Student Research Team Members

Current Research Team Members

Graduate Students

Monica Rodriguezmonica
I obtained my undergraduate degree at Montclair State University. I majored in sociology with minors in Spanish and Child Advocacy. I look forward to graduating with my Masters in Public Health in May 2017. I am currently  working on transcribing maternal health focus groups and literature reviews for grant proposals. As an experienced child caretaker, I have a strong passion for child and maternal health issues specifically nutrition and child rearing. I aspire to gain experience in program evaluation and one day develop centers nationally and internationally that promote healthy lifestyles for mothers and children by access of resources and stability.

Undergraduate Students

Former Research Team Members

Graduate Students

Lauren Juliette Ramos, MPH, CHESlauren ramos
While on the research team, Lauren learned and utilized a great deal of fundamental research skills as well as team organization skills as a project leader, skills which were used throughout data collection and analysis, also in scholarly manuscript writing and editing. Some commonly used skills included, but were not limited to, literature reviewing, manuscript writing and editing, interviewing participants, qualitative data analysis, and others. Currently, Lauren has continued in research project management at Montclair State University and hopes to secure a position as a program manager in a public health organization in the future to continue to work more closely with the local urban community. She is also currently obtaining a CPT in respect to her passion for fitness, health and overall wellness.


Rodney Hammond, MPH, CHESrodney
Rodney is a public health advisor at the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). He holds a BS in Public Health Education from William Paterson University and Master of Public Health degree from Montclair State University as well as a CHES (Certified Health Education Specialist) certificate. Rodney Hammond is a member of NJSOPHE and an Inductee of Eta Sigma Gamma Honor Society of Health Education (Spring 2012). During his tenure at Montclair State University Rodney got the opportunity to work on Dr. Ndidiamaka Amutah’s research team on multiple projects such as Project DASH, Project THANKS and Project on traditional birth attendants in Nigeria. Being a member of the research team helped enrich Rodney’s research skills and gave him the necessary knowledge and skills required to compete for a research fellowships at a higher level. In addition, the research team offered continued training in the form of webinars and training links, which were very beneficial.


Jessica Kelly, MPH, CHESjessica
I received my undergraduate degree in Nutrition Dietetics and my Master’s in Public Health from Montclair State University. I am also a Certified Health Education Specialist. I contributed to the second Project THANKS manuscript by analyzing data collected from focus groups, assisting with the literature review and summarizing other sections of the manuscript. I also provided mentorship to students who are new to analyzing research data. In the past I have collected and analyzed data to evaluate programs and services for older adults. I have also acquired knowledge about preparing literature reviews through my coursework in graduate school. I utilized my skills in analyzing qualitative data and preparing literature reviews while assisting with the manuscript. This is my first time serving on a research team and it has been a valuable experience. I learned about all the components of a research manuscript and how to collaborate virtually with others who are also part of the research team. My background includes proving health education and programs/services mainly for older adults. I am passionate about continuing to provide health education and programs that will improve the quality of life of adults.


Michelle Gardner michellle
Current student at Montclair State University. I am expecting to receive my Masters of Public Health in May 2016 as well as a certificate in geographic information systems. I have served as a graduate assistant on the research team since September 2015, assisting with meta analysis research, literature reviews, academic writing, grant writing, and website design. The main skills I have used while working as a part of Dr. Amutah’s research team is time management, academic research, and technical support. The skills I have developed and learned through this experience include learning about the grant writing process and professional journal submissions. My future aspirations include sitting for the CHES exam and working towards a health career in the government sector. Thus far, working with Dr. Amutah and other members of her research team have been both fun and enlightening and I look forward to our continued work.


Sushanna Fogarty, MPH, CHESsushanna
I attended and graduated from Rutgers University School of Public Health,  Department of Urban Health Administration, Newark, NJ. As a part of the research team I contributed by  co-authoring the manuscript and involvement in the editing process. I learn proper submission requirement for academic journals articles, how to access the impact factor and ranking of the journal. Making a difference in the quality of care received drives my motivation in public health. My long term goals are improving human service, quality of health care, and health promotion for enhanced health outcomes. My interests are Infectious disease prevention and education, project management and evaluation, and clinical research.


Nava Bastolanava
I received my undergraduate degree in Public health with a minor in psychology and received a Public Health Preparedness certificate from the Rutgers University in 2011. I am currently pursuing my Masters in Health Education and Behavioral Sciences at the Rutgers School of Public Health. Dr. Amutah has been a wonderful mentor and I thank her for allowing me to be part of her research team. As a research assistant, I was able to work as a team to assisting in writing the discussion section of the manuscript for Project DASH. I was also able to use my knowledge from my current job at the IRB in writing Human Subject Protection sections of the R21 grant for Project DASH. My experience working with this research team has been rewarding since I have learned the skills that are applicable in writing a manuscript as well as a grant, which will be of importance to my career. My work until now has been focused on providing educational tools and training to women on reproductive health both in the United States and abroad. I have keen interest in working towards prevention and promotion of health disparities particularly in the areas of HIV/AIDS, Maternal and Child Health and Global Health.  Dr. Amutah has inspired me to be an avid researcher and a health educator like her. I am looking forward to advancing my career path in the field of Health Education focusing my work/research experiences in reducing health disparities in the women’s health population locally and globally.


Undergraduate Students

Lauren Belenskilauren belinski
Loyola University Maryland, majoring in Speech-Language Pathology/Audiology, minoring in Italian Studies. As a member of this research team, I searched for relevant websites and articles using search engines such as Google Scholar, PubMed and CINAHL.  I also conducted literature reviews as well as manuscript summaries.  Finally, I used coding to gather the main points from a large amount of data. While on this research team, I have learned how to more efficiently use search engines when looking for relevant information.  I have also learned how to code data using Excel.  Additionally, I’ve improved my writing as a researcher by condensing a large amount of information into a brief summary. As a Speech-Language Pathology/Audiology major, I have a strong passion to work with other individuals and make an impact in their lives.  I hope to one day have the chance to work in either a hospital or private practice.  I want to help prevent communication disorders in young patients who may have a developmental delay, stroke, or brain injury.


Briana Trottybrianna
I’m a junior attending Montclair State University. My major is Molecular Biology with a double minor in public health and leadership. My current public health role is being a peer mentor for Project C.O.P.E (Community Organizing for Prevention and Empowerment) Project C.O.P.E is a HIV and substance abuse prevention program in the city of Patterson that targets under served ethnic minority youth. My future public health aspirations is to become a public health nurse practitioner and educator, to create a non-profit that empowers unifies and educate women and to create a HIV/AIDS prevention program. The role I play on the research team is to summarize, provide overviews of projects, reviewing literature and formatting. Some of the skills that I have learned is coding, thoroughly reviewing and researching and formatting. As an undergraduate, this is my first time being apart of a research team. I’m anxious to learn and excited to participate in such great research projects. Dr. Amutah has been a big help and being a part of the research team wouldn’t have been easy without her help, understanding and patience.


Amaka Amaechiamaka
I am a senior at Montclair State University, majoring in Biochemistry, and minoring in Public Health. Being a member of this research team confirmed my proposed interest in becoming a public health advocate. As a member of the team I conducted a literature review on an article of Dr. Amutah that focused on the effects of neighborhood level disadvantage and race/ethnicity on infant mortality rates (IMR) from the United States and an international perspective. The research in the article considered the contributing factors of the neighborhood where a child was conceived and scrutinized the welfare and wellbeing of the neighborhood until the child is a year old. The strategy used in this research provided valuable information on the factors of a neighborhood that is detrimental to the health of a fetus and infant. I was tasked with researching policies that could combat the IMR both in the U.S. and internationally, from a neighborhood perspective. Working on this team has increased my knowledge on the vast opportunities that the field of public health offers, as well as driven me to greatly appreciate the contributions of the public health field to the health of the public. As a result of the connections established on the team, I interned for non-profit organizations. The skills I have developed from being a part of this team include program planning, implementing, and management, preparing literature reviews and grants searching. I intend on obtaining a masters in health policy and management, as well as a PhD in a related field. The desire to make an impact on a large-scale gave birth to my interest in addressing health disparities in underprivileged populations of low and middle income countries. My flair for generating big ideas motivates me to work towards contributing positively to the public’s health on an international level. Working on this research team serves as an intermediate guide to attaining my career goal in public health.

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