Current Scholars Bios
Rebekah Cross, 2022-2024
Health Behavior & Maternal and Child Health
Raquel Escobar, 2022-2024
Anna Fetter, 2022-2024
Psychology and Neuroscience
Tamera Hughes, 2021-2023
School of Pharmacy
Patrece Joseph, 2021–2023
Edem Klobodu, 2021–2023
Marketing, Kenan Flagler Business School
Millicent Robinson, 2022-2024
School of Social Work
Jamilläh Rodriguez, 2021–2023
Earnest Taylor, 2021–2023
Cell Biology and Physiology
Julia Yi, 2022-2024
Allied Health Sciences
Ling Zhang, 2022-2024
School of Education
REBEKAH ISRAEL CROSS — Rebekah Israel Cross is a population health scientist with training in the sociobehavioral sciences, urban planning, and health policy. Her research explores how racism shapes the health of Black communities. The first area involves conceptualizing and measuring racism to document its impact on population health. The second area aims to explain how racism shapes health through space. This line of work focuses on the ways housing-related injustices determine how space is managed, maintained, and made accessible to different people because housing is used as a tool for exclusion and exploitation. At the same time, she’s also interested in how progressive housing interventions can counteract injustice and improve population health.
Rebekah earned a Ph.D. in Community Health Sciences from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and an M.A. in Sociology from American University. She also earned a B.A. in Sociology and Political Science from UNC. Rebekah is excited to join the departments of Health Behavior and Maternal and Child Health in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity.
She is eager to return to Chapel Hill and to collaborate with community-based organizations dedicated to housing, health, and birth justice in the Triangle.
RAQUEL ESCOBAR — Raquel earned her Ph.D. in History with a graduate minor in American Indian and Indigenous studies from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2020. Escobar grew up in the Southwest and received her B.A. is American Studies from the University of Texas at San Antonio. She is an interdisciplinary scholar whose research areas include race and Indigeneity, colonialism and empire, as well as political and intellectual history.
Escobar is joining the Department of History as a Carolina Postdoc where she will work on her book manuscript tentatively titled, Indigenous Diplomacies: Negotiating and Mapping Indigeneity in the Americas. Indigenous Diplomacies documents transnational Indigenous political and intellectual networks that blossomed across the Americas during the twentieth century–many actively responding to state attempts to incorporate and transform Indigenous populations. By mapping these exchanges and centering Indigenous perspectives from a range of positionalities, the book manuscript shows how racial frameworks and constructions of Indigeneity were relationally developed in the Americas during the twentieth century. Prior to joining the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Escobar was a Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow for the Humanities Action Lab (HAL) at Rutgers University- Newark (2020-22). During her tenure she oversaw HAL’s COVID-19 Mass Listening project and a new Mellon funded fellowship program, which aims to foster leadership from Minority Serving Institutions and frontline communities to use public humanities for climate justice.
ANNA KAWENNISON FETTER — Anna received her degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and received a Master’s in Education in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard University. Dr. Fetter completed her doctoral internship at the University at Albany’s Counseling and Psychological Services. Dr. Fetter is a first-year postdoctoral fellow in the Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity. Through an interdisciplinary lens, Dr. Fetter is broadly interested in the development of resiliency among marginalized youth and emerging adults. Dr. Fetter’s research focuses how culturally relevant and identity-based stressors and coping strategies at multiple levels contribute to the longitudinal development of resilience among Indigenous youth and emerging adults, with a particular focus on educational contexts. In partnership with community stakeholders, Dr. Fetter aims to ultimately inform educational policy and practice to best support Indigenous youth resilience.
TAMERA HUGHES — Tamera Hughes seeks to address healthcare disparities affecting medically vulnerable and underserved communities in pharmacy practice. She is motivated by more than ten years of experience in various scholarly endeavors that began while serving as an undergraduate researcher in the Jackson Heart Study. This experience led Dr. Hughes to pursue a dual Pharm.D/Ph.D at Mercer University College of Pharmacy. As a postdoc at UNC, Dr. Hughes works on a CDC-funded grant that integrates pharmacists into a new collaborative care model to deprescribe opioids and benzodiazepines in older adults. She also serves as a practice transformation coach with Flip the Pharmacy, a new pharmacy-practice initiative focused on the enhanced delivery of community pharmacy healthcare services. Dr. Hughes will be completing the 2-year fellowship in the Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity where she intends to establish her independence in pharmaceutical health services research by contributing new knowledge that improves health care access, delivery, utilization, and quality in the community pharmacy setting.
PATRECE JOSEPH — Patrece Joseph earned her PhD in Child Study and Human Development from Tufts University (Advisor: Dr. Sasha A. Fleary, Associate Professor at City University New York) in May 2021. Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, Patrece earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Bates College and her Master’s degree, with a focus in Child and Family Policy and Programs, from Tufts University. Her research uses community-engaged methods to have a positive impact on the health of adolescents from marginalized communities (e.g., Black, immigrant, and/or low-income). She is interested in (1) adolescents’ health-related beliefs, decision-making skills, and health behaviors and; (2) designing, implementing, and disseminating interventions that consider adolescents’ developmental trajectories, contexts, and build on their strengths. Her dissertation research focused on creating a measure of adolescent health identity development, how adolescents consolidate health-related attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors into cognitive structures to guide meaning-making and decision-making about health. Patrece is excited to continue this work at UNC-Chapel Hill and partner with youth-serving community organizations to evaluate and implement programs focused on improving adolescents’ health.
EDEM KLOBODU — Edem Klobodu is a postdoctoral research scholar at the Department of Marketing at Kenan Flagler Business School through the Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity. He earned his Ph.D. in Marketing at the University of Texas at San Antonio, and his research is an intersection between marketing and development economics. Also, Edem received his BSc and MSc from the University of Ghana and the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, respectively. Edem is broadly interested in the consumption among the poor and the role and nature of marketing among the underprivileged. He currently studies mobile money loans’ impacts, design, and rollout among the needy who historically lacked access to formal finance. Additionally, his research also explores the links between mobile money loans and temptation goods. During the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, he studied consumer responses to lockdowns using big data from Ghana. Primarily his work employs descriptive causal or quasiexperimental methods to study consumption among the poor
MILLICENT ROBINSON — Millicent N. Robinson is an interdisciplinary scholar, consultant, and certified practitioner of Reiki Therapy, which is an evidence-based practice used to reduce stress and promote healing and well-being. Her research centers the stress, coping, health, and healing experiences of Black women. She earned her PhD in Community Health Sciences from the Jonathan and Karin Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA, where she minored in Sociology. Millicent is also a “Triple Tar Heel”, having earned her B.A. in Psychology from UNC-Chapel Hill, her MSW from the UNC School of Social Work, and MPH from the Gillings School of Global Public Health. She has returned to the UNC School of Social Work as a Postdoctoral Fellow through the Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity.
Overall, Millicent’s program of research investigates the life course biopsychosocial mechanisms that distinguish mental and physical health risk among Black women. To address this, her research agenda integrates theories and perspectives from Social Work, Public Health, African, African American, and Diaspora Studies, and Medical Sociology to address four key issues: (1) interconnections between mental and physical health, (2) culturally-relevant forms of coping, (3) complementary and alternative medicine, and (4) ethnic heterogeneity among Black women.
Millicent’s long-term career goal is to be a scholar and practitioner whose research provides a comprehensive framework that identifies the pathways through which social stress exposure, coping, and healing processes shape health among ethnically diverse Black women. Her trajectory as a scholar has been profoundly shaped and enriched through training and opportunities with the UNC Center for Health Equity Research, Community-Campus Partnerships for Health, and the UCLA Center for the Study of Racism, Social Justice, & Health.
JAMILLAH RODRIGUEZ — Jamilläh Rodriguez earned her Ph.D. in Linguistic Anthropology from SUNY Albany, and her M.A. and B.A. in Linguistics from Stony Brook University. Her general research interests include phonology and the syntax-phonology interface, language documentation, and computational methodologies in linguistics. Her dissertation examined the interface of syntax and phonology in tone lowering in Copala Triqui, an indigenous language of Mexico, and included data from her own fieldwork with forcibly displaced communities in Mexico and New York.
Her projects focus on endangered and understudied languages and have included work on Copala Triqui, Malawian CiTonga, Ch’ol, and Brazilian Portuguese. She combines computational, experimental, and statistic methodologies that enhance traditional linguistic fieldwork, particularly with understudied and endangered languages. She values collaboration and interdisciplinary work to fill in gaps that can go unnoticed in a single discipline.
EARNEST TAYLOR — Earnest Taylor earned his Ph.D at Mercer University in Pharmaceutical Science. After obtaining my Ph.D he pursed a postdoctoral fellowship at Mayo Clinic in the Orthopedic Surgery department; specifically, working with Musculoskeletal Disorders. As a graduate student, Taylor focused on non-viral vector development for gene therapy and cancer epigenetics. My projects focused on using a peptide from H1 histone as a transfection vector, histone acetylation, histone methylation, and histone demethylases. The majority of Taylor’s time was spent in the lab, but he also had the opportunity to teach students Medical Immunology and also mentor pharmacy students on lab rotations. The objective of his projects was to evaluate the role that histone can contribute to gene therapy, and also the responsibility of histones in epigenetics and how alterations can lead to cancer cell growth.
As a post-doctoral fellow, the goal of Taylor’s research was to determine the molecular and epigenetic mechanisms by which two Phlpp inhibitors, NSC117079 and NSC45586, enhance cartilage production in murine and human primary chondrocytes cell lines. My Ph.D. degree was earned in pharmaceutical science where he was given a solid background in pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. This has equipped Taylor with the necessary knowledge to lead our pharmacokinetics studies, in which we will measure NSC117079 and NSC45586 stability in various experimental fluids to determine half-live and also determine the metabolism rates after intra-articular and intravenous injections. He also had the opportunity to explore the role Girk channels have on endochondral bone formation. His studies were also focused on a novel molecular relationship between Phlpp1 and Pth1r in chondrocytes during growth plate development and longitudinal bone growth.
Entering his first year as a fellow in the Cell Biology and Physiology department, Taylor will be working for Dr. Richard Loeser. The focus of his projects will be to use human joint tissue cells and in vivo experiments to study cell signaling pathways that regulate anabolic and catabolic activity responsible for osteoarthritis. They also hope to identify phospho-proteins associated with oxidative stress that occurs with aging and joint injury that can alter the activity of various signaling pathways.
JULIA YI — Julia earned her Ph.D. in Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, her M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology at Teachers College, Columbia University, and her B.S. in Teaching Students with Speech and Language Disabilities at New York University. Prior to entering the Ph.D. program, she worked as a speech-language pathologist for a decade. Her research interests are guided by her direct work with children and adolescents in urban schools in New York City and Los Angeles and in her private practice that focused on working with families of children with language-based learning disabilities.
Julia’s research focuses on language and literacy, especially as it relates to issues concerning disability, poverty, and race. During her fellowship, she plans on developing targeted literacy interventions for adolescents with high risk factors, such as those in the juvenile justice or foster care system.
LING ZHANG — Ling received her doctoral degree in special education with a focus on Instructional Design, Technology, and Innovation (IDTI) from the University of Kansas (KU). Prior to joining the UNC-Chapel Hill, she worked as an associate researcher at the Center for Research on Learning and Center for Innovation, Design, and Digital Learning at KU.
Ling’s research primarily focuses on designing, implementing, and evaluating technology-enhanced personalized learning (PL) for students with and without disabilities in diverse educational settings. She takes an interdisciplinary approach to investigating the design of PL that is grounded in inclusive instructional design frameworks (e.g., the Universal Design for Learning framework) and learning theories (e.g., Self-Regulated Learning). Currently, she is collaborating with colleagues to investigates the design and development of digital tools (e.g., measurement tools, AI-driven conversational agents) that have the potential to facilitate PL experiences for students with and without disabilities. In addition, Ling’s research explores effective ways to improve educators’ capacity to integrate emerging technologies and innovative pedagogies in implementing PL. To achieve these goals, she works with researchers across disciplines from universities, non-profit educational organizations, and industry to promote accessible, inclusive, and innovative learning experiences for all learners.