Monday, May 6, 2013

VCU Team

Dr. Maghboeba Mosavel, Ph.D.
Dr. Maghboeba Mosavel is an Associate Professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Health at Virginia Commonwealth University, and the Director of the Virginia Commonwealth University and University of KwaZulu-Natal partnership. Dr. Mosavel is a health disparities researcher who conducts community-engaged research. For the past two decades, she has conducted research with low-income populations, both in the United States and South Africa.

Dr. Mosavel was born in Cape Town, South Africa and has previously received funding to conduct research in Delft, Cape Town. She has funded research from NCI that focuses on cancer prevention and early detection of cancer among low-income African-American females. Dr. Mosavel has extensive experience assembling a diverse community-academic team and harnessing the expertise of each member to address 
the research questions and to develop effective implementation 
and dissemination plans.

Dr. Mosavel also teaches a community-based participatory--service learning class at VCU and her students provide community-engaged service at several local health facilities. 

Jasmine Abrams
Jasmine Abrams is a native of Norfolk, Virginia. She is a graduate of Virginia State University where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and graduated Summa Cum Laude. Miss Abrams has a Masters in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University and is continuing her education in as a third year in the Health Psychology doctoral program, where she is currently researching psychosociocultural determinants of chronic illnesses, HIV risk behaviors, gender roles among African Americans. Miss Abrams has worked persistently in the fight against HIV/AIDS for the past five years. She has conducted research on the topic, presented at numerous scholarly conferences, and facilitated evidence-based prevention interventions for African American youth, men, women and HIV positive individuals. In addition, Miss Abrams has hosted over 70 HIV/AIDS educational and awareness programs or sessions. Her passion for this work continues through her work as the assistant project manager and lead prevention specialist for the Raise 5 Project on the campus of VCU. Miss Abrams is a humble woman who acknowledges that her work would not be possible without God’s grace, mercy, and favor. Her philosophy of life is grounded in a quote by Maria Robinson, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”

Lisa Borcheller

My name is Lisa Borcheller, and I am currently pursuing my Masters degree in occupational therapy (OT) here at VCU. I was fortunate to be born the daughter of two Army veterans who share a passion for traveling, cultures, and history and instilled that same passion in me. Six weeks after I was born, we moved to Europe and I spent the next six years of my life abroad. Twenty-six countries, 48 states, and six moves later, my family settled down in Northern Virginia. I attended college at the University of Virginia, where I majored in History and Italian and focused my thesis on a cross-cultural comparison of social justice issues facing black women in South Africa and the United States. After several career changes, I chose to become an OT so I could learn how to empower people to live more meaningful lives. I am passionate about improving the lives of others and I approach health related issues from a holistic perspective, taking into account a country’s history, culture, and current societal issues. I am particularly interested in a new movement within my profession called “OT without Borders” (OTwB) that calls on OT practitioners to expand its scope of practice to working with historically marginalized populations- survivors of war, refugees, prisoners, women, minorities, people with all types of physical and mental disabilities- any group of people whose environmental conditions violates their basic human rights and prevents them from participating more fully and healthfully in their lives. Given apartheid’s legacy of poverty and disability among large swaths of the South African population, primarily among its black majority, the aims of OTwB and Building Global Bridges appear to align very closely. Upon completing my Masters degree, I hope to continue in a Ph.D. program abroad to build an international research career using community-engaged research to explore issues of human rights related to practicing OTwB. In doing so, I hope to become an advocate for marginalized populations in need of a voice. This summer, I look forward to serving the people of Kenneth Gardens in Durban, South Africa and learning all that I can from them through the use of community-engaged research. Overall, I am incredibly excited to learn from my VCU and UKZN research peers so that I can contribute as much as I can to the mission of Building Global Bridges while in South Africa and once back at VCU as a Global Bridges ambassador.

Michelle Laws

I received my Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master of Arts degree from North Carolina Central University.

My long-term career goals are to make a significant contribution as a social and behavioral scientist in the fields of medical research and health communication with a specific focus on improving health outcomes for poor and race/ethnic minority women. As a behavioral and social scientist, I have worked on multiple research projects to improve social and health conditions affecting the quality of life for poor and African American populations, covering different health topics including HIV/AIDS, tobacco use prevention, and mental health. The majority of my research experience has focused on improving health promotion and interventions targeted at African Americans applying the social-ecological model of health and the community-based participatory research framework.   Prior to returning to school to pursue my PhD in Social and Behavioral Science at VCU’s School of Medicine in the Department of Social and Behavioral Health, I spent more than a decade building a professional record as an advocate for better health and education services for poor women and children including as a legislative liaison and policy adviser to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (NC) and the director of the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse; and research associate for the  LinCS2 Durham HIV/AIDS research project (a partnership among NCCU, Family Health International, UNC-Chapel Hill, and the Durham Health Department). I also currently serve in several leadership roles in the community that have informed my interest in improving health disparities related to poor and race/ethnic minority women including as the co-chair of the health ministry and associate minister to women and youth minister at my church; and as an adviser to the NC State Conference of the NAACP on health issues along with Dr. Allen Mask, MD (founder and director of the Raleigh Urgent Care Center in Raleigh NC).  I have long believed that the health outcomes of individuals cannot fully be explained by genetics and biology alone but must include an assessment of how social, environmental and political factors intersect and influence the health behaviors and decisions.  Furthermore, I am a proponent of engaging communities in research as more than research subjects.  I believe that community members can offer a unique perspective as insiders that bench-science alone cannot.  Community-engaged research is therefore critical when developing interventions and attempting to move from a basic science approach to health care to a translational science model.

Carrie Miller
Carrie Miller is a second year Master of Public Health student and graduate of the VCU Honors in Psychology program.  Prior to graduate school, Carrie worked in a variety of clinical research roles in the private and public sectors.  Her research interests involve the intersection of health and social, behavioral and psychological factors.  She is specifically interested in community level interventions that aim to improve the health of underserved populations.  Carrie is excited to participate in the Global Bridges program, conduct research within the local community, and experience the unique geography, shared interests and social networks of people in Durban, South Africa.  She believes it will be instrumental in shaping her future career/education plans.  

 Morgan L. Maxwell
Morgan L. Maxwell is a Prevention Specialist at the Center for Cultural Experiences in Prevention. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Howard University in 2008, and in 2010 received a master’s degree in Latin American Studies from Vanderbilt University. Currently she is a second year doctoral student at Virginia Commonwealth University in the Social Psychology program. Her primary interests involve improving the physical and psychological well being of communities of African ancestry worldwide and addressing the prevalence of colorist ideologies. Through evidence-based preventive programs, it is her goal to examine society’s influence on individuals’ sexual practices and to decrease the incidence of HIV within minority populations. 

Zoë Dehmer

I was born and raised in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, then moved to Richmond to start an undergraduate degree in the School of the Arts a few years ago--I'm a rising senior now in the Department of Photography and Film. About a year and a half ago, Michelle Laws sent out an email to my department seeking help making a documentary film of her research in the Whitcomb public housing community conducting interviews to study women's access to health care and overall wellbeing. I immediately replied, we met a few days later, and had a video documentary together a few months after that. The work continues, though I'm not as involved now since the documentary portion is completed. After college, I aspire to continue to use my skills as a photographer to contribute in the field of public health. For now though, I'm doing all I can to write and shoot for newspapers, and I'm really loving it. I definitely want traveling to be a big part of my career.

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