MCUAAAR Scientists

2020 Scientists 

Jennifer M. Gómez

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology and Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute for Child & Family Development (MPSI), Wayne State University

Board Member/Chair of Research Committee, Center for Institutional Courage

Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Postdoctoral to Faculty Transition (PFT) Program, 2017-19, Wayne State University
PhD, Clinical  Psychology, 2017, University of Oregon
M.S., Psychology, 2012, University of Oregon
B.A., Psychology, 2011, San Diego University

More about Jennifer M. Gómez

Jennifer M. Gómez, Ph.D. has published over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, scholarly writings, and pieces for the general public. Additionally, she is the lead co-editor of a special issue of the Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, Discrimination, Violence, & Healing in Marginalized Communities (anticipated publication date: Spring 2021). She also is a Board Member and Chair of the Research Committee for the Center for Institutional Courage, a non-profit organization dedicated to transforming institutional approaches and responses to trauma and inequality. She is the Cultural Liaison for the Metro Detroit Association of Black Psychologists as well. Her research has been recognized by the National Academy of Sciences and funded by the Ford Foundation Fellowship Programs and Michigan Center for Urban African American Aging Research (MCUAAAR). By focusing on societal inequality’s role on the impact of violence for marginalized youth, young adults, and elders, Dr. Gómez uses her cultural betrayal trauma theory to both document harm and identify avenues of hope and healing for youth, families, communities, institutions, and society.

Research Interests

Clinical psychology; cultural betrayal trauma theory; betrayal trauma theory; institutional betrayal; trauma psychology; child sexual abuse; campus sexual violence; youth/young adults; Black/African Americans; cultural minorities; discrimination; cultural competency & humility



Christina N. Harrington

Assistant Professor, School of Design, College of Computing and Digital Media, DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois

Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Inclusive Technology Lab, 2017-19, Northwestern University
Ph.D., Design, 2017, Georgia Tech
M.S., Industrial Design, 2013, North Carolina State University
B.S. Electrical Engineering, 2009, Virginia Tech

More about Christina N. Harrington

Christina Harrington, Ph.D. is a designer and qualitative researcher and currently serves as an Assistant Professor in the School of Design in the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University. Her research focuses on addressing health-related challenges experienced by marginalized populations through design. In particular, she is interested in leveraging co-creation and community-based participatory research methods to understand the needs and experiences that can inform inclusive interactive health technologies for low-income and minority older adults. She explores how constructs of identity and social positioning impact our interactions with technology, including individual access to online information, the relevance of certain systems in our everyday lives, and the ways we accept certain interventions.

As an assistant professor at DePaul University, Dr. Harrington teaches classes in human-computer interaction, interaction design, and ethics in technology design. She is the author of several conference proceedings, top-tier journal articles, and a book chapter about aging, technology, health and equitable approaches to participatory research.

Christina is the Director of the Equity and Health Innovations Design Research Lab at DePaul which serves as an innovation studio where students work alongside community residents to envision solutions to health challenges. Dr. Harrington received her Ph.D. in Industrial Design with a focus on accessible interaction design from Georgia Tech in the fall of 2017. She earned a Master’s in Industrial Design from North Carolina State University and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Virginia Tech. You can see more about her work and research interests at

Research Interests

Inclusive design, human-centered design, community-based participatory research, health information technology, participatory design, design for aging.

Mieka Smart

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Epidemiology and Biostats & Division of Public Health, Michigan State University

Director, Leadership in Medicine for the Underserved

DrPH, 2015, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
MHS, 2008, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
BA, 2001, Johns Hopkins University

More about Mieka Smart

Dr. Smart aspires to provide insight around medical and public health research to underserved and understudied populations. As a MCUAAAR scholar, she will utilize CBPR approaches to increase awareness around the need for genomic and other research participation among older African American adults. She currently directs Leadership in Medicine for the Underserved (LMU), a competitive program for medical students.  LMU offers service learning and didactic modules designed to strengthen their clinical and leadership skills for serving medically underserved populations in urban and rural locations locally and internationally.

She also directs the sachet ban-monitoring project in Uganda, a longitudinal data collection and analysis effort. The study is designed to provide the practical evidence needed to monitor policy interventions, enforcement strategies, and refine campaigns for compliance uptake.

At Michigan State University, Dr. Smart contributes leadership and expertise around the management of primary data collection, measurement of environmental predictors, and community engagement. Internationally, she champions cross-cultural professional development via peer-to-peer experiential learning. More than 100 students have taken her cross-cultural public health courses in Uganda and South Africa.

Research Interests 

  • CBPR approaches to increasing genomic and other research participation among older African American adults.
  • Systematic Social Observation (SSO) for evaluating drug and alcohol policy interventions.

Samuele Zilioli

Samuele Zilioli

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences (joint appointment), Wayne State University

Postdoctoral Fellow, 2014-2016, Department of Psychology, Wayne State University, Detroit, USA
Ph.D., Psychology (Area: Cognitive and Neural Sciences), 2014, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada
M.A., Developmental and Communication Psychology, 2009, Catholic University of Sacred Heart, Milan, Italy
B.A. Psychological Sciences and Practice, 2006, Catholic University of Sacred Heart, Milan, Italy

More about Samuele Zilioli

Dr. Samuele Zilioli is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences at Wayne State University, Detroit. He received his Ph.D. in Cognitive and Neural Sciences from Simon Fraser University and was the recipient of the Governor General’s Gold Medal for achieving the highest academic standing upon graduation. His program of research focuses on understanding socioeconomic status and racial/ethnic health disparities. He is the director of the Biopsychosocial Health Laboratory, whose research focuses on the relationships between social stressors, psychosocial resources, and endocrine function (e.g., glucocorticoid-related mechanisms), and the extent to which these biopsychological mechanisms serve as pathways through which stress affects other biological systems (e.g., immune, cardiovascular, and metabolic system) and physical health across the lifespan. Ultimately, the mission of the Biopsychosocial Health Laboratory is to improve health in local and global communities through basic science discoveries that can be instrumental for the development of effective interventions.

Research Interests

Health Psychology, Psychoneuroendocrinology, Psychoneuroimmunology, Social Neuroendocrinology, Racial Health Disparities

2019 Scientists 

Riana Elyse Anderson

Riana Elyse Anderson

Assistant Professor, The University of Michigan

Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2017, Applied Psychology, University of Pennsylvania
Predoctoral Internship, 2015, Clinical and Community Psychology, Yale University

PhD, Clinical and Community Psychology, 2015, University of Virginia
M.A., Clinical and Community Psychology, 2011, University of Virginia
B.A., Psychology and Political Science, 2006, University of Michigan

More about Riana Elyse Anderson

Riana Elyse Anderson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. She uses mixed methods in clinical interventions to study racial discrimination and socialization in Black families to reduce racial stress and trauma and improve psychological well-being and family functioning. She is particularly interested in how these factors predict familial functioning and subsequent child psychosocial well-being and health-related behaviors when enrolled in family-based interventions. Dr. Anderson is the developer and director of the EMBRace (Engaging, Managing, and Bonding through Race) intervention and loves to translate her work for a variety of audiences, particularly those whom she serves in the community, via blogs, video, and literary articles. Finally, Dr. Anderson was born in, raised for, and returned to Detroit and is becoming increasingly addicted to cake pops.

Katrina Ellis

Katrina Ellis

​Assistant Professor, The University of Michigan’s School of Social Work

PhD, Public Health – Health Behavior & Health Education, The University of Michigan
MPH, Health Behavior/ Health Education, The University of Michigan

MSW, Interpersonal Practice/Health, The University of Michigan
B.A., Secondary Education/Art, Dillard University

More about Katrina Ellis
Katrina R. Ellis is an assistant professor at the School of Social Work. Her research interests include family health interventions, cancer survivorship, racial and ethnic disparities in health, and family management of chronic health conditions. An overarching goal of her research is to support the health of families facing multiple, coexisting illnesses, with a specific focus on African Americans. Dr. Ellis employs a range of qualitative and quantitative methodologies in her work with families, clinicians, and community groups. Her published research includes examinations of the influence of co-occurring illnesses on the psychosocial and behavioral health and well-being of cancer survivors and their family caregivers using quantitative dyadic data analysis techniques. She has also published research investigating psychosocial factors that influence the health behaviors and well-being of African Americans. Dr. Ellis’ future program of research includes the design and implementation of interventions to support the quality of life and healthy lifestyle and coping behaviors of cancer survivors, caregivers, and family members.
Research Interests – African American family health interventions; cancer prevention and survivorship; self and family management of multiple chronic conditions; racial and ethnic disparities in health; digital health; community-based participatory research

Rodlescia S. Sneed

Rodlescia S. Sneed

​Assistant Professor, Michigan State University

PhD, Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University
MPH, Epidemiology, Columbia University
A.B. Molecular Biology, Princeton University

More about Rodlescia S. Sneed

Research Interest: Successful Aging in Vulnerable Communities

2018 Scientists

Lenette Jones

Lenette Jones

​Assistant Professor, The University of Michigan

Pilot study PI, MCUAAAR

Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, 2017
PhD, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 2014
MS, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 2011
BSN, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 2002

More about Lenette Jones

Dr. Jones is a behavioral nurse scientist interested in eliminating the health disparities affecting African-American women with hypertension. Her program of research is focused on uncovering the mechanisms – biological, psychological, social, and physical – of self-management interventions. She uses neuroimaging (fMRI) to explore the neuroprocesses associated with self-management behaviors, such as diet, exercise, and medication-taking. She also examines how health information behavior (seeking, sharing, and use) can be enhanced to support blood pressure self-management. In her current studies, Dr. Jones is designing and pilot-testing interventions to improve self-management of blood pressure among African American women.

Research Interests: 

  • Hypertension self-management
  • Health disparities
  • Neurobiological mechanisms of interventions
  • Health information behavior