Kiara Masaoy

Mentor: Dr. Penny Beuning

My name is Kiara, and I am a Biology major. I became interested in ROUTES through its mission to provide more research opportunities for underrepresented students, like me, in the field of Environmental Health.

For this co-op, I am continuing to work on the same project as two previous ROUTES Scholars. In the lab, we are in the process of engineering Taq alpha DNA polymerase to copy damaged DNA specifically with high fidelity and efficiency. I look forward to gaining relevant and transferable skills as I prepare to enter the workforce.

Liz Mariluz

Mentor: Dr. Sharon Harlan and Dr. Laura Senier

Hi my name is Liz Mariluz and I’m a third year Sociology student from Boston, MA. In high school I got the opportunity to learn about Public Health and how inequities can exasperate health disparities. Ever since then, I have had an interest in pursuing a career in Public Health and researching ways that policy can help minimize health inequities.
I decided to join ROUTES since it would allow me to gain hands-on research experience while applying concepts I have learned in my Sociology classes. I was drawn to Drs. Sharon Harlan and Laura Senier’s research lab because of its focus on Environmental Health and Environmental Justice. Through their projects, I will be analyzing qualitative data on how organizations collaborate over environmental justice issues in their communities and how access to green and blue space affects the mental health and well-being of inner-city youth.

Camille Vasquez

Mentor: Dr. Penny Beuning

My name is Camille Vasquez and I’m a 5th-year Biology student from Ridgewood, NJ. I was drawn to the ROUTES program because I wanted to conduct research while having the support and guidance from amazing mentors. For my co-op, I will be working on engineering a DNA polymerase that can accurately replicate over oxidatively damaged DNA. More specifically, I am developing an assay to detect polymerase activity in a high-throughput manner.

On campus, I am a resident assistant, a swim instructor, and an avid knitter! In the future, I hope to apply the interdisciplinary research skills that I have obtained to my practice as a well-rounded healthcare professional. As a dentist, I want to bridge the gap between scientific discovery and accessibility of information to patients and I believe that the skills I will gain from this experience will help me accomplish this goal.

Kaleigh McAlaine

Mentor: Dr. Akram Alshawabkeh

My name is Kaleigh McAlaine and I am a fourth year Environmental Engineering student with a minor in Marine Biology. I am excited to be a part of the ROUTES and PROTECT programs for my second co-op and to learn more about the intersection of public and environmental health and the ways research and science can improve community and environmental well-being. I was introduced to this nexus through a class at the University of Canterbury where we collaborated with a local Māori community to sustainably address water availability, economic independence, and reliable energy. I’m so grateful for that experience and hope to continue learning about and working towards more sustainable solutions to remediation problems, especially those affecting underserved communities challenged by environmental issues. While PROTECT is a comprehensive research and remediation program, I’m specifically working with the Northeastern research team to create a reliable in-situ ground water remediation system using electrochemical processes to make the drinking water safer.

Israel Adam

Mentor: Dr. Penny Beuning

My name is Israel Adam and I am a fourth year health science major from Revere, MA. As a health science major, many of my classes have taken such focuses and have helped me to become more cognizant of the inter-relatedness between my community, my biology, and their united impacts on health. I was drawn to the ROUTES scholars program because of my interest in research and for the opportunity to contribute to the scientific community.  During my time with ROUTES, I will be working on engineering a DNA polymerase that can bypass DNA damage lesions as well as replicate and accurately insert correct nucleotides. On campus, I am a EMPOWER Student Initiative Fellow as well as a Residential Assistant. After graduating from Northeastern, I plan on attending medical school and becoming a Doctor of Medicine. My background in health sciences, with experience in environmental health research, will give me the foundation to become an advocate for environmental health factors within the clinical setting.

fatuma mohamed 

Mentor: Dr. Sharon Harlan

Fatuma is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs and Political Science. For this co-op, she is working with Dr. Sharon Harlan on the Urban Water Innovation Network research project. This project addresses the challenges that threaten urban water systems through a sociological lens and works to create sustainable solutions to assist marginalized communities in increasing their resilience in the face of climate change.

Morgan Hines

Mentor: Dr. Emily Zimmerman


My name is Morgan Hines, and I am a 4th year Biology and English student from Louisville, Kentucky. I am a member of both the University Scholars Program and Honors Program. I first encountered topics in public and environmental health through “Epidemiology of Pandemic Diseases and Health Disparities in the African Diaspora,” a course taught by Dr. Richard Wamai. Since then, I have had a strong interest in public health and was drawn to the ROUTES program because of its offer of exposure to and understanding of all aspects of environmental health from clinical, social, and biological investigations. During my time as a ROUTES co-op in the neurodevelopment lab of Dr. Emily Zimmerman, I plan to collect and investigate Non-Nutritive Suck data in order to understand connections between environmental exposures and neurodevelopment. Prior to my ROUTES experience, I worked as a co-op in the Sabatini Lab at Harvard Medical School, assisting with projects aimed to perfect behavior training paradigms and understand basal forebrain connectivity and activity in mice. In the future, I hope to earn a MD-MPH and engage in both clinical practice and public health research.

Biruk MulawDSC_0127edit

Mentors: Dr. Akram Alshawabkeh and Dr. Ljiljana Rajic
My name is Biruk Mulaw, and I am a fourth year Chemical Engineering student. I am doing a co-op with the ROUTES program regarding research on ground water remediation. The field of environmental remediation was a particular interest of mine, which has now become a reality under the ROUTES program. I believe, despite mankind’s technological advancement, the biggest provider of life for humans and other species is the natural environment. Therefore, I hold a strong stance in actively preserving and remediating our natural world. The research I am working on is about degrading trichloroethylene (TCH) and other pollutants by means of oxidation facilitated by electrolysis.
Rachel Domond

Mentor: Dr. Sharon Harlan


My name is Rachel Domond, and I’m a third year Sociology student from Boston, MA. I’m most interested in the intersections between racial and socioeconomic inequities, environmental justice, and food, and I’m striving to better understand disparities through research, community organizing, and advocacy. I was drawn to the ROUTES Program because it provides an opportunity to work with Dr. Sharon Harlan on the Urban Water Innovation Network research project. This project addresses the challenges that threaten urban water systems through a sociological lens, and works to create sustainable solutions to assist marginalized communities in increasing their resilience in the face of climate change. In addition to working on the UWIN project, I’m the vice president of Students Against Institutional Discrimination (SAID), a politically educative racial and social justice group on campus, and a project leader on SAID’s anti-gentrification and housing justice campaign.

Alejandro Rovira

Mentors: Dr. Akram Alshawabkeh and Dr. Carmen Milagros Vélez VegaAlejandrocropped

My name is Alejandro Rovira and I am a third year Behavioral Neuroscience student, part of both the University Scholar’s Program and the Honors Program. For my first co-op I returned home to Puerto Rico to work on the PROTECT and CRECE projects as part of the ROUTES program. I was drawn to this experience because of the ability to perform interdisciplinary work centered around the pillars of environmental contaminant exposure, clinical work with mothers and infants and the creation of educational materials for the puertorican community. Previous to this co-op I worked in the Speech and Neurodevelopment Lab with Dr. Zimmerman analyzing data from the Non-Nutritive Suck instrument, which is used clinically on the island, and hope to return to the lab after my co-op. After my time at Northeastern I hope to pursue an MD-PhD in order to combine both the Biological and Cognitive aspects of Neuroscience.

Sokona Diallo
Mentor: Dr. Phil Brown

Sokona Diallo is a 4th year Human Services and Communications student from Mali, West Africa. She was first exposed to environmental justice and public health through witnessing the devastating effects of toxic waste on her community. Sokona firmly believes research is crucial to understanding how environmental factors can lead to health disparities when the communities where people live, work, learn and play are toxic, burdened by chemicals, and social inequities. Her previous work at Northeastern and in the community has given her a strong background in community organizing, advocacy, and social entrepreneurship. At ROUTES, she hopes to connect her work on chemical policy reform to how strategic prevention, intervention, and treatment can be implemented to minimize social determinants of health. Her special area of interest is how we bridge research and community engagement to ensure that all communities have an equitable and meaningful voice in the health, sustainability, and future of their neighborhoods.

Jadesola Akanji

Mentor: Dr. Penny Beuning

In my senior year of high school, I took a microbiology class. After taking the class, I knew that I was passionate about studying infectious diseases. I was fascinated with learning how they harm and/or help us and how our lifestyle behaviors and environment aides these microbes that inhabit the Earth with us. I am currently in my third year at Northeastern University as a biochemistry major and an international affairs minor. This is my first co-op and I am excited that my research merges microbiology and environmental health together. I work in a DNA damage and tolerance lab. My project involves studying the effects that certain lethal chemical doses have on different E. coli mutations. These chemicals can be found in and around the environment, so this research gives an insight into how bacteria can adapt and tolerate such chemicals. I believe that through this research, we can learn more about how to live and cope with chemicals and other environmental toxins. This will be beneficial for many people. I hope that the ROUTES program helps me grow as a scientist and gives insight into the human body’s natural mechanisms to fight off inevitable environmental toxins. I am interested in studying infectious disease and its links to social indicators such as race and socioeconomic status. I look to pursue a career as a microbiology researcher and epidemiologist.

Paula Restrepo Clavijo

Mentor: Dr. Akram Alshawabkehpaularesized
Since I was young, I always wanted to be part of something that can help others. Growing up in Colombia and Florida, I experienced what it is to have unsafe drinking water. As long as I can remember, it was instilled in me to never drink water unless it was boiled and put in the freezer. Furthermore, it explained why my mother contracted E. coli after drinking water in a restaurant. After hearing about Professor Alshawabkeh and his team’s research project on the remediation of groundwater, it compelled me to want to be part of something that has a great significance to me. Research involving any type of remediation is vital, for if it succeeds in one area of the world, it can potentially work on another area and improve the living environments of other people.

Ariel Aiken

Mentor: Dr. Penny Beuning

arielresizedMy name is Ariel Aiken and I am a third year behavioral neuroscience major. This is my first co-op, and I am excited to learn and gain experience in research focused on environmental health. My project involves studying certain toxins and analyzing the effects they can have. Since these toxins are often found in many forms in our environment, I believe the more we understand about these things we can, in the long run, improve the lives of many people worldwide. I hope that the ROUTES program provides a great foundation for a career not only focused on science or medicine, but also the ways that they can impact individual lives and the community as a whole.

Ololade Akingbade

Mentor: Dr. Helen Suh
lolaresizedMy name Ololade Akingbade, and I am a fourth year Behavioral Neuroscience major and sociology minor. I was born in Nigeria and raised in New Jersey. I’ve always had an interest in the sciences growing up, particularly biology and epigenetics when I came to college. As I spent more time learning about social justice and historical inequity, I’ve taken on experiences centered on race, using academic opportunities to learn more about contested spaces of identity and justice. Such opportunities include traveling to Selma AL on a civil rights service trip, Ferguson, MO on a race and citizenship research fellowship, and an urban studies program to Cape Town South Africa. When it comes to connecting my various passions, I see health as a human right. What urged me to explore environmental health through this coop was learning of the environmental injustices in Flint Michigan with the water crisis, seeing how racial disparities intersect with very real health implications globally. I am interested in learning more about air pollution and its links to social indicators such as race, citizenship, and housing status. I look to pursue a career in the sociomedical sciences as a community physician and researcher.


Yvette Niwa

Mentor: Dr. Phil Brown
I am currently a third year majoring in Environmental Studies and International Affairs. What drew me to ROUTES was the opportunity to work with Dr. Phil Brown on chemical policy reform, specifically looking at PFASs as a water contaminant. I especially look forward to conducting fieldwork in New England communities affected by contamination. On campus, I serve on the executive board of the Husky Environmental Action Team and engage in activist campaigns, such as DivestNU. Upon completing my education at Northeastern, I aspire to pursue an education and career in environmental law.

Chelsea Canedy

Mentor: Dr. Phil Brownchelseaedit
Chelsea Canedy is a Northeastern University student pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Political Science. Her interest in environmental health began while studying the social determinants, specifically found in preconception health, and their impacts on health disparities in the United States. She is currently co-oping with Dr. Phil Brown through researching perfluorinated compounds and pre-term birth in Puerto Rico. Chelsea worked as the director of preconception peer education through the Health Disparities Student Collaborative in Northeastern University. Chelsea is also the directer of Students Against Institutional Discrimination (SAID) an on campus racial and social justice group on campus. Chelsea also is a Resident Assistant for Northeastern University.

Joey Nneji

Mentor: Dr. Mary Jo Ondrechenjoeyedit
My name is Joey Nneji, and I am a fifth year biochemistry major here at NEU. I have worked two co-ops, mostly working with drugs that treat rare diseases affecting low socioeconomic areas in underdeveloped countries such as sickle-cell disease, and I have researched cancer. I believe that the environment is an important part of our biology, and we can significantly improve physical health just by studying and improving the state of our environment and how it affects us. My work with Dr. Ondrechen centers around computational biological methods to predict the active sites of proteins of unknown function. This is a useful tool in environmental research by looking for proteins that have the ability to break down organic molecules in the production of energy, or even in the break down of toxic molecules in order to produce a more environmentally friendly molecule in place of a toxic one. What excites me about biochemistry is the large impact it can have from creative thought of the individual scientist. This has a lot to do with the overall goal of the scientist, and the drive of one person or a team of people can positively impact the lives of many. I believe applied biochemistry can have a great impact in the environmental sciences.

Bolanle Akinsulire

Mentor: Dr. Helen Suh

Bolanle Akinsulire

I am currently a Junior, majoring in Health Science with a minor in Psychology. For as long as I can remember, I have always been interested in health. I am particularly interested in the prevention of adverse health impacts on certain populations, also known as public health, as well as coming up with effective ways to improve the health care system, which I would define as healthcare management. On a trip to New Orleans, Louisiana, in the spring of 2015, I witnessed firsthand how low income areas had less access to healthy foods. Through my education at Northeastern University I have learned how important it is to look at health from a holistic standpoint, understanding that there are social, economic, psychological and environmental factors that influence health. As an individual who would like a career that involves healthcare management and public health, I know that research is crucial and fundamental to finding the five W’s (who, what, where, when, and why) that can improve some of the health issues we see today. Research involving environmental health is core to understanding how people are affected by their environments in finer detail. Once one is able to attain information about these populations through research, then one can figure out how the healthcare system can better meet their needs. Research is a valuable process that continues to and has on many occasions transformed our world, and for that it was only right that I involve myself in such a project.

David Berroa

Mentor: Dr. Akram Alshawabkeh

David Berroa

Growing up in different areas of the Dominican Republic (D.R.) and Lawrence, Massachusetts, I saw firsthand how the crowded spaces and apartment buildings were not the only hazardous areas that lacked sanitation. In fact, the drinking water seemed to be one of the highest health hazards. For example, I remember noticing an “Usted no debe beber el agua” sign when I was growing up in the D.R. In English, this said “You should not drink the water,” and was intended for tourists. It wasn’t until I asked my mom why we had to always boil the water then put it in the freezer that she explained the contamination in our daily drinking water. This further explained why my older brother contracted malaria for not following my mom’s instructions. Learning about current environmental health issues in places like the D.R and Puerto Rico persuaded me to work with Prof. Alshawabkeh and his team. I know through the ROUTES program I will be part of a project that seeks to help communities that are of great significance to me.

David completed his Co-op with Dr. Alshawabkeh in 2015. Read more about the research he completed as the first ROUTES Scholar here and here.

Nick Chaves

Nick Chaves

Mentor: Dr. Phil Brown

My name is Nicholas Chaves and I am a sophomore majoring in Environmental Studies and International Affairs. With the ROUTES program I will be working under Dr. Phil Brown, conducting research pertaining to chemical policy reform. I am interested in environmental law, international and environmental policy, and collaborating with various groups of people to create meaningful and impactful change regarding regulations and policies. On campus, I am involved with Delta Tau Delta Fraternity and the Husky Environmental Action Team.

Savannah Gregor

Mentor: Dr. Akram Alshawabkeh

My name is Savannah Gregor and I am a fourth year Mechanical Engineering student. I am the current third term Parliamentarian of the Black Engineering Student Society (NSBE-NU) here at Northeastern. My last co-op was at an ecovillage in the jungles of Costa Rica. Because of that experience, I have developed as interest in permaculture, natural building, and sustainability and my hope is to discover ways to apply my engineering knowledge in solving environmental challenges.

Diandra Grinage

Diandra GrinageMentor: Dr. Helen Suh

My name is Diandra Grinage and I am a fourth year biology major/psych minor in the College of Science at Northeastern University. I am interested in using my background in biology to reduce health disparities and health inequities; identify unknown factors that may be negatively affecting human health; and improve the health of populations displaying poor health outcomes. I am enthusiastic about exploring the field of environmental health during my co-op, and hope to learn more about the impacts of air pollution on global health.

John Lambert

John LambertMentor: Dr. Penny Beuning

My name is John Lambert, and I am a second year behavioral neuroscience major in the College of Science at Northeastern University. I’m interested in making a positive impact on the world, specifically on the health and happiness of people everywhere. I’m currently looking into accomplishing this via medicine or research. I am very excited to get a glimpse into environmental health during this co-op, and hope to learn a lot about DNA and cancer research on the way.

Nicole Taylor

Jennifer Nicole TaylorMentor: Dr. Penny Beuning

My name is Nicole Taylor. I am from Mexico and I study biochemistry at Northeastern. I am currently a sophomore on my first co-op. I am very interested in research that deals with toxins, mutations, and diseases. I enjoy laboratory work that involves chemicals, biological techniques as well as genetics. I love the environment, which is one of the main reasons I applied to the ROUTES program. Research that involves both science and the environment are of the most interest to me, considering that everything we do in the end affects our way of living.

Minerva Teli

Minerva TeliMentor: Dr. Philip Larese-Casanova

I am a sophomore studying Chemistry and pursuing a minor in Environmental Studies. The environment is a cause that I am extremely passionate about. This past year I worked with a nonprofit organization to grow media and community awareness of Massachusetts’ solar energy policies. I am very excited to work with Professor Larese-Casanova and study how photochemistry can transform pollutants and improve water quality. I am glad to have found a program such as ROUTES, which is able to combine my passion with my professional interests.

Sarah Elbakri

Mentor: Dr. Akram Alshawabkehsarah-elbakri

I am a third year Civil Engineering student with a minor in Environmental Studies. I’ve been interested in environmental health since I led an environmental cleanup campaign in my village in Khartoum, Sudan and realized the inextricable connection between water quality and health. Coming from somewhere like Sudan that has water quality and environmental issues similar to Puerto Rico made working with PROTECT that much more significant to me. I strongly identify with not being able to take basic things like clean water for granted and am excited that I get a chance to help resolve these issues for another community. My job in Akram’s lab is actually what made me interested in Environmental Engineering and why I switched to that program after my first year at Northeastern.