SHINE Research Team

Principal Investigator

Dr. Sannisha Dale Headshot Photo    Dr. Dale and Graduate Students    Dr. Sannisha Dale and SHINE Team

Dr. Sannisha Dale is a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and a Licensed Clinical Psychologist at the University of Miami (UM). She is the Founder and Director of the SHINE (Strengthening Health through Innovation and Engagement) Research Program. Dr. Dale also holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Dr. Dale completed her PhD at Boston University, internship and postdoctoral training at Massachusetts General Hospital /Harvard Medical School (MGH/HMS), and was on faculty at MGH/HMS prior to joining UM. Dr. Dale’s primary research interests are (a) enhancing our understanding of the relationships between resilience, trauma, and health outcomes among individuals with HIV and those placed at risk for HIV, (b) investigating psychosocial and structural factors that relate to HIV health inequities, (c) developing effective prevention, intervention, and implementation strategies to promote resilience and good health outcomes amongst survivors of trauma and individuals with or placed at risk for HIV, especially individuals minoritized due to racism (e.g., Blacks/African Americans), sexism, heterosexism, and cisgenderism, and who are heavily burdened by the HIV epidemic, and (d) engaging community members and stakeholders in research.

Dr. Dale has been a PI of 14 grants in the area of HIV (e.g., NIMH R01 on Black women living with HIV, R01 from NIMH focused on a bundled implementation strategy for HIV prevention in Black communities hardest hit by HIV in Miami, T32 focused on training the next generation of scholars addressing HIV inequities). She has also been a Co-I on over 12 grants. In addition, Dr. Dale is the Director for the Mental Health Disparities and Community Engagement Core for a P30 grant (Center for HIV and Research in Mental Health [CHARM]) where she established and provides guidance to the Community Advisory Board.

Beyond her noted research projects, Dr. Dale has given over 150 presentations of her work domestically and internationally, authored over 70 publications, received four early career researcher awards and one research mentor award, and served as an associate editor, consulting editor, and reviewer across several peer-reviewed journals. Her efforts in engaging community members have been recognized by two awards (Rhoda Johnson-Tuckett Award for Commitment to Community-Engaged Research and a Community Hero Award) and several certificates/plaques of appreciation from community partners. In conducting research Dr. Dale views community engagement and involvement as the key and start to doing research that can be adopted in community settings to have a positive impact. Positive community relationships both ground and inspire her approach to research.

PhD Applicants: Thank you for your interest in the work being done by SHINE. Dr. Dale will be reviewing applications to potentially accept a new Psychology PhD student in Fall 2024. Our field continues to be in need of individuals who are committed to addressing HIV and mental health inequities, and Dr. Dale wishes you all the best on your application journey. 

SHINE Research Staff

Devina Boga Headshot Devina Boga is an Assistant Scientist for the SHINE Lab. She earned a PhD in prevention science and community health in August 2023. Dr. Boga was a trainee in the T32 CHANGE program, and she joined the SHINE team in Fall 2021. She graduated from the University of Central Florida with a B.S. in Health Sciences in 2013. In 2015, she obtained a Master of Science in Public Health from the University of Miami. She has been privileged to study and work in some of her areas of interest, which include minority health, health equity and disparities, mindfulness/contemplative sciences. Devina is also interested in the life course perspective and intergenerational links of HIV related stigma and trauma and the ways family and social relationships impact mental health outcomes in women and youth.
Peyton Willie Headshot Photo

Peyton Willie is a Research Support Manager with the SHINE Research Program. She first joined the SHINE team in the Summer of 2022 as a Research Fellow in the PRIME-FAM fellowship. Peyton received her B.A. in Psychology (with Distinction) from the University of The Bahamas and her M.S. in Community Psychology at Florida A&M University. During her graduate studies, she investigated the psychosocial impacts of natural disasters on Caribbean survivors. Peyton plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Public Health with an interest in the psychobiological impacts of global warming in marginalized communities.

Reyanna St Juste Photo

Reyanna St Juste joined the SHINE research program in Spring 2023. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Central Florida in 2019. After graduating, she joined AmeriCorps and completed a service year (2019-2020) with City Year Miami, where she peer-mentored and worked as an intensive reading interventionist to high school students. Reyanna continued her studies by earning a Master's in Medical Sciences from the University of South Florida in 2021, and a Master's of Public Health from the University of Florida in 2022. She hopes to pursue medicine in the future, focusing on bridging the gap between mental health of racial and ethnic minorities.

Victoria Headshot Victoria Petrulla is a Data Analyst for the SHINE Lab. After completing her B.A. in Psychology at the University of Richmond, she went on to earn an M.A. in Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology from Montclair State University. She then had the privilege of working as a Research Assistant at the Center for Autism Research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she began to learn to write code to clean and analyze data regarding infant vocalization production. Victoria then earned her M.S. in Developmental Science from Florida International University, during which she focused on learning higher-level statistics for analyzing longitudinal data. She defended her thesis in July of 2022, “Infant Intersensory Matching and Canonical Babbling Predict Early Expressive Vocabulary.” Her interests lie in analyzing data regarding detection, prevention, and intervention.

Gabriela Headshot Gabriela Lopes is a Clinical Research Coordinator for the SHINE Research Program. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience from Nova Southeastern University in 2021. Since graduating, Gabriela has worked in the mental health field and has been strongly involved with the community through the Five Point Initiative project and her non-profit organization, Home in a Bag. Gabriela's research interests include health disparities, minority health, and mental health issues affecting the elderly and people with disabilities. 

Ivanee Headshot Photo

Ivanee Cruz is an Outreach Specialist with the SHINE Research Program. She joined the team in the Spring of February 2024. In the Spring of 2021, Ivanee received her B.S in Family, Youth, and Community Sciences with a specialization in Psychology from the University of Florida. Having worked with various nonprofit organizations, she has a passion for working with marginalized and underserved groups in the community. Ivanee aspires to pursue a Psy.D in Clinical Psychology, focusing on long-term mental illness in the near future. 

Manasa Headshot Manasa Tirupathi completed her undergraduate studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she pursued a degree in psychology. Currently, she is undertaking her master's degree at the University of Miami, focusing on mental health counseling. With a passion for advocacy in bringing awareness of mental health to her community. Over the course of the upcoming year, her focus will be on enhancing her comprehension of health disparities through a research-oriented approach. She aims to use her knowledge to champion for her future career in working with the mental health community.

Lisa Headshot Ms. Lisa Myles is an Outreach Specialist within the SHINE Research Program working primarily on the Five Point Initiative project. Ms. Myles is passionate about empowering individuals to improve their wellness practices. As an HIV survivor in recovery for substance use, Ms. Myles leverages her depth of lived experience when engaging with community members. She is eager to showcase resources available for the local Miami community and demonstrate what can be accomplished through support and empowerment.

Norma Headshot Norma Reyes is a Research Associate with the SHINE Research Program. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of South Florida in Fall 2023. During the summer of 2023, she attended a full-time internship at the University of Texas at Dallas as a SURF research fellow, culminating in a poster presentation at the SPUR symposium. Norma’s research interests include health-centered interventions and support for underrepresented populations.

Arnetta Philips Photograph Arnetta Phillips is currently a Clinical Research Coordinator at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. She has worked at the University of Miami for over 25 years fulfilling job functions such as project coordination, recruitment and data collection in research studies geared toward prevention and intervention of HIV and substance use. Ms. Phillips’ experience is far-reaching as she has worked with diverse populations and age groups. She has worked with runaways, people living with HIV and those with substance use disorder. Ms. Phillips has also done much research with populations of children, adolescents, women and men. Ms. Phillips has been a certified addiction counsellor for over a decade. This training and expertise has led her to work with a wide variety of populations, such as women with breast cancer and bipolar disorder. She has also made significant contributions through her work in a maternal addiction program and relapse prevention programs. Much of Ms. Phillips' contribution has been geared towards individuals with HIV, substance use and addiction. Ms. Phillips is a Vietnam veteran who served in the US Air Force for fourteen years- eight years active duty and six years active reserve. Arnetta Phillips is especially passionate about working with women living with HIV. She believes her life's purpose is to give back, encourage others and instill hope by sharing her story with others living with HIV. She aspires to continue to reach out to, educate and inspire women who are living with HIV.


SHINE Graduate Students

Rachelle Reid Headshot Rachelle Reid is a graduate student in the Health Track of the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program. She graduated from the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica in November 2012, where she received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology, with a minor in Criminology, and a Master of Science degree in Clinical Psychology. Since then, she has worked in her areas of interest through research with populations such as the LGBTQ community, children with special needs, homeless individuals and psychiatric patients. During this time, Rachelle also served as a member of the SHINE Research Program for one and a half years before starting the doctoral program. Rachelle is passionate about working with and playing a role in the empowerment of marginalized communities, by exploring topics such as stigma and discrimination. She is also interested in the development of culturally sensitive diagnostic tools and interventions for minority groups that may help to improve the quality of mental health care services. Her clinical interests center around Cognitive Behavioral and Person-centered therapies as she hopes to apply these principles to an understanding of human personality, behavior and approaches for intervention.

Naysha Shahid Headshot Naysha Shahid is a graduate student in the Health Track of the Clinical Psychology program and a CHANGE T32 pre-doctoral trainee. She earned her B.A. in Psychology with a concentration in Race and Ethnic Relations from Clark University in 2015. As an undergraduate student, she worked on research exploring cultural and contextual factors that influence the mental health and coping mechanisms of Black women. After graduation, she served as a clinical research coordinator at Massachusetts General Hospital assisting with behavioral health interventions that addressed disparities in smoking cessation, diabetes, and cancer. Through her studies of racial/ethnic mental health disparities and experiences working with populations with chronic conditions, Naysha has developed an interest in cultural, psychosocial, and structural factors that impact health outcomes among historically marginalized communities. More specifically, she is interested in examining how emotion regulation influences health behaviors and mental health outcomes among Black women who have experienced trauma and stress related to discrimination, poverty, and violence. Ultimately, she would like to develop prevention and intervention strategies centered around the social determinants of health and culturally responsive therapeutic and mindfulness-based practices.

Mya Wright Headshot Mya Wright is a graduate student at the University of Miami pursuing her PhD in the Health Track of the Clinical Psychology program. Mya first joined the SHINE Research Program as a Research Associate in Summer of 2022. Mya received her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Statistics from Mount Holyoke College in 2021. At Mount Holyoke, she conducted qualitative research on sexual violence against LGBTQ+ identifying women and the impact on their physical and mental well-being. After graduating from Mount Holyoke, she began working for Nova Southeastern University conducting COVID-19 research and discovering the long-lasting social, mental, and physical impact of the virus. Mya’s passion resides with studying resiliency and coping mechanism developed amongst intersectional marginalized communities (e.g. LGBTQ+, black women living with HIV) and understanding the impact of intergenerational trauma on marginalized narratives.

Jasmyn Sanders Photograph Jasmyn Sanders is a graduate student in the Health Track of the Clinical Psychology program. She earned a B.S. in Psychology from Florida A&M University in 2014. After graduating from FAMU, she volunteered as a hotline operator for Big Bend 2-1-1 and Lifeline and worked as a substitute teacher in Tallahassee, FL, for two years. In 2016, she entered an NIH-funded PREP (Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program) fellowship at IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis) in the Impulsivity Neuroscience laboratory under the mentorship of Dr. Melissa Cyders. There, her research focused on the role of the UPPS-P model of impulsivity in sexual risk behaviors; the relationship between sexual abuse and substance use in detained youth; and risks among victims of commercial sexual exploitation. Currently, she is interested in investigating how substance use, previous trauma, and discrimination may impact sexual risk taking and health outcomes, particularly among MSM (men who have sex with men) and LGBTQ women of color.


Undergraduate Research Associates

michael Robinson Headshot Michael Robinson is a senior majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Chemistry, LGBTQ+ Studies, and Sociology. They joined the SHINE Research Program as an undergraduate research associate in the Fall of 2023. Michael aspires to attain a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and work closely with marginalized groups, particularly the LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities, examining the correlation between childhood trauma and its impact on mental health and education-related challenges in the future. He works at the University LGBTQ+ Center as a student assistant, where they focus on creating programming and community-based initiatives for the school and the community. In addition, they hold the position of 1st Vice President of Black Leaders for the Queer Community on campus, a student organization dedicated to spotlighting the black queer community within the campus community. In his leisure time, Michael enjoys immersing himself in new books, appreciating various genres of music, and honing his culinary skills through cooking and baking!

Caitlin Torralba Headshot Photo

Caitlin Torralba is an undergraduate research volunteer who joined the SHINE Research Lab in Spring 2021. She is a rising sophomore at the University of Miami majoring in Public Health on the pre-medical track. Caitlin has interests in studying health disparities and women's health. She currently works as a design intern for the collaboration with Planned Parenthood and the Project Public Health student organization she is a part of. After getting her undergraduate degree, she plans to go to medical school and obtain an MD/MPH degree in hopes of working in her fields of interest.

Saskya Headshot Photo

Saskya Laroche is a sophomore at the University of Miami, majoring in Psychology and minoring in microbiology/immunology. She joined the SHINE research program as an undergraduate research volunteer in the Spring of 2024. Saskya is particularly interested in the mental health of Black and African American adolescents. She finds much joy in her role as a seasonal camp counselor as she enjoys interacting with young minds.Saskya plans to pursue a M.D. degree in hopes of working as a pediatric psychiatrist.

Cayla Headshot Photo

Cayla Midy is a senior and STAMPS scholar at the University of Miami studying Africana Studies and Microbiology and Immunology on the pre-medical track. She joined the SHINE research program as an undergraduate research volunteer in the Fall of 2023. She is passionate about studying and learning about health disparities, women's health and underserved communities. After obtaining her undergraduate degree she plans to pursue a MD/MPH degree with the hopes of becoming a physician.

Vivian Headshot
Vivian Lynn is a senior majoring in Global Health Studies and International Studies with minors in Health Management and Policy and English. She joined the SHINE Research Lab in January 2024 as an undergraduate research associate. Vivian currently is the president of a student-run organization known as Partners in Health Engage, which centers itself around advocating and fundraising for global health equity. She is particularly passionate about finding innovative ways to improve the healthcare system, mitigating health disparities both at the local and global scale, as well as matters pertaining to international relations. Vivian uses her numerous years of experience as a mental health advocate to better connect with her community and understand how health inequalities deeply impact individuals and communities at large. She plans on pursuing a master’s degree in a discipline that allows for her to build skills she can use to help enact change at the global level, while also allowing her to address the underlying causes of disparities worldwide.

SHINE Community Consultants

Sannita Headshot Sannita F Vaughn joined the SHINE team in January 2024 as a Community Consultant. She has been a Community Peer Consultant for other local groups such CHAMP HIV prevention program, Diamond in the Rough, and Positive People Network. Sannita also served on the Miami Dade HIV/AIDS Partnership as a board member representing the Community Coalition subcommittee for over two years. She served on the Community Coalition Committee as Chairperson for over four years and Vice Chairperson for over three years. Sannita has been a part of organizations such as Caring Hearts, Love Fellowship Community Choir, Mary Kay, Fellowship Community Choir, Miami Liberty Square Community Center Residents Council, and Miami Liberty City House of God Choir and Usher Board. She also worked as a clerical for Miami Dade Public Schools, Central Hardware, and Ames Appliance store.

Celeste Headshot Celeste Dessources joined the SHINE Research Program as a Community Consultant in January 2024. Born and raised in Miami, she finds immense fulfillment in connecting with her community through FPI events. As an HIV survivor and someone in recovery, Ms. Dessources is driven by her experiences to give back and uplift others, fueling her passion for community service.

Louvonne Headshot Ms. Louvonne Adams is a Community Consultant within the SHINE Research Program. Ms. Adams has devoted over 20 years to the field of HIV, working with community organizations including Better Way of Miami, Jessie Trice, The House of Hope, Susan B Anthony, Broward Health and the Village South. Ms. Adams has provided substance use treatment in Miami communities for 16 years. Ms. Adams received her masters in Social Work from Barry University and received an addiction studies certificate at Miami Dade College. As a social worker, she has also facilitated HIV groups and provided counseling to LGBTQ+ adolescence. Ms. Adams is passionate about the mental and physical health of women living with HIV and has been involved in numerous local support groups in Miami. She facilitated the CRC support group, which met bi-monthly and she also became affiliated with Diamond in the Rough in February 2024.

Kalenthia Nunnally Photograph Kalenthia Nunnally has worked with the SHINE Research Program as a community consultant on the Five Point Initiative project since 2019. For over several decades she has served the Miami community in many capacities. As a strategist, leader, organizer, mobilizer, and ideator, Ms. Nunnally brings a vast amount of experience organizing and mobilizing Black Communities. She is the C.E.O. of Blessing Hands Outreach, Inc., which advocates for women and girls to take charge of their sexual health. She also leads Sistas Organizing to Survive (SOS) which was founded in 2008 as a grassroots mobilization of Black women in the fight against HIV whose goal is to educate Black women about HIV and how other STIs, hepatitis, and substance use increases HIV risk. SOS empowers Black women to take charge of and control their sexual health, connects Black women to HIV resources, and offers tools to enable Black women to educate others where they live, work, play, and worship. In addition, Ms. Nunnally is the Community Chair, Florida lead, and Miami-Dade county lead for Florida’s Black HIV/AIDS Coalition. The coalition is a network of stakeholders, organizations, and institutions coming together to target the systemic barriers perpetuating health inequities. It aims to ensure there are enough Black-serving institutions and Black leaders with the skills, capacity, and social capital to ensure equitable access and utilization of up-to-date HIV prevention and treatment strategies for all Black people.

Sherkila Shaw Headshot Sherkila Shaw is a community consultant who has worked with the SHINE Research Program since 2021 on the Five Point Initiative Project. Mrs. Shaw specializes in recruitment of local businesses and providing key insights on the project and outreach events. Mrs. Shaw cares deeply for the Miami community and her advocacy work for Black communities and those living with HIV can be traced back decades. Mrs. Shaw is a member of the University of Miami’s Center for HIV and Research in Mental Health (CHARM) Community Advisory Board (CAB). Through the CAB, Mrs. Shaw has been a panelist for CHARM’s Charming Conversations series sharing her expertise in discussions about women, homelessness, and substance use to improve awareness. Outside of her work with the University of Miami, Mrs. Shaw is a board member for Positive People Network, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization that aims to change the quality of life for people living with HIV (PLWH) and works to empower, strengthen, and uplift PLWH by increasing access and awareness around HIV education, building skills to increase communication, building relationships, and establishing collaborations with organizations working with PLWH, families and allies. Additionally Mrs. Shaw has been recognized as a community storyteller and model for ViiV Healthcare’s Positive Action program.

Gena Headshot Gena Grant is a community consultant in the SHINE Research Program who has worked on the Five Point Initiative project since 2019. Ms. Grant is a nationally recognized HIV/AIDS advocate with a passion for mentoring youth in Miami. She has worked in the HIV field since 2005. Ms. Grant is also the Founder of Real Talk with Gena Grant LLC., a grassroots organization that partners with non-profit agencies and community-based organizations to empower youth to make healthy reproductive health decisions. She is an active member of the Positive Women’s Network USA. Ms. Grant is also a member of the Florida Department of Health Speakers Bureau, and is a member of the 2020 Leading Women’s Society/Sister Love, inducted in 2018. Ms. Grant is a trainer for the National Minority AIDS Council’s GLOW program, which is a comprehensive educational program that trains and prepares women in the community to become community engagers and a trainer for NMAC’s BLOC program, which seeks to engage people living with HIV/AIDS with leadership opportunities to improve care for PLWHA. Ms. Grant currently serves as the Director of Youth services at Positive People Network Inc.

Alecia Headshot Alecia M. Tramel-McIntyre has been a community consultant in the SHINE Research Program since December 2020. Mrs. Tramel-McIntyre is passionate and is committed to her advocacy and helping to educate and promote awareness, prevention, and a better quality of life for people living with HIV and AIDS. Mrs. Tramel-McIntyre has spoken for organizations, public schools, community health events, conferences and churches. She has sat on several boards and made various media appearances. Mrs. Tramel-McIntyre is the founder of Positive People Network Inc., a non- profit organization whose mission is to provide social activities for PLWHA, to help end stigma, and change the quality of life of PLWHA. She has a social media presence, Pozitively Alecia Miami, where she posts helpful, updated information about HIV/AIDS. Alecia is the Florida State Lead for Positive Women’s Network, a member of BTAN, the Southern AIDS Coalition, the Florida Community Health Worker Coalition and the Florida HIV Justice Coalition. She is also a previous member of Miami-Dade HIV/AIDS Partnership, Community Coalition of The Partnership, a blogger for A Girl Like Me: The Well Project, a member of The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and Florida HIV/Aids Advocacy Network, inductee in the Leading Women’s Society, a member of the Millionheiress Club LLC., the Ambassador of Health for Catalyst Miami, and a board member of Women’s March Miami. Alecia is motivated to do all that she can to help eradicate stigma.

SHINE Alumni

Peyton Willie Headshot Photo

Lalitha Kanumuri is a Research Associate for the SHINE Research Program, and an alumna of the University of Miami. Graduating as a member of the Class of 2022, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Immunology with minors in Biology and Chemistry. Prior to joining the SHINE Research Program in the Fall of 2023, she centered her involvement with pediatric and adult not-for-profit organizations, where she learned firsthand the barriers to health that directly impact marginalized communities. Through the course of this upcoming year, she is dedicated to deepening her understanding of health inequities from a research lens, and aspires to utilize the insights she obtains to advocate for her future patients as she plans to pursue her MD starting in the Fall of 2024.

Maria Silva Photograph Maria Silva is a research associate for the SHINE Research Program. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology (with a minor in French and Francophone Studies) from Davidson College. Before joining the lab in 2022, Maria worked as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant for low-income immigrant youth in France. Previously, Maria has spent a summer in Zambia where she deepened her understanding of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa and participated in community outreach HIV testing. Her research and work experiences highlight her passion for working alongside minority populations to raise awareness of socio-economic and health disparities, and to provide resources to better the life of those impacted. Maria aspires to pursue a PhD in Clinical psychology and to provide further support for marginalized women and children experiencing discrimination, adverse life-events, and traumatic experiences.  

Roxana Bolden Headshot Roxana Bolden is a Community Outreach Coordinator with the SHINE Research Program. From 2019-2021 Mrs. Bolden worked as a community consultant on SHINE’s Five Point Initiative project. Mrs. Bolden is very passionate about empowering individuals living with HIV and brings a lifetime of experience, knowledge, and skills to the SHINE team. She works to establish and maintain relationships with community health organizations and local businesses to coordinate community events and assist with project recruitment. In addition, Mrs. Bolden is well known in local Miami communities for her ambition, compassion, and advocacy work for those in need. She founded and is the CEO of A Sista with A Testimony (SWAT) LLC., a self-directed outreach ministry which provides community outreach services to marginalized and homeless communities in Miami-Dade. SWAT is a grassroots organization that travels throughout the Miami area to distribute food, toiletries, condoms, personal hygiene products, and clothing to individuals (majority Black) who use/inject drugs and are often homeless. Mrs. Bolden is also a long serving member of the Community Advisory Board for the University of Miami’s Center for HIV and Research in Mental Health (CHARM) which aims to address and strengthen mental health related HIV prevention and care research to reduce the impact of mental health disparities on those impacted by HIV.

Layomi Adeojo Photograph

Layomi Adeojo is a senior at the University of Miami studying psychology and English literature with a creative writing minor. She joined the SHINE Research Program in January 2021 as an undergraduate research associate. The daughter of Nigerian immigrants, Layomi is particularly interested in the mental health of Black and African-Americans, women, and other marginalized groups. She plans to obtain a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology and work with marginalized groups to understand the factors impacting mental health outcomes and inform interventions for effective mental health care in these communities.

Ashley Yankulin Headshot

Ashley Yankulin is a rising senior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Biology. She is a part of the Prime 2023 summer students' initiative conducting her research on the impacts of incarceration amongst marginalized groups in terms of mental and sexual health. Ashley hopes to receive a PhD in clinical psychology working closely with those suffering from memory disorders as well as combating day to day need for mental health coverage for underrepresented groups of people. Currently Ashley tutor's children of incarcerated parents and uses this as a lens for understanding the need for action in the justice system. Her hope is to provide these kids with skills to understanding their feelings and introduce them to basic self-care ideas. In her free time Ashley loves to teach Zumba, take dance classes, and drink boba tea! 

Victoria Headshot Kevin Sajan is an Outreach Specialist for the SHINE Research Program, and a graduate of The College of New Jersey. He graduated as the class of 2023 and earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Psychology. Prior to joining the SHINE Research Program, he was an EMT, working at the frontlines of the pandemic. Through the course of this upcoming year, he is dedicated to deepening his understanding of health inequities from a research lens, and aspires to utilize the insights he obtains to advocate for his future patients as he plans to pursue his MD. 

Chelsea Forrest Headshot Photo

Chelsea Forrest is an undergraduate research volunteer who joined the SHINE Research Lab in Spring 2023. She is a sophomore at the University of Miami, studying microbiology and immunology, political science, and chemistry. Chelsea is interested in understanding the socioeconomic factors that affect mental and physical health outcomes in marginalized communities. She enjoys tutoring her peers in the natural sciences, including biology and organic chemistry. She plans to pursue an MD/MPH dual degree and serve in the community as a physician.

Valerie Daniel Dr. Valerie Daniel is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. She joined the SHINE team in September 2022. She received her PhD in Public Health with a concentration in Health Disparities from Florida International University. She has over 8 years of experience in the public health research field working with underserved communities in South Florida. She obtained both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Miami. Dr. Daniel focuses her research interest on health disparities, minority health, infectious diseases, brain health and stigma affecting African Americans and Afro-Caribbeans. 

Chika Chuku Headshot Chika Chuku was a PhD student in Epidemiology in the Department of Public Health at the University of Miami and member of the SHINE Research Program. She graduated with her PhD in August 2023, and is currently completing her post-doctoral fellowship at Florida International University. A native of California, she graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a B.S. in Biochemistry in 2014, and obtained her Master’s of Public Health from Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in 2019. Her research interests include maternal and child health, urban health disparities, intersectionality, and HIV-related health disparities. Her current research is centered around ethnic and sexual minority stress among HIV-positive stimulant-using MSM, as well as breast cancer outcomes among HIV-positive women. Chika enjoys reading, spending time next to the ocean, watching sunrises and sunsets, flower bouquets, finding new (and beautifully-smelling) candles, Facetiming with family and friends, and being a plant mom.

Kimberly Lazarus Headshot Kimberly Lazarus joined the Shine Research Program as a Research Associate in Fall 2021. She graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2017 with a Bachelor’s in Pre-Clinical Health Sciences and earned her Master’s degree in Health Sciences with the Department of Mental Health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health 2021. Before joining the Shine Program, Kimberly worked as a Research Assistant on a project to understand the community benefits of a grief center program in Baltimore, Maryland. In addition to her prior research experience, she has worked as a Study Subject Recruiter for a Clinical Trials site focusing on cardiovascular and liver diseases as well as a scribe for Joe DiMaggio’s Children’s Hospital’s Emergency Department. Her current interests include using community based participatory research to serve marginalized communities with special interests in mental health stigma and suicide prevention in the African American, Black, and immigrant communities. Kimberly is currently pursuing her PhD in Clinical Psychology.

Dr. Wallen Photograph Dr. Chelsie Wallen joined the SHINE Research Program in Fall 2021 as a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Wallen obtained her Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, IL. She completed her APA accredited pre-doctoral internship at Nova Southeastern University’s Trauma Resolution and Integration Program (TRIP) where she gained specialized training working with the LGBTQIA+ community and survivors of trauma and complex trauma. Dr. Wallen has worked with diverse populations across the lifespan and has experience conducting psychological assessments, providing individual therapy, family therapy, and group therapy. Dr. Wallen has been privileged to work in private practice, outpatient, hospital, community mental health, and university counseling settings. She has also provided consultation and supervision to graduate students on their clinical practicum rotations. In her clinical work, Dr. Wallen utilizes a trauma-informed and emotion-focused lens to examine the whole person and facilitate a deeper understanding of how one’s past experiences can influence their current challenges. Currently, Dr. Wallen works as a Psychologist in the Counseling Center at the University of Miami.

Stephanie Gonazalez Headshot Stephanie Gonzalez is a recent graduate of the University of Miami where she obtained a Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Chemistry. Stephanie has been working for the SHINE Research Program since June 2021. Her initial role was an undergraduate research volunteer where she worked with Rachelle Ried on SHINE's BCARE research project. After graduating from UM, Stephanie decided to stay on as a Research Associate. Her interests include research in underserved communities and understanding factors impacting mental health. Stephanie is currenlty attending medical school at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in order to obtain her MD.

Tanee Deans Headshot Taneé Deans is a Voluntary Research Associate who joined the Shine Research Team in Fall of 2022. She is a doctoral student, studying Clinical Psychology at Albizu University. Her clinical focus is geared towards providing mental health treatment services to adults and youth in forensic settings. She has completed a clinical rotation at the Federal Bureau of Prisons, where she delivered individual and group therapy to incarcerated men and women. Taneé enjoys participating in advocacy work and aspires to join the frontline of social reform initiatives in the future. Prior to her pursuit of higher education, she conferred a Master of Arts Degree in Forensic and Legal Psychology from Marymount University in 2017. Ms. Deans has prior experience working as a helping professional. Taneé worked as a Clinical Screener at a Community Mental Health Center and facilitated in the coordination of care for adolescents seeking mental health treatment. Furthermore, she worked in the admissions department of a psychiatric facility and assisted in the assessment and admissions of individuals needing inpatient hospitalization. Additionally, Ms. Deans clinically supported the needs of a residential substance use treatment facility for women with comorbid mental health and substance use related concerns. In the future, Tanee yearns to conduct clinical research on cognition and biases and work on social science projects focused on the development and implementation of culturally appropriate services. 

Roshelle Gutt Headshot Roshelle Gutt is a sophomore at the University of Miami, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Public Health with a minor in Psychology and Health Management and Policy. She joined the Shine Research Program in Summer 2022. Roshelle has always been conscious of the importance of mental health. In high school at the peak of the pandemic, Roshelle created a club for students and faculty to come together and share anecdotes, thoughts, and jokes as a way to encourage self-care and coping during an unprecedented time. Roshelle has been a ballroom dancer for twelve years and was an instructor at her dance studio where she taught younger children the art of dance. In the future, Roshelle plans to attend graduate school in pursiance of a Master's of Public Health. She aspires to work in health care, where she can focus on both mental health and public health issues.

Kayla Etienne Headshot Kayla Etienne joined the SHINE Research Program in May 2021 as a Research Associate. Kayla graduated from the University of Miami in May 2020 with a B.S. in Neuroscience and Human and Social Development. Her previous work with nonprofit organizations focused on inclusion for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Kayla left the SHINE Research Program in Summer 2022 to pursue her MD at Tufts University in their bridges to MD program. Kayla aspires to be a pediatric neurologist where she can continue fostering her passion for community work focusing on health disparities among Black communities.

Orissa Symmonett Orissa Symmonett is an undergraduate research volunteer who first began working with the SHINE Research Lab in Fall 2021. She is a rising Junior at the University of Miami studying Biology with minors in Chemistry and Health Management & Policy, on the pre-medical track. She grew up in The Bahamas, but often spent time in America with family and friends. Her hobbies include going to the beach, reading, traveling, and binge-watching medical TV show dramas. Her career goals are to attend medical school after graduation and obtain a joint MD/MBA degree.

Nadine Gardner Photograph Nadine Gardner started her work in the SHINE Research Program as a volunteer and later transitioned into the role of a Research Associate from Fall 2019-Spring 2022. Nadine earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Florida A&M University. Previously at FAMU Nadine engaged in research under the guidance of Dr. Gwendolyn Singleton. The research specifically focused on the effects of health disparities in African Americans on transgenerational epigenetics. Nadine is currently pursuing her Master's of Public Health at the University of Miami. She aspires to pursue a career in the health care field and her long term goal is open a chain of Holistic Health Care centers in low-income communities across America where she can create more pathways toward the prevention and intervention of health disparities found amongst African American and Black communities. Nadine would also like to develop training programs to enhance cultural awareness and competency among individuals working in marginalized communities. 

Sherene Samuel Photograph Sherene Samuel was Manager for the SHINE Research Program from 2019-2020. She joined the SHINE team in Fall 2017 and worked as a Research Associate prior to being promoted to Manager in Fall 2019. She graduated from Oakwood University with a B.S. in Biological Sciences in 2008. In 2011, she obtained a Master’s of Public Health degree (with a concentration in Health Promotion and Education) from the University Cincinnati. She has been privileged to work in some of her areas of interest, which include minority health, health equity, social justice, HIV, PrEP, maternal and child health, Black women’s health, chronic disease, and community engagement. Sherene is currently attending Loma Linda University pursuing her doctorate of Public Health (DrPH) in Health Policy and Leadership.

Jordan Patrick Photograph Jordan Patrick graduated from the University of Miami where he pursued double majors in Biochemistry with Nutrition and Global Health Studies, in addition to double minors in Chemistry and Psychology. Throughout his time at the University of Miami, he worked as an undergraduate volunteer within the SHINE Research Program. Jordan established the University of Miami's first Black pre-health organization, 100 Strong and was also president of AW4L (A Week 4 Life), which is an organization dedicated to HIV awareness and destroying the negative stereotypes and stigmas surrounding HIV within Miami. During his undergraduate career, Jordan was a licensed HIV Outreach Counselor employed at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine, where he performed HIV/STD testing, treatment and educated adolescent youth about sexual health. After graduation, Jordan has continued his efforts in HIV Public Health with the CDC. He hopes to pursue his Master's of Public Health where he can continue to make a difference in the Black community, particularly those living with HIV.

Alexandra Fortune Photograph Alexandra Fortune worked for SHINE Research Program as a volunteer undergraduate research assistant. Alexandra graduated from University of Miami, in 2019, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Mathematics. She went on to receive her Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology from George Washington University. During her Master's program, Alexandra worked with the Federal Aviation Administration and NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) within their National HelpLine providing emotional support and mental health resources to indivividuals experiencing psychological distress. After completeing her Master's program, Alexandra worked as a case manager at a law firm where she assisted veteran's with legal correspondence and meeting case deadlines. Alexandra is currently pursuing her PhD in Clinical Psychology where she hopes to continue researching trauma based intervention methods and their effectiveness in reducing the recidivism rate of criminal justice involved individuals, specifically juveniles from underserved communities. In the future, she hopes to continue working with juveniles from underserved communities as a clinician. 

Natalie Mastalerz Photograph Natalie Mastalerz is a fourth-year undergraduate student pursuing a B.A. in Psychology at the University of Miami. She is fascinated by the intersection between mental health and physical health, particularly how psychological interventions can physiologically benefit patients. She has previously worked in Dr. Michael Antoni's VSMART lab, examining the effects of remote cognitive-behavioral stress management interventions on health outcomes in women with breast cancer. Natalie worked as an undergraduate volunteer within the SHINE Research Program and currently works in Dr. Spencer Evans' CAB lab which aims to advance the understanding, assessment, and treatment of emotional and behavioral dysregulation in youth. In the future, Natalie plans to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology and hopes to become a clinical therapist.

Aarti Madhu Photograph Aarti Madhu graduated from the University of Miami in 2021 with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Nutrition, and with minors in Psychology, Chemistry, Microbiology and Immunology. Throughout her time at UM, Aarti has had the opportunity to work with populations who have inspired her interests in HIV/AIDS and cancer. Furthermore, her experiences have motivated her commitment to include social justice and mental health in conversations surrounding chronic and communicable disease. Aarti is currently taking her gap years before applying to medical school and is working as a clinical Research Associate under the mentorship of Dr. Abby Batchelder at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School and the Fenway Institute. Here, she is studying psychological barriers to HIV care among underrepresented individuals living with substance use and other stigmatized identities. In the future, Aarti plans to pursue a career in medicine. As per her current passions, she aspires to help individuals living with HIV-Associated Malignancies through both patient care and clinical research. Additionally, she hopes to do her part in working to reducing health disparities among people living with cancer and HIV.


Caile Criscione Photograph Cailé Criscione worked for the SHINE Research Lab as an undergraduate volunteer. Calié graduated from University of Miami, in 2019, majoring in Psychology and Biology and a minor Chemistry, on the Pre-Medicine track. During her high school years at the age of 17, she became an Emergency Medical Technician and volunteered for the Washington Township Volunteer Ambulance Corp. She has also been a certified Lifeguard and Water Safety Instructor since the age of 15 and has taught swimming lessons to children aged two to twelve. Cailé is interested in doing research on prospective health services and techniques that can positively affect the prognosis of diseases and ailments. She would also love to explore the interconnectedness of mentality and biology, and how one can use that understanding to help those in need. Cailé aspires to contribute to a better understanding mental health and finding methods that will truly help those who would benefit from those discoveries. Caile is currently studying for MCAT and aspires to attend med school in the coming years.

Monai Thompson Photograph Monai Thompson is a graduate of the University of Miami, where she obtained a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology with a minor in Chemistry. Monai worked as an undergraduate volunteer for the SHINE Research Program and as part of the University of Miami`s PRIME Summer Research Program. Monai's interest include improving mental health through understanding the psychosocial factors affecting African American women and children, and understanding criminal behavior and abnormal disorders. In the future she plans to obtain her PhD in Clinical Psychology, continue doing research, and open a private practice.

Dr. Ramonia Rochester Photograph Dr. Ramonia Rochester graduated with a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Florida Atlantic University in 2017. Dr. Rochester joined the SHINE (Strengthening Health through INnovation and Engagement) Research Program as a research volunteer to obtain clinical experience and exposure to behavioral medicine research. She has previously worked as a research coordinator and member of the Florida State curriculum committee for the Miami-Dade Teen Dating Violence Prevention public health initiative. She has also served as a collaborating consultant and research volunteer for other health communication and mental health-related initiatives with youth and youth-serving populations. Dr. Rochester's passion and research interests include the effects of trauma on immunology and overall physical health across the lifespan.