Current Scholars Bios
RAMINE ALEXANDER – Ramine Alexander graduated from Virginia Tech with a PhD in Human, Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise (HNFE) with a concentration in Behavioral and Community Science and Master of Public Health with a concentration in Health Education. Her primary research interest include Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR), especially as it relates to community capacity and health dipartites. Her dissertation incorporated applying each dimension of the CBPR Logic Model, to engage a health desperate community in each aspect of the research process. By engaging the community, her dissertation aimed to build upon nutrition, physical activity, and community capacity outcomes within a medically underserved population. She was able to fund her last year at Virginia Tech by writing and receiving a National Institutes of Health Diversity Supplement. As a Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity fellow, she would like to continue her research on the determinants of health disparities using a community-based approach to engage low-income and historically marginalized populations.
ASHLEY ANDERSON – Ashley Anderson is a Carolina Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Her research and teaching interests are in comparative politics, with a focus on the political economy of authoritarian regimes, Middle Eastern political development, and contentious politics. Prior to accepting her position at UNC, she received her Ph.D from Harvard University where she served as graduate affiliate of both Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs (WCFIA) and the Institute for Quantitative and Qualitative Social Science (IQSS).
Her dissertation project, Going Political?: Labor, Institutions and Democratic Unrest in North Africa, investigates variation in political mobilization among labor unions in North Africa, using the cases of Tunisia and Morocco to answer the question, “Why, in authoritarian settings, do some unions choose to engage in anti-regime protest while others do not?”. To answer this question her research draws upon 18 months of field-work as well as an original dataset, MENALC, which catalogues worker protest from 1980-2011 in thirteen Middle Eastern countries. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Homeland Security, the Project on Middle Eastern Political Science (POMEPS), and the Weatherhead Center and IQSS.
Prior to graduate school, Ashley attended Stanford University, where she received her B.A. (with Honors) in International Relations and was inducted as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
ANDREW CURLEY – Andrew Curley received his Ph.D. in Development Sociology at Cornell University. His research was on coal and development in the Navajo Nation. He previously worked as the deputy director at the Diné Policy Institute in the Navajo Nation where he contributed to reports on government reform, development, and Navajo social movements. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow trainee in the Department of Geography at UNC-Chapel Hill.
KATHRYN DESPLANQUE – Kathryn Desplanque received her PhD in Art History from Duke University. She specializes in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century French social caricature, visual culture, and the printed image. She is currently preparing a book manuscript that builds upon her dissertation which studied satirical images of artistic life in Paris between 1750 and 1850. Kathryn is also continuing research for a second book project that explores modular printed images in nineteenth century France, England, and America, and their various appropriations in popular culture. Her research engages the Digital Humanities by finding new strategies for organizing and analyzing large corpi of imagery using Qualitative Data Analysis software, in particular NVivo. She is a Research Advisory Board Member at NVivo’s parent company, QSR International.
KATRINA ELLIS – Katrina Ellis received her PhD from the University of Michigan School of Public Health (Department of Health Behavior and Health Education). Dr. Ellis is a family health researcher, whose research and intervention interests take a community and family-based approach to improving cancer survivorship and chronic disease prevention and management, particularly among African American families. Her ongoing program of research includes the design and implementation of interventions to support the quality of life and healthy lifestyle and coping behaviors of cancer survivors, caregivers and family members. Dr. Ellis employs a range of qualitative and quantitative methodologies in her work and has training program evaluation and community-based participatory research. Her dissertation research used advanced quantitative dyadic data analysis techniques to examine the influence of co-occurring illnesses on the psychosocial and behavioral health and well-being of cancer survivors and their family members. This research is published in Psycho-Oncology, Supportive Care in Cancer, and the Journal of Behavioral Medicine. Other published research on patient and family support in cancer, as well as research specifically focused on supporting the health of African American men, women and boys, can be found in various public health and medical journals. She is currently working with community-based participatory research projects in Greensboro and Rocky Mount, North Carolina focused on reducing the disproportionate burden in cancer and cardiovascular disease risk among African Americans. Others areas of current research include peer support in cancer and ehealth interventions to support cancer survivors and caregivers. Her approach to research is highly influenced years of interdisciplinary research and practice experience in community and clinic settings locally and internationally. As a result, in her research and teaching, she prioritizes interdisciplinary perspectives, multilevel approaches to understanding and addressing health issues, and connections between theory, research and practice. During her doctoral studies, Dr. Ellis was a recipient of the University of Michigan Rackham Merit Fellowship and a fellow in the Center for Research on Ethnicity Culture and Health. Prior to completing her PhD, Dr. Ellis earned a BA (Secondary Education/Art) from Dillard University in New Orleans, LA, a MPH and a MSW from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI, and was a fellow in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Evaluation Fellowship Program. Dr. Ellis is also a former Peace Corps Volunteer, having served for two years as a Health Promotion Officer with the Ministry of Health in Fiji. Her time as a Peace Corps volunteer solidified her commitment to a career in public health and the importance of working with communities to improve health outcomes. Her postdoctoral fellowship is being supported by the Cancer Health Disparities Training Program (Department of Health Behavior, UNC Gilling School of Global Public Health) and Center for Health Equity Research (Department of Social Medicine, UNC School of Medicine).
TAYLOR HARGROVE – Taylor W. Hargrove received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Vanderbilt University in 2016. As a medical sociologist, Dr. Hargrove’s work bridges sociological, epidemiological, demographic, and gerontological perspectives to examine the joint consequences of dimensions of stratification and psychosocial factors on health inequality throughout the life course. Her dissertation investigated the extent to which race/ethnicity, skin color, gender, and social class intersect to shape age trajectories of physical health across adolescence, early adulthood, and mid-life. As a postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Hargrove will extend this work by identifying specific mechanisms through which social statuses, experiences (e.g., stressors, discrimination, racial identity), and environments (e.g., neighborhood and community contexts) “get under the skin” to produce complex patterns of health inequality. She will also explore how these social factors independently and collectively combine with genetic processes to influence the more proximate causes of health and well-being between early and late life. Dr. Hargrove’s research has been supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Her recent peer-reviewed publications appear in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, and the Journal of Family and Community Health
KAREN HICKLIN – Karen Hicklin received her Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at North Carolina State University. Originally from Washington, DC, Karen received her B.S. degree in Mathematics from Spelman College in Atlanta, GA. Upon graduating from Spelman College, she returned to Washington, DC to work with the University of Southern California’s Office of Federal Relations and the United States Census Bureau while also completing her M.S. degree in Mathematics and Statistics from Georgetown University. Her research interests are mathematical modeling of stochastic systems with an emphasis on statistical and decision analysis as applied to health care and service environments. In particular, her research area focuses on decision making under uncertainty with a concentration in decision making in healthcare and humanitarian logistics. In her current research, she develops stochastic multiple-agent decision models to evaluate the most appropriate delivery mode for expectant mothers considering various short- and long-term health outcomes for the mother and child. This work explores the optimal policy of when to end a trial of labor in the event that a cesarean section is needed. Karen is active with the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and the Minority Issues Forum (MIF) within the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS).
BRIAN HSU – Brian Hsu received his Ph.D. in linguistics in 2016 from the University of Southern California. His research aims to develop a deeper understanding of the relationships between modules of the language faculty, focusing on the sources of word order variation and the effects of prosodic and morpho-syntactic contexts on phonological rules. His recent work, published in Glossa, examines a range of verb-second patterns as a window on the origin of cross-linguistic syntactic variation in the realization of functional categories. As a postdoctoral scholar, he is applying this methodology to the analysis of co-occurrence restrictions on indexical elements within nominal phrases. He is also completing a collaborative project on the typology of loanword adaptations and its implications for the organization of phonological constraint systems.
ONYINYE I. IWEALA – Onyinye I. Iweala, M.D., Ph.D. is a board-certified internist as well as an allergist and immunologist certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. She is currently a Clinical Instructor in the Department of Pediatrics and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Departments of Pediatrics and Medicine, Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Rheumatology at the University of North Carolina (UNC)-Chapel Hill School of Medicine. As part of the UNC Food Allergy Initiative and a member of Dr. Scott P. Commins’ laboratory, she studies the immunologic mechanisms behind alpha-gal mammalian meat allergy. She has presented her work at several national meetings, including the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology annual meeting and the inaugural Gordon Research Conference on Food Allergy.
Dr. Iweala received her Ph.D. in Experimental Pathology from Harvard University and her medical degree from Harvard Medical School. Her doctoral dissertation research in the laboratory of Cathryn R. Nagler, Ph.D., used a mouse model to explore the role of the gut microenvironment and parasitic infection on systemic immune responses. Prior to her graduate studies, Dr. Iweala received her bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard College. She completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and a clinical fellowship in Allergy and Immunology at UNC-Chapel Hill. Prior to her position at UNC, Dr. Iweala served as a Medical Instructor in the Department of Medicine at Duke University School of Medicine and an attending physician within the Division of Hospital Medicine at the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Dr. Iweala is married with three children. Her hobbies include singing, especially a capella music, running and dance.
HUGO MENDEZ – Hugo Méndez is a scholar of ancient Christianity interested in the interpretation and reception of various texts comprising the New Testament, including Luke, Acts, and the Johannine literature. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Georgia, where he studied early translations of the infancy hymns of Luke 1-2. From 2014–2016, he was a lecturer at Yale Divinity School, and fellow in Sacred Music, Worship, and the Related Arts within Yale University’s interdisciplinary Institute of Sacred Music. His published contributions to date include articles in the Journal of Biblical Literature, New Testament Studies, and Vigiliae Christianae. In his current fellowship, Méndez is revising a monograph on the reception and use of Acts 6-8 in late antique Jerusalem, exploring the process by which local homilies, lectionaries, and apocryphal traditions consolidated anti-Jewish readings of the Stephen cycle. His other current projects include a developing study of the eschatology of the Fourth Gospel, and essays on the formation of Luke.
ERIKA SERRATO – Erika Serrato received her Ph.D. in French from Emory University in 2017. She is currently a Carolina Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Romance Studies at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She specializes in indigeneity within the Francophone Caribbean literary canon and cultural imaginary. In particular, her work traces racial interrelations since the so-called discovery of the Americas, namely how Afro-creolized communities interact with and incorporate Amerindian legacies and cultural artifacts as acts of resistance, survival, and to arrive at a new definition of a native Caribbean. Her dissertation project, entitled “Amerindian Memory and Native Resistance in Francophone Caribbean Literature,” uncovers the ways in which questions of indigeneity have shaped Francophone Caribbean (Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Haiti) literature. Through pointed examples drawn from fiction, travel narratives, ethnographic accounts, dictionaries, memorial art, and rock engravings, Dr. Serrato elucidates who and what constitutes the indigenous, what and who is being remembered, who is doing the recalling, and in what structures and for what purpose the question of indigeneity arises. Prior to accepting her position at UNC, Dr. Serrato was an Andrew W. Mellon Graduate Teaching Fellow at Morehouse College.