate students in biology.

Dr. Caroline Kane

Caroline M. Kane, Co-Founder

Professor in Residence Emerita, Molecular and Cell Biology

PhD, University of California, Berkeley

Contact the Advising Office for Caroline's Office Hours

Born and raised in Ohio, I have combined social activism and biological science all throughout my career, and that continues into my retirement.  My graduate students, undergraduate researchers, and postdoctoral fellows uncovered many intricacies of how genes are selected to reveal their information in a regulated way.  Proper selection and decoding of genes is essential for normal development and good health. 

I have always had a passion for teaching, in and out of the laboratory, and for improving education at the college and precollege level.  Further, I have a strong interest in increasing diversity among professionals in biological sciences-related careers, and I continue to work ­at the local, national and international level to create positive change in education and increase representation in biology careers.  Equity and access to strong education opportunities are a major retirement mantra for me.  Biology Scholars Program students exemplify the best of working toward a better world for everyone, and it is my honor to continue to work with them at Berkeley and after their graduation.

Dr. Missy Soto Deputy Director

Missy Soto, Deputy Director

2075 Valley Life Science Building

(510) 642-6227

m.soto@berkeley.edu

It is with great pleasure that I serve as Deputy Director for the Biology Scholars Program (BSP) because I believe in the power of BSP’s dynamic, strength-based approach to propel and transform a diverse national community of future scientific leaders.

I’ve dedicated my professional career to serving in research and administrative leadership roles locally, state-wide, and nationally, with programs and projects directed at institutional transformation and increasing equity and inclusion for students and faculty across the STEM fields. I am a first-generation college-going and former community college transfer student, also an undergraduate woman in science. As a result, it is immensely gratifying to dedicate my daily purpose to empower and support the success of UC Berkeley’s BSP students, and to all individuals who hold interest in pursuing science-related careers.

Further, due to my long-standing interest in culture and travel, I have engaged extensively in unique international experiences across Asia, North America, South America, and Europe. Undoubtedly, the influence of participating in such activities continues to permeate how I approach my personal and professional endeavors.

I earned my B.S. degree in Biology from the University of California, Davis; the M.E.S.M degree in Environmental Science and Management from the University of California, Santa Barbara; and the Ph.D. in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education from Michigan State University. I invite you to contact me at m.soto@berkeley.edu to share your thoughts or questions.

Brook Yu, Program Administrator

Brook Yu, Program Administrator

2075 Valley Life Sciences Building

(510) 643-4746

byu@berkeley.edu

I knew that I wanted to work in education when I graduated from Cal as an English Major, but was not sure in what capacity. After graduating, I saved up and went backpacking for 6 months around Asia and then moved to Glasgow, Scotland. I started working higher education in Glasgow, and through moving around different positions, I discovered a love of working in programs that made access to higher education more equitable and fair for students from all backgrounds. I worked for programs that bridged the gap between college and university as well as conducting research within an admissions office, and learned about how narrowly success can be defined in the admissions process. During my time in Scotland, I earned a Masters Degree in Lifelong Learning and Development.

BSP's work is close to my heart. As a first generation college student, I was left to navigate the university world on my own, and remember how confusing, exhilirating, and chaotic it felt. It is exciting to be part of a program that allows me to exercise different skills and experience I've gained to contribute to the community. Please feel free to come by any time to find out more about me or to take a break. 

Karen Aguilar

I am a class of '12 Integrative Biology major and I am excited to be part of the Biology Scholars Program staff! I was born and half raised in Honduras and lived in SoCal before coming to UC Berkeley. Attending UCB had a big impact on me so I am happy to be back and work for the community that helped me grow personally and intellectually. I previously worked in the medical and dental device industry in San Jose and later at UCB Extension in the online final exams department. I then transferred to the BSP and found an incredible community of students, staff and faculty.

The last couple of years after college have given me invaluable knowledge both about myself and the world of work. Balancing college and everything else in life can be very stressful but remember we are here for you so do not hesitate to contact us! Please feel free to stop by if you have questions or just want to talk, I'd be happy to share my experiences with you!

Some of my favorite classes include human anatomy and osteology. In my free time I like to dance Argentine tango, stretch, read, hike, draw and paint.

Go bears!

Leslie Mach

Leslie Mach, Program Advisor

2018 Valley Life Sciences Building

(510) 643-4150

leslie.mach@berkeley.edu

My name is Leslie Mach and I grew up in the city of San Gabriel located in Southern California. I completed my bachelor's in Sociology at UCLA and Masters in Counseling Psychology at the University of San Francisco. I have spent most of my professional career in higher education helping students transition to college as an admissions counselor at Mount Saint Mary's University and most recently, assisting post- baccalaureate students to be more competitive in applying to professional schools through the UCSF Interprofessional Health Post-Baccalaureate Program.

As an advisor for BSP, my interactions with students include academic planning, exploring interests, grad/professional school application preparation, overcoming academic challenges, connecting with campus resources, finding opportunities for research and service, navigating university requirements and policies, and other aspects of students' academic endeavors.

As a person who likes to be outdoors, I like to take advantage of the diverse landscape California has to offer. In the warmer months, you will find me splitting my time at the coastline and alpine lakes. While in the winter season, I'll be hitting the slopes!

I am excited to be part of BSP and the UC Berkeley community! I always enjoy hearing about students' personal journey and aspirations. As a first generation college graduate myself, I understand the importance of having a support network to get through the good and tough times. Please come say hello and share your stories.

Diana Flores, Program and Pre-Health Advisor, BSP Study Group Co-Coordinator

Diana Flores

Program & Pre-Health Advisor,

Study Group Co-Coordinator

2018 Valley Life Sciences Building

(510) 643-4150

djflores@berkeley.edu

As a UC Berkeley undergraduate and BSP alumna I am excited to be able to give back to the BSP community. I learned and gained a lot as a student in BSP and now as an alumna and staff member hope that I can provide the guidance and postive experience that was provided to me as a student. Like many of our students, I'm also a first generation college student. I've had an interest in mentoring and higher education for some time but my interest increased when I had the opportunity to be a teaching assistant for an undergraduate science course at UCLA and a science mentor at a charter school in the Los Angeles area. At UC Berkeley, I majored in Molecular Environmental Biology and minored in Ethnic Studies.

My interest in Biology in my undergraduate and post undergraduate years led me to work as a Research Associate doing bench science and research in Infectious Disease. Eventually that interest in Human Biology and Health Promotion persuaded me to pursue a Master's in Public Health at UCLA where I completed my MPH and Global Health Certificate. Apart from working at BSP, I've been involved in research at UCSF and have conducted scientific writing workshops abroad.

I work with BSP students in the following capacities (but not limited to):

Academic Planning**Connecting students with each other**Program Planning of BSP Health Workshops/Events**Mock interviews & application review for internships/medical school/graduate school**Post-Graduate planning**Resume/Cover Letter overview.

Academic Interests: Global Health, student retention in the sciences, Higher Education, Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases/Chronic Diseases.

Hobbies: Traveling Latin America (I've been to Costa Rica, Panama, Brazil, Nicaragua, Honduras just to name a few places), learning/practicing Portuguese, running and watching sports (Go SF Giants!)

Yessenia Hernandez-Cruz

Peer Advisor

2018 Valley Life Sciences Building

(510) 643-4150

yesshc10@berkeley.edu 

Hi my name is Yessenia Hernandez-Cruz, I am a Spring 2015 admit majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology with a minor in French. Biology Scholars Program is the reason I am surviving and succeeding here at UC Berkeley. Inspired by you all I have been working hard, to earn this position and be able to serve you all as a mentor, companion, and friend. I am honored to be your 2018-2019 peer advisor.

I am from Ontario, CA shout out to all the (909) area codes. I come from a tight knit and very supportive family of six, through them is that I have shaped my passion for giving back to my community. BSP, you are my community and have become my family. I am involved in various spaces throughout campus, always with the intention to provide outreach for younger students. When I was a young BSPer I had mentors who helped shape my path, because of them I am here.

My hopes for this position is to help inspire you all to keep fighting- remember our success is our greatest act of activism. To my BSPers, I love you all! ❤️

 

Glendy Ramon

Peer Advisor

2018 Valley Life Sciences Building

(510) 643-4150

gramon@berkeley.edu 

It is an honor to be part of the BSP staff this year as a peer advisor and I am very excited to meet and listen students’ stories and goals. As a first generation Latinx college graduate, I know how hard it is to find a support system and community at Cal, but by being involved in BSP since my freshman year I was able to find a family away from home and I hope to make it possible for others too.

I grew up in Escondido in Southern California, and was raised with both my Mexican and Guatemalan root cultures. I earned my B.S degree in Molecular Environmental Biology with a concentration in Ecology with the class ’18, with a goal of becoming a pediatrician and being involved with disadvantaged and unrepresentative communities.

I have participated in medical opportunities as well as biology research on campus. With financial support from others and scholarships, I was privileged to be part of internships and programs in both research and medical experiences in Guatemala, Peru, and Australia.

In my free time I like to explore the outdoors, dancing to cumbias, as well as spending time with friends and exploring the Bay area.