Campus epidemiology associate professor Mahasin Mujahid was appointed as the head of UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health’s division of epidemiology, making her the first Black woman to hold the position.
Mujahid served as the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Health and the co-director of the Master of City Planning / Master of Public Health program. She was also the founding faculty member of the student group Black Advocates for Equity in Health and director of campus’ Master’s in Epidemiology / Biostatistics program.
“Dr. Mujahid is well-admired by colleagues and students alike and has taught in the division for 13 years,” said Elise Proulx, School of Public Health spokesperson, in an email. “She is eminently qualified for the role and we are thrilled to have her leading the division.”
Proulx noted Mujahid has proven herself as a leader with her previous positions. Mujahid, Proulx added, is also invested in her student’s success and once lived in campus dormitories with the goal of making faculty more relatable to incoming students.
Sai Ramya Maddali, a postdoctoral candidate who is one of Mujahid’s advisees, noted that Mujahid cares both about her student’s physical and emotional wellbeing while also looking to further their careers and academic goals.
“Her keen awareness of the various challenges that students like me— that come from marginalized backgrounds face, and the tailored guidance she provides, helps affirm our potential as equity-oriented scholars,” said Elleni Hailu, a doctoral candidate that collaborates with Mujahid, in an email. “Dr. Mujahid encourages her students to advance their research by grounding their ideas in transdisciplinary theory and methods.”
Mujahid focuses on racial disparities in health equity and the multilevel determinants of these disparities over one’s life.
The Mujahid Research Group, a social epidemiology research group within the campus School of Public Health, examines the root causes of the racial disparities observed in maternal health outcomes, such as maternal morbidity and other health conditions, according to Mujahid.
“Given that the most pressing public health crises are all rooted in inequities, this is the perfect moment for me to lead the division of epidemiology,” Muhahid said in an email.
The group uses an intersectional lens in their research to understand the context of the neighborhood and systems that shape those neighborhoods, Mujahid added.
She noted that in the past year, the United States experienced a 2.7-year loss in life expectancy, and the loss was much higher for historically minoritized groups.
“As heartbreaking as these statistics are, they motivate me to roll up my sleeves and get to work. And I am not alone,” Mujahid said in the email. “I feel really lucky to work within a school of public health that has been and will continue to be deeply committed to health equity.”