Health Policy Research Scholars is a leadership development program for full-time doctoral students who are entering their second year of study and are from populations underrepresented in specific doctoral disciplines and/or historically marginalized backgrounds. Examples of eligible individuals include, but are not limited to, first-generation college graduates, individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, individuals from communities of color, and individuals with disabilities. They want to apply their research to advance health and equity, and their innovation helps build a Culture of Health, one that enables everyone in America to live longer, healthier lives.

HPRS includes scholars from disciplines as diverse as economics, political science, psychology, architecture, transportation, sociology, social welfare, and environmental health. We’re always looking for students from any research-focused discipline that can advance a Culture of Health.

“The Culture of Health reminds me of an olelo no`eau, ‘ua ola loko i ke aloha’ (love gives life within). HPRS promotes the health of Native Hawaiians by making health a shared value. The health of our people, land, and resources must be supported by everyone through policies and programs that are made with Native Hawaiians in mind and with a seat at the table.”

Samantha R. H. Scott, DrPH Student, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa


Upon completion, scholars should have the tools to:

  • Exercise individual and collective leadership.
  • Apply research and interdisciplinary collaboration skills to engage multiple sectors (e.g., policy, education, business, communities, institutions, and agencies) to effectively translate research findings that will inform and influence policy to advance a Culture of Health.
  • Use strategies to leverage diverse interdisciplinary networks of researchers.
  • Contribute to research and a national dialogue on the policy changes necessary for a Culture of Health.


Over the course of the program, scholars will:

  • Participate in policy and leadership development trainings and coursework via online seminars and courses.
  • Receive an annual award of up to $30,000 for up to four years or until they complete their doctoral program (whichever is sooner).
  • Receive training in health equity, the policy process, leadership, communication, implementation, and dissemination.
  • Continue learning and working from their home institutions.
  • Establish and strengthen professional ties to public health and policy leaders.
  • Be eligible for a competitive dissertation grant of up to $10,000.

Health Policy Research Scholars is a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, led by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

These programs continue the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s legacy of supporting the development and diversity of leaders. Initially focused on health and healthcare, the programs have been expanded, because we know that building a Culture of Health requires all of us in every sector, profession, and discipline working together.

For more than 40 years, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. It is working with others to build a national Culture of Health, enabling everyone in America to live longer, healthier lives.


Keshia M. Pollack Porter, PhD, MPH
Keshia M. Pollack Porter, PhD, MPH Director, HPRS
Chair, Department of Health Policy and Management
Bloomberg Centennial Professor
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Keshia M. Pollack Porter, PhD, MPH is, in addition to directing the Health Policy Research Scholars program, is the Chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management and a Bloomberg Centennial Professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Pollack Porter’s research advances policies that create safe and healthy environments where people live, work, play, and travel. She is an injury epidemiologist and policy researcher studying active play, sports injury prevention, active transportation, and the nexus of transportation and health. She is also an expert in advancing health equity and policy change using tools such as health impact assessment and strategies that promote health in all policies.

Shannon Frattaroli
Shannon Frattaroli Associate Director, HPRS
Associate Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management
The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Shannon Frattaroli is a core faculty member of the Center for Injury Research and Policy, the Center for Gun Policy and Research, and the Center for Qualitative Studies in Health and Medicine at the School. Her work involves bringing evidence to policy formulation and implementation processes in order to maximize the potential for public health benefits from policy interventions. Dr. Frattaroli’s current research portfolio includes projects examining Extreme Risk Protection Order laws, home fire sprinkler policies, strategies to prevent opioid overdose, and safe systems for road safety. She teaches courses in Policy Formulation, Qualitative Methods, and Implementation Research and Practice.

Laurie Unruh, MSc
Laurie Unruh, MSc Deputy Director, HPRS
Department of Health Policy and Management
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Laurie G Unruh is the Deputy Director of Health Policy Research Scholars at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her work involves managing multiple program aspects, including operations, logistics, finances, recruitment, and scholar support. Ms. Unruh was a Program Manager at the previous National Program Center of Health Policy Research Scholars at George Washington University. Prior to her time at HPRS, she worked in online higher education management, student services, and recruitment.

Attia Goheer, PhD, MHS
Attia Goheer, PhD, MHS Director of Evaluation, HPRS
Assistant Scientist, Department of Health Policy and Management
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Attia Goheer is the director of evaluation for HPRS and co-instructor of the course for 4th year scholars. Her past work focused on developing, implementing, and evaluating obesity interventions in diverse settings, including schools, corner stores, churches, fire stations, and recreation centers. She received both her masters and her doctorate in Human Nutrition from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and completed her post-doctoral training at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine as a fellow with the American Heart Association’s Strategically-Focused Obesity Research Network (SFORN).

Jessica Harrington, MPA
Jessica Harrington, MPA Director of Scholar and Alumni Leadership Development, HPRS
Department of Health Policy and Management
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Jessica Harrington is the Director for Scholar and Alumni Leadership Development. She has over 10 years of experience in graduate student program development and advising. She is also a Certified Executive & Leadership Development Coach. She is passionate about providing the necessary tools to facilitate the growth and development of college student populations including those of underrepresented backgrounds. Mrs. Harrington is responsible for engaging scholars in leadership development throughout their time in HPRS. She is dedicated to the personal and academic progress of each scholar whom she encounters. Prior to HPRS,  Ms. Harrington was the Director of Student Life at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Caitlin Hoffman, MPH
Caitlin Hoffman, MPH Director of Communications, HPRS
Communications Associate, Department of Health Policy and Management
Bloomberg School of Public Health

Caitlin Hoffman is a public health communications professional with over a decade of experience in program development, evaluation and communicating public health information to government officials, community stakeholders, healthcare professionals and the public. She leads the strategic communication program for the Department of Health Policy and Management. She has conducted original research on health communication strategies and presented work at national conferences including the National Conference on Health Communication. Caitlin is passionate about translating evidence-based research into practice, using data to drive policy change, and emphasizing the importance of effective communication strategies. Caitlin earned her BA from the Pennsylvania State University and an MPH from Emory University.

Munin Streitz, MPH
Munin Streitz, MPH Communications Specialist, Department of Health Policy and Management
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Munin supports communications activities for HPRS and is the communications specialist for the Health Policy and Management Department at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She joins the team with five years of communications, marketing, and project management experience. Recently, she earned her MPH from the George Washington University in Washington, DC. Her culminating experience paper examined how climate change disproportionately impacts low-socioeconomic communities in the northeast United States and developed a communications strategy to generate policy change on the issue.

Amanda Williams, MEd
Amanda Williams, MEd Administrative Program Coordinator, HPRS
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Amanda is the Administrative Program Coordinator of Health Policy Research Scholars at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She joins the team with eight years of program management, student life, and higher education management experience. Amanda earned her BA and MEd from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.  She is responsible for supporting the operations, logistics, and scholar support within the program. Amanda is passionate about helping students find success in their academic experiences while developing a sense of wellness and resilience.

Pam McCollough, MPA
Pam McCollough, MPA Senior Administrative Coordinator, HPRS
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Pamela A. McCullough is the Senior Administrative Coordinator for the Health Policy Research Scholars at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Phoenix. Pam has over 20 years of experience working in the administrative field and previously worked at Johns Hopkins University in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.

Our partners are instrumental in developing and delivering curriculum, providing mentorship and coaching, and extending the network of scholars.

National advisory committee

John Chin, PhD
John Chin, PhD National Advisory Committee Chair, HPRS;
Professor and Director, Master of Urban Planning Program, Department of Urban Policy and Planning, Hunter College, City University of New York

John J. Chin’s research focuses on the role of community institutions in delivering social and health services to under-served communities, including immigrant communities and communities of color. His NIH-funded research has examined the role of immigrant-led community institutions in delivering HIV prevention and stigma-reduction messages. He recently completed an NIH-funded study of health risks for Asian immigrant women working in sexually oriented massage parlors. Prior to his academic career, Chin helped to found the Asian & Pacific Islander Coalition on HIV/AIDS (now a federally qualified health center known as APICHA Community Health Center), where he served as deputy executive director.

Jean Bennett, PhD, MSM, MSN, BSN, RN
Jean Bennett, PhD, MSM, MSN, BSN, RN National Advisory Committee Member, HPRS;
Regional Administrator, Region III, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services

Jean Bennett has served as the Philadelphia-based regional administrator for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration since 2011, responsible for federal Region III, which includes Pennsylvania; Delaware; Washington, D.C.; Maryland; Virginia; and West Virginia. Bennett chairs the HHS Region III Opioid Task Force, convenes regional stakeholders focused on interprofessional addiction education, expanding access to medication-assisted treatment, suicide prevention, Naloxone, harm reduction, philanthropy and peers. As a result, Bennett oversees the implementation of dozens of opioid-related project ideas developed during regional summits on stakeholder-recommended topics. Bennett served in the U.S. Navy where she retired at the rank of captain after serving in clinical, administrative, and leadership positions. She spent 10 years after September 11 serving in emergency preparedness and response roles for Children’s Hospital Boston, the Veterans Integrated Service Network in San Francisco, and for HHS Region 6, impacted directly by Hurricane Katrina. Bennett has four academic degrees including a BS and MS in nursing, an MS in management and a PhD in organization and management. Bennett grew up in Boston and currently resides in Nutley, New Jersey, with her husband, Michael, and their two kitties, Beanie and Snaggy.

Jeronimo Cortina, PhD
Jeronimo Cortina, PhD National Advisory Committee Member, HPRS;
Associate Professor, University of Houston

Jeronimo Cortina is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and the associate director of the Center for Mexican American Studies. He earned a PhD in political science from Columbia University, where he previously earned a master’s degree in public administration and public policy from the School of International and Public Affairs. Cortina specializes in Latino politics, survey research, and immigration. His work has been published in scholarly and policy journals such as the Political Research Quarterly, Journal of Policy Studies and American Politics Research Journal, among others. His books include “Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State: Why Americans Vote the Way They Do,” published by Princeton University Press; “A Quantitative Tour of the Social Sciences,” published by Cambridge University Press; and “New Perspectives on International Migration and Development” with Columbia University Press.

Andrew J. Imparato, JD
Andrew J. Imparato, JD National Advisory Committee, HPRS;
Executive Director, Disability Rights California

Andrew J. Imparato is a disability rights lawyer with more than 25 years’ experience advancing disability policy at the federal level. He has served as Executive Director of AUCD (a national network of federally-funded centers and programs conducting research, training, and advocacy to improve the quality of life of children and adults with disabilities) for six years. Before that, Imparato was Disability Policy Director for the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions under Chairman Tom Harkin. His perspective is informed by his lived experience with bipolar disorder.

Samuel L. Myers, Jr., PhD
Samuel L. Myers, Jr., PhD National Advisory Committee Member, HPRS;
Roy Wilkins Professor of Human Relations and Social Justice, Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota

Samuel L. Myers, Jr., PhD, specializes in the use of applied econometric techniques to examine racial disparities in crime, to detect illegal discrimination in home mortgage lending and consumer credit markets, to assess the impacts of welfare on family stability to evaluate the effectiveness of government transfers in reducing poverty, and to detect disparities and discrimination in government contracting. He is an expert on conducting disparity studies for state and local governments and analyzes race-neutral public procurement and contracting policies. He has served as an expert witness in the ground-breaking federal cases of GEOD v. New Jersey Transit (3rd Circuit Court of Appeals) and Geyer v. MnDOT (8th Circuit Court of Appeals).

Jamila M. Porter, DrPH, MPH
Jamila M. Porter, DrPH, MPH National Advisory Committee Member, HPRS;
Senior Advisor for Program and Strategy,
de Beaumont Foundation

Jamila M. Porter, DrPH, MPH is the Senior Advisor for Program and Strategy at the de Beaumont Foundation. She serves as a strategic advisor to the CEO, executes and supports organizational priorities, and works across teams to drive results throughout the Foundation. Prior to this role, Jamila was Director of Resilient Communities with the Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC). In that role, she led BCHC’s efforts to build healthy, resilient, and vibrant communities across our nation’s largest cities by utilizing expertise in systemic equity, racial justice, violence prevention, and policy.

Prior to joining BCHC, Jamila was Director of Programs and Evaluation at the Safe States Alliance, a national professional association dedicated to strengthening the practice of injury and violence prevention. At the Safe States Alliance, she led the association’s program, policy, and evaluation initiatives, including providing technical assistance and training to multi-sector organizations and practitioners at local, state, and national levels. Previously, Jamila worked in health care consulting and international development.

Jamila has extensive expertise in public health research, policy, and practice. Her research interests include public health capacity, policy evaluation, health justice, transportation equity, the social determinants of health, and healthy community design. She has published articles in a variety of peer-reviewed journals, including the American Journal of Public Health, the Journal of MultiDisciplinary Evaluation, the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, and the Journal of Transport and Land Use.

Jamila earned her bachelor’s degree in Communication and Health Policy and Administration from Wake Forest University. She earned her Master of Public Health degree from Mercer University School of Medicine and her Doctor of Public Health degree from the University of Georgia College of Public Health.

Rashawn Ray, PhD
Rashawn Ray, PhD National Advisory Committee Member, HPRS;
Professor, University of Maryland; Rubenstein Fellow, The Brookings Institution

Rashawn Ray, PhD, is associate professor of Sociology and executive director of the Lab for Applied Social Science Research (LASSR) at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is also one of the co-editors of Contexts Magazine: Sociology for the Public. Formerly, Ray was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. Currently, he is a David. M. Rubenstein Fellow at The Brookings Institution. Ray’s research has appeared in the American Journal of Sociology, Science Advances, Social Science Research, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Du Bois Review, and the Annual Review of Public Health. 

Janelle Scott, PhD
Janelle Scott, PhD National Advisory Committee Member, HPRS;
Professor and Robert C. and Mary Catherine Birgeneau Distinguished Chair in Educational Disparities, University of California at Berkeley

Janelle Scott is a professor and the Robert C. and Mary Catherine Birgeneau Distinguished Chair in Educational Disparities at the University of California at Berkeley in the Graduate School of Education, African American Studies Department, and Goldman School of Public Policy. She earned a PhD in education policy from the University of California at Los Angeles’ Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, and a BA in political science from the University of California at Berkeley. Before earning her doctorate, she worked as an elementary teacher in Oakland, California. Scott’s research investigates how market-based educational reforms affect democratic accountability and equity within our nation’s schools. She is the recipient of a Spencer Dissertation Year Fellowship and a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship. In 2014, she was awarded the Distinguished Scholar Award from the American Educational Research Association’s (AERA) Committee on Scholars of Color. She has been active in the American Educational Research Association and the Politics of Education Association. She is currently serving as vice president for Division L (Policy and Politics) of AERA.

Jennifer McGee-Avila
Jennifer McGee-Avila National Advisory Committee Member, HPRS;
Cancer Prevention Postdoctoral Fellow, National Institutes of Health at the National Cancer Institute

Jennifer McGee-Avila is a current Cancer Prevention Postdoctoral Fellow with the National Institutes of Health, at the National Cancer Institute. Her primary appointment is in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, in the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch where she is interested in descriptive epidemiology, cancer prevention in people living with HIV, and health inequities research. She is currently examining cancer risk and cancer burden in people living with HIV, using large medical claims databases and epidemiology population-based cohorts. Her secondary appointment is within the Division of Cancer Control & Population Sciences, with the Healthcare Delivery Research Program, in the Health Systems and Interventions Research Branch, examining social determinants of health, multilevel influences on/and addressing social risk of cancer care delivery.

Jennifer is also a part of the inaugural cohort of HPRS in 2016. While an HPRS Scholar she received awards from Academy Health, the Alice S. Hersh Scholarship and Diversity Scholars recipient; the Gallo Award for Research Excellence from Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and received the Dr. Ronald Altman Award for Outstanding Student Work from the New Jersey Public Health Association for a paper that examined patterns of HIV Testing among New Jersey Medicaid Enrollees Diagnosed with Invasive Cervical Cancer.

She earned a Ph.D. in Urban Systems from an interdisciplinary program between Rutgers School of Nursing and the New Jersey Institute of Technology, in Newark, NJ. For her dissertation research, Dr. McGee-Avila utilized mixed methods approaches to examine multilevel contextual factors that influence cervical cancer screening among women with HIV in New Jersey Ryan White Part D clinics. She also has a M.P.H. from Rutgers School of Public Health and a B.A. in anthropology from UCLA.

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