Currently, I am a PhD Candidate in the Integrative Biosciences PhD Program at Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Alabama, a Historically Black College/University (HBCU). Also, I obtained my Bachelor of Science in Biology from Albany State University, a HBCU located in rural, south Georgia. Additionally, I am also a public health scientist interested in: 1) Assessing the intersectionality between the role of environmental chemicals, food insecurity and diet-sensitive chronic disease risks in vulnerable populations, 2) Evaluating uncommon, environmental chemical exposure pathways (i.e. via food systems) and environmental health disparities in racial/ethnic populations, and 3) Utilizing a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach in developing transdisciplinary and culturally-competent interventions to improve communities of colors’ awareness and advocating about environmental health and justice issues, food security, and chronic disease prevention; place matters! I also interested in public health ethics.
Next, I am a third generation descendant of the infamous United States Public Health Service Syphilis (USPHS) Study at Tuskegee, or (correctly titled) as "Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male". The USPHS Study at Tuskegee is the longest, non-therapeutic study spanning a 40 year period (1932-1972), involving over 600 victimized Black men in Macon County, Alabama. The intent of the study was to observe the natural progression of syphilis in the human body. There was no written protocol for the "so-called" study. These men were denied medical treatment even when penicillin treatment became available for syphilis in 1947. The men were not given an opportunity for informed consent. And, not all of the men in the Study were poor, illiterate or uneducated, sharecroppers or tenant farmers. My great-great grandfather was a "well-to-do" biracial, Black man born to a Black mother and White father. His father knowing the odds against him in the Jim Crow South left him farming land with horses and cows, a symbol of wealth. Further details regarding the Study and its implications on academic, public health and clinical research can be found on the Voices For Our Fathers Legacy Foundation tab. Currently, I serve as the Vice President of Voices For Our Fathers Legacy Foundation (VFOFLF) and Strategic Planning Committee Chair. VFOFLF is a 501c3 non-profit organization founded by descendants of the Study whose purpose is "to uplift the legacy of the USPHS Syphilis Study at Tuskegee by honoring the men in the study and convening their families as a means to preserve history and enrich education in clinical and public health research".
My duality of experience as a descendant family member of the United States' longest, non-therapeutic "study" and as a public health scientist has taught me and continues to teach me the impact of how social determinants of health such as race/ethnicity, sex/gender, age, income, and environment influences an individual or community's optimal health. In continuing to learn more about the impact of the social determinants of health, I received my Master of Public Health degree at Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM), a HBCU, located in Atlanta, Georgia. There, I was awarded the Chesapeake IRB Honors Scholarship in Public Health for my work on discussing the ethical implications of the USPHS Syphilis Study and its impact on population health. At MSM, I found my passion for public health research by focusing on cancer health disparities and the built food environment resulting in my Master's Thesis entitled, "Assessing Food Access and Availability in Metropolitan Atlanta: Implications for Colorectal Cancer Incidence". This passion naturally evolved into my doctoral work which is in the context of environmental injustices, food insecurity, and health disparities.
Currently, I am a Graduate Fellow in the Inter-Institutional Network for Food, Agriculture and Sustainability at University California- Davis (host institution). Also, I am a Scholar in the Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP): The Tuskegee Alliance to Forge Pathways to STEM Academic Careers (T-PAC), funded by the National Science Foundation. Other membership affiliations include the American Public Health Association and the Golden Key International Honour Society. Lastly, I am a member of the first and oldest Black sorority in the United States, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (founded in 1908 on the campus of Howard University).