Meet Our Staff


'Sharleen Action'

Sharleen O'Brien

Associate Dean & Director of Health & Wellness

Associate Dean & Director of Health & Wellness | PsyD, Lic. Psychologist, 20314

Sharleen O’Brien is the Director of the Health & Wellness department, overseeing health promotion programs & strategies to improve student well-being and success at UCSB.   She earned her doctoral degree in clinical psychology in 2003 from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco.  Sharleen has expertise in health psychology, mindfulness meditation, sleep health, and psychological well-being. 

Before coming to UC Santa Barbara, Sharleen was core faculty in the doctoral program in clinical psychology at Antioch University, Clinical Director of New Beginnings Counseling Center, and also served as a consultant writer on the California Strategic Plan for Suicide Prevention for the California Department of Mental Health, Prevention Branch.  

Dr. O’Brien brings over 10 years of leadership experience and 18 years of clinical practice and teaching clinical psychology.  She is passionate about applying her background to advance broader initiatives designed to strengthen the living and learning environment and promote a culture of health & well-being so that all can thrive.  Sharleen loves the outdoors, hiking, biking, yoga, movies, cooking, and gardening.  

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Emily Action

Emily Teter

Health Education Specialist

Health Education Specialist | Sleep & Meditation

Emily Teter grew up in Carpinteria, California and received her Bachelors from UCLA, studying both Anthropology and Film. She worked with various student organizations as an undergrad including The Watts Tutorial Program, where she was a tutor and student mentor. One of her favorite experiences in college was studying abroad in Rome, Italy.  She has completed two Mindfulness Meditation teacher training programs, one with The Center for Koru Mindfulness and one developed specifically for the Department of Health & Wellness. Emily is passionate about helping students discover their own innate ability to be mindful and aware while cultivating tools towards self-compassion and resiliency. 

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Mallory Action

Mallory Russell

Health Education Generalist

Health Education Generalist | Food, Nutrition & Basic Skills

Mallory Russell is a Health Educator with the Department of Health and Wellness. She teaches cooking series and workshops that focus on food, nutrition, and basic skills. With a background in landscape architecture, she always found herself drawn to food and has worked in a variety of culinary worlds: educational farms, commercial kitchens, school gardens, catering, health clinics, and teaching pop-up cooking and nutrition classes. These experiences drove home the power of food to shape our environment, our identity, our communities, and our health. 

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Joanna Hill


Health Education Specialist | Stress Reduction, Eating Disorders, Body Image

Joanna Hill is originally from “the” Valley (San Fernando). She started as a student in The Department of Health & Wellness in 1996. She was a Relationships Peer, summer theater actor and instructional assistant before she earned her BA in Sociology in 1997. She has worked for the UCSB Arts Library, UCSB Alumni Association, and with autistic men at the Devereux Foundation. Joanna’s staff career in Health & Wellness began in 2001 as advisor for the Sexual Health Peers and the Relationships Peers. Over the years, she has trained students, staff, and faculty on all areas of Health & Wellness, her favorites being body image and meditation. Joanna currently oversees Health & Wellness Internships, the Advocate Program, and the eating disorder prevention/body image program. Joanna enjoys exploring Santa Barbara with her family, their 2 cats and sweet dog, Maisy.

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Michael "Maka" Takahara

Health Education Specialist

Health Education Specialist | Marketing, Positive Psychology

Michael Kenji Takahara was raised in Monterey Park and received his B.A. in Psychology from UCSB in 1993. He worked at UCSB Housing, Dining & Auxiliary Services as an assistant resident director before joining Health & Wellness in 1996. Michael is passionate about Health & Wellness because “it allows me to give back to the community that made me who I am. I love helping students develop meaning in their lives, building their skills, strengthen their positive relationships, achieve their goals, and increase their positive emotions.” He thinks it is funny that he stars in a weekly web series, Mondays with Maka. In addition to enjoying his family, Michael volunteers his time with Catholic Engaged Encounter, enjoys comic book geek culture, plays guitar, and enjoys the ocean and clouds everyday.

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Braeden Bailey | he/him/his

Community Engagement & Data Analyst

Braeden Bailey was raised in Fresno, California and graduated from UCSB in 2022, receiving a B.S. in both Data Science and Psychology. At Health & Wellness, he provides insights into student life and events through data analysis, allowing for better focus on how to improve student well being. Braeden was drawn to this position at Health & Wellness because he is passionate about working with data and is excited by the opportunity to be a part of the UCSB community again. Braeden also enjoys constantly picking up new hobbies; most recently crocheting, gardening, and arcade stick building.


Megan Schmidt

Culinary Health Educator

Culinary Health Educator | Food Nutrition & Basic Skills

Megan Schmidt is a Culinary Health Educator with the Department of Health and Wellness. She teaches pop-up workshops and classes focused on food, nutrition and basic skills. Her culinary background as a personal chef, organic farmer and health educator in Santa Barbara County inspires her facilitation of student and community education in cooking, basic skills, nutrition, and food systems. She has certificates in Herbalism & Nutrition, Permaculture Design and Yoga Teacher Training. She earned her BA in Film and Media Studies at UCSB, and as a student in Blue Horizons her team's environmental documentary was selected to premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. In her free time she enjoys being in the ocean, spinning pottery on the wheel, and adventuring outdoors.

Marketing and Communications Interns


Rachel | she/her/hers

Marketing and Communication Lead Intern

Major:  Communication and Political Science

Why did you want to be a H&W intern?

I wanted to be a H&W intern because I wanted to help promote an organization that cares about the student body’s wellbeing. Health & Wellness facilitates the success of the students at UCSB and it’s an environment where I can learn from others and use those skills to promote that mission.

Mindfulness, Sleep Health, and Social Emotional Health Interns


Jonny | he/him/his

Meditation Intern

Major: Biopsychology 

Why did you want to be a H&W intern?

I have a strong passion to help others in the many ways that people can improve their health and wellness, but I specialize in social and emotional health with meditation and I hope to incorporate this specialty into therapy after I graduate. I get a chance to help people in all of these domains on a large yet personal scale as a H&W intern.


Belinda | she/her/hers

International Student Support

Major: Psychological and Brain Sciences

Why did you want to be a H&W intern?

I wanted to be a H&W intern because I wanted to become the resources for my peers to help them obtain a better school- life balance. With my emphasis on international students' support, I want to engage the minority populations on campus to an organization that promotes wellbeing and a place that can make them feel like  home away from home.

Data Management Interns


Krish | he/him/his

Data Science Intern

Major: Computer Science

Why did you want to be a H&W intern?

I wanted to be an H&W intern because I really enjoyed how welcoming all of their events and their center was. Being able to be part of this organization will help me give back to others and impact them in the same way I felt before I became an intern.


Online Programs and Website Management Interns


Doris | she/her/hers

Web Development Intern

Major: Computer Science

Why did you want to be a H&W intern?

I was interested in the Health and Wellness Department because I appreciated how much they cared about the wellbeing of their students. Upon joining the team, this idea was reinforced by how welcoming and kindhearted everyone in the department is.