CGHE Announces 2020-2021 Big Ideas Teams Leadership

Published August 26, 2020

Effective September 1, 2020, the Community for Global Health Equity is pleased to welcome outstanding faculty members to co-lead several of our Big Ideas teams. We recognize these individuals for their collaborative, interdisciplinary work and look forward to their partnership during the next academic year:

Global Child

CGHE warmly welcomes Dr. Shaanta Murshid, associate professor and interim associate dean for equity, diversity and inclusion with the School of Social Work, and Dr. Tia Palermo, associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health in the School of Public Health and Health Professions, to co-lead the global child team.

Dr. Murshid’s areas of research interest include institutions, structural sources of violence, social policy, and health disparities. Her recent work examines the experiences of microfinance participation among women in Bangladesh, and how mobile financial services  affect marginalized groups, such as migrant workers. 

Dr. Palermo examines the impacts of social policy on population health. As co-principal investigator for studies in Tanzania and Ethiopia, she examines the impacts of government social protection programs, which are linked with other services and complementary interventions, on health and well-being.  

Dr. Murshid and Dr. Palermo will be launching a global child writing group every 2nd Wednesday of the month, inviting interested faculty and graduate students to present work in progress and build meaningful partnerships at UB.

Shaanta Murshid.
Tia Palermo.

The global child team was previously led by Dr. Pavani Ram, research professor of epidemiology and environmental health. Dr. Ram was also a CGHE Co-Founder, and Co-Director from 2015-2018. We are grateful and thankful for her leadership and expertise.

Refugee Health and Wellbeing

CGHE is excited to welcome Dr. Kafuli Agbemenu, assistant professor of nursing in the School of Nursing, and Dr. Melinda Lemke, assistant professor of educational leadership and policy in the Graduate School of Education, to co-lead the refugee health and wellbeing team

Dr. Agbemenu’s research interests include reproductive health education, care, and outcomes, and women's health in the African immigrant and refugee population. Her research points to the urgent need to develop culturally-targeted, trauma-informed, reproductive health education for refugees.

Dr. Lemke’s research focuses on the politics of education and how educational organizations address equity. She is particularly concerned with the intersection of power and educational policy, programming, and schooling processes and how neoliberal sociopolitical and normative culture shapes educational actor decision-making and youth schooling experience. Her recent publications focus on the experiences of displaced children and youth within the educational system.

Kafuli Agbemenu.
Melinda Lemke.

The refuge health and wellbeing team was previously led by Dr. Kim Griswold, professor of family medicine in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. We thank Dr. Griswold for her continuous partnership, support, and investment in Buffalo’s refugee community. 

Food Equity

CGHE is excited to invite Dr. Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah, assistant professor of urban and regional planning in the School of Architecture and Planning, to co-lead the food equity team alongside current lead, Dr. Samina Raja, professor of urban and regional planning and Associate Dean for Research and Inclusive Excellence in the School of Architecture and Planning.

Dr. Frimpong Boamah utilizes multiple theoretical and methodological lenses to interrogate issues related to urban health, public policy, environmental governance, land tenure, and sustainable urbanism in both Global North and South countries. His scholarly interests are centered around water governance and determinations of the appropriate institutional frameworks for dealing with water issues.

Dr. Raja’s research focuses on understanding the role of planning and policy in building sustainable food systems and healthy communities. Her scholarship and teaching emphasizes the necessity for equitable and inclusive planning processes. Dr. Raja also serves as Co-Director for CGHE.

Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah.
Samina Raja.

Early Life Exposome

CGHE warmly welcomes Dr. Laura Smith, assistant professor of epidemiology and environmental health in the School of Public Health and Health Professions, to co-lead the early life exposome team alongside current lead, Dr. Katarzyna Kordas, associate professor in epidemiology and environmental health in the School of Public Health and Health Professions.

Dr. Smith is a nutritional epidemiologist whose research focuses on measurement of dietary behaviors and assessment of the determinants and health effects of mycotoxin exposure on mothers and children. Her primary work is done in partnership with Zvitambo Institute for Maternal and Child Health Research, Meyrick Park, Harare, Zimbabwe through the SHINE (Sanitation, Hygiene, Infant Nutrition Efficacy Project) trial.

Dr. Kordas’ research within the field of environmental epidemiology focuses on the effects of the totality of broad exposures (multiple metals, air pollution, pesticide exposure) on child health. She has a longstanding partnership with research collaborators in Uruguay where she has been developing a research program in pediatric environmental epidemiology since 2006. Dr. Kordas also serves as Co-Director for CGHE. 

Laura Smith.
Kasia Kordas.

Beginning this fall, the early life exposome team and inclusive environments team will be coalescing. The inclusive environments team was previously under the leadership of Dr. Korydon Smith, professor and chair of architecture with the School of Architecture and Planning. Dr. Smith applies his dual training in architecture and higher education to build design solutions for marginalized communities. With CGHE, Dr. Smith and colleagues contributed to World Health Organization (WHO) Standards for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WaSH) in schools. We thank Dr. Smith for his leadership and support.

Antimicrobial Resistance

The antimicrobial resistance team is led by Dr. Shamim Islam, clinical associate professor of pediatrics in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Islam’s research and practice focus on understanding and treating infectious diseases. The AMR team is working to understand and control AMR emergence and spread from hospital and municipal wastewater in Bangladesh.

Shamim Islam.

The Community for Global Health Equity seeks to elevate transdisciplinary research. We support work that is co-produced, articulating problems and designing solutions alongside community partners. We invest in long-term, impact-oriented partnerships, translating research into practical and policy actions that can be applied at national, state, and local levels.

Each of our Big Ideas teams is comprised of researchers across disciplines working collaboratively with government officials, NGOs, and practitioners. What results is a comprehensive, solution-oriented process to improve equity in global health and wellbeing.

Are you interested in partnering with us? Contact us at or visit our website at to identify ways you can get involved.