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Faheemah Mustafaa '05 credits Penn State with igniting passion for research connecting access to education and health outcomes



Faheemah Mustafaa '05 is an assistant professor of education in learning and mind sciences at the University of California, Davis. She is also a member of the university’s Human Development Graduate Group and a faculty research affiliate with the Center for Poverty & Inequality Research. She primarily conducts interdisciplinary research on in-and out-of-school interventions that support the holistic development and well-being of African American students and students from other historically marginalized groups in the United States.



She is currently co-principal investigator of a multi-year National Science Foundation-sponsored project that aims to increase Black girls’ and women’s representation in STEM. She also studies social justice praxis in postsecondary teaching and learning, and K-12 educators’ racial attitudes and practice. 

Mustafaa is driven by a passion for teaching and supporting other people’s life journeys. Prior to joining the faculty at University of California, Davis, she was a postdoctoral researcher in social-personality psychology at University of California, Berkeley, and in teaching and learning at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development. Mustafaa earned a Ph.D. in the combined program in education and psychology, and M.A. in higher education, both from the University of Michigan. Earlier in her career, she was a middle school science teacher in Miami, Florida and still enjoys collaborating with early adolescents to help them imagine and pursue paths toward their highest potential. In her spare time, she enjoys domestic and international travel, hiking, crafting, and spending quality time with loved ones. 

A proud Philadelphia native and first-generation college graduate, Mustafaa earned a bachelor’s degree in biobehavioral health from Penn State in 2005, along with a minor in psychology. Among several campus engagements, she was a Bunton Waller fellow, Penn State Crew rower, and member of the College of Health and Human Development’s first cohort of the Women’s Leadership Initiative. In 2005, she received the Multicultural Resource Center’s Senior Volunteer Service Award for significantly contributing to campus and community service initiatives. She credits faculty members in the College of Health and Human Development for first helping her understand that studying structural connections between quality education access and health outcomes is an important and worthwhile career endeavor.

This profile was published in May 2022.