Our Team

Karin Wachter

Karin Wachter, PhD, MEd,  is an associate professor in the School of Social Work at Arizona State University. Her research focuses on alleviating the psychosocial and health consequences of war, forced migration, and refugee resettlement, with a specific emphasis on violence against women and social support. In collaboration with Drs. Schuster, Boateng, and Johnson-Agbakwu, Dr. Wachter recently completed the first phase of a long-term scale-development project to improve measurement of social support among women who resettle to the U.S. with NIMHD U54 pilot funding. With support from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, Dr. Wachter is leading a qualitative study on gender dynamics and pre- and post-evacuation drivers of intimate partner violence among Afghans in the U.S. In addition, Dr. Wachter conducts research concerned with the occupational wellbeing of providers working in refugee resettlement, domestic violence, and healthcare fields of practice. Past work includes a study of intimate partner violence help-seeking in refugee resettlement funded by the Office of Violence against Women. Prior to pursuing an academic career, Dr. Wachter worked for over 10 years in international humanitarian assistance designing, implementing, and evaluating programs that address violence against women and girls in contexts affected by war and forced displacement. She had the honor of stepping into the role of Director of the SIRC Office of Refugee Health in May 2023. 

Dr. Crista Johnson-Agbakwu

Dr. Crista Johnson-Agbakwu, MD, MSc, FACOG, served as the founding Director of the SIRC Office of Refugee Health and the groundbreaking Refugee Women’s Health Clinic at Valleywise Health from 2008 – 2023. The Refugee Women’s Health Clinic has been nationally recognized as an innovative best practice model of care for forcibly displaced populations originating from 68 countries across Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East and speaking over 71 languages. In these roles, she led a federally funded effort to improve health care services, community engagement and provider cultural competency on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), gender-based violence, and has provided consultative expertise to the CDC and WHO on refugee women’s health and FGM/C. Her research focused on investigating strategies to advance sexual and reproductive health equity for refugee women and women of color, with the aim of improving health care access and utilization, sexual and reproductive health education, counseling, community engagement, as well as enhance health care provider cultural competency. Dr. Johnson-Agbakwu currently serves as the inaugural Executive Director of the Collaborative in Health Equity at the University of Massachusetts T.H. Chan Medical School and UMass Memorial Health. She is also a Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology and a Professor in the Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, Population & Quantitative Health Sciences. Her efforts seek to center health equity throughout all aspects of clinical care, research, education, and community engagement.

Roseanne Schuster

Roseanne Schuster, PhD, MSc, is a global nutrition and public health professional. She has a decade of experience in the design, implementation, and evaluation of programs seeking to improve health, environmental, and social wellbeing. Dr. Schuster's research focuses on how to improve the delivery of critical health services in low-resource settings, uptake of health care among vulnerable populations, and understanding of how food and water insecurity shape infant and young child feeding and growth. She is dedicated to increasing the impact of research and programming through innovative, cost-effective, and culturally responsive evaluation and learning. Dr. Schuster engages community-based, participatory, and implementation science approaches in programs/interventions and mixed methods evaluations to ensure programs are ultimately responsive to target populations and adaptive to the complex systems in which they operate. Her work has been sponsored by DFID, FAO, USAID, and NIH. As the Program Lead for the online M.S. in Global Health, Dr. Schuster collaborates with global health faculty in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change and beyond to deliver a professional training program that equips learners with the recognized interprofessional global health competencies.

Ehiremen Azugbene

Ehiremen Azugbene, PhD,M.P.H, B.Sc., is a Presidential Postdoctoral Scholar at the College of Health Solutions working with the Maternal and Child Health Translational Research Team (MCHTRT) at Arizona State University. She is an academic and research expert in health promotion, health behavior, and disease prevention. Specifically, her research is focused on maternal and child health, especially in underserved populations. Her research work also covers the topic areas of health literacy, health disparities, healthcare utilization, health policy, health services, global health, refugee and immigrant health.

Godfred Boateng

Godfred Boateng, PhD is an assistant professor at the School of Global Health, director of the Global and Environmental Health Lab, and a faculty fellow at the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research at York University in Toronto, Canada. Dr. Boateng is an expert in the design and application of culturally relevant scalable methodologies to study the multidimensional factors and processes that shape health and health equity across spatial scales (household, community, institutional, national) and how they can be promoted and sustained. His research program is transdisciplinary and focuses on resource insecurity, health, and sustainable livelihoods; the socio-ecological determinants of cardiometabolic conditions in aging adults; social inequity in health systems; quantitative data analysis methods and survey scale development; and COVID-19 related health effects. Dr. Boateng’s research in these areas has been critical in transforming the understanding of the key social and structural determinants of health among vulnerable populations, including women, infants, children, and older adults. Dr. Boateng is a co-Investigator on the research team at the SIRC Office of Refugee Health that is developing a social support scale for women who resettled to the U.S. as refugees.

Mary Bunn

Mary Bunn, PhD,LCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker and Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Department of Psychiatry. She is the Co-Director of the Global Mental Health Research and Training Program in the UIC Center for Global Health and runs a therapy clinic for refugees and asylum seekers at the UI Health. Informed by twenty years of licensed clinical practice experience delivering therapy services and developing mental health programs domestically and globally, her research focuses on the development and testing of community-based mental health prevention and care interventions for survivors of war and political violence across the migration continuum. She is particularly interested in peer service models, family and group-based interventions and examining relational processes and factors in interventions. She is currently leading a NIMH-funded study to adapt, and pilot test a multiple family group intervention for use with refugee families from the Middle East and delivery by peer providers in public libraries. Dr. Bunn is also co-leading a project to develop a mental health and psychosocial support services framework to guide practice, funding and policy concerning forcibly displaced populations domestically.

Olga Idriss Davis

Dr. Davis, PhD, M.A., B.S., is a Professor and Associate Dean of the Barrett’s Honor College and Hugh Downs School Of Human Communication. Dr. Davis is passionate about enhancing communication to improve the health and well-being of underserved populations. She helped establish a health coalition for refugee women in Maricopa County and was appointed by Governor Napolitano to serve on the State Commission on Women’s and Children’s Health. In addition, she is intricately involved in promoting health among the African American community in Arizona.

Pam DeLargy

Pam DeLargy, PhD, M.A, M.P.H,B.A., is a public health and population specialist who rejoined ASU after a twenty year career in international development and humanitarian response where she worked in the areas of population and development, migration, gender and development (including reproductive health). As the head of UNFPA's humanitarian programs, she worked to bring attention to the needs of women and adolescents in emergency situations by leading a number of United Nations efforts to expand and improve basic standards for humanitarian programming. She was also heavily involved in expanding UN programming in women, peace and security and especially in the areas of sexual violence and of HIV in conflict. Prior to joining ASU, she was Senior Advisor to the U.N. Special Representative for Migration (London) and a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Global Affairs of the London School of Economics. Her recent research and writing is on the cross-Mediterranean migration crisis and on the impact of conflict on womens’ health in the Horn of Africa.  Ms. DeLargy oversees ASU's Education for Humanity initiative, which seeks to bring access to higher education to camp-based and urban refugees in the Middle East and Africa.

Dr. Alexis Koskan  

Alexis Koskan, PhD, MA, B.S. is an Assistant Professor of Public Health in the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University. She is a community-engaged public health researcher whose work aims to prevent and control infectious diseases, namely HPV-related health outcomes and, more recently, COVID-19. Using a community-engaged research approach with training in public health and health communication, Dr. Koskan uses qualitative research and mixed methods to explore community needs, perceptions, and preferences for intervention research. In 2022, with Drs. Crista Johnson-Agbakwu and Li Liu, she was awarded a Merck grant to create tailored public health strategies to address the various psychosocial and structural barriers pregnant and lactating refugee women faced to receiving COVID-19 vaccines. We plan to apply a similar approach to examine preventing cervical cancer (caused by HPV infection) in immigrant women. Dr. Koskan is working on community-engaged research to create intervention materials to reduce vaccine hesitancy.

Jeanne Francoise Nizigiyimana

Jeanne Francoise Nizigiyimana, MSW, MA, is currently leading the Valleywise Center for Refugee and Global Health Center, at Valleywise Health, in Phoenix, Arizona.  With over 20 years of extensive refugee work experience, she also co-founded the Refugee Women’s Health Clinic (RWHC). She is multilingual and holds a couple of master’s degrees. Her refugee journey and resilience inspire a passionate career of an international medical social worker and public health agent as her work impacts the lives of so many underserved populations globally. While promoting co-equal partnerships that involves shared leadership, she continuously designs, implements, and grows community culturally grounded health programs that are codesigned and co-implemented by an interdisciplinary, multicultural staff, volunteers and community members. As a co-founder of the RWHC, she developed a robust and innovative team of Cultural Health Navigators, a model of care that is nationally recognized and a first of its kind in Arizona to ensure a seamless transition for refugees in navigating the healthcare system. In addition, her commitment in teaching has helped instruct and mentor over 22 graduate student interns from both medical, social work and public health schools. Hence, she has received numerous awards including the ASU-SIRC Community Leadership Award in Eliminating Health Disparities with the most recent awards being the Non-Physician Finalist for Health Care Heroes in 2019, and Outstanding Woman in Business in 2020 by the Phoenix Business Journal. Most importantly, Mrs. Nizigiyimana’s love towards her fellow refugees in addition to her tireless services in diverse communities has enhanced her visibility, therefore elevating her to the title of “Mama Africa.”

Mee-Young Um

Mee Young Um, PhD, M.S.W, M.I.S, B.S. is an assistant professor at the School of Social Work in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions at Arizona State University. Before joining ASU, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Southern California. She earned her MSW from the University of Michigan and PhD from the University of Southern California. Her broad research interests are identifying social and cultural determinants (e.g., trauma, discrimination, acculturation, intimate partner violence) of behavioral health among transnational populations, such as refugees, immigrants, and other historically oppressed racial and ethnic communities. Specifically, she uses systems science approaches, such as social network analysis, to inform the development of evidence-based interventions for enhancing social integration, behavioral health, and overall well-being of these marginalized populations.