Research Team

Fabiola Perez-Lua is a first-year Public Health Ph.D. student at UC Merced and coordinates the CLIMA Study. She grew up in an immigrant farmworker household in the Central Valley before heading to the University of California, Santa Barbara to complete her undergraduate studies in Biological Anthropology. After graduating, Fabiola worked at UCSB supporting pre-dominantly students of color and their academic and mental wellbeing, where she gained a birds-eye view of the omnipresent impacts of citizenship and immigration status on these students and their families. Later, she worked in an ophthalmology department, where, again, she noticed the overarching impacts of citizenship status on immigrants' access to eye care. Fabiola made the decision to attend UC Merced with the goal of merging her interests in disease outcomes and her passion for social justice to center the health of marginalized communities in public health research. More specifically, Fabiola is interested in exploring how the intersection of workplace conditions (exposures, injuries), policy (regulatory agencies; labor protections; immigration policy), and citizenship status shape farmworker health and the health of their families.


Kesia Garibay is a second year Public Health Ph.D. student at UC Merced who focuses on health policy. She received her B.A. in Public Health from UC Merced. Her research interests include the impact of health policy on underserved communities and understanding how policy addresses health disparities. She is currently a part of the Community Health and Innovative Policy (CHIP) Lab, where she is understanding how to advance telehealth implementation for low-income Californians in response to COVID-19. Kesia is a Graduate Student researcher for the Aliados Por La Salud Study, where she is evaluating what community-level supports and resources are needed to promote COVID-19 testing in rural and urban Latinx communities.




Hannah Sarnoff recently graduated from the University of California, Merced in December 2020, gaining her Bachelor of Arts in Public Health with a minor in Psychology. She is planning on attending graduate school in the fall of 2021 to obtain a Master's degree in Public Health and specialize in biostatistics and epidemiology. She is an analyst for a study on news coverage and framing of immigration policies and has contributed to the CLIMA Study. She currently coordinates the Rural Policy Project that seeks to understand the challenges and facilitators to inclusive state immigrant policy implementation in rural California.



Luis Vargas-Marquina is a 4th Year undergraduate student at UC Merced majoring in Biological Sciences, with an Emphasis in Human Biology and Minoring in Psychology. Luis is from a rural farming town in Fresno County - Reedley and is the second oldest of six siblings. After graduating this spring, he plans to pursue his MD & Master’s in Public Health in the hopes of becoming a physician for California’s Central Valley. Luis's primary research interests are learning about the health disparities that Latino immigrants suffer- before and during COVID - due to policies that exclude them. Luis joined the CLIMA Study team in October 2020 after learning about the study at Bakersfield College's "Public Health Strategies: COVID-19 and the Central Valley” seminar. As a research assistant he codes interviews from Latino immigrants in the Central Valley to understand the factors that impact them during pandemic. Coming from a family of farmworkers and Latino immigrants, Luis understands that this study's impact can help represent underserved communities in the Central Valley.



Vivianna Plancarte is a senior at Pomona College majoring in in Environmental Analysis with a concentration in psychology, and a minor in Chicano Latino Studies. After she graduates in May 2021, she intends to gain professional public health experience at the community level and apply for graduate school in Public Health. Her research interests include community-based participatory research (CBPR), social determinants of health, and the Latino/Immigrant Health Paradox. Vivianna joined the CLIMA Study team in September 2020 and is extending the study by investigating the experiences of young adults and their mental health during the pandemic for her undergraduate thesis. Having grown up in Imperial Valley, an under-resourced, predominantly Latino community located along the US-Mexico border, Vivianna is passionate about promoting health equity and social justice.