Our Instructors

Melanie Brown

Melanie Brown is a Contracts & Grants Officer in the Sponsored Programs unit of the Office of Research at the University of California, Davis since 2017. She holds a BA in Political Science from the University of California, Davis and a JD from The University of Northern California Lorenzo Patiἦo School of Law. She has been on campus since 2007 and was employed in various positions in the public and private sectors before joining UC Davis. Prior to serving as a Contracts & Grants Officer, she was a team member of Business Contracts in the UCD Procurement department for ten years.

Mikael Villalobos

Mikael Villalobos, Ed.D. serves as the Associate Chief Diversity Officer at UC Davis in the Office of Campus Community Relations, a unit in the Office of the Chancellor. Mikael leads the campus diversity education program and is frequently called upon by academic and administrative departments and units regarding diversity and inclusion issues. In his consulting practice, he serves both public and private sector organizations as a diversity educator and consultant on related workplace issues. Prior to joining the Office of Campus Community Relations in 2008, he served as a Regional Outreach Coordinator, Assistant Director and Educational Partnership Manager with the Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP), an academic preparation program within the UC Davis Division of Student Affairs. Active in social justice work and diversity education, Mikael is also a senior member of Diversity Trainers Institute, a team of UC Davis diversity educators who develop, teach and facilitate workshops and courses to students, staff and faculty on topics related to diversity and inclusion. A UC Davis alumnus, Mikael has been a UC Davis staff member since 1993. He holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership from UC Davis. He also has a consulting practice in diversity education, conflict mediation and organizational development.

Kelly Gilmore

Kelly Gilmore is an Associate Director of Sponsored Programs, with primary responsibility for the Proposals team. She has more than 16 years of experience specific to contracts and grants, including time with the State of California and UC Davis’ Procurement & Contracting Services. Kelly is a UC Davis alumna, holding a BA in Political Science.

Erica Ballinger

Erica Ballinger is a Contracts & Grants Officer on the Negotiation Team in Sponsored Programs. Erica holds a B.A. in Social Sciences from San Francisco State University, and a J.D. from the University of California Davis, School of Law. She joined Sponsored Programs in 2012. Erica negotiates research agreements with industry sponsors as well as master agreements, federal contracts and collaboration agreements. Prior to joining the University, Erica worked as a law clerk to a civil rights firm in Sacramento

David Blancha

David Blancha is the Assistant Director of the GradPathways Institute for Professional Development, where he supports graduate students and postdocs to systematically acquire career and professional development skills to prepare them for success in their chosen career paths and in their graduate or postdoctoral programs. He comes most recently from the UCLA Career Center, where he served as the Assistant Director for Graduate Career Services and worked with Master's and PhD students on all aspects of professional development, developed graduate-level career programming, and managed advanced degree industry relations. Prior to his work at UCLA, David coordinated a Teagle Foundation grant for the Teaching Center at Columbia University, where he finished a PhD in Philosophy. David is a devoted design-focused educator with a particular interest in leveraging technology and gamification for educational purposes.

Valeri Garcia

Valeri Garcia has worked in higher education for 20 years in various capacities. She has served as a college coach, academic advisor, and as a program coordinator/retention specialist. For the last 11 years, Valeri has served as the Coordinator for the Guardian Scholars Program and as an EOP Retention Specialist. She also represents UC Davis and Guardian Scholars locally and statewide on various committees, organizations, and consortiums related to foster care. Valeri is also an Adult Liaison for the California Youth Connection.

John L King

John L. King is Director of Analysis & Policy in Graduate Studies at the University of California, Davis. His unit oversees policy, administration, and institutional data for graduate and professional programs and postdoctoral scholars. As a researcher, he is the author of several studies on innovation, research & development, and intellectual property, including Measuring the Economic Value of Research: The Case of Food Safety (Cambridge University Press, 2017). Prior to working at UC Davis, he was a research economist at the USDA Economic Research Service and served as acting director of the USDA Office of the Chief Scientist. Mr. King holds a Ph.D. in economics from Vanderbilt University.

Katherine Parpana

Katherine ‘Kat’ Parpana, M.A. serves as a Diversity and Inclusion Educator for the University of California, Davis in the Office of Campus Community Relations, a unit in the Office of the Chancellor. Kat supports the campus diversity education program, which includes being called upon by academic and administrative departments regarding diversity and inclusion issues. Kat worked for Academic and Student Affairs since 2011 in various advising capacities, in addition to working for the UC Davis campus since 2008. This allowed her to gain experience and knowledge in the various intersections of diversity, equity, and inclusion education and advocacy work, especially as it relates to underrepresented and underserved student populations. Prior to joining the Office of Campus Community Relations team in 2019, Kat served on many campus initiatives and constituency groups dedicated to the advancement of marginalized and underrepresented scholar and staff organizations on campus, including the “Developing Deeper Advising Relationships” modules.

Heather Rico

Heather Rico’s employment with People Development Systems and Sacramento State University as a Trainer combined with her experience as a Business Analyst with Intel Corporation brings valuable firsthand knowledge to share with her students. She teaches strategic problem solving, essential analytical skills, critical thinking tools, customer service skills, and Microsoft Office applications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications with an emphasis on Organizational Communications from Sacramento State University.

Rachel de los Reyes

Rachel de los Reyes is a Student Affairs Officer responsible for advising graduate students on degree milestones, Graduate Council and campus policies, graduation requirements, mentorship issues, and admission requirements. She serves the Humanities, Arts, and Social Science programs, including the School of Education. She has been at UC Davis since 2007. Prior to her arrival at Graduate Studies, she worked in the College of Letters and Science Dean’s Office and the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of California, Davis and her Masters’ degrees in Higher Education Leadership and Higher Education Policy from CSU Sacramento and Walden University. She is currently working on her Ph.D in Education.