OUR LAB MEMBERS

 
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Gabe Herrera

Position within Lab: Research Assistant

How long you’ve been with the lab: September 2018

Projects: PSOT and TET

Major/occupation/level of schooling: Individualized Major on Pre-Med track/Sophomore

Why’d you join the lab? This lab interested me because of the help that the research would bring to the underprivileged members of our community. The EMPOWER Lab amplifies the voices that are swept away while aiding them in the pathway for gender equity and advocacy. Being able to be a part of this research and being able to help those that are normally turned away is what drew me to this lab.

Excited to see yourself do: My dream is to be a clinical oncologist, and being at the EMPOWER Lab, I believe, will help me gain a better understanding of both women’s health issues and the issues within institutionalized healthcare.

Fun fact: I love pugs (I follow over 150 pug accounts on Instagram). Also, I have a pug named Petunia.

 
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Tiffany Hamidjaja

Position within the lab: Research Assistant
How long you’ve been with the lab: September 2018

Projects: Access to Healthcare during Sex Trafficking, Male IPV, and Sexual and Gender Based Violence Book

Major/occupation/level of schooling: Past: B.A. from University of Minneosta- Twin Cities in Sociology of Law, Criminology, and Deviance and Psychology (double major) and minors in Gender, Women, Sexuality Studies and Family Violence Prevention

Why’d you join the lab? My research passion lies in taking an intersectional perspective on understanding inequalities within marginalized communities and vulnerable populations. I believe in a science that not only adds knowledge to the field, but also translates into tangible change in the real world, especially for the communities that we are studying. EMPOWER’s mission exemplifies just that. I am proud to be a part of a lab that tackles the important social issue of gendered violence locally and globally, embraces diverse disciplines for a more comprehensive science, and prioritizes empowerment and advocacy.

Excited to see yourself do: I intend to pursue a PhD in Sociology and eventually become a Sociology professor. I want to be an educator, a researcher, and an advocate in my field. My experience in this lab is allowing me to continue the work I am passionate about, and is shaping my understanding of the type of lab that I’d like to lead myself in the future.

Fun fact: I am a bit of a nomad! I was born in California, but grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia until I was 10. I’ve been to 19 countries (and counting) and also lived in Kolkata, India, while working for a local non-profit as a Gender Violence Advocacy Intern in the largest red light district in Asia. When I’m not traveling, I like to explore different foods, see Broadway shows, and play board games. Oh and if you see me with my headphones in, I’m probably jamming to Hamilton or listening to the a podcast.

 
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Grishma Patel

Position within the lab: Research Assistant

How long you’ve been with the lab: September 2018

Projects: Sugar Dating and Advocacy

Major/occupation/level of schooling: Neuroscience on Pre-Med Track, Sophomore at NYU

Why’d you join the lab? I was drawn to this lab not only because I have always had an interests in women's health issues and the effects of gender based violence on individuals, but also because of its emphasis on weaving the research with advocacy efforts. I am a believer that research does not have to be independent of advocacy especially if that research can help to change someone's life in a positive way, and I am proud to say that this lab does just that.

Excited to see yourself do: As an aspiring physician, I hope to use what I have learned with the EMPOWER lab to shape my future practice, effectively helping to change how women's health issues are approached in medicine globally.

Fun fact: I am absolutely in love with plants, trees, and all other leafy things! I recently got to zipline through the Craggy Mountains in North Carolina and I do not think I will ever forget the views or the sound of the wind softly rustling the leaves. Maybe that obsession is a bit weird, but I blame my Mississippi roots.

 
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Caryn Ha

Position within the lab: Research Assistant

How long you’ve been with the lab: September 2018

Projects: TET, Healthcare Access Identification/Care

Major/occupation/level of schooling: Molecular Biology & Biochemistry B.A. (2016), Assistant Research Technician at NYU Langone Medical Center Pathology Department  

Why’d you join the lab? The EMPOWER lab is an amazing opportunity to help reveal disparities in the current healthcare system and revolutionize women’s health through my two passions: science and health-equity advocacy.  

Excited to see yourself do : I hope to spread EMPOWER’s mission of fighting against gender inequities by continuing to investigate the challenges in women’s health. Eventually, I would love to work on implementing these research findings into medicine and to progress towards an all-encompassing approach for patients.

Fun fact: I like to powerlift and bake sugar-free, diabetic-friendly desserts.

 
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Shirley Eng

Position within the lab: Research Assistant

How long you’ve been with the lab: September 2018

Projects: Male IPV, Sugar Dating

Major/occupation/level of schooling: Pursuing BA in Sociology, on the pre-medical track, junior in College of Arts and Sciences at NYU.

Why’d you join the lab? I joined the Empower Lab because of its multidisciplinary approach to advocacy for gender equity through research. Working with the talented individuals in this lab and Dr. Ades has not only allowed me to pursue research I am passionate about but has shown me the different ways in which research and advocacy go hand in hand.

Excited to see yourself do: I am excited to learn more about healthcare inequalities, its social causes and consequences, and what I can do to improve these inequalities. I am also excited to see how the research skills I build at the Empower Lab help me in becoming a better advocate and healthcare professional.  

Fun fact: While there are few beaches in NYC, I love spending time by the sea. I find marine life intriguing and aquariums are my happy place.

 
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Brian Goddard

Position within the lab: Research Assistant

How long you’ve been with the lab: November 2017

Projects: Empower Clinic Study Team, PSOT Team

Major/occupation/level of schooling: 2nd year medical student

Why’d you join the lab? : I plan to go into Obstetrics & Gynecology and am really interested in public and global health so doing research in the Empower Lab is the perfect intersection of these interests.

Excited to see yourself do : I hope to use the skills that I’ve learned in the Empower lab to understand how issues of SGBV affect women’s daily lives and especially their healthcare and apply that knowledge to my future practice as an Ob/Gyn.

Fun fact: I love math! In college I came in 1st place in an integration bee (like a spelling bee but for integral calculus).

 
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Diana Mora

Position within the lab: Research Assistant

When did you join the lab: June 2017

Projects: Access to Healthcare During Sex Trafficking, Advocacy, MIPV

Major/occupation/level of schooling: Pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Global Public Health and Sociology from NYU.

Why’d you join the lab? I joined this incredible lab because I’ve always had a passion for social activism and the health of underserved/underrepresented populations, but I never knew how to combine these passions with my growing love of medicine and scientific research. In the Fall of 2016 I took a Global Public Health and Health Policy course with NYU London professor Ayesha Ahmad, and through her class I learned of the many forms of gender-based violence and trauma occurring throughout many places around the world, especially conflict and post-conflict areas. After this class, I wanted to become involved in issues of gender-based violence and trauma, and when I came across the EMPOWER Lab I immediately became interested because it combined my interest in gender-based violence and scientific research.

Excited to see yourself do: I’m still figuring out how to combine my passions of public health and music; however, this lab has also made me very interested in working with vulnerable populations, such as those who have been sex trafficked. I hope to find a career that will help me consolidate these interests.

Fun fact: I love practicing jiu jitsu. I have not ‘officially’ practiced in 2 years, but I definitely consider it my hidden talent.

 
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Jenny Leigh

Position within the lab: Research Assistant

When did you join the lab: June 2018

Projects: TET, Access to Healthcare During Sex Trafficking, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Book

Position within the lab: Research Assistant

When did you join the lab: June 2018

Projects: TET, Access to Healthcare During Sex Trafficking, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Book

Major/occupation/level of schooling: BA from Barnard College (‘16), current post-bacc at NYU and MPH candidate at the Mailman School of Public Health

Why’d you join the lab? I have been involved in both anti-violence activism and biomedical research for many years, and always wanted to do research that incorporates both. The lab's focus on empowerment, advocacy, and using scientific research to promote equitable healthcare has both enabled me to pursue many of my interests in one space and inspired me to redefine my understanding of what both medicine and research can accomplish in the world.

Excited to see yourself do: Figure out how I’m going to combine all of my passions to promote interdisciplinary, community-based approaches to health. I also want to show fellow survivors that there is life even as healing continues, and that there is hope for a world where we can thrive and be heard.

Fun fact: One of my undergraduate majors was ethnomusicology, and I wrote my one of my theses on Beyoncé. One of my proudest professional moments was when my mom came to one of my presentations and I interpreted the lyrics to “Blow” for the audience (“can you eat my Skittles/it’s the sweetest in the middle”).

 
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Julia Leschi

Position within the lab: Research Assistant

How long you’ve been with the lab: September 2018

Projects: PSOT and Advocacy

Major/occupation/level of schooling: Pursuing a Bachelor in Psychology and Journalism

Why’d you join the lab? I was never a pure scientist. Growing up, I was always involved in politics and advocacy, but the path I want to follow to become a Psychologist pushes me more and more towards science and research. The Empower’s lab different research projects all aim to actively help survivors and improve women’s health, and I am very inspired and happy to be apart of it. It allows me to pursue scientific research while still feeling active politically.  

Excited to see yourself do: As an aspiring psychologist, I hope to take what I’ve learned in the lab in regards to research and the particular challenges that women face in trying to access healthcare into my practice, to be a better clinician.

Fun fact: My eyes are different colors! I have a freakish ability to remember song lyrics after just a few listens.

 
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Lydia Mason

Position within the lab: Research Assistant

How long you’ve been with the lab: June 2018

Projects: Advocacy, Male IPV, and Book Team

Major/occupation/level of schooling: Politics on Pre-Med Track, Sophomore in CAS at NYU

Why’d you join the lab? I am passionate about medicine and advocacy, and I have always enjoyed working in women’s health. After finishing an internship at Planned Parenthood, I wanted an opportunity that would allow me to be an advocate for women and their health while also allowing me to learn more about medicine and research, and this lab has provided me with that opportunity and so much more.

Excited to see yourself do: I am excited to see myself pursue a career in obstetrics and gynecology, hopefully working with underserved populations in Appalachia back in my home state of Kentucky and doing advocacy work and research with Planned Parenthood of Kentucky and Indiana.

Fun fact: When I am not at school or the lab, I like investing in the stock market, cooking, and developing my tutoring organization for low-income students.

 
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Mirella Torresan

Position within the lab: Research Assistant

How long you’ve been with the lab: June 2018

Projects: Male IPV, Sugar Dating, TET

Major/occupation/level of schooling: Junior at Gallatin on the pre-health track, concentration in the intersection of health and social justice with a focus in biology and women’s health

Why’d you join the lab? I joined the lab because of the unique opportunity to learn about and participate in research and advocacy on the issues of women’s rights and healthcare, which I care strongly about. I love the supportive, challenging, team-based environment of the lab, and the skills and experience I gain in the lab will be extremely valuable as I begin a career in women’s health.

Excited to see yourself do: I’m excited to travel, learn languages, and study how healthcare and maternity care in particular can be improved for women, especially those from underserved populations. I intend to eventually work in women’s health providing compassionate, empowering care, inspired by Dr. Ades’ example.

Fun fact: I do aerial acrobatics, and I love spending time in nature. The longest I’ve ever gone without a shower was 26 days on a backpacking trip in the High Sierras.

 
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Olivia Sortirchos

Position within the lab: Research Assistant

How long you’ve been with the lab: September 2018

Projects: PSOT & Advocacy

Major/occupation/level of schooling: Junior at NYU pursuing double major in Global Public Health- Anthropology & Environmental Studies

Why’d you join the lab? I joined the Empower Lab in order to merge my passion for women’s health advocacy with my interest in the scientific side of public health research. I want to be an advocate for those who have been affected by gender-based violence and work alongside my dedicated peers who share this goal!

Excited to see yourself do:

I am eager to build my research and data analysis skills, advocacy skills, and learn more about healthcare for women, immigrants, and minority groups in NYC, as I believe these lessons will be crucial to my future career path. The work being done by Dr. Ades and my peers is truly inspiring– I’m so lucky to be a part of this team!

Fun fact: Though I live in New York City most of the year, I am a mountain soul. I love spending time outside– whether backpacking, kayaking or rock climbing– and have spent two summers doing so in the Himalaya! I also am obsessed with National Geographic and geek out over the city’s urban agriculture scene.

 
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Savannah Pearson

Position within the lab: Research Assistant

When did you join the lab: November 2017

Projects: TET, EMPOWER, Healthcare Access, Chronic Pelvic Pain

Major/occupation/level of schooling: BA in Spanish and Portuguese, BS in Molecular and Cellular Biology, NYU MD Class of 2021

Why’d you join the lab? Growing up in an all-female household, I’ve always been interested in gender issues. While working as an interpreter in a women’s health clinic for survivors of domestic violence, I began to see the importance of trauma informed care in medical practice. The EMPOWER lab offered me the opportunity to build upon these experiences to make a difference in the care of these populations through research.

Excited to see yourself do: Practice as a physician that improves the quality of and access to medical care for marginalized populations.

Fun fact: I have a goal to get to 30 countries by the time I turn 30. Current status: 18

 
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Anna Chessky

Position within the lab: Associate Director of Research

When did you join the lab: September 2017

Projects: Chronic Pelvic Pain, PSOT, Sugar Dating

Major/occupation/level of schooling: Pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Global Public Health and Chemistry from NYU College of Arts and Science.

Why’d you join the lab? I was truly inspired by Dr. Ades mission and all that the EMPOWER Lab had already accomplished. I found that this lab was the perfect place to build a bridge between my passion for the sciences and public health. As an Advocate at Health Leads, I worked with many low-income families, especially single mothers, to connect them to government and community resources.  I felt that the EMPOWER lab would give me a better understanding not only of the social needs of those low-income women but also their medical needs. I'm excited to one day become a physician and apply the knowledge learned from this lab in bettering patient care and conducting clinical research to do so.  

Excited to see yourself do: My goal in the future is to obtain an MD/MPH and work with vulnerable populations to deliver them a compassionate and comprehensive healthcare plan, that is informed by quality clinical research.

Fun fact: I have practiced ballet for over 15 years and trained with the American Ballet Theater, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and the Mark Morris Dance Group.

 
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Sonya Chemouni Bach

Position within the lab: Associate Director of Research

When did you join the lab: June 2017

Projects: PSOT, Empower Clinic

Major/occupation/level of schooling: Past: BA from Barnard College in Public Health & Human Rights, NYU pre-med post-baccalaureate certificate 2018,  worked 3 years in Cameroon for NGO Malaria No More. Current: 2019 medical school candidate , French Translation for Doctors Without Borders and Equal Health,

Why’d you join the lab? I have always been passionate about women’s health and in this current political climate especially, women and survivors of sexual violence need us in their fight. I am inspired to contribute to EMPOWER’s unique mission that weds a scientific, public health and advocacy-based approach to support and defend them.

Excited to see yourself do: Health is a fundamental, inalienable human right. I am deeply concerned that many people are robbed of this right, and I feel compelled to practice, protect and promote it through holistic and humanitarian medicine. My aim is to obtain a joint MPH-MD and continue to fight for women’s health, rights and empowerment around the world.

Fun fact: I played xylophone for 10 years. In fact the first time I went to Las Vegas I was 13 and we played for 3000 xylophone teachers from around the world! I suppose I peaked early.

 
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Nicole Acero

Position within the lab: Assistant Director of Research

When did you join the lab? June 2017

Projects: Sugar Dating, Chronic Pelvic Pain, TET

Major/occupation/level of schooling: NYU Senior Undergraduate majoring in Global Public Health Sociology on pre-med Track

Why’d you join the lab? When I first heard about the Empower Lab, I was so inspired by Dr. Ades’ mission and the work that she has done. I wanted to have the opportunity to learn from her. Empower also excited me since it combines my interests in medicine, public health, and social justice. I am excited to do some important work for women’s health research and to use what I learn from this lab to inform my career in medicine and public health!

Excited to see yourself do: I have always been interested in fighting for social justice through medicine. My goal is to obtain my MD/MPH degree and eventually become a physician in an underserved population where I hope to continue fighting for all women's rights. 

Fun Fact: I played lacrosse for over 10 years! Lax will always be a part of me…literally. I have a scar on my head from when I got hit with a lacrosse stick!

 
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Pournami Rajeev

Position within the lab: Research Assistant

How long you’ve been with the lab: June 2018

Projects: Empower, TET, PSOT

Major/occupation/level of schooling: BA from University of Southern California ‘17, currently a MS2 at NYU  

Why’d you join the lab? I have always been passionate about women’s rights and issues related to ob/gyn care. In college I worked on a research project on vocal indices in relationships with people who come from an abusive background. I’m really happy to have joined EMPOWER, because it combines my experience in DV research with my passion for furthering women’s rights.

Excited to see yourself do: I am hoping to go into Ob/gyn and EMPOWER has really shaped how I view my practice. After seeing the clinic work that Dr. Ades does with her patients, I am very much interested in working with a similar vulnerable population in my future practice.

Fun fact: I love typography and I find it a great way to relax. I’m also getting back into playing the piano in my free time.