Michelle Popowitz, JD, MPH has worked at UCLA since 2001, where she started with the School of Dentistry with a focus on administration and external relations. She was recruited to work for the Vice Chancellor for Research in 2011. Approximately 16 months later, she and former colleague, Jill Reddell (then Sweitzer), started a pilot program to catalyze team research on campus that blossomed into the campus-wide UCLA Grand Challenges initiative which now consists of two Grand Challenges. While she has served as an advisor to the leaders of both Grand Challenges since their inception, since 2019, she has become more involved with the daily operation of the Depression Grand Challenge.
Michelle is frequently invited to talk about the experience at UCLA with Grand Challenges, as UCLA is the first campus to commit to solve a specific Grand Challenge goal. In 2017, she co-authored the Report on University-Led Grand Challenges and started a Community of Practice for universities working in this space—both efforts funded by a grant from the Schmidt Family Foundation. In 2018, Michelle participated in an APLU effort to foster Public Impact-focused Research (which includes Grand Challenges and other research efforts with a focus on public impact). While Grand Challenges keep her busy, Michelle was fortunate to find time to participate in the 2016 UC-CORO Systemwide Leadership Collaborative. Prior to joining UCLA in September 2001, Michelle worked as a transactional attorney and in hospital administration.