Team Member Spotlight Series: Meet Michelle Popowitz, JD, MPH

March 10, 2020

The co-founder of UCLA Grand Challenges who is a pioneer in the university-led, goal-oriented Grand Challenge space

Michelle Popowitz, JD, MPH

UCLA Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research

Co-Founder, UCLA Grand Challenges

Team Member Role

Michelle helps universities think differently about their strengths and pushes them to achieve specific ambitious goals. She is a pioneer in the university-led, goal-oriented Grand Challenge space. UCLA Grand Challenges began as a pilot program to accelerate research on campus and blossomed into UCLA’s two Grand Challenges- the Depression Grand Challenge (DGC) and the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge (SLA GC). Since the inception of UCLA Grand Challenges, Michelle has been a champion of university-led grand challenges and has served as an adviser to many programs that have since developed. Michelle is an adviser to the leaders of the Depression Grand Challenge and liaison to campus with engagement for issues regarding campus navigation, branding and activities designed to increase the public profile.

Michelle has been with the DGC from the beginning

Michelle has been affiliated with the Depression Grand Challenge since before it was even conceptualized. She serves as a strategic adviser to the academic leaders of the DGC. She prides herself in the Grand Challenges being a project that facilitates the crossover of minds from many disciplines, all coming together to solve a problem that may seem unsolvable at first glance. She is so passionate about these efforts, that she even dyed her hair blue for the Depression Grand Challenge’s #blueforhope campaign.

When she is not at work you will see her…

Spending time with her husband, two sons, and two dogs. She loves to talk about her experiences with UCLA Grand Challenges.

“I was convinced that the public and even the members of our campus didn’t have a sense of the tremendous impact UCLA has on our collective lives. I was convinced that if we all worked together to solve a specific problem (common goal), our impact would be even greater when depression surfaced as a potential target in 2012. It was clear that there was great potential for UCLA to shine a light on depression and work with others to change the conversation and approach to treatment globally.”

Learn more about the UCLA Depression Grand Challenge Team Member Spotlight Series.