Core Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health Faculty

Sabrina Boyce

Sabrina Boyce, PhD, MPH

Assistant Professor

Dr. Sabrina Boyce is an Assistant Professor in the Maternal, Child & Adolescent Health Program. Dr. Boyce’s research addresses gender inequity as an upstream determinant of poor health among women, adolescents, and gender and sexually diverse communities in the US and internationally. Her research illuminates community and societal-level determinants of reproductive health and gender-based violence and provides evidence from experimental and quasi-experimental trials on the effectiveness of real-world public health interventions. Dr. Boyce spent the previous eight years conducting research at UC San Diego’s Center on Gender Equity and Health on these topics, and is also an alumnae of our Epidemiology PhD program, '22. She has a Master's of Public Health from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a Bachelor's of Arts in Human Biology (Honors) from Stanford University.

Research Interests: Intimate partner violence and sexual violence prevention, Reproductive health (including reproductive coercion), Gender inequity, including intersections of gender equity with other social inequities, Social norms that reinforce gender inequity, Adolescent health, LGBTQ+ populations, Community-engaged research

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Julianna Deardorff

Julianna Deardorff, PhD


Program Head, MCAH

Director, Center of Excellence in MCAH

Director, MCAH LEAP

Dr. Julianna Deardorff is the Program Head for the Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Program and the Director of the Center of Excellence in MCAH.  Before training as a psychologist, Dr. Deardorff worked in Thailand as a Peace Corps volunteer. She obtained her doctorate degree in clinical psychology at Arizona State University, completed her clinical internship at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, and completed a NIMH-funded fellowship in Health Psychology at UCSF. Before joining the faculty in the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley, Dr. Deardorff was Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at UCSF.

Research Interests: assessing the relationship between the psychosocial environment, family factors and timing of pubertal onset among ethnically and socioeconomically diverse girls; examining associations between sexual values and sexual-risk taking behaviors among Latino youth; and investigating short and long-term mental and physical health outcomes related to girls’ early pubertal timing.

Read more about Professor Deardorff.

Kim Harley

Kim Harley, PhD, MPH

Associate Adjunct Professor

Director, The Wallace Center for Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health

Dr. Kim Harley is Associate Adjunct Professor in the Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Program, Director of The Wallace Center for Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health, and Associate Director for Health Effects Research of the Center for Environmental Research and Community Health (CERCH) at UC Berkeley. She is an epidemiologist whose research examines the impact of common hormone-disrupting chemicals, including pesticides on our food, flame retardants in our furniture, and chemicals found in plastics, on women’s reproductive health.

Research Interests: the role of common exposures to hormone-disrupting chemicals on fertility, timing of puberty, obesity, and pregnancy health, Youth empowerment and environmental health. Teen girls’ exposure to chemicals in make-up and personal care products, HERMOSA.

Read more about Professor Harley.

Professor Cassondra Marshall

Cassondra Marshall, DrPH, MPH

Assistant Professor

Associate Director, MCAH LEAP

Dr. Cassondra Marshall is an Assistant Professor in the Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health program at UC Berkeley School of Public Health. Prior to joining the faculty at UC Berkeley, Dr. Marshall was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research and received training in delivery science research. Dr. Marshall also previously worked as a research fellow in the Division of Reproductive Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She received her DrPH from UC Berkeley, her MPH in Community Health Sciences from UCLA, and her BA in Human Biology from Stanford University. Using mixed methods and implementation science, the goal of her research program is to advance reproductive and maternal health equity by developing, implementing, and evaluating person-centered interventions and care delivery models that meet the needs of and improve the health of underserved populations.

Research interests: In one stream of current research, Dr. Marshall focuses on health care delivery strategies to improve family planning care delivery to women of reproductive age with diabetes and other chronic medical conditions. She also has an active portfolio focused on community doula care as an intervention to improve maternal and infant health equity.

Read more about Professor Marshall.

Ndola Prata

Ndola Prata, MD, MSc


Director, Bixby Center for Population, Health & Sustainability

Dr. Ndola Prata, a physician and medical demographer, is a professor in the MCAH Program, Division of Community Health Sciences at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. Dr. Prata is currently the Faculty Director of the Bixby Center for Population, Health and Sustainability in the School of Public Health, and the Associate Director for the University of California Institute for Global Health

Research Interests: maternal health and mortality, reproductive health, family planning and safe abortion, adolescent sexual sexual and reproductive health, ability to pay for goods and services, service delivery and financing strategies, women and girls empowerment, population and climate change, gender equity and equity in health.

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Jaspal Sandhu

Jaspal Sandhu, PhD, MS

Assistant Adjunct Professor

Executive Vice President, Hopelab

Dr. Jaspal Sandhu is Executive Vice President at Hopelab, a social innovation lab and impact investor at the intersection of technology, equity, and youth mental health. He teaches in the Division of Community Health Sciences in the School of Public Health. He co-founded the first human-centered design course in a school of public health. He served as the faculty lead for the Fung Fellowship at UC Berkeley from its founding in 2016 until 2021. He currently teaches The Art of Public Health, a course that examines the role of art and artmaking in building healthier communities.

Research Interests: Human-centered design for public health and healthcare innovation, Emerging technologies for community health, Team-based models for educating public health entrepreneurs and innovators

Read more about Professor Sandhu

Carly Strouse, DrPH, MPH

Assistant Adjunct Professor, MCAH

Director, DrPH

Carly Strouse is an Assistant Adjunct Professor in the Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health Program and Director of the Doctor of Public Health Program. Her research centers on community and academic partnerships aimed at advancing health equity in maternal and child health, as well as among people involved with the criminal legal system. She serves as the co-principal investigator of Project COPE, a participatory research project examining support and coping mechanisms for people reintegrating after wrongful conviction and incarceration. Dr. Strouse’s research approach is action-oriented; she brings a diverse background spanning governmental, non-profit, and community-based programs in research, policy, program development, and direct service.

Research InterestsHealth inequities in maternal and child health, Criminal legal system and public health, Participatory research methods, Mixed methods research

Read more about Professor Strouse.

Affiliated Faculty

Patience Afulani

Patience Afulani, MBChB, MPH, PhD

Assistant Professor, Epidemiology & Biostatistics @ UCSF

Dr. Patience Afulani is an Assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in the departments of Epidemiology & Biostatistics and Obstetrics, Gynecology, & Reproductive Sciences; and affiliated with the UCSF Institute for Global Health Sciences and the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health. Her primary research focuses on the social and health system factors underlying inequities in reproductive, maternal, neonatal, and child health. She also has a special interest in person-centered care and health workforce wellbeing and motivation. She has completed ongoing projects in Ghana, Kenya, and the United States examining sources of disparities in the use and quality of maternal health services; designing tools to measure quality of care; and designing and evaluating interventions to improve maternal and neonatal health. 

Dr. Afulani led the development of the person-centered maternity care scale that is widely used by researchers across the globe. Her work on this scale as well as other scales for prenatal care, family planning, and abortion have contributed to improved measurement of person-centered care across the reproductive health continuum. Dr. Afulani is the Principal Investigator of the Person-Centered Equity Lab at UCSF where leads several projects, including the “Caring for Provider’s to Improve Patient Experience” trial—a NIH R01 award that address provider stress and implicit bias to improve PCMC in Kenya and Ghana.

She co-leads the quality of care workgroup to revise the Global Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care framework and the Patient-Centered care task team of WHO Life Course Quality of Care Metrics working group; serves as an external expert on the WHO Mother and Newborn Information for Tracking Outcomes and Results technical advisory group; and is a member of the Merck for Mothers Global Advisory Board. She obtained her medical degree (MBChB) from the University of Ghana and postgraduate degrees (MPH and PhD) in Public Health from University of California, Los Angeles. 

Research Interests: social and health system factors underlying disparities in reproductive, maternal, neonatal, and child health (RMNCH), evidence-based interventions to improve RMNCH outcomes and reduce disparities

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Lia Fernald

Lia C. Haskin Fernald, PhD, MBA

Director, Public Health Nutrition

Dr. Fernald’s work has focused primarily on how inequalities in socio-economic position contribute to growth and developmental outcomes in mothers, infants and children, and on how interventions can address socio-economic and health disparities. Much of her work for the past decade has centered on looking at the effects of interventions (e.g. conditional cash transfer programs, parenting programs, microcredit interventions, and community-based nutrition interventions) on child development and maternal mental health, particularly focused on low and middle-income countries. She recently worked with a team of authors to write a review for The Lancet about strategies to address poor development among infants and children in low and middle-income countries.

Research Interests: Psychosocial and biological determinants of health; obesity, overweight, and nutritional and epidemiologic transition; malnutrition, international child health and development; Immigrant health, inequalities and health disparities; early experience, stress hormones, salivary cortisol

Anu Manchikanti Gómez

Anu Manchikanti Gómez, PhD, MSc

Associate Professor, School of Social Welfare

Dr. Anu Manchikanti Gómez is associate professor at the School of Social Welfare and director of the Sexual Health and Reproductive Equity (SHARE) Program.

For more than 15 years, Dr. Gómez has worked as a health equity researcher with a focus on reproduction and sexuality throughout the life course. She has conducted research both in the US and globally on diverse topics, including contraceptive use, abortion, HIV prevention, gender equity, transgender health and violence against women and children. Dr. Gómez's current research focuses on three areas: (1) the measurement and meaning of pregnancy planning; (2) understanding contraceptive decision-making within social, relational and structural contexts; and (3) evaluating the impact of and evidence base for policies related to reproductive health. She also serves as a co-PI on SOLARS, a prospective, longitudinal cohort study funded by UCSF's Preterm Birth Initiative.

Dr. Gómez earned her PhD in Maternal and Child Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2010. She also received an MSc in Health, Population and Society from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from New York University.

Read more about Professor Gómez.

Barbara Laraia

Barbara Laraia, PhD, MPH, RD

Professor, Public Health Nutrition

Dr. Laraia is the Director of the Public Health Nutrition MCH Training Program at the School of Public Health. MCAH students with interests in MCAH nutrition are encouraged to connect with Dr. Laraia. Her research focuses on the influence of contextual level effects on dietary intake, cardiometabolic risk factors and pregnancy outcomes, especially among vulnerable populations. Contextual level effects refer to the household food environment, namely household food insecurity, as well as the neighborhood or built environment measured as one's food, physical activity and social environment. Her research focus populations are pregnant women, children, and adults with diabetes. Her research includes survey research, direct observation of neighborhood attributes, data collection using anthropometric, questionnaire, and a number of dietary intake approaches.

Research Interests: Household Food Insecurity, Food & Social Environment, Health Disparities, Perinatal Epi, Obesity, Diabetes and Dietary Assessment Methods

Read more about Professor Laraia.

Dilys Walker

Dilys Walker, MD

Professor, Ob/Gyn, Reproductive Sciences @ UCSF

Acting Director, Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health

Director, Advancing MNCHGlobal Maternal Newborn Child Health Research

Dr. Dilys Walker is a Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and leads the UCSF Institute for Global Health Sciences Center for Maternal Child Health and Directs Global Research at the UCSF Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health. With over 20 years of global MNCH/Family Planning/ Reproductive Health implementation research, her research often focuses on interventions that aim to improve the quality of care during pregnancy and childbirth in LMICs.

During her tenure as a professor in the Department of Reproductive Health at the National Institute of Public Health in Mexico (1998-2009) she developed and evaluated a novel approach to emergency obstetric training, PRONTO, using a highly realistic low- cost simulation and team training approach. The program has expanded with implementation in over 15 countries worldwide. Dr. Walker is president and co-founder of PRONTO International, an NGO dedicated to making birth safer for mothers, infants and their providers.

Dr. Walker’s more recent work focuses on evaluation of point of care obstetric ultrasound (POCUS) in Kenya and anticipating challenges and facilitators to AI-informed POCUS. Additionally she is working to better understand quality indicators for cesarean section and with USAID and WHO to define the relational aspects of Networks of Care.

Research Interests: quality of care, maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity, AI-informed point of care ultrasound, postpartum hemorrhage, cesarean section

Read more about Professor Walker.

Emirati Faculty

Although the following MCAH faculty have retired from teaching, many of them continue to support the Center of Excellence in MCAH.

Brenda Eskenazi

Brenda Eskenazi, PhD, MA

Professor Emerita

Director of the Center for Environmental Research in Children’s Health (CERCH) 

Dr. Eskenazi is Professor of MCAH and Epidemiology and Director of the Center for Environmental Research in Children’s Health (CERCH) at UC Berkeley and the Principal Investigator of a number of studies including CHAMACOS.   She received both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Psychology from Queens College of the City University of New York, and a Ph.D. degree (Neuropsychology) from the Graduate School and University Center, City University of New York.

Dr. Eskenazi is a neuropsychologist and epidemiologist whose long-standing research interest has been the effects of numerous reproductive toxicants including lead, environmental tobacco smoke, dioxin, and pesticides.

Research Intereststhe pathways and health effects of pesticide exposure in farmworkers and their children.

Read more about Professor Eskenazi.

Sylvia Guendelman

Sylvia Guendelman, PhD, LCSW 

Professor Emerita

Dr. Guendelman is Professor of the Graduate Division and Founder of the Wallace Center for Maternal and Child Health at the SPH. She currently advises students in the Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Program and chairs several MCAH capstone projects.  Funded by Packard Foundation, she led a study for the Wallace Center examining Google search behaviors on family planning in the US and selected states. Sylvia is also involved in a study of the multiple determinants of preterm labor and preterm birth among women in San Francisco and a binational study of access to care for undocumented immigrants in Mexico and the US. She currently consults for John Snow International on a project on digital health use by mothers and pregnant women. Additionally, she serves on the UC Task Force for the California Health Benefits Review Program (CHBRP) in the analyses of health bills; is member of the California chapter of the March of Dimes MCH committee, and is on the editorial board of the Maternal and Child Health Journal.

Research Interests: reproductive health, maternal health and birth outcomes, the health consequences of maternity leave, the health consequences of immigration,  access to care for children and families in the United States and Mexico.

Read more about Professor Guendelman.

Cheri Pies

Cheri Pies, DrPH, MSW (1949-2023)

Professor Emerita

Dr. Pies was the former Director of the Center of Excellence in Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health and former PI for the Best Babies Zone (BBZ) Initiative, a place-based multi-sector approach that aims to improve community conditions to reduce infant mortality and improve child health outcomes. Through Dr. Pies's visionary leadership, she developed a sustainable program that is now administered by CityMatCH  She received her MSW from Boston University in 1976 and her MPH in Maternal and Child Health from U.C. Berkeley in 1985. She also earned her DrPH in Community Health Education in 1993 from U.C. Berkeley. 

Prior to her joining UC Berkeley's School of Public Health, Dr. Pies was the Director of Family, Maternal, and Child Health Programs for the Contra Costa County Health Services Department for 14 years. In this capacity, she was responsible for overseeing a broad range of programs, projects, and staff designed to improve and promote the health of women, children, adolescents, and families. In her role as the Principal Investigator on the Best Babies Zone Initiative, she led a multi-site, multisector project funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, aimed at reducing infant mortality through community transformation.

Read more about Professor Pies.

Malcolm Potts

Malcolm Potts, PhD, MB, BChir, FRCOG

Professor Malcolm Potts was appointed to the Bixby Chair of Population and Family Planning in January 1993, and held this position until 2012. He was the Director of the Bixby Center for Population, Health and Sustainability until 2012. He received his medical degrees from Cambridge University, England and specialized briefly in obstetrics before returning to Cambridge to complete a Ph.D. in the electron microscopy of mammalian implantation.  Dr. Potts has published eleven books and written more than 300 articles on aspects of human behavior and fertility.  He has served as a consultant to the World Bank, British, Canadian, German and US governments, working in nearly every country of the world. Dr. Potts was on the founding boards of Marie Stopes International, Family Health International, Ipas and Population Services International. Dr Potts is the Founder Chairperson of  Cadence Health, a company dedicated to his life-long desire to switch oral contraceptives from prescription to over-the-counter sale.

Research Interests: restoring priority to population and family planning on the international agenda; reducing maternal mortality; and using an evolutionary paradigm to help understand human reproductive behavior, violence and the origins of warfare and terrorism.

Read more about Professor Potts.