Student Research Team Members

Current Research Team Members

Nathanaelle “Onyi” Ibeziako 

I am a first year medical student at Tufts University School of Medicine. I received my Bachelors degree in Biology and a Masters degree in Bioethics, with a focus on reproductive ethics, from Case Western Reserve University located in Cleveland, OH in 2016. I am a new graduate research assistant and look to aid in work particularly dealing with reproductive health disparities in areas of lower socioeconomic status, as well as in developing countries, particularly Nigeria. As an aspiring physician, I hope to incorporate this research into my education in a way that allows me to actively practice in these areas and affect change. My research focus centers on the determination of factors of maternal health care with the highest priority and the highest level of feasibility. Assessing the factors that meet both of these criteria is important because of the general lack of resources designated to the population of the women of study. Hopefully, this knowledge will expose viable factors to address in order to affect the greatest amount of change in maternal-fetal health, while taking into account the environments that shape their circumstances.

Leann Louis

leann-louis.jpgI am a first year medical student at Tufts University School of Medicine and am also pursuing a Master’s in Public Health. I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in International Health at Georgetown University in 2015. From 2014 to 2015, I worked at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist in the Global Women’s Health division organizing training materials on balloon tamponade for Ob/Gyn’s and midwives working in Zambia and Uganda; and the Women’s Partnership Division setting up maternal patient safety bundles to standardize care women receive if they have a venous thrombosis, obstetric hemorrhage, preeclampsia, and hypertension in pregnancy. Currently, I am working as a sexual reproductive health counselor at the Sharewood Project in Malden, MA providing STI and pregnancy counseling. I am interested in maternal health issues, particularly respectful maternal care and maternal mortality in underserved populations and developing countries such as Haiti. I hope to combine the knowledge I will gain in my research involvement with Dr. Amutah-Onukagha, public health degree, and medical degree to research and implement effective ways to improve maternal mortality in minority women both nationally and internationally.

Celsea Tibbitt 

IMG_0159 - Celsea Tibbitt

I am pursuing a PhD at Northeastern University. I currently practice as a nurse case manager at Health Innovations, a mobile health clinic implemented entirely by expert public health nurses; focusing on prevention and screening for infectious disease caring for underserved communities at high risk for contracting HIV. I am particularly interested in the care of patients who have been exposed to discrimination in the healthcare system due to race, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation. I hope to explore new and inclusive approaches to addressing barriers to HIV care complicated by intersectionality within communities of color and marginalized communities.

Julie Attys

Image may contain: Julie Attys, smiling, closeupJulie Attys is currently a first-year graduate student at Boston University School of Public Health, pursuing Global Health Program Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation with a concentration in Infectious Disease. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Health with a concentration in Community Health Education from Montclair State University. Her primary research interests include HIV prevention amongst inner-city youth, intimate partner violence prevention, and the use of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) to address economic, social and environmental challenges related to sexual and reproductive health. She has served as a health educator, educating inner-city youth on viral hepatitis prevention, risky behaviors, STI prevention, and gang violence. Julie plans to improve sexual health outcomes among minority women and girls through health education, community mobilization, and advocacy.

Kassandra Petit, Master of Science in Nursing Student, Women’s Health Nurse/Nursing, MGH Institute of Health Professions

Kristin Garrett, Master of Public Health in Urban Health  Student at Northeastern University

 Former Research Team Members

Ijeoma3 - Ijeoma Opara

Ijeoma Opara

Ijeoma Opara is a doctoral student and a research fellow for the Department of Family Science and Human Development at Montclair State University. Ijeoma is also a pre-doctoral fellow for the Behavioral Sciences Training (BST) in Drug Abuse T32 program funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing. Ijeoma and Dr. Amutah-Onukagha have collaborated on many projects involving health outcomes for African American women living with HIV/AIDS and other projects related to addressing racial/ethnic disparities in maternity and child health. Ijeoma has gained valuable experience from being a part of Dr. Amutah’s research team by working on both qualitative and quantitative studies pertaining to women’s and adolescent health. Ijeoma has a Master’s in Social Work from New York University and a Master’s of Public Health in Epidemiology from New York Medical College. During her time at NYU, Ijeoma was selected as the recipient of a SAMHSA/HRSA fellowship where she worked on improving behavioral health outcomes for women experiencing homelessness and living with comorbid disorders. Ijeoma was also a former Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) fellow at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine where she conducted research on the effects of environmental tobacco smoke on asthma morbidity in inner city African American youth in Baltimore, Maryland. Ijeoma is a licensed social worker in both New Jersey and New York and has previously provided youth and family therapy to court involved youth in New York City. Her current research interests includes examining sexual risk behavior in adolescent girls of color and HIV/AIDS & substance abuse prevention. Ijeoma has received numerous awards for her work including the 2017 Population Health Scholar by AcademyHealth, New Writers Fellow by the Family Process Institute, Outstanding Doctoral Student at Montclair State University and was recently recognized as one of the top 100 women to end the HIV epidemic by POZ magazine.

Maame Araba Assan

20170511_193913 - Araba AssanI am a first year graduate student at Montclair State University Department of Public Health. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Public Health with a concentration in Community Health Education at Montclair State University in 2017. During my undergraduate years, I had the opportunity to be a part of Dr. Amutah-Onukagha’s research team working on qualitative studies dealing with traditional birth attendants and maternal and child health in Nigeria. Working with Dr. Amutah- Onukagha has allowed me to enhance my research skills with qualitative studies, thus leading to have my first published article in a professional public health journal. I am from South Jersey, but I currently live on campus at Montclair State University. Currently, I am a graduate assistant (GA) at Montclair State University Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) conducting mental health outreach events and increasing awareness of the services provided at CAPS. I am interested in health disparities among communities of color and low-income communities with a focus on determinants of health, accessibility to maternal and child health for women of color and sexual and reproductive health among adolescents. My research interests include societal and cultural factors that contribute to the underutilization of mental health services among women of color, maternal and child health care issues for low-income women, and the quality of reproductive health services among women of color. I plan to use the knowledge gained from my research experience and my public health degree to create policies and implement strategies to address barriers to health care services and improve health outcomes for communities of color and other marginalized communities.

Natasha Spence

Natasha_Spence - Natasha SpenceI am currently a graduate student at Boston University School of Public Health. I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Spelman college, located in Atlanta, Georgia in 2017. I am passionate about helping others and reducing health inequalities especially within the black community. My research interest focuses on the epidemiology of infectious and chronic diseases in underserved populations, specifically African American women of low socioeconomic status in the U.S. As an aspiring physician, I hope to practice excellent primary care and merge my knowledge in the public health field to help implement change in health outcomes for a variety of people including minority groups. Working with Dr. Ndidiamaka Amutah will enable me to leverage my knowledge and expertise to implement new research methods to solve for the causes of different chronic diseases.

Ugochi J. Oguh

oguhu - Ugochi Oguh

Ugochi J. Oguh is a first year MPH candidate with a concentration in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Tufts University School of Medicine. In 2016 she earned her B.S. in Public Health from Rutgers University in New Jersey. She is interested in exploring the holistic model of healthcare and how different lifestyle factors affect health outcomes  as well as ways to alleviate health disparities within communities of color. Ugochihas had the opportunity to engage in patient centered community care both internationally and domestically enabling her with the ability to establish work relations with diverse groups. As an Eta Sigma Gamma Health Educator Honorary she has had the opportunity to educate communities on healthy lifestyle behaviors and provide educational resources. Her current research interests include chronic diseases, particularly cardiovascular diseases, and how they impact the level of care and resources available to women of color. By working with Dr. Amutah-Onukagha Ugochi hopes to leverage her quantitative skills through the  analyzation of social and cultural factors influencing health disparities among women of color.

Victoria Aboagye-Adinkra

I am a senior at Tufts University majoring in Community Health. I’m originally fromIMG_2475 - Victoria Aboagye-AdinkraGhana and I live in Lynn, MA. My public health interests include, health education specifically sexual health, racial and ethnic health disparities, mental health, reproductive health and healthcare policy. After I graduate, I aspire to work in a hospital or healthcare center in a role that allows me to work with patients and connect them to resources to improve their health care access, quality and cost. In addition, I hope to pursue my Masters in Public Health and obtain a dual degree in Health Services Administration and Policy and Health Education and Behavior. Currently, I am working with Dr. Amutah-Onukagha on a project in collaboration with the Boston Public Health Commission’s Peer Leadership Institute. I am developing and adapting a curriculum on HIV that highlights different methods of prevention such as PrEP and PEP. This curriculum will also focus on reducing the risk of HIV among  Black/African-American youth in the Boston area.


 Monica Rodriguez, MPH

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.

Lauren Juliette Ramos, MPH, CHES
lauren 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-Onukagha’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.




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