INSHHR Members

Natalie Leblanc, PhD, MPH, RN, BSN

Natalie Leblanc, PhD, MPH, RN, BSN, INSHHR Chair

Assistant Professor, School of Nursing
Harriet J. Kitzman Endowed Fellow in Health Disparities

Natalie Leblanc’s 17-year career in public health, nursing, and health research investigates the ecological, cultural, and systemic factors that influence health and wellness outcomes. As a former public health specialist, she is able to critically assess health issues from both public health and clinical perspectives globally and domestically. As a nurse researcher, she seeks to address and investigate determinants of health disparity, assets within these factors that can be leveraged toward achieving health equity to inform intervention implementation.

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Jim McMahon, PhD

James McMahon, PhD

Endowed Chair for Innovation in Health Care, School of Nursing
Co-Director, Dissemination and Implementation Science Function, CTSI
Associate Professor, School of Nursing

James McMahon has conducted community-based health research in low-income underserved neighborhoods for over 15 years. His work centers on the confluence of biological, behavioral, and social factors that contribute to the spread of infectious diseases in underserved populations.

Contact James McMahon


Hugh F. Crean, PhD

Hugh Crean, PhD

Assistant Professor of Clinical Nursing, School of Nursing

Hugh Crean has more than two decades of experience as a researcher at the University of Rochester, focusing on school-based and after-school psychosocial prevention initiatives for high-risk children and youth and families, program evaluation of psychosocial interventions, and contextual effects on adolescent risky behaviors. He is well-versed in community-based participatory research and has worked with a number of local institutions in examining program outcomes and fidelity of interventions offered.

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Chen Zhang, PhD, MPH

Chen Zhang, PhD, MPH

Assistant Professor, School of Nursing

As a passionate and creative early-stage researcher, Chen Zhang was trained in medicine, social science, and epidemiology. Since beginning her master's of public health program in Texas A&M Health Science Center, Zhang has participated in several NIH-funded projects focused on behavioral and biomedical interventions among vulnerable populations (e.g., female sex workers, children affected by AIDS, people living with HIV/AIDS, injected drug users, and men who have sex with men).

Contact Chen Zhang


Mitchell J. Wharton, PhD, RN, FNP-BC, CNS

Mitchell J. Wharton, PhD, RN, FNP-BC, CNS

Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing
Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusiveness, School of Nursing

Mitchell Wharton teaches in the Accelerated Program for Non-Nurses, the RN to BS Online Program, and the Nurse Practitioner programs at the University of Rochester. He also maintains active clinical practice as a family nurse practitioner in the Center for Peri-Operative Medicine at Strong Memorial Hospital. Wharton’s research focuses on HIV prevention among young Black men who have sex with men (YBMSM), directed towards identifying and describing asset-based modalities of HIV prevention and health maintenance.

Contact Mitchell Wharton


Danielle C. Alcena-Stiner, PhD, RN

Danielle C. Alcena-Stiner, PhD, RN

Assistant Professor, School of Nursing
Asst. Director, Life Sciences Learning Center, URMC

Danielle Alcéna-Stiner is a nurse-scientist with infectious disease pathogenesis and prevention expertise spanning the translational continuum from biomedical science to community-based research. She integrates basic science, health literacy, and nursing into interventions to promote adolescent health and wellness through active community engagement. To address health disparities related to health literacy, she implements an interdisciplinary approach to connect all stakeholders. This includes collaborations with adolescents and adults who are influential in health literacy education (students, teachers, nurses, etc.). Alcéna-Stiner's program of research aims to bring the bench, beyond the bedside and into behaviors promoting health and wellness. To this end, Alcéna-Stiner seeks to equip and empower adolescents with biological and behavioral (bio-behavioral) health literacy skills as they transition towards adulthood with healthy lifestyles.

Contact Danielle Alcena-Stiner


Gamji Rabiu Abu-Ba’are, PhD, MA

Gamji Rabiu Abu-Ba’are, PhD, MA

Assistant Professor and Inaugural Harriet J. Kitzman Endowed Fellow in Global Health Research
University of Rochester School of Nursing
Secondary Appointment; Assistant Professor, Department of Public Health Sciences

Dr. Abu-Ba’are is a trained global health and behavioral scientist whose research broadly focuses on the of use social epidemiology, implementation science, and community participatory approaches to understanding ways to optimize HIV/STI prevention and treatment outcomes among adolescents and young adults (AYA) within the context of locational and socio-cultural settings such as stigmatizing environments, settlement types (e.g., informal/underserved/migrant communities), demographics (e.g., sexual orientation, race, poverty, education, religion). His community participatory approach reflects his belief that health planning and intervention design and implementation need to employ a bottom-up approach where scholars engage intended beneficiaries from the conceptualization stages of research, intervention design, implementation, and dissemination of research findings.

Contact Gamji Rabiu Abu-Ba’are


Sadandaula Rose Muheriwa

Sadandaula Rose Muheriwa, PhD, MScMid, BScN Ed, RNM

Postdoctoral Research Associate, School of Nursing

Rose Muheriwa's research investigates the socioecological factors that influence the development of sexual behaviors in young adolescent girls (10-14 years old). She aims to empower adolescent girls from a sensitive age with age-appropriate and lifelong knowledge, attitudes, and skills that will help them avoid risky sexual behaviors and prevent early pregnancies, HIV infection, and other sexually transmitted infections.

Contact Sadandaula Rose Muheriwa


Osman Wumpini Shamrock PhD

Osman Wumpini Shamrock PhD

Postdoctoral Research Associate, School of Nursing

Dr. Shamrock has a PhD from the College of Community and Public Affairs, Binghamton University. Shamrock focuses on understanding social and structural barriers to HIV prevention and care among trans women of color. Specifically, Shamrock seeks to understand the experiences of trans women of color in HIV and sexual health services. He also seeks to understand healthcare provider’s cultural competences related to HIV knowledge, testing and treatment for transwomen of color.

Contact Osman Wumpini Shamrock


Dr. Lindsay Batek, ND, MS, RN

Lindsay Batek, ND, MS, RN

Doctoral student and graduate of the Family Nurse Practitioner program, University of Rochester School of Nursing

Lindsay Batek is a recipient of the Loretta Ford Fellowship and recent graduate of the dual MS-PhD Combined Accelerated program. With her undergraduate degree from the Universit​y of Rochester, she continued her studies and completed a doctoral degree in naturopathic medicine from Bastyr University. Her research interests include adolescent sexual health promotion, integrative health, and global health. Her dissertation work will explore adolescent experiences regarding contraceptive decision making and access.

Contact Lindsay Batek


Faith Lambert

Faith Lambert, MS, RN, FNP-BC

Doctoral candidate and graduate of the Family Nurse Practitioner program, University of Rochester School of Nursing

Faith Lambert's research interest includes health disparities, pediatric to adult care transition, adolescent and adult health and HIV care management. Lambert’s dissertation will explore autonomy supportive relationships in HIV positive young adults and its impact on HIV self-care management.

Contact Faith Lambert


Martez Smith

Martez D.R. Smith, LMSW

Doctoral candidate, University of Rochester School of Nursing

Martez Smith's research interests include addressing racial, sexual, and gender minority health disparities through community-driven, asset-based interventions. Smith's dissertation will provide insights to the applications of Basic Psychological Needs Theory for sexual health behaviors of Black and Latinx men who have sex with men in New York City's House Ball Community.

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Erin Vernetti

Erin Vernetti

Doctoral Student, University of Rochester School of Nursing

Erin Vernetti, MS, RN, is a doctoral student at the University of Rochester School of Nursing and a Senior Level III RN in F.F. Thomspon Hospital's Operating Room. She also works as a research assistant with Danielle Alcéna-Stiner, PhD, RN, on community environmental and sexual health projects. For her doctoral work, Erin is interested in exploring how stigma and community affect healing for survivors of sexual assault and how rape culture and rape myths influence care and help-seeking. Prior to her nursing degree, Erin's master's degree thesis involved looking at the Democratic Republic of Congo and how the war was fought on the bodies of the county's women and girls.

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Anne Woodruff

Anne Woodruff

Administrative Assistant, Harriet Kitzman Center for Research Support, School of Nursing

Anne Woodruff serves as primary administrative support for approximately 18 diverse tenure track faculty and postdoctoral fellows. She supports the INSHHR group members with various administrative tasks (scheduling meetings, taking minutes, booking rooms, finding and researching information, travel plans).

Contact Anne Woodruff