2021-23 LCIRN Scholars

We are excited to welcome our inaugural class of Life Course Intervention Research Network Scholars! These eight impressive scholars come from disciplines including public health, social work, psychology, education, and medicine, and they bring diverse research and practice experience to their study of life course health development and its application to interventions. With interests ranging the spectrum from primary care to social emotional well-being, mother-infant relationships to civic engagement, these scholars are already making big impacts, and we’re honored to be a part of their journeys.  

headshot of Saltanat Childress

Saltanat Childress, MSW, PhD is an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas-Arlington School of Social Work. Her research is focused on family and child well-being, economic empowerment, and improving long-term health and social outcomes of families and children. She is dedicated to improving the capacities of public health and social service systems to prevent adverse childhood experiences and family violence through developing and evaluating integrated evidence-based interventions.

Saltanat is part of a multi-site LCIRN pilot study looking at the role of immigrant fathers and influences of migration on parent and children’s health and well-being over the life course, with the goal of identifying opportunities for intervention.

Carol Duh-Leong, MD, MPP is an academic general pediatrician who studies how social connectedness and neighborhoods shape early childhood health outcomes, particularly in immigrant families exposed to experiences of material hardship. She takes care of pediatric patients at Bellevue Hospital Center and was selected to be a KL2 CTSA Scholar in 2021. She completed her Academic General Pediatrics/Population Health Scholars Fellowship at NYU and her residency and chief residency in Social Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore. She has a MD from Vanderbilt University, a Master in Public Policy from Princeton, and completed her undergraduate studies at Yale.

headshot of Elena Maker Castro

Elena Maker Castro is a third year doctoral student in the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, Division of Human Development and Psychology. A former high school social studies teacher, Elena studies youth’s civic engagement using a critical lens that centers the ways in which youth resist marginalizing forces. She is currently focusing her work on the relationship between youth’s critical civic engagement and their wellbeing. 

Ben Meza headshot

Benjamin Meza, MD is a pediatrician and internist in the Division of General Internal Medicine at UCLA.  As a clinician investigator, he is particularly interested in understanding how our social ecology influences our health and exploring ways to leverage social networks to improve the health of marginalized communities.  He is currently working with Mitchell Wong and Rebecca Dudovitz on a K application understanding how school programming impacts the formation of youth social networks and substance use.

Vivian Tamkin headshot

Vivian L. Tamkin, PhD, is a dual state licensed, community-oriented psychologist (CA and WI) and a second-year postdoctoral research fellow in the Health Disparities Research Scholars T-32 Training Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine and Public Health. She is a qualitative researcher, and she utilizes a multi-method qualitative approach (e.g., in-depth, semi-structured interviews, focus groups, video data) to examine the process of racial socialization in Black/African Americans across the life span. Dr. Tamkin’s current research aims to identify ways in which Black/African American mothers of toddlers with depression living in poverty demonstrate the capacity to recognize their child’s emotional states that shape their child’s interaction behavior (Luyten, et al., 2017). Specifically, her target outcome is to operationalize reflective functioning to better inform the development and implementation of culturally centered maternal-child interventions.

Allysa Ware headshot

Allysa Ware, MSW is Interim Executive Director at Family Voices and has spent the last decade working to improve access to education, medical services, and community supports for children with special health care needs and their families. Allysa received her master’s degree in social work from The Catholic University of America (CUA) and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in social work at CUA with a research focus of autism diagnosis and treatment in the African-American community. Allysa has also engaged in research focused on the lived experiences of kinship caregivers. She is licensed by the Association of Social Work Boards as a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) in Washington, DC, and Maryland. Allysa is also the proud parent of a 18-year-old daughter with an autism spectrum disorder.

Allysa’s LCIRN pilot study will examine the process and impact of parent affiliate stigma on raising a child with ASD in African American communities. Future interventions could focus on reducing the negative affects of stigma on parents’ and children’s health outcomes, and on reducing racial health disparities. 


Nomi Weiss-Laxer headshot

Nomi Weiss-Laxer, PhD, MPH, MA is a NRSA postdoctoral fellow in the Primary Care Research Institute in the Department of Family Medicine at the University at Buffalo (UB). She received her PhD from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and her MPH from Brown University. She served as research coordinator for the Family Health Technical Working group, supported by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau. In addition to her family health measurement research, Dr. Weiss-Laxer conducts mixed methods studies on perinatal mental health in obstetrics and pediatrics settings among underserved populations.

Dr. Weiss-Laxer’s LCIRN pilot study will assess the feasibility, acceptability, and utility of the Family Health Scale – Short Form in primary care pediatric settings. 


Keisha Wint headshot

Keisha M. Wint, PhD is a licensed clinical social worker who recently earned a PhD in Family Science and Human Development to support her passion of working with and for children across schools and communities. As a coach, she collaborates with preschool teachers in a large urban New Jersey school district and is particularly interested in facilitating practices that support social emotional well-being for all children. As a private practitioner, Dr. Wint incorporates her training as an Advanced Certified Grief Recovery Method Specialist® to support children and families recovering from various grief and loss experiences.