The Research Team

Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein, PhD

Lab Director

Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein is an Assistant Professor of Social Medicine at UNC – Chapel Hill, as well as a core faculty member in the UNC Center for Health Equity Research.  Dr. Brinkley-Rubinstein’s research focuses on incarceration HIV and the ways in which incarceration can influence health outcomes. Her recent work explores the impact of incarceration on overdose and the implementation of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis programs in criminal justice settings.

Sarah Morgan, MSW

Lab Manager

Sarah Morgan is the Re-Envisioning Health and Justice Lab Manager. She graduated from UNC in 2009 with a B.A. In Psychology and English. She completed her social work training in 2012 at the UNCG/NCATSU Joint Masters of Social Work Program. Sarah has worked in clinical research for over 8 years.  Broadly, her research interests include the impact of early adverse childhood experiences on developmental trajectories throughout the lifespan of the individual.

Forrest Behne, BS

Policy Analyst, CPP

Forrest Behne is a policy analyst at the Re-Envisioning Health and Justice Lab. In 2014, he earned a BS in Biology from Washington & Lee University and had spent six years in the beer industry as a brewer and microbiologist. He was incarcerated for nearly two years because of a little-understood medical condition. Since being released through clemency by Ohio’s governor, he is inspired to help those affected by the criminal justice system. His research interests now include criminal justice reform, penology, and the collateral consequences of incarceration. 

Angela Benson, BA

Research Assistant

Angela Benson is a Research Assistant in the Re-Envisioning Health and Justice Lab. She received her B.A. in anthropology and public health from the University of Rochester in 2019. Her undergraduate research activities took her to field sites across India, including Kerala – where she led an independent project exploring casteism in Christian communities. Her current research interests include racial and caste equity, HIV prevention, and community-based health.

Mersedes Brown, MPH

Senior Research Assistant

Mersedes Brown is a Senior Research Assistant in the UNC Global Health & Infectious Disease Department. She earned her B.A. in Public Policy from UNC in 2013 and her Master of Public Health from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health in 2017. She currently works on research projects focused on the health of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals. Her research interests include the intersections between criminal justice and health and understanding and identifying ways to eliminate health disparities in marginalized populations.

Breana Castonguay, MPH

Recruitment & Retention Specialist

Breana Castonguay began her public health career as a community organizer in Fresno, California.  The experience inspired her to obtain a Master’s in Public Health at The George Washington University with a focus on Community Oriented Primary Care. In graduate school, a Health Disparities course introduced her to the crack  and cocaine sentencing disparities and mass incarceration policies.  Her research interests are inspired by these unjust policies and include working with people living with HIV in the criminal justice system and PrEP as prevention.  

Alice Cates, MS

Project Coordinator, PIERS

Alice Cates is site coordinator of the JCOIN PIERS study at the Re-Envisioning Health and Justice Lab. She received her bachelor degrees from the University of Texas at Austin in 2005 and a M.S. in epidemiology from the University of Texas Health Science Center - Houston School of Public Health in 2008. Alice has worked in public health research for over 10 years in Texas, the District of Columbia, and North Carolina. Her research interests include HIV/AIDS and the health disparities affecting populations involved in the criminal justice system.

Christopher Corsi, BA

Project Coordinator,SPECS

Chris Corsi graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2018 with a BA in Psychology.  His undergraduate studies led him to public health research. His research interests include HIV prevention, health disparities, and the social determinants of health. He currently coordinates the UNC site of the SPECS Study and co-coordinates the COVID Prison Project.

Mariah Cowell, MSW

Project Coordinator, TCN PATHS

Mariah Cowell is a Research Assistant for the Center for Health Equity Research in a the Health & Justice Lab. Her past work experience includes community engaged research, project management, and program evaluation. She received her Master’s Degree in Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2019 and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2017. Her research interests include hyper-incarceration and the criminal justice system, racial equity, and incorporating anti-oppressive frameworks into practice.

Jennifer Lao, BS

Research Assistant, CPP

Jennifer Lao graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with  a BS in Biology and a BA in History.  Through her coursework and involvement with on-campus mental health organizations, Jennifer developed research interests in racial health disparities, HIV/AIDS, and mental health reform, particularly in their relation to the criminal justice system. 

Kate LeMasters, MPH

Graduate Research Assistant

Kate LeMasters is a third-year doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. She obtained her MPH in Maternal and Child Health at UNC in 2018 and BA in Economics and Global Politics from Washington and Lee University in 2015. In her doctoral program she studies social epidemiology, specifically the systems and structures that exacerbate health inequities. She studies mass incarceration and is interested in how this system creates racial health disparities in mental health and HIV.

Morgan Maner, MSc

Project Director, RADx

Morgan Maner is a Research Assistant in the Department of Social Medicine. She most recently earned a Master’s in Medical Sciences from Brown University. Prior to her time in Rhode Island, she earned her Master of Science in Global Health and Social Justice at King’s College London, where she wrote her dissertation on the marginalization of trans people in primary care settings. Her research interests include health equity, LGBTQ health, and community-oriented medicine.

Harshi Matada

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Harshi Matada is a fourth year undergraduate student at UNC, pursuing a BS in Neuroscience and Biology. She is interested in looking at the current health and safety conditions in carceral systems and how the implementation of better medical services can benefit these institutions.

Patrick Matherly, BA

Data Engineer, RADx, CPP

Patrick Matherly is a data engineer at the Re-Envisioning Health and Justice Lab. He graduated from UNC in 2017 with a B.A. in Computer Science. Prior to joining the lab, Patrick worked in affordable housing at NYC Housing Preservation and Development and education research at Columbia University. Patrick is interested in data science and how incarceration creates racial health disparities.

Meghan Peterson, MPH

Project Director, CPP

Meghan Peterson is the Project Director for the COVID Prison Project. She graduated from the University of Toronto in 2015 with a B.A. in Political Science, and received her Masters of Public Health in Epidemiology from Brown University in 2019. Meghan is interested in using health research methods to understand and ultimately eradicate the prison-industrial complex. Her past research has focused on criminalization of substance use disorders, sex workers’ rights campaigns, and access to medications for addiction treatment.

Gabrielle Schust

Graduate Research Assistant

Gabrielle Schust is a first-year Master of Public Health Student in the Global Health concentration at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. She received her B.A. in International Studies and Spanish from the Croft Institute for International Studies at the University of Mississippi in May of 2020, where she did her senior thesis on the comparative role of nuns as providers of healthcare and social services across time and place. Her research interests include US health law and policy, sexual and reproductive rights and justice, and healthcare inequities for refugee and recent immigrant populations in the US.

Nikky Soni

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Nikky Soni is a second-year undergraduate student at UNC, pursuing a BS in Neuroscience and BA in Global Studies. She is interested in global health at the intersections of policy, human rights, and clinical perspectives. Beyond health and healthcare, she is also interested in global education inequity, social justice, and policy reform within the criminal justice system. 

Madelene Travis, BA

Project Coordinator, TCN PATHS

Madelene Travis is a site coordinator of the JCOIN TCN-Paths study at the Re-Envisioning Health and Justice Lab. She graduated from Colorado College in 2017 with a B.A. in Sociology, with a focus on the sociology of health and medicine. Broadly, her research interests include the social determinants of health, how individuals and families cope with chronic illness, and the intersection between the criminal justice system and opioid use. 

Craig Waleed, PhD

Post-Doctoral Fellow

Craig Waleed is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Re-Envisioning Health and Justice Lab. In 2005, he earned a BS in Health Science, from State University of New York (SUNY) Brockport College, in 2010 he earned an MS in Mental Health Counseling from SUNY Brockport College, and in 2018 he earned an EdD. in Executive Leadership from St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York. In 1990, he was incarcerated in New York State’s prison system and released in 1997. He is an educator, counselor, Certified Restorative Practices Group Facilitator, and an author devoted to disrupting the community to prison pipeline. His research interest includes desistance and post-incarceration recidivism.

Xiaoyue Zhang

Undergraduate Research Assistant

 Xiaoyue Zhang is pursuing a BS in Statistics and a BA in Computer Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She began her research career as a research assistant in Children's Hospital of Chongqing Medical University. In order to help doctors detect hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis in an earlier stage, her team worked on the data collected in the clinical study of HLH by using R and Excel. She would like to explore different topics/projects, and is particularly interested in areas of data science and data analytics.