subcategory for PhD students of the various Luskin programs

Tamika Butler

Tamika L. Butler (she/her or they/them) is a doctoral student in Urban Planning at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. Her research employs a critical race, historical, legal, and policy-based approach to examine how transportation policy and infrastructure have been used to segregate, isolate, and prevent the mobility of Black and other historically oppressed groups of people.

Prior to pursuing her PhD, Tamika consulted, wrote, and spoke as a national expert on issues related to the public policy, built environment, equity, anti-racism, diversity and inclusion, organizational behavior, and change management. She transitioned to policy work after litigating for three years as an employment lawyer at Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center. Tamika has a diverse background in law, community organizing and nonprofit leadership.

Tamika received her J.D. from Stanford Law School, and received her B.A. in Psychology and B.S. in Sociology in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. She lives in Los Angeles with her wife and kids.

Tamika has also authored and co-authored several publications, including:

Hao Ding

Hao Ding is a doctoral student in Urban Planning, focusing on urban design and transportation planning. His research interests include the equity and justice impacts of urban design regulations, the interaction between urban form and transportation, and transportation equity. His most recent works examine the effects of urban design and land use regulations on place identities in the Asian American ethnoburbs in Los Angeles, and the effects of conventional local transportation planning practices on housing production and affordability. He is also a Graduate Student Researcher at the Institute of Transportation studies, and has been involved in several research projects that study the past, present, and future of California’s land use and transportation systems, sexual harassment on public transit, homelessness in transit environments, and public transit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Domonique Henderson

Domonique Henderson (she/her/hers) is a Los Angeles, California native who graduated from Howard University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and is a current second year graduate student at Baylor University’s Garland School of Social Work. Domonique previously taught English in Spain and has traveled to various countries such as France, the United Kingdom, Greece, Germany, Mexico, in addition to some Caribbean islands. Throughout her work in the psychology and social work fields, she has gained significant experience in mental health, substance use, the prison population, children and adolescent population, LGBTQ+ populations, at-risk populations, international populations, and populations from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. Currently, she interns at The Menninger Clinic which is an inpatient psychiatric hospital. In addition, she works as a Research Assistant in the SERVE program which provides full funding for its students. As a Research Assistant, she assists in investigating the female incarceration population, their physiological health, mental health, the impact on their families, and she along with her team plan to submit a journal article in relation to their research. She has previously assisted in researching African caregivers and a recently concluded  NIH and NIAA funded study with the Choices4Health program with UT-Austin. Along with clinical and research experience, Domonique values community. She has experience with mentoring marginalized youth and she currently serves on the National Board for a non-profit organization that focuses on mentoring girls from ages 8-18. Watching mentees take tools and wisdom passed down to them as they navigate their journey as a woman is an amazing process. She genuinely enjoys guiding youth in their journey of growth. Outside of professional and community interests, she relishes in reading about/watching historical period dramas, especially about monarchs in Europe. Toni Morrison and Ta-Nehisi Coates books are some of her favorites. She also enjoys listening to R&B artists such as Stevie Wonder, Anita Baker, Toni Braxton, especially Lauryn Hill.

Taylor Reed

Taylor Reed was born in New York but raised in Dallas, Texas which gave her mixed perspective as to both the social and political aspect of how one’s race impacted their life experiences. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Global Public Health and Sociology with a minor in Chemistry from New York University. As a Black first-generation American woman, Taylor learned the many ways in which systems operate against the success of not only women, but specifically Black women. Prior to attending UCLA, she worked on projects that examined violence throughout major cities in the United States and the impact of incarceration and community violence on Black people. Taylor also serves as a graduate assistant at UCLA’s BRITE Center conducting research and preparing manuscripts for publication centered around the life hardships that result from the policing of Black men as well as the psychological consequences for Black men. 

Taylor is currently a first-year PhD student in Social Welfare at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. She is interested in designing studies from a life-course perspective to analyze the effect of life transitions, age, and social interactions on the life trajectory of minority people. This includes studying minority youth in urban neighborhoods and how exposure to violence (both frequency and type) affect their incarceration rates. Taylor hopes that her work will allow for policy makers and stakeholders to comprehensively understand what occurs in these neighborhoods and identify vulnerable areas that can serve as intervention points to help protect these at-risk youth. Additionally, she would like to determine how to design and scale up effective programs to the challenges of re-entry to equip those in communities of color the necessary tools to avoid recidivism. 

Vanessa Warri

Vanessa Warri is a Nigerian-American community-based researcher, strategist, and advocate, committed to the liberation, empowerment, and safety of Black transgender women, queer and transgender people of color, and all communities existing at the various intersections of oppression. For over 12 years Vanessa has provided empowerment based direct services and peer education for transgender communities, LGBTQQIA+ young people, and system-involved individuals.

Vanessa worked as a research associate for the UCSF Center of Excellence for Transgender Health, where she facilitated several behavioral health interventions aimed to improve transgender women’s engagement with a primary healthcare provider, and led community-based research efforts in partnership with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH) and the Arming Minorities Against Addiction and Disease (AMAAD) Institute, exploring the experiences of Black LGBTQ+ people and their mental health needs.

As a 2018 Point Foundation undergraduate scholar, Vanessa attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), receiving a double major in Anthropology and Sociology and leading the development and implementation of the first QTBIPOC Student Experiences Survey through the UCLA LGBT Campus Resource Center in 2019. As a Social Welfare Ph.D. Student, Vanessa hopes to be able to support the next generation of Black queer and transgender people in their educational attainments by creating initiatives that center their lived experience and expertise in research about them. Her research will primarily focus on peer-developed and driven social empowerment interventions for Black transgender and gender diverse (TGD) populations that address social determinants of health outside of the healthcare engagement realm. Vanessa is interested in exploring how utilizing social research education and community participatory action research (PAR) can improve mental health outcomes, increase self-efficacy, and facilitate pathways to greater educational attainments for historically excluded populations.

Emily M. Waters

Emily M. Waters is an incoming Doctoral Student in the Department of Social Welfare at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and works as a Policy and Research Advisor at the Transgender Law Center. Emily has extensive experience conducting community-based research and policy advocacy on issues related to queer and trans rights, with a particular focus on domestic, sexual, and state violence. She focuses on developing and advocating for policy solutions that move power and resources into community and challenge systemic oppression rather than reinforce the carceral state. Her work can be found in The New York Times, HuffPost, and The Advocate. 

As a Doctoral Student, Emily is interested in exploring the social and political regulation of gender-segregated services and environments (e.g., domestic violence shelters, bathrooms, or sports teams). She would like to examine the social norms, attitudes, and beliefs that uphold the perceived need for gender-segregated spaces. For example, gender essentialism and benevolent sexism which uphold the perceived need for segregation for ‘women’s’ safety. She is particularly interested in the association between these beliefs and implicit and explicit prejudice toward transgender and gender nonbinary people. Finally, she would like to explore how people from seemingly different political affiliations (e.g., conservative and feminist) find alignment in their political goal of maintaining gender-segregated spaces. 

Previously, Emily served as an Adjunct Professor at the School of Social Work at Columbia University, where she taught courses on Program Evaluation and working with LGBTQ Communities. She holds a Masters of Social Work and a Masters of Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an undergraduate degree in International Relations and Human Rights from the University of Southern California.

Personal website: Emilywaters.com

Hannah Cornfield

Hannah Cornfield is from Nashville, Tennessee, where she began learning about the Southern Civil Rights Movement and the Black Freedom Movement from multi-generational activists and organizers. A first-year doctoral student in Social Welfare, Hannah is interested in understanding how generational differences in exposure to state violence impact our political identity formation and attitude toward social movements, particularly around prison industrial complex abolition and anti-zionism. Hannah is interested in working with movement-based organizations to study interventions for transforming intergenerational tension around abolition movements and interrupting cycles of oppression. She is especially interested in using participatory action research methods as a means to address state-sanctioned, structural harm and build accountable communities.   

Prior to UCLA, Hannah served as the founding Senior Manager of Social Justice & Advocacy at YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee. She worked closely with the organization’s domestic violence shelter and youth development programs to advocate on local and state levels to end racialized and gender-based violence. Hannah also organized with Southerners on New Ground for prison abolition and queer liberation through campaigns to end cash bail and pretrial detention; and co-founded Nashville Jews for Justice. 

Hannah received her BA from Pitzer College in 2012 and wrote her sociology honors thesis on the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike; and earned her AM from University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration in 2017. As a master’s student, Hannah gained experience facilitating trauma-informed, school-based group counseling for high school youth; and in local, grassroots coalition building on racial and economic justice issues. Before earning her masters, Hannah worked as a field organizer in rural Virginia on the 2012 Obama presidential campaign and worked at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, supporting the field team on national education equity and voting rights campaigns. 

Juan C. Jauregui

Juan C. Jauregui, MSW, MPH is a first-year doctoral student in the Department of Social Welfare at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. His research interests are focused around addressing LGBTQ+ mental health inequities both in the U.S. and low- and middle-income countries, specifically by targeting LGBTQ+ minority stressors through structural-level interventions. Juan is passionate about conducting research using a community-based participatory research approach to ensure that decision-making power is shared with community members throughout the research process. 

Before entering the doctoral program at UCLA, Juan worked with the Resilience + Resistance Collective at the University of Michigan School of Public Health where he was involved in LGBTQ+ mental health projects in the U.S., Kenya, and Zambia. He also worked with the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Program at Michigan Medicine where he focused on examining health inequities for LGB people with bipolar disorder. Juan’s previous professional experiences also include working as a Research Associate for the UCLA Adolescent Trials Network and as a Crisis Worker for a national suicide hotline. 

Juan earned his BS in Psychobiology from UCLA in 2017 and Master of Social Work and Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan in 2021.

Selected Publications: 

Jauregui, J. C., Rucah, C., Crawford, J., Jadwin-Cakmak, L., Concehla, C., Onyango, D. P., Harper, G. W. (In Press). Experiences of Violence and Mental Health Concerns among Sexual and Gender Minority Adults in Western Kenya. LGBT Health.

Loeb, T. , Jauregui, J. C., Wyatt, G. E., Chin, D., Hamilton, A., Zhang, M., Holloway, I. W., Patron, D. J. (2021). Does Gender Role Conflict Moderate the Relationship between Lifetime Adversity and HIV Stigma in a Community Sample of HIV-Seropositive Black Men? Journal of Men and Masculinities. 

Julia Lesnick

Julia is a first year MSW-PhD student. Her research focuses on understanding how mental and behavioral health services can be individualized to best support the unique experiences and resilience of young people in foster care, the carceral system, and struggling with their mental health. The goal of her work is to expand service accessibility, prevent systems entry, improve quality of life in systems, and strengthen youth resilience for re-entry, recovery, and the transition to adulthood. Her specific areas of inquiry include equitable access to information about service approaches, autonomy to self-determine and revise one’s own service plan, the role of supportive relationships on engagement in services, and youth participation and leadership in systems advocacy and social service decision making.

Prior to UCLA, Julia graduated from Cornell University in 2018 with her B.S. in Human Development and a minor in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. At Cornell, her scholarship focused on research-practice partnerships, and adolescent relationships and mental health. She also worked with Cornell Cooperative Extension to develop trauma-informed care training for afterschool programs, and taught in a degree program for incarcerated students. After graduating, she worked at NYC’s child welfare and juvenile justice agency, and at a community-based service provider on the evaluation and quality improvement of youth leadership and mental health programs.

Sawyer Hogenkamp

Sawyer completed an M.Ed. in Human Development and Psychology at Harvard University. He also holds a M.Ed. and B.Ed. from Queen’s University, and B.A. from University of Waterloo, majoring in Music, and Human Geography & Environmental Management. He is pursuing a PhD to further the study of relational youth violence and school climate to encompass under-supervised contexts within and outside of school grounds, such as in neighborhoods, virtual spaces, or on school buses. He serves as a consultant with an organization in Canada that trains school bus drivers on bullying prevention and mental health awareness. He’s also engaged in supporting social emotional learning in underserved populations domestically (urban and rural America), and abroad (urban and rural China). Research skills include both qualitative and quantitative analysis as well as mixed methods, having participated with interdisciplinary research groups collaborating with Canadian Federal and Provincial Government Agencies, Universities, and private organizations. Currently Sawyer is working with the APA Taskforce on Violence Against Educators, organizing and analyzing data and policy of qualitative data from school psychologists, social workers, counselors, administrators, teachers, and school staff.