The Research Team

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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.

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Olivia Allison, BA

Graduate Research Assistant, SPECS

Olivia Allison is a first-year master's student in the Department of Health Behavior in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Her public health career began as she received her B.A. in Sociology and Health Sciences from William and Mary. Olivia has been on various research projects focused on dispelling health inequities among underserved populations. Her research interests include social determinants of health, health disparities, HIV risk and prevention, and community-based participatory research.

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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

Zaire Cullins

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Zaire Cullins is a senior at UNC- Chapel Hill studying Psychology and Political Science. After graduation, she plans to continue doing research before pursuing a PhD in Counseling Psychology. In 2020, she worked as a field organizer on a congressional campaign where she developed an interest in the impact of race and class inequality on mental health.

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Jason Hu

Undergraduate Research Assistant

 Jason Hu is currently pursuing a Bachelor's for Computer Science as well as a Bachelor's for Statistics and Analytics at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The recent COVID-19 situation inspired him to apply his skills in the field to help record and analyze data for the outbreak. His research interests are motivated by the health concern created by the outbreak and he aspires to help the general public with Health and Disease data.
 

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. 

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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.

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Harshi Matada

Undergraduate Research Assistan

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.

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 Aylin Memili, BSPH

GRA Data Manager, RADx, CPP

Aylin Memili is a second-year Masters of Public Health Student in Applied Epidemiology at UNC. She received her BSPH in Nutrition at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and explored the genetic components of the gut microbiome and cardiovascular disease among diverse populations. In graduate school, a summer practicum experience with the UNC Patient Safety Learning Lab inspired her to study social determinants of health that drive adverse maternal health outcomes. From this lens, her research interests are currently about barriers that hinder women from receiving adequate and informed reproductive healthcare in marginalized communities.

Aaron Morris, BS

Graduate Research Assistant, CPP

 Aaron Morris attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA where he majored in Biology and had a concentration in public health. He is currently pursuing his medical degree at UNC. In medical school, he took a humanities course looking at how the carceral state impacts the health of people who are incarcerated. His research interests were in part inspired by this class to look at how the health outcomes of Black men are affected by incarceration as well as the psycho-social impact of the juvenile detention system on children.

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Lilly O'Toole, BS

Graduate Research Assistant

 Lilly O’Toole is a Research Assistant in the Re-Envisioning Health & Justice Lab. She received her B.S. in Public Health from The Ohio State University in 2021 and is currently a first-year MPH student in Health Behavior at the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Public Health. Lilly’s interests are ever-evolving but lie primarily within transformative justice, prevention-based healthcare, global health, and health disparities. She hopes to use the social determinants of health to uproot our current capitalist “health” care system and lay the foundation for one based on equity, community, and the biopsychosocial model.

Chevonne Parker, BA

Graduate Research Assistant, TCN PATHS

 Chevonne Parker is an M.D candidate at UNC School of Medicine and a graduate assistant in the Re-envisioning Health and Justice Lab. She received her B.A in sociology from Yale University in 2020. As a future physician, Chevonne is passionate about understanding the intersections between clinical medicine and the structural drivers of health. She is interested in race and class stratification in the United States, the American criminal-legal system, and the formation of disparities in chronic disease and mental health access, outcome, and management.

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Priya Patel

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Priya Patel is currently pursuing her BSPH in Health Policy and Management as well as a minor in Medical Anthropology. Within this field, she is particularly interested in the intersection of social justice and public health. Her passions lie with reducing health inequities, expanding health insurance coverage, decreasing healthcare expenditures, and overall creating sustainable quality improvement within our healthcare system. After graduation, she hopes to pursue an MPH or MHA and eventually start a career in health management.

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.

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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.

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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.