Previous contributors to research at the RISE Lab.

Nastacia Pereira, MPH | she/her/hers

Nastacia Pereira  is a Research Specialist in the RISE Lab and supports ongoing lab activities through project management, data collection and analysis, and dissemination. Nastacia’s research interests converge at the intersection of structural racism and health inequities. She is especially interested in creative approaches to addressing health inequities, and is drawn to community-based participatory action research, qualitative research methods, and systems change. Outside of work/academia, Nastacia is an avid reader who also enjoys being outdoors and in community with others. Email:

Darius Scott, PhD

Darius Scott (he/him/his) received his PhD in Geography from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research has been supported by the Ford Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council. He uses qualitative and historical methods to weigh how health and infrastructural inequities are negotiated by African Americans and the LGBTQ community. In particular, he employs oral history and archival research to understand ways HIV and transportation development inequities lead to race and sexual orientation-based community formations in the US South. His research contributes to debates in human geography and public health regarding how culture and space, as coupled factors, produce differences within populations (e.g. black gay men). He is interested in employing cultural geographic insights to foster nuanced, place-based interventions aimed at improving the well-being of LGBTQ and African American communities.


Hailey Mason, B.A

Hailey (she/her/hers) is a first-year MPH student in the Department of Health Behavior at the Gillings School of Global Public Health where she also serves as one of the Co-Presidents of the Minority Student Caucus. She received her bachelor’s degree in Global Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Currently, she works in the Center for Health Equity Research as a graduate research assistant for the LITE Plus study, a project focusing on HIV comorbidities in sexual and gender minority populations. Her previous work has been centered around community engagement and increasing access to and utilization of HIV testing, treatment, and education within underrepresented populations. She is also interested in the intersection between health and education and the use of school-based programming and health-conscious pedagogies as strategies for improving health. Email:


Thi Vu, B.S

Thi Vu (she/her/hers) is a first-year MPH student in the Department of Health Behavior at Gillings School of Global Public Health. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2019 with a B.S in Psychology and a B.A in Anthropology. She currently serves as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Center for Health Equity Research for the following projects: Transforming the Carolinas: Preparing to End the Epidemic for Transgender People of Color, Transgender Women Mobilizing and Preparing for High Impact Prevention, and LITE Plus (Biopsychosocial Mechanisms Linking Gender Minority Stress and HIV Comorbidities). Outside of HIV research, she is also very interested in studying the dynamics of the aging process and factors that promote healthy aging among individuals living with chronic illnesses. She loves to spend time with her tuxedo kitten named Mars, try new recipes in the kitchen, and watch BBC shows. Email:


Jasmine Sanders, BS Candidate

Jasmine HeadshotJasmine (she/her/hers) is currently a student at North Carolina Central University where she is studying Public Health Education. Currently, she is interning with the Center for AIDS Research as an Intern Research Assistant. Her research interest is in epidemiology, health policy, and health equity in minority populations. Her work with the RISE lab includes assisting with tasks on multiple research projects including Transforming the Carolinas, LITE plus, and the Final Database of Measures.



Christina Wojnarwsky, PA-C, ATC, MPH Candidate

Christina (she/her/hers) is a practicing PA working in hospital medicine in the Baltimore area. She is also a MPH candidate at Shenandoah University completing her applied practice experience at the RISE lab. Her work has been primarily focused on the Transforming the Carolinas Project. Some of her primary areas of interest include LGBT health disparities, particularly in regards to intersectionality and health consequences, HIV access to care and prevention services, community health responses to health inequities, and health policy and the role it has in addressing health inequities in marginalized populations. Prior to attending Shenandoah University, she received her Bachelors of Science with a focus in athletic training from Slippery Rock University. She currently serves as the director of policy and president elect for the LBGT PA caucus. email:

Haley Simons, B.A | she/her/hers

Haley Simons is recent graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill in Women’s and Gender Studies, Sociology, and Education.  Serving as a research assistant for both UNC’s School of Education and Department of Sociology, her work experience includes School Based Health Center (SBHC) research, sexual and reproductive education research, and gigachurch service research. Following undergraduate studies, Haley is interested in studying queer and trans/nb inclusive sex education, teaching and curriculum, and critical pedagogies. Haley first joined the RISE Lab as a Qualitative Research Assistant for the TRANSforming the Carolinas project though the Carolina Population Center’s 2021 summer internship program, and transitioned to the TRANSnetwork project as a Creative Dissemination Coordinator.