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Jessica Plaha

Jessica Plaha received her Master’s in Biomedical Sciences at Rutgers University School of Graduate Studies. Her research interests include health disparities among medically underserved populations, particularly within racial and ethnic minority groups and low-income urban communities. She is an aspiring physician, and her goal is to achieve a career that intersects medicine, public health, and social justice.

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David Carmona is a Research Scientist at the Office of Health Care Quality and Informatics in the New Jersey Department of Health, supporting the Health Equity Quality Improvement Team. He holds a Master’s in Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology from the Rutgers School of Public Health. With three years of experience analyzing and visualizing community outreach and program-specific datasets, David’s previous role within the COVID-19 Community Corps (CCC) under the New Jersey Department of Health was vital in reducing vaccine hesitancy among community members through data-informed outreach.

David is dedicated to improving health outcomes for minority and marginalized populations and continually seeks and explores new opportunities to enhance the well-being of underserved and marginalized communities.

Nivedita Nambrath is a Research Associate at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. She graduated from Wellesley College in 2023 with a major in Biochemistry and a minor in Economics. Her current research relates to understanding the genetic mechanisms underlying type 2 diabetes and obesity. She is interested in chronic disease and understanding the social and environmental determinants of health among medically underserved populations. She hopes to build a career combining her interests in biomedicine, public health, and social justice.

Nadia Smith received her BS degree in public health and certificate in health disparities from Rutgers University-New Brunswick. Her research interests include maternal health, cancer disparities, and the relationship between health inequities, social determinants, and intersectionality.

Lashida Barnes received her MPH degree from the Rutgers University School of Public Health with a concentration in Urban Public Health. She received her BA in Spanish Language and Literature from Temple University. She has worked in corrections, healthcare, and social services to promote better lifestyle choices and all-around health. Lashida has experience working with individuals from diverse backgrounds throughout the continuum of care in clinical settings with a clinical team’s collaboration to ensure patient wellbeing. Her research interests include maternal and child health, wellness, and identifying the needs and problems of marginalized populations.

Madelyn Owens received her MPH/MSW degree from the Rutgers School of Public Health and School of Social Work, concentrating on LGBTQ+ Health and Violence Against Women and Children. She attended Covenant College, earning a BA in Biblical and Theological Studies. She has over a decade of experience providing direct service care to a diverse set of populations, including rural communities in Southern Appalachia, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and families with gender-expansive children. Her research interests include health disparities in marginalized populations, clinical interventions for gender dysphoria in adolescent populations, and racial equity education for people who are white. She is specifically interested in interventions that address the impacts of minority stress on mental health. She hopes to pursue a career that combines her passion for quality clinical care with her interest in policy interventions.

Kimberly Pierre holds a Master of Public Health in Urban Public Health and a certificate in Population Health from Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey. She is the recipient of the Bernard D. Goldstein Award for academic excellence. Ms. Pierre is a public health professional with experts in health promotion, community outreach, health education, and research. Her research interests include minority health disparities, health equity research, health education, sexual and reproductive health, women’s health, and maternal and child health. Ms. Pierre identifies strongly with her Haitian heritage. She is a first-generation graduate who is motivated and determined to improve the health of marginalized communities by implementing programs that provide access to healthcare services.