Our Instructors

Carmen Valdivia

Carmen is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese with a Designated Emphasis in Native American Studies. Her research explores the gendered construction of indigenous identity in contemporary Peruvian mainstream media, in light of the political armed conflict between 1980 and 2000. Inspired by feminist and decolonial analyses, she examines how intellectuals, artists, civil organizations and official narratives sought to represent indigeneity, and how organized Indigenous women engage, contest and attempt to decolonize such representations. Previously, Carmen has served as director for the Annual Davis Feminist Film Festival run by the WRRC.

Karen Olson

Karen Olson manages the AggieBudget help desk and user administration, including conducting onboarding and training for new users. Karen has a BA and MA from UC Davis (Spanish); after many years in the Spanish department and Arts cluster, she joined the Admin IT team, providing Education & Systems Support. She has taught staff and faculty to use a variety of campus systems, including web management systems, Kuali, FIS Decision Support, and AggieBudget.

Wallace Woods

Wallace Woods is a Senior Academic Advisor responsible for advising graduate students on degree milestones, Graduate Council and campus policies, graduation requirements, mentorship issues, and admission requirements. He serves the Humanities, Arts, and Social Science programs, including the School of Education. Prior to his arrival at Graduate Studies, Wallace was the Graduate Program Coordinator for the Cultural Studies Graduate Group. He also worked as the Admissions and Curriculum Coordinator for the Division of Social Work at CSU-Sacramento. Wallace has a BS in Criminal Justice from CSU-Sacramento and is a qualified US Army Paratrooper.

Brad Wolf

Brad Wolf is a Senior Academic Advisor responsible for advising graduate students on degree milestones, Graduate Council and campus policies, graduation requirements, mentorship issues, and admission requirements. He serves a variety of programs across campus, including Chemistry, Physics, Statistics, and Ecology. Brad has been at UC Davis since 2014 and prior to his arrival at Graduate Studies, he worked as the Graduate Program Coordinator for the Graduate Program in Chemistry. He earned his M.S. degree in College Student Personnel Services and Administration from the University of Central Arkansas and his B.S. in Applied Developmental Psychology from Eastern Washington University.

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.