Graduate Research Assistants
Burton Burrows, MPH
Burton Burrows, MPH is a third-year PhD student in epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Kentucky. He graduated from East Carolina University with a bachelor’s degree in biology. He then graduated from the Brody School of Medicine at ECU with a master’s in public health with a concentration in epidemiology. While a graduate student he worked as a research assistant in an environmental health lab. There he fostered his interest in rural health while working on developing solutions for improving drinking water in rural environments. After graduation he worked at a rural academic medical center where he helped first time healthcare researchers from a variety of disciplines develop and implement their research ideas. His hope for the future is to work alongside an interdisciplinary team to use data to develop solutions for the health issues that many rural communities face.
Maxwell Groznik is a third-year Ph.D. student in the College of Communication and Information at the University of Kentucky with cognates in network analysis and statistics. As an interpersonal network scholar, his research focuses on people's close networks and their health behaviors through the lens of social influence. Current contexts of his research include exploring the effects of tobacco marketing policy and the social influence process and communicative behaviors that help constitute DIY eJuice communities. Maxwell also works closely with CHET’s SPARK program.
Yolanda Jackson, MS, RD, LD
Yolanda Jackson is fourth-year PhD student in the College of Communication and Information at the University of Kentucky pursuing a PhD in communication with a concentration in health communication. She recently joined the Center for Health Equity and Transformation (CHET) as a graduate research assistant. Her past work experiences include being a lecturer in the University of Kentucky Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition and working in health care as a clinical dietitian. Yolanda earned a BS in dietetics and a MS in dietetic administration from the University of Kentucky. She is a registered dietitian and is licensed by the state of Kentucky. Yolanda’s research interest includes patient-provider interactions, health campaigns, and health message design. She has a passion for chronic disease management focusing on medical nutrition therapy interventions and sustainable lifestyle changes to optimize health. Through her research at CHET, Yolanda hopes to learn more about health equity and participate in community-based participatory research. She also hopes to gain experience in grant writing and the publication process. Yolanda hopes to contribute by bringing her nutrition and chronic disease management experience to bridge the gap in health equity.
Courtney Martin is a second-year graduate student in the College of Education where she is pursuing a Master’s in Health Promotion. Courtney received her undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky in May of 2022. During her undergraduate years, she became aware of the significant health challenges being faced in the Appalachian region and has since committed her research to better understanding the unique challenges Appalachian residents face. Courtney recently joined CHET and is excited to have the opportunity to be a part of a transdisciplinary research team. She looks forward to working with and learning from other researchers where she hopes to use her skills to help improve the lives and overall well-being of people in Appalachia.
Michelle Roberts, MS, is a third-year PhD student in anthropology at the University of Kentucky. Michelle graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor of arts in anthropology and political science with a Spanish minor. She then graduated from Duke University with a master’s of science in global health. At Duke, she investigated the experiences of families with loved ones in intensive care after stroke or traumatic brain injury in Argentina, emphasizing the critical role family plays during and after an acute illness or injury. After graduation from Duke, Michelle worked as a research coordinator at the University of Washington, working first with people with PTSD, and then with people with multiple sclerosis. Michelle’s research experiences have underscored the importance of understanding health in the context of family, community, and health system. Through work with CHET, Michelle hopes to gain experience in community-based participatory research and partner with communities to solve health challenges. She is excited to engage critically in transdisciplinary research and shares CHET’s commitment to health equity and mentorship. In her future research, she hopes to study chronic disease, disability, and caregiving and address challenges experienced by individuals and their families managing chronic health issues within communities with high rates of disease or disparate access to care in the southeastern United States.
Jimmy Robinson is a third-year PhD student in sociology at the University of Kentucky. Jimmy graduated from Centre College with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, and a minor in environmental studies. Jimmy is an aspiring rural sociologist and has expanded his research focus to include the formation and transformation of rural identity in rural and urban environments. The numerous links between rural sociology and health equity research led him to pursue a position with CHET to explore the relationships between these two fields of study. Through his work with CHET, Jimmy hopes to gain experience in transdisciplinary research and work alongside colleagues that are conducting research in fields of study that he has yet to explore. He also hopes to contribute his own unique research background and interests in order to help maintain CHET’s transdisciplinary environment.
Maria Rockett, MA
Maria Rockett, MA, is a second-year PhD student in sociology at the University of Kentucky. Maria graduated from Northern Michigan University with a bachelor of science in environmental science, where she focused on environmental justice issues such as the Flint water crisis. After graduating from Northern Michigan University, Maria served in the AmeriCorps program, where she was inspired to earn her master's of mental health counseling degree from the University of Cincinnati. Maria's interest in health equity began as an undergraduate student, and her experience working in underserved communities as a mental health counselor allowed her to see how health equity affects entire layers of community. Through her work with CHET, Maria hopes to gain experience working with researchers from different fields and backgrounds that can help her learn about new aspects of health equity research and participate in community-based health equity research initiatives. Maria also hopes to contribute her community engagement experience to help to bridge the gap that often exists between research and issues that are most important to members of the community.
Fidelis Y. Sesenu, is a third-year doctoral student in the communication studies department at the University of Kentucky. He holds an M.Phil. degree in communication from the University of Ghana. He has aggregated over eight years' professional experience across diverse sectors like academia, communication, non-profit project management, and development research. Here at UK, his research interests revolve around understanding communication audiences, practitioners, strategies, information, education, and motivation within the contexts of health outcomes. His own background as an international student from a developing country like Ghana continues to shape his acute awareness of and interest in health equity problems and populations that are simultaneously understudied and underserved. Some of his past and current projects focus on digital media and obesity, media coverage of Black women’s maternal health disparities, suicide behavior, online medical crowdfunding, and social norms about sports gambling/betting behavior among vulnerable populations. Fidelis hopes to feed off the rich interdisciplinary research culture at CHET to contribute to research and community work that support the mission and work of CHET.