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.

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.

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Leigh Rauk, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Rauk is a Community Psychologist with a background in participatory action research methodologies. She earned her Ph.D. in Community Psychology from the University of Miami in 2021. As a Firearm Safety Among Children and Teens (FACTS) and an Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention Postdoctoral Fellow, she studies firearm outcomes among youth in school settings, with a particular focus on preventative school safety policies. She is passionate about using research to inform our understanding of the intersection of schooling and firearm safety. As a community psychologist and community-engaged scholar, she has experience building collaborative relationships with community members and stakeholders, specifically young people who are deeply impacted by the issue, to inform and generate actionable research.

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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.

Summer Interns

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.


Alyssa Donovan headshot image

Alyssa Donovan

Research Assistant

Ms. Donovan is an undergraduate student in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. She is conducting policy research on the influence of politics and legislation on U.S. gun violence and in comparison to other nations. Ms. Donovan will be working on Turnup the Turnout, advised by Edie Goldenberg, and will give Dinners for Democracy to help inform students on the importance of voting in relation to firearm injury prevention.


Mackenzie Furnari Headshot

Mackenzie Furnari

Research Assistant

Ms. Furnari is a rising 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.

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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.


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Avery Moje

Research Assistant

Ms. Moje is a graduate student in the Masters of Public Health Behavior and Health Education program at the University of Michigan. She works as a Research Assistant with the Family Safety Net Project, which seeks to increase the safety of youth in Northwest Alaska by providing information and resources to support families in storing firearms safely. She will assist the Family Safety Net team in cleaning and analyzing survey data, writing reports and publications for the project’s stakeholders, and developing various materials for Family Safety Net’s community partners.

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.