Aerial view of Graduate School and Nursing building.

Black Lives Matter in Research


Check out recordings of keynote speaker presentations and panel discussions from both days 1 & 2 here!



The 4th Annual Virtual Symposium: Transforming the Health Research Landscape for Justice and Equity
November 8th-9th, 2023

Keynote Speakers:

Dr. David S. Kountz – Chief Academic Officer and Vice President, Academic Diversity for Hackensack Meridian Health

Dr. Ndidiamaka Amutah-Onukagha – Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, and Julia A. Okoro Professor of Black Maternal Health at Tufts University

Join our LinkedIn Group for symposium information and community engagement!

Event Schedule:

DAY 1, November 8th

  • 12:00-12:15pm – Opening Remarks, Moderated by Dr. Kirk A. Johnson
  • 12:15-1:15pm: Keynote Presentation – Dr. David S. Kountz
    • Diversity in Research:  Challenging Assumptions Regarding Minority Participation
  • 1:30-2:30pm: Student Panel Discussion – Navigating Health Science Research as a Graduate Student
  • 2:30-3:00pm: BREAK
  • 3:00-4:00pm: Unpacking the Day 

DAY 2, November 9th

  • 12:00-12:15pm – Opening Remarks, Moderated by Dr. Jason Williams
  • 12:15-1:15pm: Keynote Presentation – Dr. Ndidiamaka Amutah-Onukagha
    • Black Women and Maternal Health Inequities: Addressing the Role of Racism
  • 1:30-2:30pm: Panel Discussion – IRB Process for Reviewing Health Research with an Inclusive Lens
  • 2:30-3:00pm: BREAK
  • 3:00-4:00pm: Unpacking the Day
Speaker Bios


A graduate of Princeton University, SUNY/Buffalo School of Medicine (MD) and Georgian Court University (MBA), Dr. David S. Kountz holds state and national leadership roles in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and graduate medical education. After 11 years at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, he joined (then) Meridian Health in 2007. Over the past 16 years he has overseen the expansion of DEI and graduate medical education. In 2018, he was named founding Senior Associate Dean for the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine and, in 2023, was named Chief Academic Officer for the health network. Dr. Kountz has research and educational interests including pathway programs for students underrepresented in medicine; leadership development; and hypertension and related disorders in underserved populations. He has been recognized as a Master Educator at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and in 2022 was named a Master of the American College of Physicians. He is an “African American Leader in Healthcare to Know” by Becker’s Hospital Review and “one of New Jersey’s Most Influential DEI Leaders” by ROI-NJ in 2021, 2022 and 2023. He is currently funded by the New Jersey Health Foundation to advance opportunities for students under-represented in healthcare.

Dr. Ndidiamaka Amutah-Onukagha is the Julia A. Okoro Professor of Black Maternal Health in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine. Dr. Amutah-Onukagha is the Founder and Director of the Center of Black Maternal Health and Reproductive Justice (CBMHRJ), and of the Maternal Outcomes of Translational Health Equity Research (MOTHER) Lab. In addition, she is the founder of the largest conference on Black maternal health in the United States held annually in April during Black maternal health week. In its 7th year, the conference attracts participants from over 46 states and 10 countries. An active scholar, Dr. Amutah-Onukagha’s research investigates maternal health disparities, infant mortality, reproductive health and social justice, and HIV/AIDS as experienced by Black women. She also serves as the inaugural Assistant Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the university’s Public Health and Professional Degree Programs. Currently, Dr. Amutah-Onukagha is the Principal Investigator of two multi-year studies on maternal mortality and morbidity, an R01 funded by National Institutes of Health and an interdisciplinary grant on maternal health equity funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Dr. Amutah-Onukagha also serves as the DEI training director for the KL2 and BIRWCH fellowship programs at the Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI).


Dr. Kirk A. Johnson (he/him/his) is an Assistant Professor of Justice Studies and Medical Humanities at Montclair State University. He is a member of the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities and Atlantic Health Systems Bioethics Committee. Dr. Johnson has published articles in peer-reviewed journals and upcoming contributions to numerous books. His recent books are “The Anti-Racism Resource Guide Volume One: Supporting Black Businesses and Economics” (Peculiar Capital, 2020) and “Medical Stigmata: Race, Medicine, and the Pursuit of Theological Liberation” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). He is also the co-host of the “Bioethics in the Margins” podcast series.

Dr. Jason Williams, assistant professor, received a Ph.D. in Administration of Justice from Texas Southern University. His research interests include: race, ethnicity and crime, criminological/criminal justice theory, critical criminology, critical policing, social control, criminal justice policy, qualitative methods, and the sociology of knowledge. In addition to his research for the academic audience, Dr. Williams is involved in many public research and information forums enabling him to contribute to public criminology and scholarship. He has worked alongside the NJ Institute for Social Justice, helping to mobilize the community and legislative support for the eventual passage of NJ’s Restorative and Transformative Justice for Youths and Communities Pilot Program bill. Dr. Williams is a frequent contributor as a faculty expert to local and national news media outlets.

Student Panelists

Briana Belcher is a research coordinator for the Cancer Health Equity Center of Excellence at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and holds a master’s degree in public health with an epidemiology concentration from Rutgers University. Briana is a dedicated public health professional with a fervent commitment to addressing health disparities, food insecurity, and chronic diseases through advocacy. In her current role, Briana plays a pivotal part in study design, planning and coordinating day-to-day program activities, including recruitment, ensuring institutional review board compliance, and data quality assurance. She also leads study assessments and interventions with participants, maintaining strict adherence to protocols. In her past role at the Rutgers Cancer Institute as a Bilingual Public Health Representative, Briana facilitated in-home interviews with Hispanic and Black breast cancer survivors. Briana’s educational background and professional experience underscore her dedication to public health and her commitment to addressing critical issues in the field. Her passion for reducing health disparities and advocating for those in need makes her a valuable asset in the realm of public health. She is also passionate about cooking nutritious meals for individuals who experience time scarcity and hopes to continue expanding her meal prep services to individuals living with chronic illness and disabilities.
Tyra Maya Gravesande is a growth manager at ONYX, an early stage femtech start-up that is modernizing menstruation by creating safe, innovative, reproductive wellness solutions. She also serves as a social impact fellow at aīre ventures, a venture studio that empowers entrepreneurs to create positive change in underserved communities. In addition, she is a research assistant at MOTHER Lab, a multidisciplinary research group that focuses on maternal health equity, and a research fellow at Baylor College of Medicine, where she conducts bioethics analysis on various topics. With a BA in Comparative Women’s Studies from Spelman College and a MS in Bioethics from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Tyra combines her passion for women’s health, social justice, and innovation to drive growth and impact in the femtech and health tech sectors. She has multiple publications, grants, and awards in the field of bioethics and reproductive justice, and has participated in several prestigious programs and fellowships at Harvard Business School, Yale University, McKinsey & Company, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. She is skilled in analytical problem solving, data analysis, and strategic partnerships, and is motivated by a vision of creating a more equitable and inclusive world.
Michael Welsh is a part-time graduate student at Georgia Tech working on his Master of Science in Computer Science, and also a Lead Data Scientist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). In his lab role, Mike is responsible for the deployment and engineering of ML solutions into CHOP’s physician system. He received his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Penn State University in December of 2021, where he also worked in the Applied Research Laboratory. His current lab work at CHOP focuses on AI research and deployment in pediatric radiology to improve diagnostic capabilities at CHOP. Some areas of his recent work include child abuse detection based on presentation of rib fractures in an X-ray, and better diagnosing ARDS in the pediatric ICU department. Mike believes that developing trustworthy AI is no exception to the scientific process commonly seen in life sciences, and looks forward to discussing the vitality of patient demographics and diverse representation within the health research.

Student Panel Moderator

Rose J. Jean-Baptiste, MPH, MCHES® is a visionary and idealist. She has served on the Board of the New Jersey Society for Public Health Education (NJSOPHE)), which focuses on improving health through practice and research, and was its 2011 president. Jean-Baptiste has taught at William Paterson University and at Middlesex College. She is currently the Quality Director at Rutgers, RWJ Eric B. Chandler Health Center, a federally qualified health center (FQHC).

Professional Panelists

Alexandria Bauer, PhD. is an Assistant Professor at the Center of Alcohol and Substance Use Studies and Applied Psychology, Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology. Her research interests include understanding and addressing health disparities that burden Black/African American and other minoritized populations, particularly using community-based participatory research strategies. Her work focuses on three main outcomes: (1) Improving health and well-being for people in diverse and minoritized communities, particularly in the mental health conditions that impact them most (e.g., trauma, substance use), (2) Understanding and addressing social determinants of health that contribute to, or maintain, those disparities, and (3) Improving available treatments for mental health conditions, so that all people have access to treatment that recognizes and values their identities and experiences.
Kristen D. Krause, PhD, MPH (she/her/hers), is an instructor of Urban Health in the Department of Urban-Global Public Health at the Rutgers University School of Public Health (SPH) and the Deputy Director of the Center for Health, Identity, Behavior and Prevention Studies (CHIBPS), a leading training ground for LGBTQ scholars. She has expertise in HIV/AIDS, aging, resilience, and broader LGBTQ health disparities. More specifically, her work examines resilience as it relates to biological, psychological, and social health states among older people living with HIV/AIDS. Previously, she was the recipient of a TL1 Pre-doctoral fellowship at the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at NYU Langone Health, and also received the Stuart D. Cook Excellence in Research Award for her dissertation work from the Rutgers SPH. Dr. Krause serves as the Co Editor in Chief of a new journal geared towards the health and well-being of sexual and gender diverse communities called Annals of LGBTQ Public and Population Health and she is also the Deputy Editor of Behavioral Medicine.
Dr. Kathryn Greene is a Professor of Communication at Rutgers University. She is a Member of the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ) and holds a Joint Appointment with The Rutgers School of Public Health, Department of Health Behavior, Society and Policy. She is also an Affiliate of the Rutgers Center for Tobacco Studies (CTS). Dr. Greene’s research explores the central role of communication in preventing risk and maintaining health and wellness in individuals and populations, in particular focused on health disparities. The two main thrusts of this research are: 1) increasing involvement in message processing and exploring prevention message features, especially targeting adolescent risk taking; and 2) exploring how people choose to share or conceal health diagnoses, updates, or coordinate other information as they manage illness.

Professional Panel Moderator

Hila Feldman Berger, MPH, CIP, CHC, serves as assistant vice president of research regulatory affairs at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Hila Berger joined Rutgers in 2022 and has over 19 years of experience in institutional research compliance and university-wide program and policy development. Hila’s experience spans institutional research compliance and university wide program and policy development. She began her career as a public health policy researcher, focusing on the statewide policy of tobacco use. Later at Rutgers University’s New Jersey Center for Biomaterials, she managed compliance for clinical trials and regenerative medicine research programs, funded by the Department of Defense. Hila worked at Montclair State University for 11 years, leading a compliance team to implement and develop all the necessary compliance programs to match the institution’s growth in research. Among these accomplishments include negotiation of the university’s Animal Welfare Assurance with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, establishing the institution’s initial USDA registration, and developing a brand-new Occupational Health unit supporting the regulatory needs of the research enterprise. Hila received her master’s degree in public health from Rutgers University School of Public Health (formerly University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey) and is certified as an IRB professional (CIP®) and healthcare compliance professional (CHC®).
Thank You to Our Sponsors

The 2023 Black Lives Matter in Research Virtual Symposium is sponsored by:

  • Montclair State University
    • The Office of Research Compliance
    • The College for Community Health
    • The College of Humanities and Social Sciences
    • The College for Education and Engaged Learning
    • The College of Science and Mathematics
  • Rutgers University
    • The Office for Research
  • PRIM&R
  • Cayuse
Reference Materials
Event Cost and Donations

Registration for this event is free – instead we ask that you consider giving a gift to an MSU student serving organization of your choice:

Give to Red Hawk Pantry: Help address the needs of students experiencing food insecurity.

Give to Rocky’s Closet: Donate to students who are in need of professional clothing.

Emergency Scholarship Fund: Support students who are facing conflict with their academics due to financial hardships.

By giving to Montclair State University, you can directly support student’s success and endeavors.

View Past Symposiums Here: