People

Current Workgroup Members

 

Kierra S. Barnett, PhD, MPH — Co-Investigator

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Dr. Kierra Barnett is a Research Scientist at the Center for Child Health Equity and Outcomes Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Her work focuses on the impact of structural racism and social determinants of health on racial and ethnic inequities. Dr. Barnett received her PhD in Public Health specializing in Health Behavior and Health Promotion from The Ohio State University. She also holds a Master’s of Public Health from OSU and a Bachelor’s of Science in Community Health from the University of Illinois. A native of Chicago, in her spare time she enjoys 90’s R&B music, audiobooks, and spending time with family and friends.

Projects: Hardest Hit Communities Project & Toward COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake and Equity

 

Jeremy B. Straughn, PhD — Research Associate

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Dr. Jeremy Straughn earned his masters and doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago.  Author of peer-reviewed journal articles and a research monograph, Dr. Straughn brings experience in survey analysis, urban ethnography, semi-structured interviews, and other methodologies, including research and publication in the health care space.  Dr. Straughn is excited to join the OSU community as a research associate to Dr. Tasleem J. Padamsee, providing support on research design, data collection and analysis, and publication.

Projects: Hardest Hit Communities Project & Toward COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake and Equity

 

 

Amy Wermert, MPH– Program Manager

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Amy Wermert is a program manager in the College of Public Health. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Health Promotion and Education from the University of Cincinnati and a Master’s of Public Health from The Ohio State University. Ms. Wermert supports this workgroup and Dr. Juliana Nemeth’s research lab focusing on smoking cessation and homeless youth and brain injury and domestic violence survivors. Prior to managing Dr. Nemeth’s lab, she was a program manager for the OSU Center of Excellence in Regulatory Tobacco Science Administrative Core. Prior to that, she managed a smoking cessation research project in the Division of Health Behavior and Health Promotion. Before joining the College of Public Health in 2011, Ms. Wermert coordinated injury prevention programs at two local health departments and a Level 1 Trauma Center.

 

Kelsie Parker, BA — Research Assistant

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Kelsie Parker holds a BA in Sociology from The Ohio State University and is an incoming MSPH student at Johns Hopkins University. Ms. Parker was involved in the COVID-19 Needs Assessment for Vulnerable Populations in Ohio as an initial data analyst for immigrant and refugee communities in 2020. Currently, she is working with the C3-REACH group as a Research Assistant in which she coordinates the Hardest Hit Communities Project. Her research interests are in health equity and medical sociology. She is passionate about utilizing her research to address the social and structural conditions that make certain groups and identities vulnerable to disease and disparate health outcomes.   

Projects: Hardest Hit Communities Project & Toward COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake and Equity

 

Coralia T. Balasca, MA

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Coralia Balasca is a fifth-year PhD student in the Department of Sociology at The Ohio State University. She earned dual BAs in Sociology and Biology at Furman University (2016). Her two strains of undergraduate research focused on lab methods to capture endocrine disruptors (Bio) and the role of socioeconomic status in young adult behaviors and health outcomes (Soc). Her current research interests broadly encompass health and immigration, with a focus on race, gender, social ties, and transnationalism. Ms. Balasca’s Master’s Thesis examines the role that transnational financial ties (remittances) play in the mental and physical health of immigrants who maintain them. Her current Dissertation work explores how the connection between social ties and health is challenged by the diverse group of immigrants that call the US home.

Projects: Hardest Hit Communities Project & Toward COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake and Equity

 

Kristina Medero, MA

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Kristina Medero is a third-year PhD student in the School of Communication at The Ohio State University. Her research focuses on how stigma and prejudice may be reduced to increase healthcare access for marginalized groups through two perspectives. First, her research explores how communicating about disparities may reduce negative attitudes toward social outgroups. Similarly, using culture-relevant message design, she aims to understand how to promote the utilization of health services among marginalized groups. Her work in the COVID-19 and Vulnerable Populations Workgroup has included serving on an expert panel for Latino/Hispanic communities, writing and editing content for the Latino/Hispanic population in Ohio, and is now serving a leader researcher for project that aims to collect Latino/Hispanic COVID-19 stories to disseminate a culturally relevant narrative that promotes CDC recommended COVID-19 preventative behaviors.

Projects: Storytelling in Latinx Communities (Leader) & Hardest Hit Communities Project

 

Sandra Stranne Miller, MHA, MPH, BS

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Sandra Stranne Miller is a second-year PhD student in the College of Public Health at The Ohio State University. She has a focus on Public Health Management and Policy.  She earned her BS in Human Development and Social Policy from Northwestern University (1990).  In addition, Ms. Stranne Miller has obtained two graduate degrees from The Ohio State University, a Master of Health Administration (MHA 1993) and a Master of Public Health (2020).  She hopes to teach at the university level upon completion of her doctorate.  Ms. Stranne Miller splits her time between her hometown of Columbus, Ohio and traveling to see her three adult children.  Her hobbies include hiking, baking, and striving to visit all the National Parks.

Projects: Hardest Hit Communities Project & Storytelling in Latinx Communities

 

John Hansen, BA, BS

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John Hansen is a second-year Master of Public Health student specializing in Epidemiology at The Ohio State University. He holds a BS in Microbiology and a BA in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. As a Graduate Research Associate within the OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center, his current research interests pertain to disparities among breast cancer survivors, vulnerable communities, and how they have been impacted by COVID-19. Upon completion of his graduate-level work, he hopes to pursue a career as a primary care provider. In his free time, he can often be found baking, doing yoga, or shopping at a local thrift store.

Projects: Hardest Hit Communities Project

 

 

Maheen Imtiaz, BS

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Maheen Imtiaz is a first year Master of Public Health student specializing in Epidemiology with the College of Public Health at Ohio State. Her undergraduate background is in Biology. With C3-REACH, she is eager to learn more about the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations. She is originally from Columbus, Ohio. In her free time, she loves to travel, spend time with friends and family, and binge-watch shows.

Projects: Hardest Hit Communities Project

 

 

 

Mahrukh Naqvi, BSPH

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Mahrukh Naqvi graduated The Ohio State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Health and a minor in Neuroscience. She is interested in learning about how socioeconomic factors influence health and wants to improve health outcomes for vulnerable communities. Ms. Naqvi is from Dublin, OH, and enjoys going outside, reading, and cooking in her free time. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a medical degree and work with vulnerable populations.

Projects: Hardest Hit Communities Project & Storytelling in Latinx Communities

 

 

Jacob Charlton

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Jacob Charlton is a third-year undergraduate student studying Public Management, Leadership, and Policy with a concentration in Global Public Health along with a minor in Latinx studies at The Ohio State University. He recently completed an internship with Helping Hands Health and Wellness Center. Post-graduation he plans to pursue his master’s in healthcare administration. Mr. Charlton hopes to serve those in Central Ohio by running a community-centric health system that promotes equitable healthcare. In his free time, he likes to spend time with his friends and family, watch TV, and volunteer for the Ohio State community.  He is from Newark, Ohio.

Projects: Storytelling in Latinx Communities & Hardest Hit Communities Project

 

Caitlyn Kimbell

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Caitlyn Kimbell is a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Global Public Health at The Ohio State University. She is passionate about the health disparities of immigrant communities and hopes to promote and provide equitable healthcare in her future professional career. Caitlyn is a volunteer and mentor for Columbus’s Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS) as well as a co-founder of the OSU organization Project Youth which provides academic assistance to students in Ohio juvenile detention centers.

Projects: Hardest Hit Communities Project  

 

Hayat Mekonen

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Hayat Mekonen is a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in Public Health at The Ohio State University. She is passionate about advancing health equity in marginalized groups and is interested in the role of community-based health education interventions in reducing health disparities in the Black community. Following her graduation from Ohio State, Hayat hopes to pursue a master degree in Public Health with a focus on health behavior. In her free time, she likes to hike, kayak, paint, watch movies, read, and spend time with her friends and pets. She is from Bristow, VA.

Projects: Hardest Hit Communities Project

 

Anna Scheeser

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Anna Scheeser is a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Public Health Sociology and minoring in Human Nutrition at Ohio State University. She recently completed an internship with SocialVentures, a nonprofit that supports social enterprises in Columbus. Her current research interests include health behavior promotion in distinct communities and the intersections of public health and nutrition. After graduation, Ms. Scheeser hopes to help implement community-centered health interventions that can be sustainable in the long term, both for the environment and the community itself. Some of her hobbies include backpacking, painting and drawing. In her spare time, she likes to backpack, draw/paint, and thrift. 

Projects: Hardest Hit Communities Project

 

 

Former Workgroup Members

Melinda Dang, MPH, BSPH — Project Leader

Melinda Dang has a Bachelor’s of Science in Public Health and a Masters of Public Health from The Ohio State University in Spring 2021. She worked on the Asian American COVID-19 Vaccine Education Project as the Project Leader.

Meggie Garry, MPH, BS

Meggie Garry graduated with her Masters of Public Health from The Ohio State University in Spring 2022. She worked on the Hardest Hit Communities Project and the Toward COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake and Equity Project.

Samantha Beerman, BSPH

Samantha Beerman graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Public Health from The Ohio State University in Spring 2021. She worked on the COVID-19 Recovery for Domestic Violence Survivors and Service Organizations Project & Toward COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake and Equity Project.

Jenny Co, BS

Jenny Co is a medical student in Mississippi, and she received her Bachelor’s of Science in Exercise Science. She was a member of the COVID-19 and Vulnerable Populations workgroup.  

Shreya Dhananjaya, BSPH

Shreya Dhananjaya graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Public Health from The Ohio State University in Spring 2022. She worked on The Hardest Hit Communities Project.

Daria Faulkner, BA

Daria Faulkner is an MPH candidate for Health Behavior and Health Promotion with a track in Global Health at The Ohio State University. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Communications with a minor in Public Policy and Management. She worked on the DV and COVID Recovery Project. 

Ali Khosraviani, BSPH

Ali Khosraviani graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Public Health from The Ohio State University in Spring 2021. He worked on The Hardest Hit Communities Project and the Toward COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake and Equity project.

Jalyssa Stanford, BSPH

Jalyssa Stanford graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Public Health from The Ohio State University in Spring 2021. She worked on the Toward COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake and Equity project.

Paige Swinehart-Hord, BA

Paige Swinehart-Hord has her Bachelor’s degree in Public Health. She worked on The Hardest Hit Communities Project and the Toward COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake and Equity project.

Haja Dabo

Haja Dabo worked on The Hardest Hit Communities Project and the Toward COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake and Equity Project.

Tiana Stussie

Tiana Stussie worked on the Hardest Hit Communities Project and the DV and COVID Recovery Project.