Hassenfeld Child Health Innovation Institute

2019 Summer Scholars

  • Morgan Brinker

    Morgan Brinker

    Morgan Brinker is a rising junior at Brown University studying Health and Human Biology and pre-medical studies. During the school year, she is a Bonner Community Fellow at William D’Abate Elementary School, where she developed a dance club to promote self-esteem, teamwork, and physical activity for children living in low-income communities. She is motivated to decrease health disparities and promote women and children’s health through community-engaged research and culturally competent, community-based interventions. As a Hassenfeld Summer Scholar, she is excited to work with the Healthy Weight and Nutrition Initiative to prevent excess summer weight gain in low-income children through summer camps.

  • Valerie Castro-Gomez

    Valerie Castro-Gomez

    Valerie Castro-Gomez is a rising senior concentrating in Neuroscience on the pre-medical track at Brown University. When she's not in a classroom or studying, Valerie works closely with the Undocumented, First-Generation, and/or Low-Income Center to spread awareness on resources, advice, and space available to U-FLi students on campus. She also makes time for watching reality tv, learning new languages, and writing fun yelp reviews. As a Hassenfeld Summer Scholar, Valerie serves at the Childhood Asthma Research Program lab. Her independent project consists of working with Dr. Elizabeth McQuaid to document current strategies that successfully implement and maintain pediatric asthma interventions in Rhode Island and nationwide.

  • Amanda DellaGrotta

    Amanda DellaGrotta

    Amanda just completed the first year of her MPH degree at Brown University’s School of Public Health. She received a BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with a minor in Urban and Community Health from Rhodes College in Memphis, TN. She then spent a year working with a non-profit focused on transforming health and educational outcomes for children in the Mississippi Delta. Amanda’s work involved building a college readiness program for underserved high school students, and in that role, she confirmed her interests in public health and education. As a Hassenfeld Scholar, she will be working with the Core Research and Evaluation Unit to assess the impact of child welfare involvement on educational outcomes – including school absenteeism and reading proficiency – for children in Rhode Island.

  • Shelby Flanagan

    Shelby Flanagan

    Shelby Flanagan recently graduated from Western Michigan University with a BS in Biomedical Sciences, and is entering her second year of the Master of Public Health program at Brown University. Her keen interest in child wellness was established in Kalamazoo, Michigan where she spent countless hours with her mentors Dr. Michael Leinwand and Dr. Jennifer Timmons in the operating room. As a Hassenfeld Institute Scholar, she will be working with Dr. Vivier to develop an interactive tool allowing families to partake in health promoting behaviors with greater ease. She is excited to continue pursuing her passion in researching and creating solutions to various issues that impede child wellness.

  • Esmeralda Guevara

    Esmeralda Guevara

    Esmeralda Guevara just completed her first year of the Master of Public Health program at Brown University’s School of Public Health. Her research interests include childhood obesity and adolescent sexual health. She is primarily interested in working with vulnerable populations. This summer, as a Hassenfeld Scholar, Esmeralda will be examining the association between the food environment and childhood obesity rates in Rhode Island.

  • Noelle Henderson

    Noelle Henderson

    Noelle Henderson is a rising second year in the ScM program in Epidemiology. As an undergraduate at Tufts University, Noelle identified her passions in the Community Health Department and began partaking in research. While at Brown, Noelle has worked for the Braun Lab focusing on environmental exposures in relation to children’s health. Her current work is focused on examining breast feeding as a possible exposure route to non-persistent chemicals. At this year’s Public Health Research Day, Noelle won “Best Masters Poster” for this work and will soon be traveling to The Netherlands to present it at the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology annual conference. As a Hassenfeld Summer Scholar, Noelle works at the Child Asthma Research Program lab as Dr. Daphne Koinis-Mitchell’s mentee. Her work this summer has focused on environmental conditions of Providence Public Schools. In particular, Noelle has worked to determine how to assess indoor air quality at schools, and how it is related to both school absences and emergency department visits related to asthma.

  • Zeinab Kante

    Zeinab Kante

    Zeinab Kante is a rising junior concentrating in Ethnic Studies with a focus in comparative studies on the social determinants of health and patient engagement in research, within different community contexts. She is particularly interested in health disparities experienced by marginalized groups and how factors like race and class can impact access to care and quality of treatment. She also hopes to explore different community engagement efforts and learn more about ways to establish trust and improve health outcomes in spite of the historical exploitation of certain racial groups. Zeinab is excited to work with the Core Research and Evaluation Unit to conduct community assessments in Rhode Island’s core cities and discuss different ways to address health disparities.

  • Jacqueline Karpowicz

    Jacqueline Karpowicz

    Jacqueline Karpowicz is a 2019 Brown graduate starting the 5th year of the AB/MPH program, where she plans to concentrate in Maternal and Child Health. She is interested in childhood obesity and more specifically, the impact of parental feeding behaviors and attitudes on the development of obesity in infancy and early childhood. This summer Jackie will be examining the association of prenatal and postpartum maternal sleep, stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms during pregnancy with infant feeding plans and attitudes, as well as maternal eating behaviors.

  • Marga Kempner

    Marga Kempner

    Marga Kempner is a second-year student at Alpert Medical School. She received her B.A. from Brown University in History, with a focus on public health interventions in the Americas. Before beginning medical school, she spent a year in Brazil as a Fulbright Scholar, where she directed a film about women’s experiences of clandestine, out-of-clinic abortions. Her research at the Hassenfeld Institute with Dr. Erika Werner examines the impact of different models of care during the prenatal period on mode of delivery and birth outcomes.

  • Cailey Kesselring

    Cailey Kesselring

    Cailey Kesselring is a second year Master of Science in Epidemiology student at Brown University. She is originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Cailey received her Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics with a minor in Urban Studies and Community Health at Rhodes College. During her time at Brown, Cailey’s research has mainly focused on maternal health. She has worked as a research associate at Women and Infants hospital investigating labor induction methods and women’s experiences within the hospital. Additionally, she is working with Alison Field at Brown University School of Public Health investigating eating behaviors, cravings and aversions, within the Hassenfeld pregnancy cohort. In order to gain more information on cravings and aversions during pregnancy she will be using a smartphone app to gather momentary and event data using self-reported and triggered qualitative surveys. In the future, Cailey would love to expand her focus to include maternal and child health in low resource communities in the United States, including Rhode Island, as well as in low resource countries.  

  • Tara Srinivas

    Tara Srinivas

    Tara Srinivas is a rising senior concentrating in Neuroscience. Her research and academic interests center on the genetic and molecular basis of neurodevelopmental disorders. This summer, Tara is working with Dr. Eric Morrow to understand the role of certain genetic mutations on metabolism and survival in a cellular model of Autism Spectrum Disorder and intellectual disability. She hopes that her findings will expand our understanding of intellectual disability and how best to care for families affected by it.  

  • Sumera Subzwari

    Sumera Subzwari

    Sumera Subzwari is a rising junior at Brown University pursuing a concentration in Health and Human Biology with a focus in mental health and disability studies, particularly as they relate to underrepresented minority populations. She is a Peer Mental Health Advocate as part of Project LETS and is also a founding member and lead coordinator for Disability Justice at Brown. She joined the Childhood Asthma Research Lab (CARP) in the beginning of her sophomore year after learning of its emphasis on pediatric health disparities when developing childhood asthma interventions. As a 2019 Hassenfeld Summer Scholar, Sumera hopes to continue addressing these disparities by assisting in the development of culturally competent care that is sensitive to the needs, health literacy, and beliefs of patients and their families.

  • Hannah Thomas

    Hannah Thomas

    Hannah Thomas is a rising junior at Brown University studying public health and preparing to pursue an MPH and a medical degree with a focus in family medicine. She comes to Hassenfeld with experience working to address social determinants of health in clinical settings both in Providence and New Hampshire, and with a desire to further understand how these factors influence health across the life course. Her broad research interests are best described as identifying and addressing barriers to health and gaps in care for marginalized populations including: individuals experiencing homelessness, LGBTQ+ youth, families of low SES, undocumented immigrants, and families in post-conflict settings. She looks forward to working with the Healthy Weight, Nutrition, and Physical Fitness Initiative and Rhode Island communities this summer, and hopes to expand her knowledge of how community-based interventions are organized and evaluated.

  • Sheril Varghese

    Sheril Varghese

    Sheril Varghese is a rising junior concentrating in public health with a heavy course load in Cognitive Neuroscience. Through classes in the public health and neuroscience departments and her work in the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, as well as through her personal interactions with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Sheril became interested in exploring the cognitive outcomes of children with developmental disabilities. Throughout her college career, she has aspired to examine potential interventions that improve the quality of life for children with developmental disabilities. As a Hassenfeld Scholar, she is eager to work closely with Dr. Stephen Sheinkopf to examine potential diagnostic markers in the hopes of developing early intervention strategies for children with ASD.

  • Samer Wahood

    Samer Wahood

    Samer Wahood is a rising Junior at Brown University studying computational biology. His primary academic interest is in rare genetic disorders, specifically Christianson Syndrome. This summer he will be working in Dr. Eric Morrow’s lab on a project to author a questionnaire on epilepsy for children with Christianson Syndrome. He also hopes to spend time managing and developing the only known registry of patients with Christianson Syndrome while at Bradley Hospital.