Stanford Population Health Summer Research Program

Advancing Health Equity and Diversity (AHEaD)

Acacia Coker

Project Title: The ADELANTE Trial: Testing a multi-level approach for improving household food insecurity and glycemic control among Latinos with diabetes

Faculty Mentor: Lisa Goldman Rosas, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Population Health and of Medicine and, by courtesy, of Pediatrics

Acacia Coker (she/her) is a rising senior at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, majoring in biology and minoring in public policy and biochemistry. Her interests lie in the intersection of epidemiology, immunology, and public policy. 

Acacia spent her youth moving between Alabama, Florida, and Louisiana. She witnessed structural inequalities in access to healthcare services and literacy in rural and underserved communities. She was especially impacted by living near Cancer Alley, an 85-mile stretch of petrochemical plants and refineries with one of the highest rates of cancer in the nation, and seeing the effects it had on her community. 

Driven by her experiences, Acacia secured an internship at the US Department of Health and Human Services to uncover resilience and risk factors in disaster recovery in education, public health, environmental health, social services, and behavioral health. Acacia also worked at Neighborhood Health, a federally qualified health center in Alexandria, Virginia, to identify disparities in quality assurance of the maternal healthcare department. Additionally, Acacia analyzed clinical COVID-19 data to assess health outcomes based on zip code, race, gender, vaccination, and age at the Scripps Research Institute. Acacia plans to pursue a PhD/MPH in immunology and epidemiology to study and curtail health risks and hazards in populations. In her free time, she enjoys traveling to different countries; practicing speaking French, Spanish, and Korean; and singing in the shower.

Bliss Davis

Project Title: The ADELANTE Trial: Testing a multi-level approach for improving household food insecurity and glycemic control among Latinos with diabetes

Faculty Mentor: Tainayah Thomas, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Population Health 

Bliss Davis (she/they) is a third-year student at Columbia University studying political science with a public health concentration. Her interests lie at the intersection of behavioral health and the socio-medical sciences. From incarceration and policing to neighborhood development and psychiatric disorders, she is committed to recognizing and addressing the social, political, historical, and economic forces that influence community health outcomes. 

Bliss’ diverse experiences with health and advocacy inform her interest in the field. Her personal, familial, and community experiences with the recognition and treatment of mental illness drive her to elevate the importance of mental health in the Black community. Her time advocating with organizations like Voices of Community Activists and Leaders (VOCAL-NY, Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), and the ACLU combined with her experience working with New York’s first overdose prevention center to develop a desire to promote the safety and autonomy of people who use drugs and those who have come into contact with carceral institutions.  Finally, her complex relationship with food encouraged her to investigate the role of the food environment in community health outcomes. 

In sum, Bliss is enthusiastic about the possible application of harm reduction and abolitionist frameworks to structures perpetuating health inequities. With this background and a commitment to justice and equity, she plans to pursue a graduate degree focusing on health policy, epidemiology, and healthcare management. Outside of her studies, Bliss enjoys reading, playing percussion, and exploring new restaurants, music, and comedy events. 


Juan Delgado

Project Title: PSA-based risk-stratified screening for prostate cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Faculty Mentor: Marvin Langston, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Population Health 

Juan Delgado (he/him) is a proud student at Pasadena City College (PCC), double majoring in natural sciences and public health with an emphasis in health equity and health disparities. His passion for addressing disparities stems from his lived experience in Los Angeles, where he witnessed firsthand the rampant injustice and unequal access to suitable health care and education within systematically affected neighborhoods. Juan interned at Huntington Health of Cedars-Sinai, where he conducted research and investigations into diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and disability equality and justice within a hospital setting. In addition, he collaborated with the nursing outreach team to identify gaps in care within communities of color. Juan has also had the opportunity to conduct research with DayOne Pasadena, a public health nonprofit organization, to identify substance use disparities and adverse outcomes within marginalized communities in the surrounding area. At PCC, Juan served as Vice Chair of Academic Affairs, where he helped create programming and events catered to bridging the equity gap that Black and African American and Latine/Hispanic students face in higher education. These experiences have emboldened and strengthened his passion. Juan is looking forward to pursuing a graduate degree in public health or epidemiology. When he is not busy, Juan enjoys playing soccer, watching films, and collecting Pokemon cards and Funko Pops. 

Sheila Mwanda

Project Title: mHealth LifeSpace study of the environment and aging outcomes

Faculty Mentor: Michelle Odden, Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Population Health 

Sheila Mwanda (she/her) is a recent graduate from Grand Valley State University Honors College, where she majored in allied health sciences and minored in Spanish. She developed a strong appreciation for interdisciplinary learning as she took biomedical sciences, healthcare management, and public health courses. For her senior project through the Honors College, she analyzed the impacts of income and type of health insurance on access to health care. As part of this project, she looked at how it impacts the ability to access healthcare in a timely manner and the capacity to seek preventative care services and access dental insurance. Her interest in public health stemmed from serving as a volunteer contact tracer during the COVID-19 pandemic and participating in the Summer Health Professions Education Program. 

Sheila’s professional interests include health communication and education, equity in healthcare access, and utilizing policy to create systemic changes in the healthcare system. In the fall, she will begin working as a health education specialist for high schools in the West Michigan region. In her free time, Sheila enjoys art, reading, and watching documentaries and baking shows. 

Sarah Lucero

Project Title: Environmental causes of social inequalities in biological aging

Faculty Mentor: David Rehkopf, Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Population Health, of Medicine, and, by courtesy, of Sociology and of Pediatrics

Sarah Raquel Lucero (she/her) obtained a Bachelor of Science in health sciences with a concentration in public health from California State University, East Bay (CSUEB) in Hayward. Time at CSUEB brought attention to how she can make a greater impact on population health through epidemiological research, program planning and evaluation, and implementation to address public health issues. Sarah previously worked as a Student Research Assistant for the Department of Public Health at CSUEB with faculty mentor and epidemiologist Dr. Ryan Gamba MPH, PhD. Her research focused on health outcomes surrounding food and housing insecurity among college students in the U.S. Sarah’s prior undergraduate research includes mortality reduction among ethnic minority populations related to colorectal cancer and lung cancer; reproductive health; mental health; homelessness, and how basic needs impact health outcomes among children, veterans, and older adults over the lifespan.

The opportunity to collaborate with AHEaD has impacted her dedication to academic advancement in graduate studies towards a MPH and PhD in Epidemiology. Sarah’s interest in research stems from personal experience as a first-generation college student, mother, and Latina/Chicana woman. After witnessing how underserved communities face health inequities, particularly from historical trauma, Sarah became interested in investigating the root causes of disease associated with racial discrimination and environmental factors among underrepresented communities, and hopes her research will reduce negative health outcomes through policy change. In Sarah’s free time she enjoys spending time with her family, outdoor activities in nature, gardening, and working on ceramic art.

Dani Plascencia Delgado

Project Title: Community of practice with promotoras/community-health workers: Addressing social needs among the Latinx community

Faculty Mentor: Patricia Rodriguez Espinosa, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Population Health

Dani Plascencia Delgado (they/them) is an incoming senior transfer student at University of California (UC) Berkeley majoring in social welfare. Prior to transferring, Dani attended De Anza Community College and received an AA in social and behavioral sciences. At De Anza, Dani found a passion for grassroots activism as a Vasconcellos Institue for Democracy in Action (VIDA) intern leading the “Fund Students First Campaign” to reshape campus safety and on-campus policing through an anti-racist lens. Additionally, Dani has been a part of Evolve CA, a San Francisco-based grassroots organization, working towards fully funding California’s public education system through Prop 13 reform. Dani is part of the UC Berkeley UndocuAlly committee, serving as an undergraduate intern facilitating staff training that aid in establishing allyship and understanding of the undocumented student experience.

As a first-generation and formerly undocumented student, Dani’s interest in health equity research stems from lived experiences. While a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, Dani researched the accessibility, notions, and perceptions of undocumented college students on social services and its agencies. In future plans, Dani aims to join the small pool of Latinx researchers tackling restrictive immigration policies and socio-political issues that cause health disparities within immigrant communities. As a future researcher, educator, and community activist, Dani is interested in finding macro and micro-level approaches to improve not only the behavioral health of the undocumented/migrant community but also the health policies surrounding inequitable care. A Bay Area native, Dani enjoys trying new hiking trails and coffee shops, going to the gym, spending time with their cat, and being in the company of loved ones. 

Nakaya Frazier

Project Title: Fairness in decision-making for health equity: Chronic kidney disease

Faculty Mentor: Sherri Rose, Professor of Health Policy

Nakaya Frazier (she/her) is a rising senior at the University of California, Merced, majoring in public health with a minor in psychology. Her interest in learning about the socioeconomic factors that influence people's health and well-being stems from her own experience and background growing up in a disadvantaged community in Oakland, California. She hopes to implement programs and policies that can address health inequality and promote health equity within disproportionately impacted populations.

As a current student residing in Merced, she has come to understand how California’s Central Valley struggles with the impacts of health inequities, specifically food insecurity. To address this, she participated in the UC Merced Student Success Internship program under the NextPlate Project, where she connected surplus food from restaurants with local residents and students who experienced food scarcity.

Post-graduation, Nakaya plans to continue her education by pursuing a master's degree in public health with a concentration in epidemiology. In the future, Nakaya hopes to conduct research that incorporates how the social determinants of health affect population health among racial minorities. In her free time, Nakaya enjoys listening to music, swimming, and traveling with friends.

Kelvin Nguyen

Project Title: Fairness in decision-making for health equity: Chronic kidney disease

Faculty Mentor: Sherri Rose, Professor of Health Policy

Kelvin Nguyen (he/him) is a graduate of the University of Southern California (USC), where he earned a degree in health and human sciences with a minor in public health. Kelvin was born to Vietnamese refugees and grew up in a disadvantaged community, where he experienced a lack of affordable and accessible healthcare. He is interested in utilizing health policy and public health research skills to address healthcare disparities within underserved populations.

During high school, he received certifications as both a patient care technician (PCT) and emergency medical technician (EMT) to learn firsthand about the U.S. healthcare system. This helped inform his knowledge of the socioeconomic issues that contribute to disease and illness. Utilizing his experience as a medical provider, he began working with nonprofit organizations through Americorps to learn about community-level efforts to improve health and well-being. Kelvin learned the value of communication with community members, partners, and stakeholders in promoting wellness when helping to implement outreach programs to alleviate food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic. While at USC, he helped conduct research projects on healthcare disparities, such as the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on minority populations and policies to improve healthcare utilization. Additionally, Kelvin worked as an advanced provider for the Emergency Medical Services of USC (EMSC) organization, where he served the wider Trojan community during campus events.

In the future, Kelvin plans to pursue a graduate degree in epidemiology and health policy to contribute to research designed to improve health equity and access in communities similar to the one he grew up in. In his free time, Kelvin enjoys cooking, following the latest automotive trends, and exploring new experiences with friends and family.