Rutgers Bloustein Voorhees Civic Engagement Center Fellows Food Insecurity research

Rohit Aita is a Presidential Scholar of the Honors College in the School of Arts and Sciences majoring in Genetics and pursuing a Certificate in Computational Genetics. After being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, Rohit has been inspired to pursue a career in medicine to make a difference through research, patient care, and advocacy. Rohit received the New Jersey Governor’s STEM Scholars (NJGSS) Fellowship and lead a team of high school students who researched metabolic syndrome and inflammatory disease under Dr. Harini Sampath. Rohit was an Aresty Research fellow and Peer Instructor and Human Genetics Institute of New Jersey MacMillan Cancer Genetics Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow. He works with the Improve Care Now (ICN) Network, a non-profit that seeks to standardize pediatric patient care for those with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. As a member of the Patient Advisory Council (PAC), he is co-leading the creation of a patient informational toolkit on “IBD and Lifestyle”. As a Lloyd C. Gardner research fellow, Rohit conducted a literature review on the current state of affairs and ethical implications of IBD genetic testing. Rohit is President of the Rutgers IBD and IBS Association, volunteers at the Zarephath Health Center, and remotely interns under Dr. Jariwala, Director of Clinical & Research Innovation, Department of Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center. Rohit plans to work in a clinical capacity before going to medical school.

Voorhees Fellow Civic Engagement Rutgers UniversityLily Chang is a Public Health major and Urban Planning and Design minor. She is a proud Douglass woman, Treasurer of the Bloustein Public Service Association, and Managing Editor of the Rutgers Journal of Bioethics. Through a Spring 2021 study abroad program, with the public health-focused Khon Kaen University program in Thailand, she will participate in an internship geared towards research and work using community partnerships. After graduation, she plans to work in the healthcare field and later enter medical school. With an interest in Urban Planning, she wants to bridge the gap between the interrelated fields of Public Health and Urban Planning. Her ultimate goal is to work on global public health issues.

Josie Libero is majoring in Public Health. Her focus is in violence prevention and sexual education. She has dedicated much of her college experience to advocacy. She is a Crisis Response Advocate for the Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance where she provides advocacy to all victims of interpersonal violence. She works as the Interim Coordinator for SCREAM Theater and helps to put on New Student Orientation programming about sexual violence for Rutgers University as well as other institutions in states along the East Coast. She is a Peer Educator at Hope for the Mental Health Programming and the Sexual Health Programming. Preventative education is at the intersection of her passion for public health and social justice as education is one of the great tools to curing the world of ignorance and hate.

Kinnary Shah is a senior in the Honors College and Douglass Residential College pursuing a double major in Public Health and Biomathematics. She is a member of the Rutgers Global Health Institute’s Student Council, the Phi Beta Kappa liberal arts honor society, and the Eta Sigma Gamma National Health Education Honorary. She has tutored with Youth Empowerment Services after-school program. Through the Institute for Women’s Leadership Community Leadership, Action, and Service Program, she interned at Artists Mentoring Against Racism, Drugs, and Violence (AMARD&V). She is a research assistant in the Ellison Lab in the Rutgers University Department of Genetics and has published her research. She mentors first-time women in STEM researchers through the Douglass Research Advisory Board. She interned at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health through the Summer Program in Epidemiology and Biostatistics, where she researched genetic epidemiology regarding neurodevelopmental variation in autism. This summer, she is interning at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center through the Quantitative Sciences Undergraduate Research Experience (QSURE), where she is researching data normalization and batch effects. She has served as an undergraduate teaching assistant for an upper-level Genetics elective, will be an Aresty Peer Instructor, and will be teaching a First-Year Interest Group Seminar. She is President of Kier’s Kidz at Rutgers, which is affiliated with a local non-profit advocating for and financially supporting children and families battling pediatric cancer. She has received several scholarships through Douglass Residential College, Johnson and Johnson Women in STEM2D Scholar, the School of Arts and Sciences Excellence Award, and the Paul Robeson Renaissance Award.

Wamia Siddiqui Rutgers Voorhees Civic Fellow EngagementWamia Siddiqui is a senior at the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences studying Biology and Public Health with certificates in Civic Scholarship and Women’s Leadership. She has been a long term human rights advocate with Amnesty International and co-founded the Rutgers University student chapter, with which she has spearheaded campaigns on issues ranging from refugee rights to climate change. She is passionate about the intersection of healthcare and advocacy, something she has been able to pursue as a clinical intern at the Libertas Center for Human Rights, which connects survivors of human rights violations with medical, social, and legal services. Her research interests include health policy reform, especially in regards to reproductive policies targeting marginalized communities, and increasing access to intersectional and inclusive care for LGBTQ+ populations. Wamia is involved in community service to promote educational equity, as a volunteer for the Advance Via Individual Determination (AVID) college readiness program at New Brunswick Middle School, and as an intern at BioBus, which seeks to drive science education in under-resourced communities. She hopes to pursue a career combating health disparities where she can combine her interests in medicine, education, and public service.


Molly Reynolds is a junior in the School of Arts & Sciences majoring in Environmental Studies and Geography with a track in GIS. They are focused on issues of justice and equity, particularly environmental justice, and are interested in the regions of Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Before college, Molly spent three months in Costa Rica learning Spanish and doing work on LGBT rights in Central America, as well as volunteering in preserving the tropical rainforest ecosystem through wildlife rescue, rehabilitation, and release. Molly hopes to use their dual majors as a foundation for balanced, interdisciplinary research that combines GIS’ quantitative analysis with the social sciences and humanities, as well as prioritizing local voices and knowledge. Outside of academics, they are involved in student activist organizations and are a part of Rutgers Nightshade, the Womxn’s Ultimate Frisbee team.

Taylor Shiroff is a junior in the School of Arts and Sciences, majoring in Economics with a minor in Mathematics and Political Science. He has a core interest in public finance and fiscal and monetary policy. In the summer of 2019, he studied abroad in London, studying British and European politics alongside a current Member of Parliament, through which he was able to see policy and politics in practice. After graduating from Rutgers, he aspires to work in government in a research capacity, such as the Federal Reserve System or the Treasury Department, or at a private research institution, before pursuing graduate school. He has held a leadership position with the Rutgers Marching Scarlet Knights, as well as the Rutgers history and economics societies.




Voorhees Center Ralph W. Voorhees Civic Engagement Rutgers University

Malembe Dumont is a recent graduate of the Master of City and Regional Planning program from the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, with a custom concentration on Community Development and Housing and Environmental Planning. She is interested in advancing towards resilient, healthy and environmentally just communities and cities. At the Bloustein School, she has been the Social Justice Chair and student leader on the Diversity, Belonging, and Inclusion Task Force. Prior to joining Rutgers as a Fulbright Fellow, she conducted research on housing informality and green infrastructure to advance better housing conditions while tackling food justice and climate change impacts, as well as supporting a green cities project. She has worked for international and local organizations to improve access to basic services for low-income communities living in inadequate housing conditions in Colombia, Mozambique, and the Dominican Republic. She holds a Master’s in International and Sustainable Development, and a Bachelor’s in Political Science from Spain. She recently started painting. 

Wael Kanj is a first-year student in the Master of City and Regional Planning program at the Bloustein School, where he is pursuing a concentration in sustainability and food systems. Wael is passionate about how urban food systems can promote human, animal, and planetary health. Some of his research interests include how private and public interests in food play out in urban communities, urban food systems adaptation in a changing climate, and the role of community organizations and public institutions in influencing positive change. Prior to pursuing his graduate degree, Wael worked as an analytics and strategy consultant for a variety of nonprofits, progressive advocacy organizations, and higher education institutions. Outside of his studies, Wael is an active member of the New Jersey Sierra Club and is working to pilot a community composting program in his town. He received his bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Rutgers.

Lauren Nolan Doctoral student Rutgers University Voorhees CenterLauren Nolan is a first year Ph.D. student at the Rutgers Bloustein School. Prior to coming to Rutgers, Lauren served as the Director of Research for the Woodstock Institute, a nonprofit research and policy organization working in the areas of fair lending, wealth creation, and financial systems reform. She also worked as a researcher and economic development planner at the Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she also taught a course in Policy Analysis Methods. Lauren is a certified planner and member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Elana Simon Voorhees Center Elana Simon is a graduate student in the Master of City and Regional Planning program at the Bloustein School where she is pursuing a concentration in community development. She is interested in equitable economic development frameworks, community development finance, and housing development. Prior to joining the Bloustein School, she lived in Kaohsiung, Taiwan for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program and later worked for nonprofit organizations in Washington, DC while finding her way to urban planning through volunteer community organizing. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Politics from Whitman College in Washington State.

Ooha Uppalapati is a Master of City and Regional Planning student at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, working towards completing the Community Development and Housing concentration. Before attending Rutgers, Ooha worked with a non-profit in Mumbai, where she was part of research focusing on self-built neighborhoods and their relationship with the urban planning processes in Indian cities. She organised workshops to facilitate exchange of vocabulary of planning practice between the residents and planning documents. Previously, she was an Urban Fellow at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements where her learning focused on the different socio-spatial practices that constitute Indian cities. She pursued architecture during her undergraduate studies and worked with an architectural studio on public infrastructure projects including the Bus Rapid Transit System in Ahmedabad and Amritsar.


Cara Cuite is an Assistant Extension Specialist in the Department of Human Ecology at Rutgers University. She is a health psychologist who studies community food security, risk communication and public perceptions of food-related issues, including food safety and genetically engineered foods. Her current research is focused on food insecurity among Rutgers students, including collaborations to implement a “screen and intervene” program in Student Health Services and to create a student community café for food insecure students. She works with the New Brunswick Community Food Alliance, the Feeding New Brunswick Network, and Meals on Wheels in Greater New Brunswick. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the United States Department of Agriculture, the National Center for Food Protection and Defense, New Jersey Sea Grant, and Johnson & Johnson. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology from Rutgers University and a B.S. in Psychology and Modern Languages from Union College.

Will Payne Rutgers Voorhees Center for Civic Engagement HeadshotWill Payne joined the Bloustein School in September 2020. He received his PhD in Geography from the University of California, Berkeley, where he also was affiliated with the Berkeley Center for New Media, the Berkeley Food Institute, and the UC Berkeley Global Urban Humanities Initiative. Will uses quantitative and qualitative methods to study the relationship between geospatial technologies and urban inequality, examining how changing technical capabilities, labor relations, and competitive pressures in the location-based services (LBS) industry interact with processes of racialized and class-based segregation in American cities. He has published articles in the Annals of the American Association of GeographersUrban GeographyComputational Culture, and Environment and Planning A, among other publications. Will’s current book project examines how different groups of urban residents use “urban information systems” like the Zagat Survey, Yelp, Foursquare, and Google Local to organize and understand their consumption experiences in cities, while technologists and real estate developers employ the resulting data to help transform marginal neighborhoods into upscale consumption spaces. Will also develops open-source tools for spatial data visualization and computational research.

Ronald Quincy Ronald Quincy is a Professor of Professional Practice, a Visiting Senior Fellow for Diversity Studies at the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, Co-Academic Director of the Collaborative Center for Community-Based Research and Service, Academic Director of the Rutgers Civic Leadership Institute, and the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, as well as Faculty Director of the South Africa Study Abroad, Honors College & School of Arts & Sciences Honors Program. Dr. Quincy earned his Ph.D. from the College of Social Sciences at Michigan State University.  He served as a member of the Governor of Michigan’s Cabinet, Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, and Director of the Michigan State Office of Human Resources Policy and Special Projects.  His other previous positions include the following: Associate Vice President, Assistant to the President, of Harvard University; Executive Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change; Executive Director/President of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc.; President of the White House Fellows Association and Chairman, White House Fellows Foundation; Senior Management Consultant, Towers Perrin (the world’s 11th largest management consulting firm); and Foreign Policy Advisor, U.S. State Department, Africa Bureau. His research interests include: nonprofit sector leadership and governance, fundraising, institutional branding and grantsmanship, organizational strategy, human capital, performance and executive coaching, international civil society organizations and international affairs.

Eric Seymour is an Assistant Professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. He holds a PhD in urban and regional planning from the University of Michigan and was most recently a postdoctoral research associate at the Population Studies and Training Center at Brown University. Eric’s research is broadly concerned with neighborhood dynamics in the aftermath of the financial crisis and their implications for the health and housing insecurity of disadvantaged populations. He continues to be engaged in research on transformations in urban housing markets in places hit hard by the foreclosure crisis, where investors purchased large numbers of repossessed properties and sold them on insecure terms or rented them in uninhabitable condition to low-income and credit-constrained households. Eric’s prior work has specifically examined the reemergence of exploitative contract-for-deed transactions in majority-Black cities and neighborhoods. He is currently engaged in research on evictions in Detroit and Las Vegas, focusing on the intersection of opportunistic property investment and the constrained housing options of low-income renters. His methodological expertise lies in spatial analysis and statistical methods. He draws on large administrative datasets, particularly real estate transaction records, to study urban dynamics.

Rutgers Bloustein Civic Engagement Mi Shih is an Associate Professor in international planning and urbanization in the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. Prior to this appointment, she was an assistant professor in the Human Geography and Planning Program at the University of Alberta, Canada. Between 2011 and 2013, she was a postdoctoral research fellow in the China Research Centre at the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia. She received her Ph.D. in Planning and Public Policy from Rutgers University in 2010. Her research involves two major areas. Building on ethnographic fieldwork methods, she examines Chinese urbanization and planning, particularly focusing on the role of the state, shifting urban-rural boundaries, displacement, people’s livelihood changes, and social conflicts over land development. Employing mixed research methods, her second research area focuses on state developmentalism, land assembly instruments, and discursive and institutional practices of value capture in urban development in Taiwan.


Senior Program Director

Nadia A. Mian is Senior Program Director of the Ralph W. Voorhees Center for Civic Engagement and a Lecturer at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. She holds a PhD from The New School, and Masters in Environmental Studies, where she specialized in urban planning from York University in Toronto, Canada. She previously taught at New York University, The New School, and Columbia University, where she was Managing Editor of the journal, City & Community. Her research focuses on urban policy, redevelopment, housing, sustainability, and neighborhood change. Her latest research examines how faith-based institutions are using their property to build affordable housing, and at the same time advocate for and change land use, zoning and housing policy. Passionate about urban planning and community development, Nadia is a member of the Planning Board and Environmental Commission in Hanover Township, New Jersey.

Faculty Director

Kathe Newman is a Professor in the Urban Planning and Policy Development Program at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and Director of the Ralph W. Voorhees Center for Civic Engagement. She holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Graduate School and University Center at the City University of New York. Her research explores urban change, what it is, why it happens, and what it means. Her work has explored gentrification, foreclosure, urban redevelopment, food security, community economic development and community participation. Kathe has published articles in Urban Studies, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Urban Affairs Review, Shelterforce, Progress in Human Geography, Housing Studies, GeoJournal, and Environment and Planning A. She is currently an editor of Environment and Planning A.