Lab Members

Program Manager

Dr. Vanessa Nicholson

Dr. Vanessa Nicholson is a community health practitioner with over 10 years of experience in the field of public health. Her formal training in the field began during her undergraduate years at Mississippi State University’s Longest Student Health Center where she trained as a peer health educator. Shortly after, she began working at the Department of Health while completing her Master’s in Public Health degree at Jackson State University. During this time, she led a team whose work resulted in a statewide plan for addressing the needs of HIV positive Mississippians. Once she received acceptance to the University of Texas Health Science Center, she acquired several roles in research development and grant writing, while also developing partnership with the community via outreach initiatives. Dr. Nicholson completed her doctoral program in 2017 and currently serves as a part-time Health Professor.   She has instructed several courses surrounding her areas of expertise in health program planning, health care administration, quantitative methods, health disparities research, and working with vulnerable populations. 

Research & Grants Committee

Keri Carvalho

Co-Chair

Keri Carvalho is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Psychosocial Determinants of Health Lab in the Department of Community Health at Tufts University. Her research primarily uses quantitative methods to examine the role of psychosocial stress (e.g. discrimination, financial strain, relationship strain) on health outcomes, with a particular focus on obesity. Other research interests include the intersectionality of race and weight, and psychosocial factors that contribute to health and racial disparities. She received her PhD from Tufts University in Experimental Psychology and has extensive teaching experience in psychology and community health undergraduate courses. When Keri is not researching or teaching, you can find her exploring her passions for baking, yoga, and running.

Anna Kheyfets

Co-Chair

Anna Kheyfets is a first-year dual-degree MD/MPH student at the Tufts University School of Medicine. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. She graduated from the University of Chicago in March of 2019, where she studied Anthropology and Biology. She began studying public health and women’s health at UChicago, where she was part of a lab studying female sexual dysfunction and health disparities. She spent her gap year working as a Clinical Research Coordinator at the Women’s Health Research Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Her research focused on maternal and child care health disparities and hospital quality, as well as, the impact of racism and discrimination in maternal health care. This experience influenced her decision to pursue an MPH in medical school, with the hope of conducting research in public health and health policy throughout her medical career. She is excited to serve as a co-chair of the research and grants committee and to mentor undergraduate students looking to pursue a career in medicine. She is keenly interested in health equity, racial and reproductive justice, and urban health, and hope to apply the principles she learns from Dr. AO and the rest of the team in her practice as a physician.

Blessing Chidiuto Lawrence

Blessing is a Data Coordinator at Partners in Health and also serves as a Research Associate for Amaka Consulting & Evaluation Services. She earned her Master of Public Health in Epidemiology & Biostatistics from Tufts University School of Medicine. Her current areas of interest are centered on improving systems of care, addressing disparities in maternal & child health, and promoting effective contextualization and interpretation of scientific data. As such, she has conducted independent and collaborative projects in line with her interests. 

Inspired by her experience as an international student, she is passionate about promoting innovation through diversity and inclusion- as is evident in her role in helping create the Tufts Black Student Alliance, serving as a peer-mentor for first generation college students, and vice-president of the public health and professional degree programs student senate at Tufts. 

As an aspiring future physician, she has a strong commitment to create lasting social impact through addressing health and wellness from the perspective of the individual as well as the community. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, pretending to be an influential blogger, and putting her non-existent vocal skills to good use- only from the comfort of her home!

Shubhecchha Dhaurali

Shubhecchha Dhaurali (pronounced Sue-betcha Dur-all-e) is from Medford, MA attending Tufts University as a first-generation student originally from Kathmandu, Nepal. Career and academic aspirations of Shubhecchha’s include pursuing an MD/PhD degree in Clinical and Translational Science to become a Physician Scientist involved with public and community health. Shubhecchha believes it is important that trained professionals such as doctors not only treat individual patients’ problems, but that they implement interventions and prevention programs that fight the root causes of disease such as poverty, inadequate housing, and lack of employment opportunities. Shubhecchha is double majoring in Community Health and Biology, therefore the intersectionality of medicine, technology, science, and society are exciting and necessary fields of exploration for her! As a South Asian minority and an immigrant woman of color, Shubhecchha feels it is important for her to become the representation she does not see in addressing, advocating, and one day, eradicating socioeconomic and health challenges BIPOC populations face.

Yoann Sophie Antoine

Yoann Sophie Antoine, MPH, is a public health professional with ample expertise in community outreach, substance use and misuse, health education, survey development, data analysis and environmental health. Her research interests include migrant health, minority health, mental health, quality improvement, chronic disease prevention, environmental infectious diseases, and reproductive health. Ms. Antoine earned a Bachelor of Arts in Hispanic and Iberian studies with a concentration in translation and interpretation from the University of Massachusetts Boston and a Master of Public Health from Nova Southeastern University. In joining the MOTHER lab, Ms. Antoine is interested in investigating issues such as incompetent cervix, postpartum depression, preeclampsia, etc. Ms. Antoine is an avid and lifelong learner; she enjoys working hard towards issues that are meaningful. Ms. Antoine aims to use her public health and multilingual skills to address the inequities and social injustice that many are faced with. When she is not teaching herself a new skill, Ms. Antoine enjoys spending time with her family, exploring new eats and go for a run.

Nichole Moore

Nichole grew up in Southern Maine and then completed her undergraduate education at Boston College with a degree in International Studies in 2016. While in school, she focused on global health, both through her studies and via international service trips. However, Nichole also served the local Boston community, volunteering often in women’s shelters. Nichole was also able to get a first-hand experience working in healthcare while studying abroad in Ecuador. These experiences spurred her to pursue a position as a Health Extension Volunteer for the Peace Corps in Senegal. While in Senegal, she primarily focused on maternal and child health and family planning, leading trainings and projects centered on reducing the maternal mortality rate in rural Senegal. Since she completed her Peace Corps service in 2019, Nichole has been travelling around the world, spending as much time as possible soaking up sunshine and attending outdoor concerts before starting medical school. She is currently a first year MD/MPH candidate at Tufts University. She intends to specialize in primary care, with a focus on underserved populations. Nichole is passionate about women’s health, behavior change communication, integrative medicine…and cheese (she really loves cheese). In her free time,you can catch her cooking vegetarian meals, reading a good story or catching up with friends!

Alison Moky

Alison Moky is an MPH candidate at Tufts Medical School with a concentration in Health Management and Policy. She currently resides in Westchester County, NY, New York City’s backyard. Her passion to become the intersection of women’s health in third world countries stems from her Cameroonian culture and educational background. With this foundation, Alison co-founded the Benevolence Outreach Inc allowing her to provide solicit donations, school supplies, and toiletries for underprivileged children in Cameroon, Africa. Amongst her passion to help others, Alison immersed herself within the Tufts community throughout her undergraduate career as a research assistant, dancer, and athlete. Alison has a strong passion for research and has worked in the Kao lab at Tufts University using songbirds as a model system in order to study the neural mechanism underlying vocal learning. As an African dancer on COCOA (Children of Cultures of Africa), she created different dances with her team drawing inspiration from different parts of the African diaspora to perform on stage. When she was not on the stage performing with her dance team, you can find her running up and down the lacrosse field as well as competing on the Track & Field team in her undergraduate years at Tufts.

Marwah Kiani

Marwah Kiani is an undergraduate student at Tufts University, studying Community Health and Religion on the pre-medical track. Born and raised in the Bronx, she was lucky enough to be a part of Prep for Prep, a pipeline program geared towards low-middle class children of color in NYC. Through this program, she was able to attend the Dwight-Englewood School for middle and high school. She has always been interested in pursuing medicine, but her senior year thesis presentation on healthcare delivery to cancer patients piqued her interest in public health. After enrolling in a class called “Women and Health” in her first semester at Tufts, she realized her passion for women’s and maternal health. At Tufts, she is involved with Peer Health Exchange as a health educator, teaching health classes to students in Boston Public Schools. She is also a member of Strong Women Strong Girls, through which she mentors girls in 3rd-4th grade from the surrounding Tufts community. In her prior research experience, she has worked in many biology labs, assisting in projects ranging from the effects hyper-profusion in rats, to Natural Killer cell development. These experiences have sharpened her critical thinking and quantitative data analysis skills. She recently interned at the New York Academy of Medicine, where she assisted the Center for Evaluation and Applied Research in their public health work, working on literature reviews and coding projects. Through her work with MOTHER, she hopes to gain a stronger understanding of maternal health disparities and inequities in the United States, sharpen her research and qualitative data analysis skills and apply her knowledge through action In the future, she hopes to pursue an MD/MPH, where she hopes to implement that she has learned and will learn towards equitable practices in healthcare delivery. In her free time, Marwah enjoys spending quality time with friends and family having goofy and/or intellectual conversations. Her guilty pleasures include bad quality reality TV, HGTV and comedy specials. In quarantine, she hopes to also start writing spoken word poetry again. She is very thrilled and grateful to be a member of the MOTHER lab team!

Siwaar Abouhala

Hello! My name is Siwaar Abouhala (she/her/hers) and I’m a rising sophomore at Tufts University where I’m studying Arabic, community health, and sociology. I want to explore and further develop culturally and religiously competent healthcare methods for non- Western populations living in the Western world. Most of my current research deals with Arab-Americans, but I would love to expand my research and work to populations across the Arab diaspora, especially in regards to survivors of forced migration. I’m a Refugee Resettlement Intern at the Intensive Case Management (ICM) department of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) where I serve as an Arabic interpreter and help clients access resources within mental health systems, physical healthcare systems, and benefit services. I’m also a Research Intern at the Arab Health Initiative (AHI) under the Immigrant Health and Cancer Disparities (IHCD) Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). I survey Arab patients and collect data for two main studies: (1) “Predictors of Receipt of Cervical Cancer screening and HPV Vaccination among a Diverse Sample of Arab Americans in NYC” and (2) “HPV Vaccine Recommendations among Providers serving Arab-American Populations.” I also develop COVID-19 presentations for cancer patients under the Immigrant Breast Health Access (IBHA) program. Additionally, I’ve designed and launched a study titled “Essential Work, Forgotten Perspectives: Arab-Americans in New York’s Food System Amid COVID-19,” which is fully funded by the Tisch Student COVID Response (TSCR) Summer Program under the Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts. Lastly, I’ve been involved in grassroots work such as organizing and leading the Tufts + Birthing Project USA (BPUSA) summer working group, so I’m excited to be a part of a research team fully dedicated to addressing maternal health disparities through the MOTHER Lab. Thank you to Dr. AO for putting this incredible group together!

Maria Gabriela Ruiz

My name is Maria Gabriela Ruiz, but I go by Gabby. I am a first year MPH student at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, and I am in the Maternal and Child Health program. I have a BSc in biology with a concentration in molecular cell physiology, as well as a minor in gender studies. These areas of study have prepared me to pursue my passion for public health and closing healthcare disparities for women and families of color both domestically and around the world. My internship experiences have been in women’s health, specifically in the medical field, so I have a solid understanding of the clinical, biological, and technical aspects of health.  

My main interests in public health are maternal and infant mortality, reproductive health, and female genital mutilation. Though narrowing my career choices down has been difficult because I want to do it all, I would probably like to go into something like research and policy, consulting, or even start my own NGO one day.  

Being a first-generation college student as well as a first-generation American has given me a significant toolkit to deal with the issues concerning women and families today, like my ability to communicate with a broad range of people. I am fluent in both English and Spanish and can do my best with some remedial French. My hobbies include spending time with my family, going for long walks, and trying my best to learn new languages (I am on Italian right now!). I am so excited to be a part of the MOTHER Lab and I plan on learning as much from this amazing team.  

Shantiera Taylor

Shantiera Taylor is a first year medical student at Tufts University School of Medicine. She was born and raised in the Western Suburbs of Chicago, IL. Shantiera graduated from the University of Illinois in 2019 with a Bachelors of Kinesiology and Public Health. During her undergraduate career she conducted research with favorite being in occupational health at the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta,GA. Her long standing interest in reproductive justice was heightened during her gap year as an Emergency Medicine Scribe. The lack of access to timely emergency maternal health resources, and the mistreatment of Black, and Brown, mothers lead to a number of adverse outcomes for the mothers and children. Many of the patients did not have access to maternal resources, or prenatal care, but they were not educated nor provided with assistance. I believe all mothers of any age or background should have equal access and treatment without judgement or bias. Working with the MOTHER Lab she hopes to gain skills, and knowledge, to share with the health sector and the public. Shantiera aspires to become an Emergency Medicine Physician to be a patient advocate and educator to all. Her passions lie within reproductive justice, social determinants of health and health equity. In her free time she enjoys listening to music, exercising, and volunteering with the youth.

Melissa Wu

Melissa Wu holds a BS in Human Biology from the University of California, San Diego and is a MPH candidate at Tufts University School of Medicine, where she is expected to graduate Spring 2021. Prior to attending Tufts, her work with her surrounding community in San Diego, CA involved helping women navigate childbirth as a volunteer birth doula with UCSD and mentoring marginalized youth at Stand Up for Kids, which have greatly shaped her vision to advance maternal and child health and advocate for health equity. She strongly believes healthy women and children are the fundamental blocks to building healthy families and communities. She has extensive research experience in clinical and basic science research, and is excited to extend her passion for discovery and community work with the vibrant MOTHER Lab family. At Tufts, she is the graduate research assistant for the Tufts Public Health and Community Medicine Diversity, Equity, and Anti-Racism Council to promote educational programming and initiatives that are both mindful of and responsive to the diverse voices and experiences of the greater institutional community. In her free time, she enjoys consuming (too much) coffee, curating music playlists, hiking, and embroidery.

Rauta Aver Yakubu, MHA, MPH

Aver is a public health doctoral candidate at Saint Louis University’s College for Public Health and Social Justice in the Department of Health Management and Policy in St. Louis, MO. Some of her research interests include the influence of organizational policy on patient outcomes, maternal and child health mortality/morbidity, health equity, community based participatory research and access to care. Prior to starting her doctoral program, Aver was manager at the leading maternal child health community-based organization in St. Louis where she led their perinatal behavioral health initiative and developed/ launched a multi-sector screening and referral network for mood and anxiety disorders. While manager she also contributed to the development/ launch of a community led collective impact initiative to reduce Black infant mortality in St. Louis. In her free time, Aver likes to travel, shop, read novels, watch rom-coms and explore new restaurants. 

Kobi Vanessa Ajayi, MPH, MBA

Kobi Ajayi is a second-year Ph.D. student in Health Education at Texas A&M University. She earned her Master’s in Public Health from the School of Public Health at Texas A&M University in 2020. She is interested in global maternal and infant health, including maternal mental health. She is the Founder and President of Aggie Pregnant and Parenting Student Organization, a student-run organization at Texas A&M University catering for pregnant and parenting students. She is also the Founder and Director of EDEN Foundation Nigeria, a non-profit organization that aims to improve the health outcomes of preterm infants and maternal mental health in Sub-Saharan Africa. Kobi volunteers her time as the Board Secretary of 2020 Mom. When she is not working, she spends quality time exploring with her daughters.

Marketing, Communications, & Events Committee

Shubhecchha Dhaurali

Co-Chair

Shubhecchha Dhaurali (pronounced Sue-betcha Dur-all-e) is from Medford, MA attending Tufts University as a first-generation student originally from Kathmandu, Nepal. Career and academic aspirations of Shubhecchha’s include pursuing an MD/PhD degree in Clinical and Translational Science to become a Physician Scientist involved with public and community health. Shubhecchha believes it is important that trained professionals such as doctors not only treat individual patients’ problems, but that they implement interventions and prevention programs that fight the root causes of disease such as poverty, inadequate housing, and lack of employment opportunities. Shubhecchha is double majoring in Community Health and Biology, therefore the intersectionality of medicine, technology, science, and society are exciting and necessary fields of exploration for her! As a South Asian minority and an immigrant woman of color, Shubhecchha feels it is important for her to become the representation she does not see in addressing, advocating, and one day, eradicating socioeconomic and health challenges BIPOC populations face

Paige Feyock

Co-Chair

Paige Feyock is a rising junior at Wellesley College double majoring in Sociology and Africana Studies on the pre-medicine track. At Wellesley, she is involved in the Lambda Upsilon chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., serves as Vice President of Ethos, Wellesley’s organization for Students of African Descent, and is Treasurer of Tau Zeta Epsilon, an arts and music society. Paige’s post-graduate plans include obtaining a Masters in Public Health and then matriculating into medical school and specializing in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Her passions lie within health equity and reproductive justice and actively advocates for better health outcomes for Black people in the current medical system. She is currently interning at NextGen Jane, a data-driven healthcare company known for inventing a smart tampon system that offers insight into individual’s reproductive health systems. In her free time she enjoys making playlists and pursuing Netflix. 

Kelechi Offor

Kelechi Offor is a senior at Tufts University majoring in Biopsychology, and a first year MPH candidate at Tufts Medical School with a concentration in Behavioral Science and Health Communication. She is originally from Nigeria, but currently lives in Atlanta, GA. Passionate about helping marginalized and underserved populations, especially Black women, Kelechi aspires to pursue an MPH and become an OB/GYN to implement effective ways to improve Black maternal mortality rates. She is a firm believer in ensuring that the mothers within a community are healthy because if the mothers are not healthy then the community is not healthy.

On campus, Kelechi is co-president of Tufts’ African Student Organization, co-captain of Tufts’ African dance team, Children of Cultures of Africa (COCOA), a mentor for Strong Women, and was a research intern in Dr. Sasha Fleary’s Child Health Equity Lab that aims to understand risk and protective factors for preventive health and mental well-being for children. This summer, Kelechi has been able to intern at a national and global non-profit, Birthing Projects USA, committed to providing and distributing PPE and safe birth kits to Black women affected by COVID-19.

Kelechi is extremely excited to gain real-world maternal health research experience in the MOTHER Lab and join this team of passionate individuals. In her free time, she enjoys dancing, watching movies, and spending time with family and friends.

Brenna Miller

Brenna Miller is an MPH Candidate at Tufts University School of Medicine and holds a BS in Psychology from Clemson University. Throughout her undergraduate career, she focused extensively on clinical research in the mental health field, starting with the RI State Government Internship Program examining recidivism rates among inmates with mental illness and continuing on the investigate the effect of neurofeedback training on adolescent behavioral disorders. Her primary project was with the ARC (Autism Research at Clemson) Lab, in which she investigated media representations of persons with autism spectrum disorders. After working with Planned Parenthood as a Research Coordinator intern, she became inspired by the maternal and child health field and has since continued to volunteer as a Patient Advocate and to educate and advocate for women’s health care and rights. Her ultimate goal is to use clinical research to help inform reproductive health policy and eliminate inequities within the field. Her dream career is one that combines her clinical passions with her love for social justice work so she can help change the world. Brenna is expected to graduate Spring 2021. In her free time you might find her cruising around Boston on her e-bike.

Inricka Liburd

Inricka Liburd is a bright third year Direct Entry Nursing student in the Women’s Health and Adult Primary Care track at the MGH Institute for Health Professions. She is passionate about maternal health disparities, and looks forward to a career in Midwifery. In 2009, Inricka was awarded the Posse Full-Tuition Scholarship and attended Hamilton College, where she began her journey to becoming a health care provider. As a person who appreciates the big picture, Inricka took a non-traditional approach to clinical experience, and deliberately obtained positions that allowed her to understand health care from an administrative perspective.  She has spent time as a Program Coordinator for the Infant Follow-Up Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, and a Patient Services Coordinator and Accounts Receivable Assistant at Fenway Health. After recently experiencing the magic of childbirth, Inricka is eager to guide other women through one of life’s greatest transitions. She was awarded a scholarship from Accompany Doula Care to become a DONA certified Doula, and looks forward to providing support to families on Medicaid. Inricka strongly believes health is wealth, and advocates for daily self-care. She loves yoga, morning walks, and soaking in sunshine whenever she can.

Beverly Udegbe

Beverly Udegbeis a current undergraduate student at Tufts University majoring in Community Health on the Pre-Medical track. Her main academic interests include learning about health disparities, specifically amongst the Black population with emphasis on Black women and low-income communities. She is additionally focused on promoting civic engagement by closely working with organizations on community projects. At Tufts, some of Beverly’s favorite involvements are her leadership role as Public Relations Chair for the African Student Organization, her membership in the Tisch Scholars for Civic Life program: which focuses on hands-on community fieldwork combined with class seminars addressing social justice issues, and her role as a stepper on Envy Tufts Ladies Step Team. Outside of Tufts, Beverly is a volunteer with the Resilient Sisterhood Project: an organization dedicated to educating Black women on illnesses that affect them at disproportionately high rate, a mentor through the College Ambassadorship Program at The Student Science Innovation Network, and a Content Curator for the Global MILCC Box which provides Community Leaders with resources and a toolbox for success. Beverly is also a proud first generation Nigerian American and values all the unique aspects that make up her culture. In her limited spare time, Beverly loves to try out new baking and cooking recipes, even when they turn out a flop. She also loves to stay active outdoors, swimming, and has a newfound love for yoga. In the future, she hopes to travel around the world learning about new cultures. Beverly is extremely grateful to be a part of the MOTHER lab and excited to have an impact on changing the narrative when it comes to maternal health.

Melissa Wu

Melissa Wu holds a BS in Human Biology from the University of California, San Diego and is a MPH candidate at Tufts University School of Medicine, where she is expected to graduate Spring 2021. Prior to attending Tufts, her work with her surrounding community in San Diego, CA involved helping women navigate childbirth as a volunteer birth doula with UCSD and mentoring marginalized youth at Stand Up for Kids, which have greatly shaped her vision to advance maternal and child health and advocate for health equity. She strongly believes healthy women and children are the fundamental blocks to building healthy families and communities. She has extensive research experience in clinical and basic science research, and is excited to extend her passion for discovery and community work with the vibrant MOTHER Lab family. At Tufts, she is the graduate research assistant for the Tufts Public Health and Community Medicine Diversity, Equity, and Anti-Racism Council to promote educational programming and initiatives that are both mindful of and responsive to the diverse voices and experiences of the greater institutional community. In her free time, she enjoys consuming (too much) coffee, curating music playlists, hiking, and embroidery.

Divine Ogieva 

Divine Ogieva is a sophomore at Tufts University and she plans to double major in Sociology and Africana Studies.  She is a first-generation Nigerian  and a proud New Yorker. She is passionate about reproductive health and health disparities, specifically amongst Black women and low-income communities.

At Tufts, she is the co-communications chair for Black Student Union, Social/Interactive Media Intern for the Africana Center, a member of MARCH: Maternal Advocacy and Research for Community Health, and a Health Careers fellow.

By working with Dr. Amutah-Onukagha, she hopes to bring more awareness to issues regarding Black maternal health and actively participate in the movement to eliminate these health disparities.

Community Engagement, Advocacy, & Policy Committee

Eimaan Anwar

Co-Chair

Eimaan is a junior at Tufts University majoring in Community Health and Biology. For most of her life she was raised in Bahrain, a small island in the Middle East. Eimaan is passionate about helping underserved communities and addressing racial and ethnic disparities, particularly in maternal health. Her research interests include disparities in pre- and postnatal care, barriers to maternal healthcare services, and the impacts of doula care on birth outcomes.  After graduation, she hopes to go to medical school and use her skills and knowledge in the public health field to help improve access to health care and quality of health education, especially for minority groups. At Tufts, Eimaan is part of Project SHARE, Birthing Project USA, the Shultz Lab and is also currently fighting to target COVID-19 misinformation in rural India. She also volunteers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and enjoys interacting and engaging with patients.  In the past she has also travelled to South East Asia and performed fieldwork to investigate maternal health standards by conducting verbal and social autopsies, assisting in focus group discussions and analyzing qualitative data. Eimaan has also worked at local health centers and interned at governmental hospitals in Karachi, specifically in the OB-GYN department, to provide the utmost help she could.

In her free time Eimaan enjoys baking, reading and hanging out with friends. Eimaan also loves ice cream and tries to go somewhere new every week! Her favorite place so far is Honeycomb Creamery in Porter Square.

Lauren Cohen

I am a junior at Tufts University studying Biology and Child Study and Human Development with a concentration in Child and Family Health. My interests include reproductive health, pediatric and maternal health, and genetic disorders in children and adolescents. In the future, I hope to combine these passions and work as a genetic counselor, identifying potential genetic conditions and providing clear communication and emotional support to patients. I am excited to join the MOTHER lab to learn more about and help address the problems of reproductive health disparities and maternal mortality and morbidity. In addition to working in the MOTHER lab, I am also conducting biological research in the Freudenreich Lab at Tufts, which investigates genome instability. I hope that these experiences will enhance my skills in quantitative and qualitative research, data collection and analysis, and academic writing as well as set me up for a career in healthcare.

Iman Ali

Iman Ali is a junior at Tufts University majoring in Community Health. At her core she believes that equity and social justice are foundations for building an overall healthy world and that a public health approach is necessary for achieving these goals. Grounded in a passion for community building and social impact work she has worked with local nonprofits, most recently as a Tisch Scholar Organizing Intern at MIRA. On campus, Iman has also been able to cultivate her passions through involvement in cultural student groups like Tufts Black Student Union and Muslim Students’ Association.  

    Through her public health coursework that has spanned Community Health Research Methods and Politics and Health in the US, she has been able to learn and write about the disparate outcomes of maternal mortality and infant morbidity in Black communities across the US. This summer, Iman has been able to work as part of a team of Research Assistants with Dr. Fernando Ona to explore intersectional experiences among college students with spiritual and mental health care during COVID-19. She has relished gaining some real-world research experience and is excited to join the MOTHER Lab and be part of a team diving deeper into maternal health topics. 

    Born and raised in Malden, Iman is a proud Mass resident. In her free time she enjoys exploring coffee shops with friends.

Sereena Jivraj

Sereena Jivraj is a first-year medical student at the TCU & UNTHSC School of Medicine in Fort Worth, Texas. She graduated from Emory University with a B.S. in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology in 2019. Sereena has had a longstanding interest in Maternal and Child Health as well as surgery and obstetrics. In recent years, from both the media and working alongside an OB/GYN, she’s become frustrated with high U.S. maternal mortality rates, especially given our country’s status as a first-world nation. As such, she hopes to help tackle these disparities as well as general disparities faced by those in lower socioeconomic classes throughout her medical career. Sereena hopes her experiences with the MOTHER Lab will provide her with the knowledge and tools to educate others on implicit biases and the vital topic of maternal health disparities.

Ebunoluwa Falade

Ebunoluwa Falade is a second-year student in the Masters of Medical Science Program at Boston University School of Medicine. She is currently spending her thesis year working as a graduate research assistant at Beth Israel Israel Deaconess Medical Center with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Her research focuses on the impact of doulas on the patient experience and mental health outcomes of birthing people. Through her research, Ebunoluwa hopes to gain insight that will inform future care for mothers, especially black mothers, within our healthcare system. Before studying at Boston University, Ebunoluwa obtained her bachelor’s degree in Human Biology, Health, and Society from the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University. As a pre-medical student, she learned about health through an interdisciplinary, biopsychosocial perspective, which not only solidified her passion for treating patients as a future physician but has inspired her to be a physician that advocates for change outside of the walls of the hospital. During her undergraduate career, Ebunoluwa served on-campus organizations committed to mentorship, professional development, and community service tailored to underrepresented communities. She hopes to bring her personal and professional experience to the MOTHER lab community and continue to live out the meaning of her name, which is “gift.” Ebunoluwa resides in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and spends her free time sharing her personal journey as a blogger, embracing her Nigerian culture through dance, and watching doctor themed TV shows & Marvel movies.

Mansi Rana

Mansi is a Graduate Student at Walden University and holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Montclair State University. Her major was Public Health, concentration in Community Health Education and a minor in Nutrition and Food Science. Mansi’s professional interests include Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Research, Community Health Services, Infectious Disease, Preventative Care, Social Determinants of Health, and Publications.

Mansi was born in India and spent her teenage and adult years in New Jersey. Through her undergraduate studies at Montclair State University, Mansi became interested in Public Health, with a special interest in the field of Epidemiology. Mansi’s interest grew further when she served as a Research Assistant intern at Rutgers University School of Health Professions and Rutgers Brain Health Institute. She is currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Health to better understand the social and cultural influences that contribute to an individual’s and community’s health. Mansi hopes to improve her knowledge to solve broader public health issues and serve people from various backgrounds.

Outside of her professional work, Mansi enjoys cooking, cleaning, watching shows, doing henna designs, and visiting new places around!

Heather Olden, MPH

Heather A. Olden, originally from Durham, N.C., is a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) student at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She earned a Bachelor of Science with honors in molecular biology from Hampton University, in Hampton, Va., and a Master of Public Health in international health epidemiology (cum laude) from the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor. In her former position as an Epidemiologist at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Heather specialized in patient and community engagement, strategic planning, program development and management, and qualitative data collection and analysis for both internal and external health system clients. She has presented at multiple national academic and patient advocacy conferences, and consults with health systems across the country on how to effectively entrench patient engagement into complex organizational health systems. Her research interests are centered largely on the impact of social justice on maternal health, as well as on using patient engagement methodology to authentically translate research into clinical practice and policy. Following completion of her doctoral degree, she plans to leverage the diversity of her experiences to bridge the gap between maternal health research and social justice policy. Her vision is to create a pipeline from research to policy development that is grounded in the voices of those with lived experiences.

Outside of her work in her professional community, Heather is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; and owns Bella Blossoms, a small business dedicated to creating unique, handmade event and home décor, specializing in paper flowers and other handicrafts. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, cooking, dancing, and spoiling her chihuahua, Ziggy. 

Elizabeth Bolarinwa

Elizabeth Bolarinwa is a Sophomore, Clinical Laboratory Sciences Major on a Pre-Med Track at Howard University.She hopes to become a physician practicing internal medicine with a specialization in infectious diseases, however, Black Maternal Health has always been of interest and concern to her as a Black Woman. As an African-American woman pursuing healthcare, she understands and has experienced the urgent need for the eradication of medical racism. Her passion is health equity for all and she has started a platform, @projectalafia, on instagram to discuss health equity and encourage learning, advocacy, and conversation around topics like biases, healthcare racism and inequities and more.

Pegah Maleki

Pegah Maleki, MSW is currently a student at the University of Pennsylvania completing her dual graduate masters degree in public health, with the expected graduation date of May 2021. She is a part-time research assistant at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, PolicyLab focusing on adolescent sexual and reproductive health, and an associate board member of Covenant House, Philadelphia. She’s worked in the anti-violence field broadly in multiple capacities, including direct service, crisis response, advocacy and prevention education in the sexual and domestic violence field, human trafficking field, as well as with refugee/immigrant survivors of torture. Her experience and interests are continuing work with marginalized communities, specifically LGBTQI+ survivors and racial and ethnic minorities. She values sex-positivity, health equity, wellness, and intersectionality; she hopes to continue both micro- and macro- work garnered towards decreasing violence, health disparities, and systemic inequality for marginalized populations, while aiding in research and programmatic work to advance policy changes.

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