CTRWH > Graduate Assistants

Graduate Assistants:

Jennifer Bleck

Jennifer Bleck is doctoral student in the Department of Community and Family Health at the University of South Florida. She has an MPH in Evaluative Sciences from Stony Brook University and a B.A. in Psychology from Brandeis University. Jennifer’s research interests include eating disorders, specifically the relationship between ADHD and disordered eating behaviors as well as intimate partner violence. She has previously conducted research on emergency contraception use and care-seeking post gender-based violence in developing countries. Jennifer’s interest in women’s health stems from a desire to improve secondary prevention of mental illness in a female friendly and specific manner.

Nolan Kline, M.A.

Nolan Kline is a PhD student in the department of Anthropology and an MPH student in Community and Family Health. He holds a MA in Applied Anthropology from the University of South Florida, and a B.A. from Rollins College. Nolan's research interests include social determinants of health, health disparities, immigrant health, oral health, the political economy of healthcare, and the syndemic interaction between numerous health conditions. Nolan's interest in women's health stems from a broader interest in vulnerable populations' disparate access to health services, increased burden of health problems, and higher rates of poverty hindering access to healthcare. Worldwide, women experience a higher burden of poverty in addition to a higher burden of disease than men for numerous health concerns. At the CTR-WH, Nolan's work is informed by a critical medical anthropology perspective. As a dual degree PhD/MPH student, Nolan's training is transdisciplinary in nature, and he embraces collaborative research.

Laura Merrell, M.P.H., C.P.H.

Laura Merrell is currently a third year doctoral student in the Department of Community and Family Health at the University of South Florida. She has an MPH in Global Health from the University of South Florida and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Laura’s research interests lie in maternal and child health. Specifically, she is interested in the formation of attitudes and perceptions towards mode of birth and obstetric intervention among women. Also interested in global health, Laura has done research on obstetric fistula in Niger and the role of village health workers to provide community based primary care in rural India. She first became interested in women’s health as an undergraduate political science student learning that poor health, lack of education, and disenfranchisement not only affected women, but prevented the achievement of sustainable development. Along with her enthusiasm for women’s health and passion for women’s rights, Laura brings a systems thinking approach to the center.

Erika Thompson, M.P.H.

Erika Thompson is currently a doctoral student in the Department of Community and Family Health at the University of South Florida. She earned a Bachelors in Health Science degree and a Masters in Public Health with a concentration in epidemiology from the University of Florida. While conducting research during undergrad, she discovered her interests in maternal and child health and women's health. Erika believes that women's health is an important cornerstone to our public's health. Her specific research foci include: physical activity during pregnancy, HPV vaccination, and women’s reproductive health.

Maryouri Avendano

Maryouri Avendano is a Master of Public Health student in the Department of Community and Family Health focusing on Maternal and Child Health. She received her B.S. from the University of South Florida in Public Health. As an undergraduate student, she discovered her interests are disparities in infant mortality rates, premature birth, and disparities in female reproductive cancers. She hopes to contribute to research in order to reduce health disparities and improve minority health. By reducing the gap, everyone can have the chance to live a long and healthy life.


Ariana Bentz

Ariana Bentz is a current Master of Public Health student with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health. She graduated with a B.S. in Anthropology from Utah Valley University where she studied women’s health from a cross-cultural perspective. After graduating, Ariana interned with an HIV/AIDS nonprofit in Jodhpur, India, focusing her time on HIV+ pregnant women and how to reduce their chance of mother to child transmission. This led Ariana to recognize the importance of health literacy, the specific needs that exist in women’s health, and the impact of human rights to the health of women. She went on to serve as a two time AmeriCorps member, providing employment coaching and health literacy classes to newly resettled refugees at the Refugee and Immigrant Center in Utah, and educating women on healthy preconception and pregnancy behaviors at the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition. Ariana’s interests include reproductive health policy and advocacy, refugee women’s health, family planning, and infertility. Ariana brings to the CTR-WH unique direct service experience, writing skills, and a passion for women’s health and equality.

Latrice Holt

Latrice is a second-year, Maternal and Child Health MPH student in the Department of Community and Family Health at the University of South Florida. She has a B.A. in Psychology and a B.S. in Public Health from the University of Maryland, College Park. During her undergraduate career she served as an education intern at a nonprofit organization called A Wider Circle whose mission was to help women and children lift themselves out of poverty. This experience led her to follow her passion for women's reproductive health and healthy infant development. While serving as an MCH Leadership Trainee she found her experiences in this program has shaped her research interests to include minority health disparities, breastfeeding, childbirth and reproductive health issues. She’s particularly intrigued by the health outcomes of infants born in urban communities and rural areas.

Ina Hysi

Ina Hysi is a current Master of Public Health student with a focus in Health Education. She has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Florida. Her passion for women’s and adolescent health emerged during her 3 years of service as a Peace Corps volunteer in the country of Panama. As a Community Organizer and Regional Coordinator, Ina worked with the Panamanian Ministry of Health to develop HIV/AIDS literacy materials, workshops and seminars. Most of her work was done with indigenous and rural area adolescent girls and women. Her research interests include pregnancy and STI prevention in teens, positive youth development, and sexual and reproductive health in Latina women. She brings her deep understanding and appreciation of the Latin culture as well as her experience in grass root development to the CTR-WH.

Rudith Laine

Rudith Laine is a Master of Public Health student in the Department of Community and Family Health, focusing in Maternal and Child Health. She has a B.S. in Biology from Georgia State University. Her research interests include perinatal health, STIs, family planning, international women’s health, and adolescent health. Rudith has a passion for empowering women to live up to their potential, and believes having access to quality health care, as well as knowledge and resources to make well informed decisions for ones’ health are paramount. Her experience working vulnerable populations, including refugees, have geared her interest in global women’s health. She contributes experience in community development and outreach to CTR-WH.