2021 Summer Scholars
Najma Abdullahi received her B.A. from Mount Holyoke College and is a rising second year medical student at Boonshoft School of Medicine. Najma is also an alumnus of Brown University School of Public Health (SPH), where she concentrated in epidemiology. While at SPH, her diverse research interests included gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), pediatric sexual health education, and point of sale policies that limited youth access to flavored tobacco products. Najma is passionate about identifying and dismantling healthcare disparities so that one day she can provide quality care to marginalized communities. As a Hassenfeld Summer Scholar, she will be working with Dr. Erika Werner and Dr. Patrick Vivier to evaluate the relationship between maternal social determinants of health and the prevalence of GDM. She is excited to identify existing correlations that can be used to improve maternal and fetal health outcomes in RI.
Parisa Afsharian is a rising junior studying Health and Human Biology and pursuing extended coursework in Hispanic Literature and Cultures. She is a Medical Spanish Interpreter at the Rhode Island Free Clinic, where she works primarily with the Diabetes Education team. This experience has inspired her to explore how patient-provider communication, culturally-competent care, and language barrier can impact health outcomes. As a 2021 Hassenfeld Summer Scholar, she is excited to work with Drs. Rena Wing, Elissa Jelalian, and Whitney Evans on the Healthy Weight, Nutrition, and Fitness Initiative studying the correlation between primary language and socioeconomic status on health outcomes, particularly obesity and diabetes, in pediatric populations.
Alice Bai is a rising junior studying health and human biology on the premedical track. She is passionate about addressing social determinants of health and promoting access and equity in healthcare delivery. Building upon her past work with topics in pulmonology and infant/maternal health, she is excited to be working with Drs. Daphne Koinis-Mitchell and Elizabeth McQuaid this summer as part of the Asthma Initiative.
Nikita Baregala Lopez
Nikita Baregala Lopez is a rising junior at Brown University studying public health and on the pre-medical track. She is especially interested in social determinants of health and health disparities among historically marginalized groups. Over the past year, she has worked with a global public health nonprofit to reduce maternal mortality. She is excited to work on the summer program with the Central Falls School District to improve third-grade reading proficiency and in the Core Research and Evaluation Unit.
Christopher Blanding-Phothisane is a rising second- year medical student at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School. He received his B.S. in both psychology and biological sciences from the University of Rhode Island where he focused on cognitive neuroscience. Chris’ primary research focus is concerned with biomarkers of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with a particular emphasis on pupillometry and heart rate variability. As a Hassenfeld Summer Scholar, he will be working with Dr. Stephen J. Sheinkopf of Women & Infants Hospital to further the currently ongoing ASD biomarker research.
Megan Feragne is a master’s student in Global Health at Brown University School of Public Health. She received a B.A. in Hispanic Studies and Biological Sciences from Connecticut College in New London, CT. Megan is interested in the intersection of health and education. She hopes to employ her language-learning background to advocate for and work with Spanish speakers. As a Hassenfeld Summer Scholar, Megan will be collaborating on a summer program with the Central Falls School System to improve literacy and promote healthy eating habits among rising third graders.
Geronimo Garcia Jr
Geronimo Garcia Jr is a rising second year medical student at the Warren Alpert Medical School. He received his BA in Health and Human Biology with a focus on women’s and children’s health from Brown University. His past research has focused on adolescents and their understanding of gender and sexual identities. His current research interests include pediatric oncology, hematology, maternal and child health, and obesity medicine. As a first generation college student from a Hispanic community in southern Texas, he plans to use his native background and medical degree to serve minority populations that have traditionally experienced limited access to health care. This summer he is interested in exploring food insecurity and its impact on summer weight gain as a part of Hassenfeld’s healthy weight initiative.
Deena Haque is a rising junior at Brown University studying health and human biology with an interest in neurodevelopmental disorders. She is passionate about reducing healthcare disparities through increased equity in educational opportunities and community-focused programs that address the social determinants of health. Outside of classes, she is a Bonner Community Fellow partnered with Clinica Esperanza, a free clinic in Providence that provides healthcare services and education programs to uninsured patients. As a Hassenfeld scholar, Deena will be conducting research on autism spectrum disorder with Dr. Judy Liu as a part of the Autism Initiative. She looks forward to expanding understanding of the disorder and applying acquired knowledge to real patient cases.
Grace Molera is a rising senior at Brown University studying neuroscience. Her research interests center on integrating sociocultural considerations into family health management. She is passionate about addressing the social determinants of health and identifying barriers that prevent families from obtaining the resources and care they need.
Through her work in the Childhood Asthma Research Program she has developed an interest in community and contextual approaches to asthma management. As a Hassenfeld scholar, she will explore how culturally-tailored interventions are developed and implemented to improve the health of children with asthma. This will include recognizing and respecting the diverse values, beliefs, and linguistic needs that impact family health behaviors. She hopes her work will lead to an expanded understanding of the intersection of family and cultural values in pediatric health.
Nailah Tucker is a rising second-year medical student at Alpert Medical School. She received her B.S. in Biology from Tougaloo College in Jackson, MS. Tougaloo is where Nailah found her passion for health disparities and women’s health as a Jackson Heart Study Scholar. Her passion has followed her into medical school as she is a leader in the OB/GYN interest group and a Rhode Island Medical Navigator (RIMNP). This summer, Nailah will be working with Dr. Erika Werner to examine the distribution of maternal morbidities in Rhode Island using geographical analysis. She looks forward to finding trends in her research that can be used to create early interventional strategies that improve maternal health and address the health disparities that impact maternal health.
Chloe E. Vincent is a rising junior studying public health at Brown University. As a member of the Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME), she is working towards becoming an OB/GYN. Chloe has an Associates of Science and Integrative Studies from Clayton State University. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the League of United Black Womxn, and the Child Health Advocacy Program (CHAP). She is passionate about serving marginalized communities by working to reduce systemic barriers to health and researching how poverty-related stressors impact women and their families. This summer, she plans on working with Drs. Daphne Koinis-Mitchell and Elizabeth McQuaid within the Asthma Initiative to study how poverty affects asthma risk within children.
Callista Zingas is a rising second-year MPH student at Brown University’s School of Public Health, where she is concentrating in maternal and child health. She received her B.S in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she served as a research assistant focusing on the psychological mechanisms behind early childhood learning and second language acquisition. This experience guided her research interests at Brown towards the intersection between health, psychology, and learning in adolescence. This summer, she will be working in the Core Research and Evaluation Unit to explore the effects of a pilot intervention that focuses on improving the reading scores and overall health of an underserved population of primary school children in Rhode Island.