The UCRI Team

For inquiries about UCRI programs, please contact
Information about each specific program can be found here.


Anna Ward, PhD
Contact: Email | (510) 987-9402

Dr. Ward is the Director of UC Research Initiatives (UCRI), overseeing a suite of research grant programs designed to encourage collaboration across the UC system, spur new directions in interdisciplinary research, and generate novel solutions to challenges facing the California communities we live in and serve. She is a research development professional committed to helping faculty, staff, and students produce transformative work within and beyond the university. Core to this mission is a dedication to creating research ecosystems that produce more accurate knowledge about our world and change it for the better. Dr. Ward brings over 15 years’ experience in academic research, teaching, program management, and research development, including previous roles as a Program Officer in UCRI and a Grants and Program Manager at UC Davis. She is a member of the National Organization for Research Development Professionals, and co-chairs the NORDP Committee on Inclusive Excellence. During her tenure at UC Davis, she also co-chaired the UC Davis Campus Advisory Committee on the Status of Women. Dr. Ward is a UC alum, having received her BA degree from UC Santa Cruz and doctoral degree from UCLA, where she was the recipient of the Chancellor’s Fellowship. Prior to returning to UC, she was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and held academic positions at Swarthmore and Smith Colleges.


Betty Guo, PhD
Program Officer
Contact: Email | (510) 287-3373

Dr. Guo is the lead Program Officer for the Cancer Research Coordinating Committee and the UCRI representative for the RGPO Policy Committee. Before joining UCRI, she was Associate Director of Grants Facilitation at UC Davis School of Medicine, where she supported investigators for over 10 years developing individual, training, and large center grants to federal and private funding agencies. She was a laboratory co-Director at Umeå University in Sweden and has served as a grant reviewer for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Health Services Research Administration (HRSA). When not working, she loves to cook, travel, grow succulents, and bike with her dog. Dr. Guo holds a PhD in biochemistry from Texas A&M University, a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from UC Berkeley, and was a postdoctoral fellow in microbiology at Harvard Medical School, where her research was funded by the American Cancer Society.

Erin Marnocha, PhD
Program Officer
Contact: Email | (510) 987-9345

Dr. Marnocha is the lead Program Officer for Multicampus Research Programs and Initiatives (MRPI) and her portfolio covers proposals in the earth, environmental, and agricultural sciences. Prior to joining UCRI, she served as the Director of Research and Education for the University of California Natural Reserve System, where she developed and managed systemwide academic programs and funding opportunities supporting experiential learning in the natural sciences and engaged with stakeholders across California on conservation-oriented research initiatives. Dr. Marnocha is dedicated to supporting critical research that advances our understanding of the world and generates solutions to our global challenges. She holds a PhD in biology from UCLA and a BA in environmental studies from Washington University in St. Louis.

Leila Sievanen, PhD
Program Officer
Contact: Email | (510) 987-0498

Dr. Sievanen is the lead Program Officer for the UC-NL Graduate Fellowship program. She is dedicated to advancing interdisciplinary research that combines social and ecological sciences, and integrates local communities and decision-makers, to address critical issues like climate change. Outside of work, she is an avid lover of the outdoors and ceramics, enjoying activities such as hiking, backpacking, skiing, bicycling, snorkeling, and mushroom hunting. She holds a PhD in Environmental Anthropology from the University of Washington, a bachelor's degree in biological sciences from UC Davis, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Environmental Studies Department at Brown University. Her research on environmental governance in Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Pacific Islands has received support from the NSF, Fulbright, and private foundations.

Rebecca Stanek-Rykoff, PhD
Program Officer
Contact: Email | (510) 587-6265

Dr. Stanek-Rykoff is the lead Program Officer for the UC National Laboratory Fees Research Program, where she focuses on harnessing the power of UC research and innovation to address California’s most pressing problems. She is experienced in grant management and pre-award administration in RGPO. Prior to joining RGPO she was in the Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at UCOP, where she coordinated AB 2664 funds and developed a variety of outlets for communicating the economic impact of UC innovation. She is also a long-time advocate for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in the East Bay. She has a bachelor’s degree in astronomy from Case Western Reserve University and a PhD in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of Michigan.

Alison Annunziata, PhD
Associate Program Officer
Contact: Email | (510) 987-9792

Dr. Annunziata is the Associate Program Officer supporting UCRI’s diverse portfolio of programs, with distinct interests in program evaluation, development, and design. She has spent the last decade advancing interdisciplinary humanities research and programming—first, via positions at USC and ArtCenter College of Design combining literature, architecture, and science; second, as the Research Programs Manager at UC Humanities Research Institute overseeing systemwide initiatives in cross-disciplinary experimentation. Throughout her doctoral and post-doctoral work, Dr. Annunziata, at her luckiest, has had opportunities to combine her research interests with her fervor for language-learning and rock climbing during archival trips to Russia, Central Asia, and Europe, and continues to seek out new peaks, new languages, and new ways to integrate tools of exploration and collaboration into her work. Dr. Annunziata holds a BA in Russian from Reed College, a PhD in Russian and comparative literature from Columbia University, and she was a Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at USC.


Alicia Villela

Mailing Address
University of California Research Initiatives
Research & Innovation, Research Grants Program Office
University of California, Office of the President
1111 Franklin Street, 11th Floor
Oakland, CA  94607