Sonia Zarate

Dr. Sonia Zárate

Professional Title: Program Officer

Discipline: Life Sciences (Non-biomedical)

Running For: President-Elect

Institution: HHMI


Education History

2007 – Ph.D. Molecular Plant Biology

(Minors: Cell and Developmental Biology)

University of California, Riverside


1999 – B.S. Biology

California Polytechnic University, Pomona

SACNAS Related Experience

Service to Board of Directors

(2015-2016) General Board Member

(2016-Present) Executive Board Member, Secretary


Service to Governance Committees

(2016-present) Executive Committee, Secretary (2015- present) Bylaws Committee, Co-Chair

(2016- present) Data and Evaluation Committee, Co-Chair & established this committee


Service to Programmatic Committees

(2016-present) Leadership Committee, member


Other Service to SACNAS

(2009-2014) Chapter Founder and Advisor, SACNAS@UCLA Student Chapter

(2013/2014) Committee Member, Los Angeles SACNAS National Conference Task Force

Leadership Experience
In addition to serving on the SACNAS Board of Directors for the past three years, I have many years of experience chairing, co-chairing or being a general member of committees and councils that focus on student engagement, retention & promotion and/or diversity and inclusion (listed below). I have also participated in Leadership training to enhance competencies that will facilitate my ability to effect change; I am an alumni of the Linton-Poodry SACNAS Leadership Institute (LPSLI 2013; SACNAS-AAAS) and the Advanced Leadership Institute (ALI 2014 & 2016; SACNAS-HHMI). Lastly, I have had the privilege of facilitating the leadership path of others as a coach for the LPSLI (2016) and co-leading exercises as part of ALI (2017).


• Co-Chair , Presidential Diversity Taskforce on Faculty, Administration and Staff Recruitment and Retention, USD

• Chair, Office of Undergraduate Research Advisory Board, USD,

• General Member, Dreamers Steering Committee, USD

• General Member, Scholarships and National Awards Committee, USD

• General Member, Committee on Innovation in Community Engagement Members, USD

• General Member, Student Affairs Strategic Plan Committee/Student Access Group, USD

• General Member, Co-Curricular Outcomes Initiatives Task Force, USD

• General Member, Dean’s Advisory Council Interdisciplinary Scholarship, USD

• General Member, Center for Community Awareness and Social Action Committee, USD

• General Member, Changemaker Hub Scholarships Committee, USD

• General Member, Center for Inclusion and Diversity Advisory Board, USD

• General Member, Life Sciences Research Internship Consortia Board Member, BIOCOM, UCSD, SDSU, USD

• General Member, Vice-Provost Cabinet, UCLA

• General Member, Academic Preparation & Educational Partnerships (APEP) Advisory Board, UCLA

• General Member, Transfer Alliance Honors Program (TAP), UCLA

• General Member, Undergraduate Research Center Faculty Advisory Board, UCLA

• General Member, Minority Access to Research Careers Faculty Advisory Board, UCLA

• General Member, UC Leadership Excellence Through Advanced DegreeS (UC LEADS) Faculty Advisory Board, UCLA

• Vice-President, Latino Faculty and Staff Association, UCLA

• Secretary, Bridges Directors and Coordinators Organization, NIH

• General Member, Semillas Del Pueblo, Community School, Advisory Board and Council of Trustees

• General Member and Partner, Project STEPS Program/GEAR UP, LAUSD

• Advisor (non-voting board member), Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS)@ UCLA Chapter

• Co-Advisor (non-voting board member), UCLA CityLab Student Group

Fundraising Experience
I have experience in writing, securing funding and managing federal, private and foundation training grants (listed below). In addition to the grants listed below, I have also assisted in the grant writing process for SACNAS and have had fiduciary responsibility for the grants awarded to SACNAS as part of the Board of Directors.


University of San Diego 2016 National Science Foundation Research Coordination Networks – Undergraduate Biology Education (RCN-UBE; 1624200), $483,966.00; (PI/Co-PI Sue Wick/ Sonia Zárate, Elizabeth Ruedi, Katherine Engen, Marsha Matyas)

2016 Beckman Foundation (Arnold and Mabel Beckman Research Scholars Program), $ 130,000; (PI/Co-PI Lauren Benz/Sonia Zárate)

2016 Genentech, $15,000; (PI Sonia Zárate)

2016 Beckman Coulter, $10,000; (PI Sonia Zárate)

2016 Hologic, $30,000; (PI Sonia Zárate)

2015 National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF REU; CHE‐1460645), $254,460.00; (PI/Co-PI Sonia Zárate)

2015 Carrie Estelle Doheny Foundation, $50,000; (PI Sonia Zárate)

University of California Los Angeles 2013 Minority Access to Research Careers (National Institutes of Health/National Institute of General Medical Sciences), $3,472,033.00; (PI/Co-PI Dwayne Simmons/Sonia Zárate)

2011 Santa Monica College, Hispanic Serving Institution STEM Initiative (Department of Education), $5,982,077.00; (Santa Monica College)

2011 Los Angeles Unified School District GEAR UP/STEM STEPS (Department of Education), $8,147,430.00; (Los Angeles Unified School District Number 2)

2010 Bridges to UCLA Grant (National Institutes of Health/National Institute of General Medical Sciences) $1,280,844.00 (PI Dwayne Simmons)

2010 UCLA’s Center for Community College Partnerships Higher Education Programs Grant (Jack Kent Cooke Foundation), $840,000.00; (College of Letters and Science, UCLA)

250 Word Narrative
Dr. Sonia Zárate received her BS in Biology from Cal Poly Pomona and her PhD in Plant Molecular Biology (Minors: Cell and Developmental Biology) from UC Riverside. Knowing first-hand the power of mentorship she has devoted her career to giving back and fostering the next generation of scientific leaders. Dr. Zárate brings with her years of experience in and an unwavering commitment to promoting equity, access and inclusion in STEM both in the public and private sectors. Currently serving as a member of the Executive Board in the capacity of Secretary, Dr. Zárate is a SACNAS Life-Member and has been a SACNista since she was an undergraduate. She plans to use her experience with the organization and her professional and personal training to continue to move the organization forward to fulfill the vision of “true diversity”. For over 40 years SACNAS has been committed to fostering the success of Chicanos/Hispanics, Native Americans and other underrepresented populations in STEM. Dr. Zárate hopes to continue the Society’s forward momentum by working with the board using a multi-pronged approach that includes 1) ensuring continued fiduciary responsibility, 2) maintaining the continuous evaluation and optimization of the resources provided to the membership and board processes and policies, and 3) continuing to cultivate a board culture marked by a willingness to learn from and incorporate the wisdom of a multidisciplinary and multicultural membership and board. Dr. Zárate feels strongly that “We are stronger together!”
Thoughts on Board Leadership
The core responsibility of all board members is to fulfill the organizations vision of true diversity in STEM. To ensure that the organization continues its forward movement, a multi-pronged approach that includes 1) a commitment to fiduciary responsibility, 2) a commitment to continuous evaluation and optimization of the resources provided to the membership and the board processes and policies, and 3) a willingness to learn from and incorporate the wisdom of a multidisciplinary and multicultural board of directors and membership in necessary. The Board has established a culture that has a willingness to learn from each other and from the membership and have drafted a strategic plan that, as it continues to be implemented, will move the organization forward in its vision. This culture is something that must be maintained and modeled for new board members as well as the general membership; we are stronger together. Since the board of directors is not static, continuous evaluation and fiduciary responsibility will ensure that we are dynamic and have the resources to realize the vision.