Refugee Health and Well-being in Buffalo

Courtesy of Jewish Family Services of Buffalo and Erie County

From 2003 to 2014, Erie County's four resettlement agencies resettled 9,723 refugees from Iraq, Somalia, Burma, Bhutan, and now Syria. Refugees receive resettlement support for three months time but post-resettlement face barriers to good health and well-being due to limited english proficiency coupled with a scarcity of interpreters and translators, mental health issues related to trauma and torture, lack of transportation, and a derth of culturally-engaged health professionals, pharmacists, and emergency care providers.

Our Working Solutions

Planning for Food Systems in Urban Settlements: Lessons and Challenges from North America

Members of the UB Food Lab attended Habitat III, the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in Quito, Ecuador in October 2016. In collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, UB students and faculty organized a training on food systems planning at Habitat III. A team of five from the Food Lab, including Dr. Raja, staff, graduate students, and a volunteer facilitated the training.  The mayor of Sucre, Bolivia, which has many innovative policies pertaining to food, opened the session, along with Cecilia Marocchino from FAO headquarters. Participation exceeded the anticipated number of attendees - about 75 individuals from across the globe attended the training. The training was simultaneously translated in Spanish, as many attendees were from South America.

Samina Raja, Associate Professor, School of Architecture and Planning; Alexandra Judelsohn, Research Associate, Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab; Danielle Vazquez, Research Assistant, Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab; Jennifer Whittaker, Independent Contractor, Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab; Hijab Khan, Volunteer, Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab; Erin Sweeney, Research Assistant, Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab


A Place for Everyone: Planning Efforts to Support Refugees Through the Resettlement Process

In September 2016 the New York Upstate Chapter of the American Planning Association held its annual conference in Buffalo, New York. With the theme of “rustbelt reborn”, it was appropriate to hold a session on planning for refugee populations, as refugees have contributed significantly to Buffalo’s renaissance.  An overview of the resettlement process was provided, as well as presentations by civil society groups, a resettlement agency, and a representative from the local government. The session ended with a training to aid participants in thinking as to how planners can support refugee populations through resettlement. 

Alexandra Judelsohn, Research Associate, Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab; Samina Raja, Associate Professor, School of Architecture and Planning; Steven Sanyu, President, Burmese Community Services, Inc.; Ryan Trubits, Lead Case Manager, Journey’s End Refugee Services, Inc.; Jessica Lazarin, Director, City of Buffalo Office of New Americans; Tracy King, Communications Director and Assistant to Director of Office of New Americans; Danielle Vazquez, Research Assistant, Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab

Trauma-informed care for survivors of torture

Faculty in social work and medicine are conducting community-engaged research to understand the effects of trauma and improve mental health and, in turn, social participation among refugees.

Learn about the WNY Center for Survivors of Torture

Review mental health research being conducted by faculty at UB

Our Team

Faculty Fellows

Kafuli Agbemenu

Assistant Professor

School of Nursing

201 D Wende Hall

Phone: Phone: 716-829-6023


James Bono

Associate Professor and Chair, History; Associate Professor, Medicine

Department of History

546 Park Hall

Phone: 716-645-2181 x553


Ying (Jessica) Cao

Assistant Professor

Division of Health Services Policy and Practice, Epidemiology and Environmental Health

268G-H Farber Hall

Phone: 716-829-5369; Fax: 716-829-2979


Colleen Culleton

Assistant Professor of Spanish

Romance Languages and Literatures

910 Clemens

Phone: 716-645-0861


Thomas Feeley


Department of Communication

354 Baldy Hall

Phone: 716-645-1160


Kim Griswold

Associate Professor

Department of Family Medicine

77 Goodell Street, Suite 220U

Phone: 716-816-7247


James N. Jensen

Professor; Director of Undergraduate Studies, Environmental Engineering

Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering

232 Jarvis Hall

Phone: 716-645-4007


Alex Judelsohn

Research Associate

Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab

Isok Kim

Assistant Professor

Social Work

667 Baldy Hall

Phone: 716-645-1252


Wooksoo Kim

Associate Professor

School of Social Work

685 Baldy Hall

Phone: 716-645-1227


Melinda Lemke

Assistant Professor

Educational Leadership and Policy

470 Baldy Hall

Phone: 716-645-1090


Li Lin


Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering

412 Bell Hall Buffalo

Phone: 716-645-4713


Anjana Malhotra

Associate Professor

Law School

518 O'Brian Hall, North Campus Buffalo, NY 14260-1100

Phone: 716-645-3696


Shaanta Murshid

Assistant Professor

Department School of Social Work

Baldy Hall

Phone: 716-645-3381


Erkin Ozay

Assistant Professor

Department of Architecture

Hayes B 06C

Phone: 716-829-6912


Gina Prescott

Clinical Assistant Professor

Department of Pharmacy

215 Kapoor (John) Hall

Phone: 716-645-2828


Samina Raja


Urban and Regional Planning

233C Hayes Hall

Phone: 716-829-5881


Jessica Scates

Administrative Coordinator

Global Health Equity

220 Hayes Hall

Phone: 716-829-5371


Kory Smith


Department of Architecture

Phone: 716-575-2874


Edward Steinfeld

SUNY Distinguished Professor

Department of Architecture

382 Hayes Hall

Phone: 716-829-5899


Karen Zinnerstrom

Coordinator for Training and Evaluation

Clinical Competency Center

211 Cary Hall

Phone: 716-829-3455


Student Associates

Danielle Vasquez

Graduate Student

Public Health and Health Professions