Cora-Ann Gabriel, MPH

SASH Lab Project Manager


Cora-Ann Gabriel, MPH earned her B.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies with a minor in Biology at Rutgers University – Newark. She then received her Master of Public Health with a concentration in Health Policy and Management and an Advanced Certificate in Global Health at New York Medical College. While in graduate school, Cora was inducted into the Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health and received an award for Outstanding Scholarship. 


As an undergraduate, Cora was a student health advocate on her campus, discussing social justice issues and health related topics to students.  She had also traveled to Peru for a medical internship that later sparked her interest in public health. As a graduate student, Cora was Vice President of her program’s organization, acting as a liaison with other programs at her institution as well as establishing community partnerships. 


Cora previously worked as a consultant exploring the benefits of implementing a patient safety data platform in hospitals to reduce medical costs and as a strategic planner in an oncology healthcare marketing and advertising agency. She has also worked with a nonprofit focusing on preconception health for marginalized women in Westchester County, NY and co-authored publications for addressing race-based sexuality. 


Cora is passionate about improving health outcomes for African American women. She hopes to engage in projects that are cognizant of cultural differences in marginalized communities and strives to bridge the gap in access to adequate care for these populations. 

Kimberly pierre,mph

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community outreach manager

Kimberly Pierre, MPH is a public health professional with expertise in health promotion, community outreach, health education, survey research methods, and research. She earned her Master of Public Health at Rutgers School of Public Health, concentrating in Urban Public Health and a Bachelor of Science in Public Health with a concentration in Community Health Education from Montclair State University. During her graduate studies, she became the first recipient of the Bernard D. Goldstein Award for academic excellence within her concentration.


Currently, Kimberly works as a public health consultant, providing program evaluation services and senior-level health educator at a non-profit organization. In this role, she applies her training as a sexual risk avoidance specialist providing education to adolescents and youth in urban

communities to decrease the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and the rate of unintended pregnancy.


Kimberly identifies strongly with her Haitian heritage and is a first-generation graduate who is motivated and determined to improve the health of marginalized communities. Her current research interest includes health disparities, health equity research, sexual and reproductive health, and maternal and child health. Her future plans include continuing to pursue her education, earning her Ph. D, and cultivating her experiences to elevate professionally.

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Ashley Lizarraga,msw

Research Assistant

Ashley Lizarraga, MSW earned her BA in African American Studies at University of California- Los Angeles (UCLA) and her Masters of Social Work at Columbia University. Ashley’s social work program focused on Advanced Generalist Practice and Programming with a concentration in Children, Youth, and Families. During her MSW program Ashley was heavily involved with research and advocacy work for youth transitioning out of the foster care system. She participated in the National Foster Youth Institute (NFYI) 2019 Congressional Shadow Day Program with NY House of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, where she advocated for child welfare reform.


Ashley is currently serving as faculty at Occidental College Upward Bound where she teaches an intensive college level summer course on social justice to high school students enrolled in a college preparatory program.


Ashley is a PhD student at the University of Washington-Seattle and her research interests are focused on exploring the intersections of the child welfare system and criminal justice system, particularly for Black children, youth, and families as they pertain to Black liberation. She is interested in social, behavioral, mental health, and physical health outcomes for families that have been over policed and criminalized in the child welfare system. Ashley is committed to the liberation of Black peoples in the US, through a social justice framework.

maame araba assan,mph,ches

research assistant

Maame Araba Assan, MPH, CHES received both her Master of Public Health and B.S. in Public Health degrees from Montclair State University and is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). Araba has two years of experience in mental health education and programming in higher education institutions. She currently works at a non-profit public health organization evaluating programs in tobacco control and prevention and asthma management. Araba is also the co-chair of the New Jersey Society for Public Health Education (NJSOPHE) Racial Justice and Health Equity sub-advocacy committee. 


Araba collaborated with Dr. Opara on a research paper on Black youth and suicide and its implications for clinicans and researchers. Her current projects with Dr. Opara include a systematic review on Substance Use, HIV/AIDS, STIs, and Teen Pregnancy interventions amongst Black adolescent girls and a peer mentoring literature review on positive youth development and its impact on urban youth. 


Araba has always been passionate about public health and chose this career to eliminate health disparities amongst marginalized communities. This passion towards public health allowed Araba to develop an interest and eagerness to address mental health and maternal child health outcomes, and HIV/AIDS among Black women, youth, and communities of color. Her current research interests include HIV/AIDS and health equity, infant mortality and pregnancy outcomes, reproductive health, and mental illness in communities of color. Araba plans to continue advance in her public health career through leadership positions and professional development opportunities. Also, she would like to pursue Ph.D programs in Public Health, Health Policy & Management, and/or Social and Behavioral Sciences to advocate for policies and implement and evaluate programs to promote health equity and decrease disparities affecting marginalized communities. 

Deanna Parisi

Graduate student Research Assistant


Deanna Parisi, BA received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from St. Joseph’s College. Deanna is currently enrolled as a dual Master of Social Work/Master of Public Health student at Stony Brook University. With the support of Dr. Opara, Deanna intends on pursing a Ph.D. in Population Health and Clinical Outcomes Research (PHCOR) at Stony Brook University.


During her undergraduate career, Deanna was introduced to research by the then department chair at St. Joseph’s College, Dr. Dominique Treboux. Deanna was given the opportunity to research various topics over two years; including cultural views of God, attachment theory, perceptions of faith and addiction.


In 2017, Deanna presented research at the 89th Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association in Philadelphia. The following year, Deanna wrote an extensive undergraduate thesis focusing on self-forgiveness and relapse among alcoholics. Through this, Deanna implemented collected data online from participants across the United States. This experience enhanced her taste for research and what it meant to ask and answer vital questions. 


Deanna is currently working with Dr. Opara on a paper focusing on perceptions of marijuana among urban youth. After graduating with her masters, her goal is to immediately enter a Ph.D. program. Deanna’s research interests include addiction, mental illness, faith, preterm birth, high-risk pregnancy, as well as reproductive health. Deanna’s career goal is to become an Epidemiologist with the intent of promoting population health research. 

Carolanne  Clark

Graduate Student Research Assistant


Carolanne Clark (she/ her/ hers) graduated from the State University of New York at Cortland in 2016, earning her B.S. in Psychology with a minor in the Psychology of Individuals with Disabilities.  Carolanne  served on SUNY Cortland’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Board and also represented Students Active for Ending Rape (S.A.F.E.R.) on the It’s On Us Action Team, which raises awareness and fights against sexual assault on college campuses.  While at SUNY Cortland, Carolanne was a research assistant under Dr. Raymond Collings and collaborated on a program evaluation for The Study Place Project (TSP2) Online - a program designed for students to get the most out of their study time


Carolanne is currently a  Master of Social Work student at Stony Brook University, and an intern at SBU’s Student Accessibility Support Center, where she assists in providing services and accommodations that advocate for students’ needs. Under the instruction of Dr. Ijeoma Opara, Carolanne hopes to broaden her research knowledge and experience. 

As a proud Chinese adoptee, Carolanne uses her experiences as motivation to fight for an anti-racist society. Carolanne’s passions lie in fostering intersectional environments and peak inclusivity.





Tynisha D. George received her Bachelor of Science in Criminology from S.U.N.Y. College at Old Westbury. As an undergraduate student, Tynisha became a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated. As a member, she began advocating and organizing programs that focused on uplifting the Black youth.


Presently, Tynisha is a second-year graduate student at S.U.N.Y. Stony Brook University and is enrolled in the dual Master of Social Work and Master of Public Health programs. In her first year in the M.S.W. program, she created and published a policy brief that focused on economic equity for Black Long Islanders. Tynisha is currently serving on several committees at Stony Brook that focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. She is also active on two committees for the New York State's chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.   


Tynisha's current interest is researching the incarcerated population and how the increasing recidivism rate is a public health issue. Her future endeavors include earning a Ph.D. that will support her on educating society about the racial disparities and social determinants that impact B.I.P.O.C.  Through Dr. Opara's guidance, Tynisha looks forward to gaining research experience and learning how to implement programs that empower and uplift the marginalized.


kristina cross

graduate student research assistant

Kristina Cross graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelors in Social Work and a minor in Psychology. During her undergraduate career, she interned at Interfaith Works: Center for New Americans assisting refugee resettlement. Kristina also worked as a tutor at a nearby elementary school and at the Boys & Girls Club in Syracuse, NY. 

During the last 5 years, Kristina worked as a case manager, community educator and program supervisor to prevent HIV transmission and promote viral suppression in Suffolk County, NY. During that time, Kristina collaborated with faith leaders, health providers, and community members to plan and host the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS to spread awareness about HIV to communities of color.

Currently, Kristina is enrolled in Stony Brook University's M.S.W. program. As a research assistant with the SASH Lab, Kristina intends to broaden her reach to reveal the strength and pride of culture through research and continue to promote HIV prevention. Under the direction of Dr. Opara, Kristina plans to learn about the world of research and gain experience in program implementation.



Undergraduate Research Assistant & social media intern

Funcia Jean-Louis is currently an undergraduate at the George Washington University in Washington D.C. She is enrolled in the Milken Institute of Public Health as an Exercise Science major with a pre-medical concentration and will soon be minoring in psychology as well. In the future, Funcia plans to continue on to a Physician Assistant program with the hopes of becoming an OB GYN physician assistant. Funcia is a resident of East Orange, New Jersey, which is relatively near the city of Paterson, where the SASH lab conducts a majority of its community-based research projects. As a resident of an urban community, Funcia has seen first-hand how impactful the environment you grow up in as well as how the type of influences you are surrounded by can affect your character and actions and is excited to be a part of a lab that emphasizes neighborhoods and communities.

Funcia will be working on social media recruitment and data collection for the Dreamer Girls Project in the SASH lab. She is so excited to be a part of the Dreamer Girls project and work hands-on with the team and some of the young girls in order to use her abilities to help guide them in a better direction.


Funcia's ultimate goal is to promote academic and personal development through outreach, research, and intervention.


Courtnae Alves

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Courtnae Alves currently attends Stony Brook University as undergraduate student majoring in Health Science with a concentration in Public Health. Her enthusiasm for promoting health education amongst her peers is demonstrated through  facilitating  training which deals with alcohol and other drugs, sexual and relationship violence in collaboration with Stony Brooks Center For Prevention and Outreach.  Courtnae organized and presented an HIV awareness information session with a residential assistant to promote HIV awareness within the campus community. She has also collaborated with Hope Children's Fund and CSTEP to host a fundraiser on the Stony Brook campus for children affected by HIV .

Courtnae has completed several continuing education modules HIV in Adolescents and Young Adults, HIV in Racial and Ethnic Minority Populations, HIV in Sexual and Gender Minority Populations through The National HIV Curriculum . Furthermore she has completed several Citi Program training including Responsible Conduct of Research in the Social and Behavioral Sciences and Conflict of Interest mini-course.


Courtnae's research interests include  highlighting  how African American women are affected by communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDs and other STDs and the role intersectionality plays in determining their prevalence and incidence rates. Courtnae will primarily work on The Dreamer Girls Project through the SASH Lab, a study that seeks to develop  an evidence based HIV/STI and drug use prevention program for Black adolescent girls.