Student Projects

Fall 2022 awardees

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Nisha Batta

Extreme risk protection orders and their practical implementations in multiple states: Who petitions for them and why?

Nisha Batta is a 3rd year medical student at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a bachelor's degree in Psychobiology after which she earned an MS in Biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University. Alongside her partner Caitlin Robinson and with the support of the Betz lab, this grant will support their work in examining the utilization and implementation of Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) laws in Colorado and the implication of ERPO laws in promoting public health, safety, and violence prevention.


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Caitlin Robinson, MPH, CRA

Extreme risk protection orders and their practical implementations in multiple states: Who petitions for them and why?

Caitlin Robinson is a 2nd year medical student at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Molecular Environment Biology, Environment and Human Health from University of California, Berkeley and her masters degree in Public Health from George Washington University. She has been working in research for nearly a decade, exploring both molecular pathways of trauma and violent injury sequela in addition to epidemiological research on violence and firearm safety. Alongside her partner Nisha Batta within the Betz lab to explore Extreme Risk Protection Orders in Colorado. 

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Alyssa Dalen

Perceptions of Community-Based Interpersonal Violence Organizations Regarding Collaborating with Students at the Colorado School of Public Health

Alyssa is in their final year as an MPH student at the Colorado School of Public Health on the CU Anschutz campus. Before this, Alyssa graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, where they studied Neuroscience and Biology. Alyssa is passionate about interpersonal violence prevention and response work and hopes to bring together professionals in various disciplines to address this topic. Their primary mentor is Rachael Williams, JD, an assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Colorado and program manager at the Phoenix Center Anschutz.

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Rebecca Henkind

Further Exploration of Characteristics of Homicide and Suicide Victims Experiencing Homelessness at their Time of Death

Rebecca is a 3rd year medical student at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She is a researcher of health inequity, a co-founder and president of CU Street Medicine, and a previous employee of Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. She completed her undergraduate degree at Emory University located in Atlanta, GA. Her primary mentor for this project is Dr. Catherine Velopulos.


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Emylia Terry

Seatbelt Nonuse among Sexual and Gender Minority Adults: A Cross-Sectional Analysis

Emylia is a second-year PhD student and Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Public Health. She is interested in how laws, policies, and communication campaigns impact health outcomes and disparities, particularly among sexual and gender minority (SGM) individuals. Thanks to the IVP Student Research Grant, Emylia will focus on a research project to assess seat belt non-use among SGM adults in the U.S. Upon earning her PhD, Emylia hopes to complete her JD in order to serve as a health law specialist and advocate. Her primary mentor for this project is Dr. Jennifer Pharr, an Associate Professor for the School of Community Health Science at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

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Ricardo Villarreal, PhD

Assessment of Culturally Specific Suicide Risks in the Hispanic/LatinX Community

Dr. Ricardo Villarreal is a 4th year medical student at the CU School of Medicine and part of the CU MSTP program. He began his medical research career studying cancer biology at Cornell University where he received his BS in Biology and Physiology. He then received his PhD from the department of Microbiology and Immunology at the CU School of Medicine in 2021 where he completed his thesis on neonatal infectious diseases. Ricardo has published research findings in various biomedical fields and is currently participating in clinical research investigating firearm related suicide and violence prevention within the military population in the lab of Dr. Emmy Betz. He is currently interested in developing emergency psychiatric analyses for at-risk populations including minority and military populations as part of the CU COMBAT Scholar Program.

Spring 2022 awardees

Fisseha, Ephrat

Ephrat Fisseha 

Fentanyl Harm Reduction in Denver, CO

Ephrat Fisseha is an MD/MPH student who is pursuing emergency medicine. She is particularly interested in social determinants of health and harm reduction in the emergency department setting. In light of the sharp increase in fentanyl related overdoses, many harm reduction efforts have been targeted to people who inject drugs and have not reached populations of drug users who do not inject drugs or intentionally seek opioids. This award will support her project set in the Denver Health Emergency Department offering free fentanyl test strips and education to patients who use drugs. Fentanyl test strips are harm reduction tools that detect if a drug sample contains fentanyl, thereby reducing the risk of unintentional overdose. She is being mentored by Jason Haukoos, MD. 

Charles L.

Charles Lommen 

Examining the Relationship Between Traumatic Brain Injury, Race/Ethnicity and Suicide

Charles Lommen is currently pursuing a Bachelors in Neuroscience at Colorado University Boulder. This award will help in his work researching the link between traumatic brain injury, suicide, and quality of care as it relates to ethnicity. Charles currently works as an EMT and hopes to use his research, clinical experience, and education to contribute towards the research in the traumatic brain injury field. He is mentored by Christine Baugh, PhD, MPH of CU Anschutz.

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Spencer Smith 

Prevention First: Providing Suicide Prevention Services for WCU Students

Spencer Smith is an Academic Counselor and is pursuing his Masters of Behavioral Science in Rural Community Health at Western Colorado University. Before becoming a counselor and attending graduate school, he acquired a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sociology with an emphasis in Criminal Justice and a minor in Pre-Law from Western. This award will support his work in providing preventative services regarding suicide, and collaborating with community organizations and national non-profits to better the overall mental health of Western’s students. He is primarily mentored by Jessica Eckhardt, Ph.D., University of Utah.

Fall 2021 awardees

Picture of Kenzie Campbell

McKenzie Campbell

Suicide Among Adolescent Girls: The Role of Mattering as a Mediator Variable

Ms.Campbell is a Master of Public Health candidate at Boise State University and mentored by Dr. Megan Smith. Kenzie's project aims to compare rates of depress and suicidal ideation factors across gender and investigate the impact of risk and protective factors (such as mattering) on the relationship between depression and suicidal ideation in girls as compared to boys.

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Katherine Smulligan

Predictors of Lower Extremity Injury Risk Following Sport-Related Concussion

The aims of Katherine Smulligan's project is to examine individual level predictors of subsequent injury following concussion, specifically socioeconomic status and cervical spine function. Kate's primary mentor is David Howell, PhD, in the University of Colorado Department of Orthopedics.

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Dorothy Stearns

Sex Differences in Violent Death During Incarceration and Legal Intervention

Ms. Dorothy Sterns is a fourth medical student at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She is mentored by Injury Center member, Dr. Catherine Velopulos. Her project will explore the role of the United States prison system in supporting incarcerated individuals through analyzing differences in death during incarceration and legal interventions by gender using the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) database from the CDC. Overall the project will help contextualize societal factors, such as social inequity, within the United States prison system. 

Spring 2021 awardees

Basillo Carrillo

Alin Yuriko Badillo-Carrillo

Homicide-Suicide in the United States: A Deep Understanding of the Mental and Behavioral Health of Perpetrators of Intimate Partner Homicides


Ms. Badillo-Carrillo is pursuing a dual master’s in public health and Latin American studies at the University of New Mexico. The award will support an analysis exploring the association between intimate partner homicide-suicides and the perpetrators’ mental and behavioral health in the U.S. Upon graduation, Ms. Badillo-Carrillo hopes to create equitable intervention programs in communities of color and eventually obtain a PhD in a health-related field. Alin’s mentors are Laura Tomedi, PhD, MPH and Theresa Cruz, PhD, of the University of New Mexico.

Photo of Ligia Batista Silverman

Ligia Batista Silverman

Evaluating Contacts of Children Presenting for Suspected Physical Abuse: Understanding Disparities, Preventing Injuries

Ms. Batista Silverman is pursuing an MD at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. The award will support a project to describe the variability and yield of occult injury testing in well-appearing contacts of children who have sub-specialty evaluation for suspected child physical abuse. Ms. Batista Silverman is a professional research assistant in the emergency department and child abuse pediatrics where she has worked on a variety of research projects and aims to become a leader in clinical and scholarly work. Ms. Silverman is mentored by Daniel Lindberg, MD, of the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

Photo of Sameer Andani

Sameer Andani

Know Your Rights Car Sticker

Mr. Andani is pursuing an MD at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. His team includes Sarah Groover and Emily Heideman. Their award will support the creation, testing, printing and distribution of a car sticker that reviews a driver’s legal rights in the event of a traffic stop, in order to make traffic law more equitable and reduce police violence. Mr. Andani is a first-generation Pakistani college graduate. His mentor is Maurice Scott, MD, of the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

Injury & Violence Prevention Center (IVPC)

Colorado School of Public Health

CU Anschutz

Fitzsimons Building

13001 East 17th Place

3rd Floor West , Mail Stop B119

Aurora, CO 80045

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