Center for Health Equity Research Team

Christopher Counts

Christopher Counts is a Master of Public Health student at CSULB. After completing his degree, he plans on attending medical school and becoming a primary care physician. Christopher has a particular interest in addressing health disparities among racial and sexual minorities and plans to work in these underserved communities. Outside of research, Christopher enjoys volunteer work, yoga, hiking in the mountains, and snow skiing.

Candelaria Garcia

Candelaria Garcia is a fifth-year undergraduate student at CSULB majoring in Health Science with an option in Community Health Education. Her research interests are reflective of her lived experiences as a first-generation Chicana from Compton, California. She seeks to combat health disparities related to environmental injustice, substance use and misuse, and other chronic conditions influenced by the social determinants of health. Following her baccalaureate degree, Candelaria plans to enroll in graduate studies in epidemiology to pursue a health-related research career.

John Poli

John Poli is a 2nd year student in the MPH program at CSULB, with a BS in Biology. He is also a Graduate Mentor in the Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) program, which aims to promote diversity in the realm of science. His research interests include investigating the effects of racism in health and increasing the quality of health for marginalized populations through improving health education and healthcare. He aspires to become a primary care doctor with hope of fostering strong partnerships in public health and health education to promote and improve access of healthcare to marginalized populations. John is the oldest child among a Filipino family of seven and enjoys basketball and playing music.

Samantha Ruiz

Samantha Ruiz is a volunteer at CHER and is currently pursuing her Master in Public Health degree at CSULB. Sam holds a B.A. in Human Biology with a focus in Cross-Cultural Health and Healing from Pitzer College and has a background in youth organizing and addressing injustices experienced by incarcerated women. She currently addresses educational inequities by working with first-generation college bound youth in her community. Sam is passionate about environmental justice, particularly about the health effects of the built environment on marginalized communities. She hopes to eventually start her career in youth organizing and policy efforts centered on health disparities. On her free time, Sam enjoys practicing yoga, crafting herbal medicine and spending time outdoors by hiking or cycling.