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Meet the Committee

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Jorge Luis

Jorge Luis Meraz, Committee Co-Chair

Jorge is a first-generation student born and raised in Chicago, IL with family roots in Durango and Michoacan, MX, and San Benito, TX. He is currently pursing his PhD degree in Environmental Engineering where his research focuses on: 1) using greenhouse gases (e.g., carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4)) as food for bacteria that are able to make biodegradeable plastics and 2) figuring out a way to make enough of these plastics for NASA to be able to 3D print materials in space. Going to graduate school was not something he ever planned on, he didn’t know it was possible for someone like himself to pursue graduate education. It would be through the McNair Scholars Program that he learned it could be part of his academic journey. His experiences in undergrad and grad school led him to be involved with the Equity and Inclusion Initiatives (EII) team in the School of Engineering. With the EII team, he supports programming of initiatives aimed at recruiting and retaining students who are historically underrepresented within engineering.


Sofia Arevalo

Sofia Arevalo, Committee Co-Chair

Sofia is a third-year PhD student in the mechanical engineering department at UC Berkeley. She received her bachelor’s and master’s from UC Berkeley in 2016 and 2018, respectively. Sofia was born in El Salvador and was raised in Los Angeles. Her research is on the fracture and nanomechanical properties of orthopedic polymers. She was a student participant for GPS in 2015.


Gabriela Lomeli

Gabriela Lomeli, Speaker Recruitment Chair

Gabriela Lomeli is a PhD student in the UC Berkeley – UCSF Joint Graduate Program in Bioengineering. Previously, she completed her Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering with a minor in German Studies at Stanford University. As a graduate student in Professor Amy Herr’s lab at UC Berkeley, Gabriela is focused on advancing our ability to study protein isoforms at the single cell level through advancements in microfluidic and mass cytometry imaging tools. She has received numerous awards, including the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and GEM Associate Fellowship. When not in lab, Gabriela is passionate about science communication and increasing diversity in STEM higher education. 


Alexander Alvara

Alexander Alvara, Peer Advising Co-Chair 

Alexander Alvara is a 3rd year PhD student in Mechanical Engineering who researches MEMS, materials, and nanotechnology with applications for space, communication, exploration, and health. As a first-generation, transfer, formerly homeless, high-school dropout, Latinx student from a low-income family of eight raised by a single mother, Alexander is adamant about working with underprivileged and misunderstood students and community members to enact social and institutional change to upheave the systems that hold us down. In his current work with Bay Area GPS, Alexander is the Peer Advisor Chair. He also currently works on campus at UC Berkeley with the Mechanical Engineering Department as a Town Hall Coordinator, College of Engineering as a member of the Graduate Study Committee, Office for Graduate Diversity as a Diversity & Community Fellow, SACNAS Grad as Chair/President, Bias Busters as Co-President, LAGSES as Social Co-Chair, FGLI as a Board Member, and GALS as Internal Affairs Officer.


María Díaz de León Derby

María Díaz de León Derby, Peer Advising Co-Chair

María is a third year graduate student in the UC Berkeley-UCSF Bioengineering PhD program. She is originally from Mexico, where she did her undergraduate degree in Engineering at the Tecnológico de Monterrey. Her current research interests are in developing molecular diagnostic strategies for infectious diseases.