Current Trainees

Postdoctoral Fellows

Chiara Cooper Headshot

Chiara Cooper, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Cooper earned her PhD from the University of Edinburgh (UK) and her Master of Science from the London School of Economics. Her work is qualitative in nature and spans the disciplines of criminology, sociology and gender studies. Her past research has focused on intimate relationships, sexual consent, domestic violence, and coercive control. As a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention, Dr. Cooper will be studying the implementation and outcomes of domestic violence restraining order firearm restrictions.

Zainab Hans headshot

Zainab Hans, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Hans is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention. She earned her Ph.D. in Economics in 2022. Her previous research analyzed the impact of macro-economic factors on gender-based violence. She has worked closely with the Detroit Police Department, Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, Michigan Department of Corrections, and victim advocates to improve the civil and criminal justice system responses to intimate partner violence. Her research interests include intimate partner violence, homicide, child abuse, firearm violence, and forensic risk assessment and her work focuses on identifying legal, environmental, and macro-economic factors that protect against inter-personal violence.

Headshot image of Heather Hartman

Heather Hartman, MD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Hartman is a general surgeon and pediatric surgical intensivist at the University of Michigan, providing special care for critically ill pediatric patients. Dr. Hartman is also a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention. She trained in general surgery in Philadelphia, where she cared for many gun violence victims. Her experiences treating patients has led her to focus her research and training on firearm injury prevention in youths. She is passionate about making the community safer for everyone while providing care for those who get injured.

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Karissa Pelletier, PhD, MS

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Karissa R. Pelletier is a Postdoctoral Fellow of the Firearm Safety Among Children and Teens (FACTS) Consortium and the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention. She earned her Ph.D. in Criminology and Criminal Justice in 2021. She holds additional degrees in Sociology, Psychology, and Philosophy. Her past research has focused on weapon choice, firearm homicide, and the covariates of firearm homicides among children and teens. She has been published in the following journals: Homicide Studies, Journal of Behavioral Medicine, The Journal of Primary Prevention, and Journal of Family Violence. Her research interests include violence, homicide, intimate partner violence and homicide, the prevention of firearm homicide among children and teens, and firearm laws. She has served as a project manager on two separate projects: the Preventing and Assessing IPH (Intimate Partner Homicide) Risk (PAIR) Studies, which aims to update IPH risk assessments, and the Monumentum Project, which aims to draw attention to the problem of firearm violence among children and teens through the use of Augmented Reality (AR) technology.

Laura Seewald headshot

Laura Seewald, MD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Seewald is an adult emergency medicine physician at the University of Michigan and current Postdoctoral Fellow with the Firearm Safety Among Children and Teens (FACTS) Consortium and the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention. The focus of her postdoctoral research and education is in the field of firearm injury prevention, with a specific interest in interventions for high-risk youth populations. Her current work aims to examine parental attitudes towards healthcare provider firearm safety counseling.

Eugenio Weigend Vargas

Eugenio Weigend Vargas, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Weigend Vargas is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention. His research has focused on preventing arms trafficking and gun violence in the United States and Mexico. Dr. Weigend Vargas has provided testimonies before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights as well as the Inter-American Convention Against Illicit Firearms Trafficking in the Americas and has been invited to speak at conferences at Oxford University, Georgetown University, Washington University, Colegio de Mexico, and Universidad Autonoma Nacional de México.

Prior to joining the University of Michigan, Dr. Weigend Vargas was the research director for gun violence prevention at the Center for American Progress, where he published numerous articles, books, reports, fact sheets, and issue briefs advocating for measures that strengthen gun laws in the United States at the state and federal levels. Dr. Weigend Vargas has been a visiting scholar at Georgetown University and the University of Texas in El Paso. He holds a master’s degree in public affairs from Brown University and a doctorate from Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey.


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Joseph Brown

Research Assistant

Joseph Brown is a research assistant at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention​He completed his undergraduate studies at Hope College and earned his Master of Science from the University of Michigan Rackham School of Graduate Studies. He works with assault injured adolescents in Detroit and as he applies to medical school hopes to take his knowledge of community violence into his future practice. 


Headshot image of Skyla Chitwood

Skyla Chitwood

Undergraduate Research Intern

Ms. Skyla Chitwood is a senior undergraduate student in Public Health and Foreign Service at Saint Louis University. She is a research intern with the future public health leadership program at the University of Michigan and is interning with the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention, she works on Projects IntERact and SafERteens under Senior Project Manager Ms. Lynn Massey. She is interested in gun violence prevention, legislation regarding firearm laws, and youth gang-related intervention programs.


Mackenzie Furnari Headshot

Mackenzie Furnari

Research Assistant

Ms. Furnari is a second year Master of Public Health student in the Epidemiology program at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. She is working closely with Dr. Hsing-Fang Hsieh’s on a research project aiming to explore mental distress and firearm outcomes among Asian Americans relating to racism/discrimination. The objective of the study is to investigate multi-level risks and protective factors of firearm injury risks, identify correlates of neighborhood-level structural racism and discrimination, and understand the mechanisms between these factors and firearm outcomes.

Headshot image of Claire Lu

Claire Liu

Research Assistant

Ms. Liu is a Research Assistant and summer intern with the Injury Prevention Center at the University of Michigan working on several youth violence prevention studies. She is a dual master’s in Physiology and Public Health student. She is involved in multiple research projects investigating the efficacy of emergency room interventions aimed at reducing youth firearm violence through motivational interviewing and other behavioral interventions in urban centers throughout Michigan. Additionally, she is interested in evaluating how evidence-based interventions can be implemented into sustainable clinical practices.


Philip Quansah headshot

Philip Quansah

Research Assistant

Mr. Quansah is a research assistant at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention and works on the SafERteens program which aims to prevent and reduce youth violence. He is a sophomore at the University of Michigan, majoring in cognitive sciences. He hopes to use his collegiate research experiences to either end up working in research in the future, or find various ways to make a difference in this world. Other than research, Philip is a part of many clubs at the university and is also a supervisor for Michigan Recreational Sports.  In his freshman year, Philip also played for the University of Michigan Football Team as a walk-on.

Headshot image of Hannah Schneider

Hannah Schneider

Research Assistant

Ms. Schneider is a rising second-year in the Masters of Public Health Behavior and Health Education Program at the University of Michigan, with a certificate in Injury Science. She recently graduated from the University of Connecticut with degrees in Psychology and Urban and Community Studies, where she focused on under-resourced youth and their communities. She supports three studies aiming to reduce firearm violence among youth in urban settings as a Research Assistant. She is especially interested in youth violence prevention and is interning with the Injury Prevention Center.