CTRWH > Graduate Assistants

Graduate Assistants:

Lynn Le

Lynn Le is in her senior year at USF. She is currently working on acquiring her Bachelor’s Degree of Arts and Sciences in Cell and Molecular Biology with a minor in Public Health. Her fascination in oral health has inspired her to be a part of Dr. Vamos’s research team while also completing her honors thesis in public health. Lynn plans on attending dental school after USF.

Elizabeth Lockhart

Elizabeth Lockhart is a 3rd year PhD student in the department of Community and Family Health. She came to USF from the University of Michigan, where she obtained an MPH, and Kalamazoo College (Michigan), where she obtained a BA in Economics and Business. Her academic areas of interest include expanding healthcare access, specifically via community health workers, and sexual health – HPV and HIV. She is currently working on an American Cancer Society grant that intends to identify assets and barriers to increasing access to the HPV vaccine in Florida with Dr. Cheryl Vamos.


Shana is a third year CFH doctoral student. Shana earned her bachelor's degree in anthropology from Howard University. While in undergrad she interned at Reproductive Health Technologies, The AIDS Institute and Advocates for Youth, which sparked her interests in sexual and reproductive health for youth. After, she earned her MPH from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Her master's thesis focused on HPV vaccination for immigrant Caribbean girls. Since studying at USF, she has focused on the intersection of technology and sexual health for young adults. Her dissertation will focus on young adults who use the Internet to find sex partners and their risk for HIV and other STIs. Within CTR-WH, Shana is the project lead for the NIH STTR grant to implement a provider-focused technology to increase their ability incorporate oral health into prenatal health.

Taylor Caragan

Taylor Caragan is a Master of Public Health student concentrating in Maternal and Child Health. She received her B.S. in Public Health from the University of South Florida. Since she was a little girl she knew she would one day work with mothers and babies, she just did not know how. During her undergraduate adventure she started with a goal to become a labor and delivery nurse. She soon learned about the public health field and started taking introduction courses. In her Junior year she realized that she wanted to make a career out of public health and her path changed. After graduating, Taylor knew her future was bright and that more education was in front of her. She took a year off from school, and began preparing for graduate school. Taylor chose to only apply to USF because of the fantastic experience she had in her undergrad and because she knew that the USF College of Public Health was one of the best in the nation. It did not take her long to realize that maternal and child health would be her focus. Taylor hopes to be an educator for anything maternal and child health related. During her first year as a master’s student she has volunteered on several projects that focused on finding trends in the high rates of cesarean sections in the state of Florida, increasing breastfeeding awareness and acceptance, and increasing HPV vaccination rates in the Tampa Bay Area. Taylor looks forward to bringing her excitement and passion for maternal and child health to the CTR-WH.

Ericka Duncan, BS

Ericka is a master’s student in the Department of Community and Family Health at the University of South Florida (USF), College of Public Health. Her research interests include community-based health promotion and program evaluation specifically aimed in adolescent behavior health. Ericka received her B.S. in Health Administration from Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, IL. Currently, Ericka is a Graduate Research Assistant with USF’s Center for Transdisciplinary Research on Women's Health. She provides assistance and support with center projects STTR and the Women's Health Collaborative.


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

Laura Merrell is currently a fourth 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. Her interests include health literacy, health information-seeking behavior in pregnancy, and medical intervention in childbirth. . 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.

Ja’Quavia Walker

Ja’Quavia Walker is currently a third year undergraduate at University of South Florida. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Health Science with the ambition of attending Physician Assisting School, to become a licensed physician assistant working in a pediatrics office. She provides assistance and support with center projects.

Erika Thompson, M.P.H., C.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 degree in Health Science and a Masters in Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology from the University of Florida. While conducting research at UF, she discovered her interests in women’s health and maternal and child health. Erika believes that women's health is an important cornerstone to our public's health. Her specific research foci include: HPV and HPV vaccination, physical activity during pregnancy, oral-systemic health, and women’s reproductive health. Erika has been with the CTR-WH since January 2012 and collaborated on a plethora grants, manuscripts, presentations, and projects. She has enjoyed the opportunity to work with diverse and unique perspectives, all with the ultimate goal of improving women’s health.

Raven Burrell

Raven Burrell is a current Master of Public Health student in the Department of Community and Family Health, concentrating in Maternal and Child Health. She receive her B.S. in Public Health Sciences from the University of California, Irvine. Women's reproductive health is her study of interest, particularly eliminating reproductive health disparities in African American women. Most of her current research has focused on the social, economic, and racial determinants that influence high outcomes of preterm birth in African American women. Raven is currently a Peer Health Ambassador advocate for preconception health with the Preconception Peer Educators (PPE). At the CTR-WH, she contributes her experience in peer counseling and community outreach.

Stacey Griner, MPH, CPH

Stacey Griner is a doctoral student in the Department of Community and Family Health at the University of South Florida. She has an MPH in Social and Behavioral Sciences from the University of Florida and Bachelors in Dental Hygiene Education from St. Petersburg College. She has a clinical background and is a registered Dental Hygienist. Stacey’s research interests include sexual assault and consent, perceptions of body image, oral health, gender inequality, feminist theory, and the social and policy level factors that influence women’s health issues. Her previous research to evaluate the physical dating violence and forced sexual intercourse experiences of middle school students in Florida and was applied through development of a sexual health education training program for Florida’s teachers. Stacey’s work at the CTR-WH is informed by a long-time passion for women’s rights, a local focus, and a desire to generate change within her community.