Current Trainees

Postdoctoral Fellows

Chiara Cooper Headshot

Shaun Bhatia, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

bshaun@umich.edu

Dr. Bhatia’s research has focused in the areas of program and policy evaluation, community violence prevention, and spatial econometrics. He earned his MS in Epidemiology from the University of Illinois and received his doctorate and MA in Community Psychology from DePaul University. Dr. Bhatia will be working closely with the CDC-funded Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center based at U-M’s School of Public Health. The center partners with universities, economic development organizations, health departments, hospitals, police departments and community-based organizations to implement and evaluate strategies to prevent youth violence. Starting in September 2023, he will be working closely under the direction of Drs. Marc Zimmerman and Patrick Carter as faculty mentors.

Chiara Cooper Headshot

Chiara Cooper, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

chiaraco@umich.edu

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

zanhans@umich.edu

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

heahar@umich.edu

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.

Stephen Oliphant headshot

Stephen Oliphant, PhD, MPP

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

oliphasn@umich.edu

Dr. Oliphant has a strong interest in policy analysis and firearm injury prevention research with recent publications in the field, analyzing the spatial dependence of shootings in Detroit and assessing the effect of Wisconsin’s handgun waiting period repeal on suicide. He earned his master’s in public policy and certificate in injury science from the University of Michigan and received his doctorate from the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University. As a graduate student he was a research assistant with the Firearm Safety Among Children and Teens Consortium. Starting in September 2023, Dr. Oliphant will be working closely under the direction of Drs. Justin Heinze and Patrick Carter as mentoring faculty during his fellowship.

Eugenio Weigend Vargas

Eugenio Weigend Vargas, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

eweigend@umich.edu

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.

Interns

Tazkira Ahad

Intern

tazkiraa@umich.edu

Ms. Ahad is an incoming 1st-year in the Health Behavior Health Education Masters program through the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan. She graduated in May 2024 with a BA in Community and Global Public Health from the University of Michigan. She minored  in Community Action and Social Change. Her interests lie in improving healthcare access and reducing death and injury, particularly in underrepresented communities. 

Sloane Bennett headshot

Sloane Bennett

sloaneb@umich.edu

Research Assistant

Ms. Bennett is a research assistant at the UM Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention. She is studying Communications and Media, which she hopes to combine with her current research after college. She is excited to be working in this realm, as she has always been inspired by her mother who works in the criminal justice field. She loves finding new restaurants in Ann Arbor and is a member of Sigma Delta Tau sorority.

Mary Byron

Research Assistant

mcbyron@umich.edu

Ms. Byron is a research assistant at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention. She is a first-year graduate student pursuing a dual master’s in Public Health with a concentration in Health Behavior and Health Education as well as a master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from Taubman College at the University of Michigan. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia in Cognitive Science with a concentration in Neuroscience, and minored in Urban and Environmental Planning. Her past research experience includes novel pharmacological interventions for substance use disorder and she is particularly interested in the therapeutic effects of nature on behavioral health in urban communities. She is excited to assist organizing with community partners and to collaborate on studies involving firearm violence and public art.

Sarah Brandstadt

Intern

sarbrand@umich.edu

Ms. Brandstadt graduated with a B.S. in Public Health Sciences from the University of Michigan in December. In the fall of 2024, she will begin a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology. She has a strong passion for researching community-based interventions to help decrease the rates of firearm violence in the community. As an intern, Ms. Brandstadt will be working with Dr. Hsing-Fang Hsieh on multiple firearm violence prevention studies.

Lisa Dai

Research Assistant

lisadai@umich.edu

Lisa Dai is a research assistant at the U-M NEA Research Lab focusing on the relationship between public art and youth firearm injury prevention. They are a rising senior pursuing a degree in Computer Science with a minor in Art and Design. They are passionate about how art and technology can create real life change: whether through activism, forging community, widening perspectives, or simply improving wellbeing. At the University of Michigan, they are a graphic artist for Michigan in Color, Vice President of Warp, a creative organization centering queer People of Color, and an illustrator for arts, ink., a blog under Arts at Michigan. As a research assistant at the Institute, they work on the U-M NEA Research Lab focused on the intersection of firearm violence and public art.

Shereen Daniel

Intern

sherdan@umich.edu

Ms. Daniel is a first year dual-MPH student with concentrations in Environmental Health Sciences and Health Management and Policy. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in Philosophy from Michigan State University. Her past experience includes working as a Community Health Worker in the behavioral health program at a nonprofit in Pontiac, Michigan. With a background in biology and mental health, Ms. Daniel is interested in the associations between environmental exposures, human behavior, and firearm injury. She is passionate about understanding the ways that public policies can impact the incidence rate of firearm death and is excited to work with Dr. Rebekah Sokol.

L. Esther Hibbs

Intern

lhibbs@umich.edu

L. Esther Hibbs is a first-year MPH candidate in the Health Behavior Health Education concentration. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Arts Administration from Skidmore College. She is excited about implementing community development and system-based advocacy programs to create safe spaces in education, healthcare, and beyond.

Daisy Holthus

Intern

holthus@umich.edu

Daisy Holthus is an intern at the University of Michigan Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention. She is pursuing her Master of Social Work at the University of Michigan School of Social Work in the Interpersonal Practice in Integrated Health, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse pathway. Ms. Holthus is working under Dr. Lisa Wexler and Dr. Amelia Mueller-Williams to address suicide by firearm injury. Suicide prevention and intervention are two topics Ms. Holthus is passionate about and a domain in which she hopes to develop further as a social worker. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English at Cornell University, where she was a student-athlete.

Janaye Jones

Intern

janayejo@umich.edu

Ms. Jones is a summer intern with the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention at the University of Michigan. She is a rising third-year dual MPH student studying Health Behavior Health Education, and Epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. She has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan in Sociology. Her research interests include firearm injury disparities, improving safety in schools and communities, preventing community-level violence, and racial health disparities. Her research experience has ranged from Alzheimer’s and aging to COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy. She aspires to become a Physician Assistant, working to make healthcare more equitable for everyone.

Lindsay Kasprowicz

Intern

lindsk@umich.edu

Ms. Kasprowicz is a summer intern with the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention at the University of Michigan. She is a rising senior undergraduate student double majoring in Cognitive Science and Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience with a minor in Medical Anthropology. Within the Psychology department, she is able to assist with research related to firearm injury prevention by looking at adolescent psychopathology and how it may relate to neighborhood disadvantage.

Megan McKee

Intern

megmckee@umich.edu

Megan McKee is a senior undergraduate student pursuing a B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science. She is interested in the role of public policy and community-based solutions in firearm injury prevention. As an intern at the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention, she is assisting the Policy Core with the development of implementation resources for Emergency Risk Protection Orders and other legislation. 

Ezekiel Medina

Intern

ezekielm@umich.edu

Mr. Medina is a rising second-year dual-master degree student in the School of Public Health and School of Social Work. He is working towards his Master of Public Health in Health Behavior and Health Education and Master of Social Work in Interpersonal Practice. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Public Health and Latino and Caribbean Studies from Rutgers University. He is interested in community violence intervention work and firearm injury prevention. He worked as a violence intervention specialist in a hospital violence intervention program immediately following graduation. Mr. Medina is an alumnus of the Fulbright program in Argentina. 

Akhil Paleru

Research Assistant

ajpaleru@umich.edu

Mr. Paleru will be a junior pursuing a B.S. in Public Health Sciences and a minor in Crime and Justice at the University of Michigan. He is passionate about urban health and aims to build evidence for community-guided, equitable solutions to gun violence through his research with the Institute. As an intern, he is working under Lynn Massey on Dr. Patrick Carter’s Project IntERact and Project SynERgy clinical trials which aim to reduce risky firearm behaviors among young people.

Julia Plawker

Research Assistant

jplawker@umich.edu

Ms. Plawker just graduated with a B.S. in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience with Honors. In the fall of 2023 she will begin a Master of Public Health in the Health Behavior and Health Education Department at the University of Michigan. Ms. Plawker will be working with Dr. Hsing-Fang Hsieh on her project, Moving Upstream: Understanding Racism, Firearm Injury Risks, and Resiliency Among Asian Americans, to help run focus groups, develop a national survey of Asian Americans, and review the literature.

Philip Quansah headshot

Philip Quansah

Research Assistant

pquansah@umich.edu

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.

Roman Kalaczinski

Intern

romankal@umich.edu

Mr. Kalaczinski is a rising Junior studying Public Health and applying for a minor in Public Policy. He is interested in pursuing a career as a physician and is passionate about the intersection between medicine and public health.

Sam Riordan

Intern

riordasa@umich.edu

Ms. Riordan is a summer intern with the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention. Sam is a rising senior pursuing a B.S. in Public Health Sciences within the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan. She is passionate in studying policy interventions on firearm violence and analyzing the root problems contributing to an increase in firearm injuries in the United States. Her interest in firearm violence sparked after attending Michigan State University for two years, where she was heavily impacted by the February 2023 shooting. In her role as an intern, she is working under Brent Miller for the National Center for School Safety to identify best practices and evidence-based resources for the school safety community. Sam has also been involved with IFIP through an independent study and CURIS- Public Health Advocacy. 

Philip Quansah headshot

Audrey Ruhana

Intern

amruhana@umich.edu

Ms. Ruhana is a first-year MPH student studying Epidemiology.  She earned a Bachelors of Science from the University of Michigan majoring in Life Science Informatics and minoring in History. She is interested in studying ways to lessen the burden of gun-violence and improve the  overall health in underserved communities.

Esther Shon

Research Assistant

eshon@umich.edu

Ms. Shon is a research assistant at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention. She is a sophomore pursuing a B.S. in Biology, Health, and Society. She aspires to embark on a pre-medical or pre-dental path, and believes that her interest and research assistance in public health, particularly in the domain of firearms, will help her provide the utmost care, patience, and understanding to any future patients.

Alex Swirsky

Research Assistant

aswirsky@umich.edu

Ms. Swirsky is a research assistant at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention. She is a rising junior studying Sociology on the Law, Justice, and Social Change track, after which she hopes to pursue a joint JD/MPP degree. She aims to eventually build upon her research experience to apply a sociological lens to the policy sector in order to help build a society that will empower and support its citizens.

Eileen Spiegel

Research Assistant

eileensp@umich.edu

Ms. Eileen Spiegel is a senior undergraduate student in Public Policy at the University of Michigan’s Ford School, and she is minoring in the university’s environmental program. At the Ford School, she is able to research how different policies can affect varying state-level gun violence. She is a research assistant with the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention and works under Dr. Zeoli to address the intersections of firearm policies and domestic violence.

Hailey Weiss

Research Assistant

hsweiss@umich.edu

Ms. Weiss is a first-year MPH candidate at the University of Michigan with a concentration in Health Behavior and Health Education and a certificate in Injury Science. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology with a focus in Global Health and Environment from Washington University in St. Louis. She is passionate about the intersection of medicine and public health and is seeking to ultimately reduce preventable injuries among youth. As a research assistant, she is working under Lynn Massey on Dr. Partick Carter’s Project IntERact, Project SynERgy, and SafERteens studies aimed at reducing firearm violence among youth and young adults.

Sophia Weng

Research Assistant

swengg@umich.edu

Ms. Weng is a research assistant at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention’s Community Firearm Violence Prevention Network. She is a rising senior pursuing a BA in Psychology. She aspires to get a Master’s in Counseling and has an interest in how firearm policies affects public well-being. Ms. Weng believes research assistance at IFIP will provide a new perspective on her growth as an aspiring therapist and result in better care for her future patients.

Parker Wise

Intern

phwise@umich.edu

Mr. Wise received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Texas Christian University. His degree granted him a comprehensive understanding of engineering and electrical principles and strong skills in mathematics and data analysis. Following graduation, Mr. Wise worked in the construction industry and gained experience in cost estimating, proposals, and project management. He is pursuing a Master of Urban and Regional Planning and Master of Science in the Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan. As a graduate student, Mr. Wise has focused on opportunities to improve his engagement skills and continues to develop his research and qualitative analysis skills. He is interested in community-informed sustainable land uses, improving access to services and amenities in cities, and improving the health and well-being for all residents.

Ava Zarewych

Research Assistant

avazar@umich.edu

Ms. Zarewych is a junior undergraduate student majoring in Biology, Health, and Society with a minor in Gender and Health at the University of Michigan.  As an pre medical student, she is passionate about the intersection of clinical medicine and public health.  In her role as a research assistant at the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention, she is working on Dr. Patrick Carter’s Project IntERact and Project SynERgy,  which aim to reduce youth firearm violence in urban settings.