Current Scholars Bios
Ganga Bey, 2020-2022
Department of Epidemiology
Kayla Fike, 2021-2023
School of Education
Tamera Hughes, 2021-2023
School of Pharmacy
Kimberly Jenkins, 2020–2022
Department of Allied Health Sciences
Patrece Joseph, 2021–2023
Edem Klobodu, 2021–2023
Marketing, Kenan Flagler Business School
Musa Manga, 2020–2022
Department of Environmental & Engineering Sciences
Sean Matharoo, 2020–2022
Department of Romance Studies
Jamilläh Rodriguez, 2021–2023
Julian Rucker, 2020–2022
Department of Psychology & Neuroscience
Earnest Taylor, 2021–2023
Cell Biology and Physiology
Senay Yitbarek, 2020–2022
Department of Biology
GANGA BEY — Ganga Bey is a post-doctoral fellow in the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health. She has a background in the social sciences, majoring in Anthropology and African American Studies at Princeton University before receiving her MPH from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and her Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of Massachusetts. As a social epidemiologist, her work draws on her passion for social science, centering on advancing theoretical frameworks for health disparities research through strengthening the integration of social, social psychological, and biological approaches in Epidemiologic methods. These include intersectionality, social identity, and geroscientific theory.
Entering her second year as a fellow in the UNC department of Epidemiology, Ganga’s research currently focuses on understanding psychosocial and epigenetic mechanisms that influence disparate aging rates between dominant-status and marginalized persons. Specifically, she aims to develop novel measures that capture the identity processes which mediate the effects of chronic stress stemming from social adversity on cardiovascular health in order to identify additional points of intervening on the health consequences of structural inequity.”
KAYLA FIKE — Kayla Fike’s research focuses on urban-residing young Black and Brown people’s experiences with oppressive systems and with positive and prosocial development. Specifically, she examines legacies of racialized and classed inequities in urban communities, such as community violence, interpersonal racial discrimination, and public narratives of urban neighborhoods. Through her scholarship, she aims to highlight ways that young Black and Brown people navigate interpersonal and systemic manifestations of discrimination and rely on their resources and skills to come to thrive. In her newest line of research, she examines potential contributing factors to urban-residing young Black adults’ ratings of the quality of their neighborhoods with specific attention to the role of gender. She will continue this exploration of Black adults’ perceptions of neighborhood quality, satisfaction with their neighborhoods, and priorities for improving their neighborhoods. Further, she will explore if and how neighborhood perceptions are related to positive outcomes, such as hope, communal helping, and altruism. Kayla is also interested in Black adolescents’ and emerging adults’ sense of identity and self-esteem, their sociopolitical development, and their ideas about the futures of urban communities of which they are a part. She intends to use participatory action research that forms and strengthens existing partnerships between communities and university.
Kayla Fike earned her Ph.D. in Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies and her M.S. in Psychology from the University of Michigan. She also earned a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. She is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity within the School of Education from 2021 to 2023. She is a proud Michigan native, born and raised in Detroit and Pontiac, Michigan.
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.
KIMBERLY JENKINS — Kimberly Jenkins earned her Ph.D. in Speech and Hearing Sciences from Indiana University, Bloomington. She received her M.S. and B.S. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Callier Center for Communication Disorders at the University of Texas at Dallas. Her general research interest is the development of grammar and its intersection with cognitive skill in typically and atypically developing, dual language learners, particularly children acquiring Spanish and English.
Additional research interests include the assessment and treatment of language disorders in culturally and linguistically diverse populations. Her current work systematically examines the acquisition of grammatical skill in Spanish-English dual language learners longitudinally. The overarching goal of her research is to increase the knowledge base regarding the diverse language profiles of dual language learners, inform theoretical perspectives with respect to dual-language learning and determine the most efficacious treatment approaches to facilitate language learning in dual language learners with language disorders.
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
MUSA MANGA — Musa Manga, earned his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering (majoring in Public Health Engineering), and MSc. Eng. (Distinction) Environmental Engineering and Project Management at the University of Leeds. He also holds a B.Sc. (First Class Honors) degree in Construction Management from Makerere University. Manga is a Sanitation and Environmental Engineer whose research focuses on planning, monitoring and improvement of sanitation and sludge management practices in the Global South. His research has an emphasis on pathogen and faecal hazard tracking in communities; life-cycle costing of water and sanitation programs; development, optimization and application of sustainable human excreta, wastewater and solid waste management technologies/ strategies to achieve effective pathogen inactivation and resource recovery.
Manga has worked on several projects in urban Africa and South Asia that have evaluated the management and treatment of human waste from different sanitation technologies. He is currently leading research funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on the unsafe return of human waste to the environment. Prior to joining the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Manga worked at the University of Leeds, where he led a lifecycle cost analysis project of low-cost sanitation technologies in informal settlements of Soweto, South Africa, and findings were published in high impact peer-reviewed journals.
Manga is experienced in conducting high quality qualitative and quantitative field work research on sanitation and faecal sludge management focusing on faecal sludge characterization and mapping in urban environments, behaviour of excreted pathogens in sanitation facilities, faecal pathogen flows in the environment, modelling of pathogen die-off in treatment systems, alternatives to conventional water borne sewerage in dense urban areas, lifecycle costing of sanitation options, effectiveness of rural sanitation programmes, and assessment of environmental and public health risks associated with inadequate sanitation.
SEAN MATHAROO — Sean Matharoo received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Riverside. He is a transdisciplinary scholar of French- and English-language speculative literature, media, and philosophy, which he studies in the contexts of postcolonial studies, the energy humanities, and performance studies. As part of the Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity, he will be joining the Department of Romance Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he will elaborate and update his thesis into a book, which is provisionally titled The Damned of the Anthropocene: Performatively Modeling Energy Aesthetics for a New Structuralism.
Matharoo’s research responds to the Anthropocenic energy crisis and the need to transition to alternative energy sources by studying how literature, media, and philosophy may contribute to the decolonization of petroculture. The idea of petroculture, which limits our linguistic imagination of energy to oil, presupposes that the capability of rationality unique to humans is a sufficient reason to exploit nonhuman nature. Matharoo argues that petroculture’s possibility condition is the colonial-racial reality, which structures the nonwhite, non-European, “irrational,” and ultimately nonhuman nonstraight nonmale as the easy, limitless energy resources of its opposite, the white European rational straight human Man (anthropos). Matharoo’s research proposes that the energy aesthetics in French- and English-language speculative literature, media, and philosophy contributes to the decolonization of petroculture by impelling us to find, in language, the gift of solar-powered futures in excess of petroculture. Important to the project of elaborating and updating his thesis into a book is the structuralist pluralism of francophone Belgian science-fiction author J.-H. Rosny aîné’s Les sciences et le pluralisme (1922), which he is translating into English.
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.
JULIAN RUCKER — Julian Rucker earned his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Yale University. He is a Postdoctoral Fellow through the Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience. He is broadly interested in investigating the psychological factors shaping perceptions of, and motivations to reduce racial inequality across a number of societal domains. His primary lines of research examine how the lay tendency to associate racism with interpersonal biases or with the structural disadvantage of particular racial groups, influences beliefs about societal racial inequality. His work also examines perceptions of racial progress in the United States and namely, the psychological factors predicting and influencing vast over-estimates of societal progress toward Black–White economic equality.
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.
SENAY YITBAREK — Senay Yitbarek received his Ph.D. in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is a USDA NIFA Fellow and Carolina Postdoctoral Fellow through the Program for Faculty Diversity in the Department of Biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His work focuses on the community ecology of infectious diseases. One particular focus of his research is understanding how microbial interactions are shaped by host population structure. Senay combines experimental evolution approaches with mathematical modeling. Before joining UNC-Chapel Hill, Senay was an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow in Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the current President of the Black Ecologists organization in the Ecological Society of America.