Milken Institute School of Public Health 

Amanda Northcross

Amanda Northcross

Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health

Dr. Northcross' research focuses on quantifying the impacts of air pollution and bridges environmental engineering, public health and environmental justice. With a background in environmental chemistry and engineering, she specializes in analyzing the chemical constituents of airborne pollutants and monitoring and assessing human exposures to cigarette smoke, cookstove pollution, and ambient air pollution. She also works to develop tools and methods that translate community experiences of environmental pollution into quantitative assessments.

Here in Washington, DC she along with colleagues and students are working with DC communities to develop a neighborhood based air quality monitoring network, the first of its kind in the region. Dr. Northcross's international collaborations have included a study in Guatemala quantifying the health effects of household air pollution from wood-fired cookstoves, and a randomized trial in Nigeria investigating whether replacing pregnant women's wood-fired cookstoves with clean-cooking ethanol stoves can reduce adverse pregnancy outcomes such as premature delivery and low birth weight. Currently she is working in North East Brazil in collaboration with local fishermen and women to assess the impacts of the neighboring petrochemical industry.

Uri Colon-Ramon

Uri Colon-Ramos

Associate Professor of Nutrition & Global Health Department of Global Health (primary) and Department of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences

Uriyoán Colón-Ramos, Sc.D., M.P.A. is a recent winner of the Nashman Prize for Community Engaged Scholarship brings a unique perspective rooted in sociology and policy to the field of nutritional sciences. She is currently the co-Principal Investigator of Water UP! of the Avance Center Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health grant from the CDC, and the Principal Investigator of 'Water UP! Latino mothers and young children' and 'Shaping Our Kids’ Diets: Home and Neighborhood', and of studies that examine family environment, stress, and dietary risk factors for diabetes among Latinos/Hispanics. She employs mixed methods to identify and understand the dietary determinants of underserved, at-risk populations, and to better inform nutrition policies and programs. Her work has contributed to the knowledge of existing dietary disparities among Hispanic subgroups by country of origin, the process of translation of science into nutrition policy in Latin America, and the social and environmental determinants of dietary behaviors among vulnerable populations in the US, Latin America and the Caribbean.

James Peterson

James Peterson

Assistant Research Professor at in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Dr. James Peterson has been at The George Washington University since 2006. During his time, his diverse experience has culminated into a specific skill set that serves a critical role in research and practice.

Dr. Peterson’s current assignment as Principal Investigator on the Root Causes Project, Building Community Resilience (BCR) Collaborative in the Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness has provided an opportunity to share his expertise and innovative efforts serving in the integral role of bridging public health research and local communities. This work brings together, the experience he has gained from participation on multiple contemporary research projects in Washington, DC, and other metropolitan cities throughout the U.S. Dr. Peterson’s ethnographic and qualitative research experience and community engagement serves as a basis for the success of such research; for example, collaborating on projects with Metro Teen AIDS to conduct the DC Youth Ethnography as well as with the District of Columbia Department of Health, HIV AIDS, Hepatitis, Sexually Transmitted Infections and Tuberculosis Administration (HAHSTA) to conduct the DC Community Services Assessment. Additionally, he has served as Co-Investigator and provided leadership on various qualitative and ethnographic research projects with the aim of obtaining increased understanding of complex adverse health conditions and exploration of public health questions. Ongoing research projects such as the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance (NHBS) have provided the framework to gain entrée to communities and establish working relationships and collaboration with individuals, organizations and government that impact the indigenous and entrenched health and human services efforts in the community. These efforts contributed to successful exploration of the impact of adverse health conditions, community environments and associated issues.

Dr. Peterson previously served as the Community Research Coordinator (CRC) for the DC Center for AIDS Research (DC CFAR) where he served as the liaison for the DC CFAR Community Advisory Board (CAB). Currently, he serves as the Community Activities Coordinator for the DC Cohort Project, which is a city-wide HIV clinical research effort among 15 HIV care sites in the District of Columbia.  A primary responsibility on this project is working with the DC Cohort CAB facilitating two-way communication between the research and the community members which the research aims to impact. This work includes engagement with individuals, organizations and ancillary entities that represent the diverse populations that characterize the DC Metropolitan area. As a result, Dr. Peterson has increasingly become knowledgeable of diverse community collaborators and community leadership that define the social, cultural and political terrain. He has gained considerable experience conducting qualitative research among urban, suburban and hard to reach populations.


Sara Wilensky

Sara Wilensky

Special Services Faculty for Undergraduate Education

Dr. Wilensky focuses on financing, access and health care needs of the medically underserved, with an emphasis on issues relating to Medicaid. After completing her undergraduate work, Dr. Wilensky served as a fellow at Plan de Salud del Valle Community Health Center, located in rural Colorado, gaining first-hand insights into the needs of these populations. Subsequently, she pursued a law degree, clerked for a federal judge, and worked briefly at a law firm, before becoming a member of the GW health policy faculty in 2002. Dr. Wilensky leads projects on safety net issues, focusing on the financing and access-to-care barriers faced by vulnerable and underserved populations. Topics of her research relate to various aspects of the Medicaid program, such as policies affecting community health centers, access to preventive services, financing HIV primary care services, and preventing and treating childhood obesity. 


Jameta Nicole Barlow

Assistant Professor in the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health

Jameta Nicole Barlow, PhD, MPH, is a community health psychologist, assistant professor of writing in the University Writing Program and affiliate faculty member of the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program and the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health in the Milken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University in Washington, DC. At GWU, she teaches a writing course on science and health, focused on women’s health. Dr. Barlow utilizes decolonizing methodologies to disrupt intergenerational trauma, chronic health diseases and structural policies adversely affecting Black girls' and women's health. She has spent 22 years in trans disciplinary collaborations with physicians, public health practitioners, researchers, policy administrators, activists, political appointees, and community members in diverse settings throughout the world. Dr. Barlow holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in English from Spelman College, a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Maternal and Child Health from The George Washington University and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Psychology from North Carolina State University. Her most recent community based effort, the Saving Our Sisters Project, focused on Black women's mental health and well-being, employed writing and the personal narrative.

Karina Lora

Karina Lora

Assistant Professor of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences; Director of the Public Health Nutrition MPH program

Dr. Lora is a community/public health nutritionist with a long-standing record of working with undeserved multicultural populations. Dr. Lora research focuses on health disparities in obesity prevention, specifically, social determinants of health and nutrition behaviors of minority families. She is the director of the Public Health Nutrition MPH program at the GW Milken Institute School of Public Health. Dr. Lora has a strong interest in integrating teaching and research to provide students with pedagogical approaches that enhance their learning outcomes, cultural competence skills, and awareness of social issues while benefiting communities by evaluating community/public health programs to improve their delivery and impact. She is currently the principal investigator of a community-based project that assesses middle-age Hispanic men food and physical activity behaviors, and a study that explores mothers and fathers’ food and physical activity co-parenting behaviors with their preschoolers. She is a mentor of student-led community-based participatory projects with Hispanic and African American families in D.C. Wards 4, 7 and 8, and other studies that examine environmental and behavioral approaches to prevent obesity in children and adults, parental (mothers and fathers) influences on children food consumption and obesity development, and dietary assessment methodology. Dr. Lora values community partnership and have fostered relationships with community organizations in the D.C. metro area.


Tamara Taggart

Assistant Professor, Department of Prevention and Community Health

Dr. Taggart conducts socioepidemiologic studies to examine the contextual (e.g., neighborhoods and social networks) and cultural (e.g., religiosity, racial identity, and masculinity) determinants of health, and then uses community-based participatory research methods to develop and implement interventions to reduce HIV risk and substance use among racial/ethnic minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged adolescents and emerging adults. Dr. Taggart uses crowdsourcing, participatory photomapping, concept mapping, and photovoice techniques in her community-based work. Her current research focuses on three areas: (1) Applying a community engaged framework to examine systems level factors associated with PrEP uptake among adolescents and young adults; (2) Utilizing activity space assessments and biopsychosocial models of stress to examine the mechanisms connecting discriminatory neighborhood environments and HIV-related behaviors; and (3) Investigating the role of religion, spirituality, and religious institutions on HIV syndemics. Dr. Taggart holds an AB from Dartmouth College, an MPH in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University, and a PhD in Health Behavior from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She completed her postdoctoral training at the Yale University Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS.