Natalie Blackburn, PhD, MPH headshot

Natalie Blackburn, PhD, MPH

Research Professional

Dr Blackburn joined the IPRC team in October 2020. In her role she works on the development and expansion of implementation science at IPRC in the areas of opioid overdose, intimate partner violence, and the integration of HIV and substance use treatment services. She received her PhD from the Department of Health Behavior at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. She holds a Master’s in Public Health in Behavioral Sciences and Health Education from Emory University. Prior to starting the PhD program at UNC Natalie was an ORISE fellow in the Division of Viral Hepatitis at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta where she focused on strengthening the evidence for screening of hepatitis C among persons who use drugs.

John Cantrell, MA headshot

John Cantrell, MA

Public Health Data Analyst

Mr. Cantrell is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Biostatistics at UNC Chapel Hill and has worked at the IPRC since 2014. He analyzes data for various public health studies, including multiple studies focused on injury prevention (at the IPRC) as well as a study on pediatric dental disease (at UNC’s Dental School).  Previously, Mr. Cantrell worked as a data analyst in the UNC School of Public Health – Health Policy and Management Department, a Data Manager at UNC School of Medicine, a Mechanical Engineer and a Medical Technologist.

Toska Cooper, MPH, CHES headshot

Toska Cooper, MPH, CHES

Research Project Coordinator

Ms. Cooper is a learner and change agent. Living her life on the foundations of service and leadership, she has contributed to the IPRC since 2017 in multiple ways. Her work is dedicated to directing projects that focus on people who use drugs and addressing disparities in various injury and violence prevention topics. More specifically, Toska manages state and federal level funded opioid overdose prevention research projects. Outside of the IPRC, Toska serves the University as a Carolina Covenant Mentor and Secretary of the Carolina Black Caucus. She is also a recipient of the 2019 UNC Peer Recognition Pinnacle Award. Beyond UNC, she is involved with Safe States Alliance as an elected Executive Committee At-Large Member and Vice Chair of the annual conference. Her involvement with Safe States Alliance creates an opportunity to build widespread relationships personally and collectively for the IPRC. She is also a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) and uses this opportunity to guest lecture an undergraduate course and provide community based informational sessions on opioids and naloxone. Outside of her professional and educational interests, Toska loves people and is enthused by helping others become the best versions of themselves. She is a proud AmeriCorps VISTA alumna, current board member for PORCH Chapel Hill-Carrboro, and active member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated. In her spare time, you can find Toska volunteering to build a house, running an obstacle race, baking a new dish or traveling to national parks. 

Nicole Davis, MPH headshot

Nicole Davis, MPH

Research Assistant

Nicole is a research assistant with the Trends and Disparities in Fatal Occupational Injuries in North Carolina study. Nicole is a graduate of the UNC Gillings MPH program through the Department of Maternal and Child Health. She is interested in harm reduction and health equity research. In the past, Nicole has focused on other areas of injury and violence prevention, especially related to intimate partner violence, child maltreatment, and opioid overdose. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Epidemiology. 

Naoko Fulcher, MS headshot

Naoko Fulcher, MS

Programmer

Ms. Fulcher joined IPRC in 2019. She is a statistical programmer and supports IPRC opioid studies. Previously she worked as an applications analyst in the Institutional Research and Analysis division of UNC General Administration for 10 years, and as a statistical/clinical programmer at the Collaborative Studies Coordinating Center in the UNC Department of Biostatistics and IQVIA for a combined 6 years.

Paula Gildner, MPH headshot

Paula Gildner, MPH

Senior Research Project Manager

Ms. Gildner received her Master’s in Public Health from UNC Chapel Hill and joined the IPRC in 2010. She manages multiple studies on traumatic brain injuries and sports-related concussions in conjunction with faculty and staff from the Matthew Gfeller Center at UNC Chapel Hill.  She has conducted population-based research with the Latino community and managed research on intimate partner violence and older adult falls prevention.

Sarah Gortler  headshot

Sarah Gortler 

Research Assistant

Sarah began working with the Trends and Disparities in Fatal Occupational Injuries in North Carolina study data team in 2019. She currently resides in Chapel Hill and is a student at Wake Tech in the Medical Laboratory Program, due to graduate in May. Sarah has previous experience working in human services. She currently works at a group home for individuals with disabilities and has experience working with at-risk youth.  

Schinae I. Gross-Williams, SHRM-CP headshot

Schinae I. Gross-Williams, SHRM-CP

Human Resources Specialist

Schinae joined the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research in March of 2020 — just in time for everyone to begin working from home.  Thus, Schinae has had a very unique first six months with the HR services group in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and is actually still located in Virginia. Before coming to UNC, Schinae gained HR experience as a HR Generalist at Central Virginia Community College, the Virginia Department of Health and at Genworth Financial in Lynchburg, VA. Schinae earned her M.S. in Human Resource Management from the University of Maryland University College.

Schinae has a 13 year son who keeps her very busy with AAU Travel Basketball. When she is not shuttling him back and forth from practices/tournaments she enjoys spending time with friends and family, traveling to the many nearby wineries and distilleries, reading, trying new recipes, and just binge watching television shows

Elyse Keefe, MPH, MSW headshot

Elyse Keefe, MPH, MSW

Road Safety Project Coordinator

Ms. Keefe joined the IPRC team in 2020 as the Road Safety Project Coordinator to support Vision Zero efforts as a part of the NC Governor’s Highway Safety Program. Previously, she developed, researched, and implemented sexual health promotion and substance use prevention programs, using a media literacy education approach. Ms. Keefe holds master’s degrees in Public Health and Social Work from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Vasiliki Kostogiannes, MA headshot

Vasiliki Kostogiannes, MA

Project Coordinator

Ms. Kostogiannes joined the IPRC team in 2018. She coordinates the randomized control trial on the role of rehabilitation in concussion management. She is a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill and a certified athletic trainer. During graduate school, she was an assistant athletic trainer with the Carolina Gymnastics and Softball teams and completed her Master’s thesis in head impact biomechanics.

Stephanie Krieg headshot

Stephanie Krieg

Program Coordinator, POL Train

Ms. Krieg joined the IPRC in 2019 and helps coordinate a project investigating concussion prevention strategies in middle school sports. She is a certified athletic trainer and received her B.A. in Exercise and Sports Science from UNC Chapel Hill. 

Samuel Livingston headshot

Samuel Livingston

Program Coordinator

Samuel joined IPRC in 2021. He is a recent graduate of Clemson University, where he received a B.S. in Biological Sciences and Microbiology. Samuel is currently working on the Popular Opinion Leader (POL) TRAIN research study, a project that investigates concussion prevention and management strategies in middle school sports. Samuel has previously worked on research projects involving diabetes prevention and management and initiatives to improve patient-provider communication.

Agnieszka McCort, MA headshot

Agnieszka McCort, MA

Research Project Manager

Ms. McCort is a research project manager who joined IPRC in 2015. She manages multiple studies on opioid drug overdose, child maltreatment, and gender-based violence as well as organizing and facilitating training and educational opportunities for students, researchers, and practitioners in North Carolina as part of the IPRC’s Outreach, Training, and Education Core. Previously, Ms. McCort worked for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for various programs she managed, including Tobacco Cessation and Prevention, Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening, and Sexual Violence Prevention, in order to strengthen the health and wellness of Coloradoans. She started her career in public health in North Carolina after graduating from UNC by serving various community-based organizations as a statewide organizer for a national advocacy organization, student youth violence prevention coordinator, and assistant women’s health clinic manager.

Jeremy Mercer headshot

Jeremy Mercer

Programmer

Mr. Mercer joined IPRC in 2020 and is a statistical programmer supporting multiple studies related to sports injury research, arthritis prevention, opioid use, child abuse and neglect, and suicide. Prior to joining IPRC, he has worked as a Programmer with the Carolina Population Center at UNC, a Data Analyst with the Institutional Research and Analysis division of UNC General Administration, and a Statistical/Clinical Programmer at Rho Inc.. Mr. Mercer’s educational background includes a Bachelor’s in Mathematics from Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fl and a Master’s in Data Mining/Statistical Computing from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Fl.

Gina Musa, NCCPSS, CARC headshot

Gina Musa, NCCPSS, CARC

Rural Outreach and Networking Coordinator, Harm Reduction Learning Network Initiative

Ms. Musa has worked in the fields of recovery and harm reduction since 2017. Prior to joining UNC IPRC, she worked at the NC Harm Reduction Coalition (NCHRC) as their Linkage to Care Coordinator. In that role, she worked statewide to support NCHRC’s participants in the process of connecting to health, wellness and treatment/recovery resources, with a focus on participants in rural, under-resourced areas. Through building relationships, Ms. Musa connected those in need to appropriate resources, while providing hope and using a non-judgmental, person-centered approach. Ms. Musa is a North Carolina Certified Peer Support Specialist and a Certified Recovery Coach. Prior to working for NCHRC, Ms. Musa worked at Healing Transitions, providing wraparound services to people who have survived a non-fatal opioid overdose as well as other trauma from substance use. Ms. Musa advocates for recovery and the de-stigmatization of those fighting to become their best selves through the often-challenging recovery process.

Maryalice Nocera, MSN, PNP, RN headshot

Maryalice Nocera, MSN, PNP, RN

Senior Research Project Manager

Ms. Nocera is a registered nurse with more than forty years of experience in pediatrics, including child psychiatry, general pediatrics and pediatric critical care. For the past 18 years, Ms. Nocera has been a project manager for studies on traumatic brain, musculoskeletal, and occupational injuries, as well as opioid overdose prevention. She has also managed and supported several core Center (IPRC) grants. Previously, she served in various capacities including as a clinical nurse specialist, director of staff development, and research nurse in a pediatric intensive care unit.

Cristina Phillips headshot

Cristina Phillips

Business Services Coordinator

Cristina joined the IPRC in 2020 and supports the administrative and business operations of the Center. She graduated in 2018 with her B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Florida. Prior to joining UNC-CH, she administered the records and space inventory programs for the University of Texas at Dallas. Cristina considers herself an advocate for continuous improvement and is always looking for ways to make the IPRC processes easier and more efficient.

Blythe Rhodes headshot

Blythe Rhodes

Research Specialist, Harm Reduction Learning Network Initiative

Ms. Rhodes joined the IPRC team in 2020 as part of the Outreach, Training, and Education (OTE) core. She supports the Peer-to-peer Opioid Overdose Prevention Initiative as a research specialist. She is a third-year doctoral student in the Department of Health Behavior, with experience in coordinating both quantitative and qualitative studies of behavior during recovery from substance use disorders. Her research interests include trajectories of addiction and recovery, health systems and community-level initiatives to support individuals with substance use disorders, and harm reduction strategies.

Siarra Scott, MPH, CHES headshot

Siarra Scott, MPH, CHES

Project Manager

Siarra Scott, MPH, CHES joined the IPRC team in 2020 as the Project Manager the ACEs and suicide prevention in a remote environment award. Siarra earned a B.S. in Public Health and a B.A. in Communication Studies along with a minor in Criminal Justice from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Following this, she earned her MPH in Behavioral Sciences and Health Education and a Certificate in Mental Health from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health. She is also a Certified Health Education Specialist and a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. Siarra has worked in injury and violence prevention for the past two years, and prior to joining IPRC, she worked at the Georgia Department of Public Health as an Injury Prevention Program Associate. Siarra’s interest areas include youth and community violence, mental health, human trafficking, and the intersections between the criminal justice system and public health.

Bijal Shah, MS headshot

Bijal Shah, MS

Research Assistant

Bijal joined as a research assistant with the Trends and Disparities in Fatal Occupational Injuries in North Carolina study data team in December 2020. Previously, she worked as an Associate in Research in the Department of Neurobiology at Duke University, with a specific focus on the development of cell based drug screening models for Huntington’s disease. She subsequently worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator in Radiation Oncology. She has a Master’s degree in Biology from the University of Iowa. 

Varsha Subramanyam, MPH headshot

Varsha Subramanyam, MPH

Associate Director of Communications & Campus Engagement

Ms. Subramanyam recently joined IPRC in 2019. She supports the OTE team in translating the Center’s research so that it is accessible to the wider community. Ms. Subramanyam is passionate about designing and delivering communications and trainings that advance health equity. She graduated in 2018 with her Master of Public Health in Health Behavior from the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Ms. Subramanyam has experience researching and managing programs on a variety of topics including violence prevention, patient-provider communication, and sexual and reproductive health. 

Leah Taraskiewicz, MPH headshot

Leah Taraskiewicz, MPH

Associate Director of Partnerships & Capacity Building

Ms. Taraskiewicz joined the Outreach and Training team at the IPRC in 2018. In her role, she leads multiple training and technical assistance projects for injury and violence prevention professionals in North Carolina. Managing multiple contracts with the NC Division of Public Health, Ms. Taraskiewicz directs collaborative, capacity-building programs such as the Injury-Free NC Academy, the North Carolina Violence Prevention Coordinating Team, and the Harm Reduction Learning Network Initiative. Through these and other projects, Ms. Taraskiewicz works to build and maintain strategic partnerships with key injury and violence prevention stakeholders in North Carolina and beyond to ensure high-quality and sustainable training and educational programming. Ms. Taraskiewicz has devoted her career to preventing and responding to gender-based violence, including serving as a prevention educator throughout DC and Metro Detroit. Most recently, before pursuing her Master of Public Health at UNC-Chapel Hill, she supported survivors of violence and discrimination at Equality Michigan, a statewide LGBTQ+ political advocacy and anti-violence organization.

Krupa Trivedi  headshot

Krupa Trivedi 

Research Assistant

Krupa graduated from NC State University with a B.S. in Nutrition Science. Through her studies, she found her passion for translational research. Krupa has had the opportunity to work in the realm of research at a clinical and public health level. She believes in collecting and using data to inform health policy thereby fostering healthier communities. Krupa joined the project  Trends and Disparities in Fatal Occupational Injuries in North Carolina data team in 2019

Anne Whitener headshot

Anne Whitener

Program Coordinator, POL Train

Ms. Whitener joined IPRC in 2020 and helps coordinate a project investigating concussion prevention strategies in middle school sports. She received her B.A. in Biology from UNC Chapel Hill in 2019.

Samantha W. Dorris, MPH headshot

Samantha W. Dorris, MPH

Research Project Manager

Samantha joined the IPRC in 2019. She helps manage multiple studies within the Injury Center on a variety of topics including opioid policy evaluation, occupational injuries resulting in fatality, and suicide surveillance and prevention. She graduated in 2019 with her Master of Public Health in Public Health Leadership from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Samantha has experience in medicolegal death investigation research and quality improvement at the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Belinda-Rose Young headshot

Belinda-Rose Young

Associate Director of Research & Translation

Ms.  Young is the Associate Director of Research and Translation for the Outreach, Training and Educator Core of the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center. In this role, Ms. Young oversees the direction of the ASPIRE Project and the Southeastern and Southwestern Injury Prevention Network. She also leads the development of engaged research and publications on program and policy evaluation, collaboration development and sustainability, and human trafficking and prevention.

Separately, Ms. Young is overseeing the translation of the Shared Risk and Protective Factor Injury-Free NC Academy model. In this role, Ms. Young is developing manuals, technical assistance protocols and adaptation guidance for injury and violence prevention programs across the nation who have expressed an interest in adapting the model.

Ms. Young serves as an At-Large Member for Safe States Alliance. She has served in various national leadership positions, such as Trustee for the Society for Public Health Education and chair of an American Public Health Association workgroup. She also co-directed a global, digital media campaign entitled I am Wo(man) with the United Nations Women.

UNC Contract and Grant Administrators that Support the IPRC

Yana Biblin, BA, Research Administration Manager
Ms. Biblin serves as the Manager for the Research Administration Service Center (RASC) under the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, with more than 15 years of experience in Research Administration. She is responsible for managing and providing direction, guidance, and leadership for the day-to-day fiscal management and research administration activities for the IPRC. Email

Ellen donna brooks, BA, Research Operations
Through Research Administration Service Center workflow tool RASR, donna processes all department-level accounting transactions; personnel funding transactions; transaction documenting, monitoring and archiving; and all effort certification support for IPRC. Email

LaMonda Sykes, BA, Budget Analyst / Research Administrator
Ms. Sykes, a graduate of University of North Carolina at Greensboro, joined the Office of Vice Chancellor of Research in April 2019. She supports IPRC with pre-award grant preparation, budget development, and financial management of awarded sponsored and non-sponsored projects. Ms. Sykes served as a Grants Administrator for Duke University and Duke School of Medicine for over 4 years prior to coming to UNC-CH. Email