Health Equity & Media Lab

University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing


Our Researchers 

Comprised of students, graduates, as well as faculty, our lab is livened by our members' unique personal and academic backgrounds.


Robin Stevens, PhD, MPH

Director, Health Equity & Media Lab

Robin Stevens, PhD, MPH is a health communication scholar focused on achieving health equity in African American and Latino communities. Her research integrates public health and communication science to influence the individual, social and structural determinants that drive health inequity. Her area of expertise is in examining the relationship between new and traditional media and adolescent risk behavior. Her program of research is typified by two lines of inquiry; the quantification of new and traditional media effects on adolescent health behavior and the development of media-informed HIV prevention interventions. Dr. Stevens conducts community-engaged research and includes high school and college students on her research teams. Her current studies examine the role of new and social media on adolescent sexual risk and substance use behavior.  Most importantly, Dr. Stevens is a proud Philadelphian and fan of all Philly teams.

Dr. Stevens is an Assistant Professor in Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and the Director of the Health Equity & Media Lab. She received her AB from Harvard College, MPH from University of Michigan, and PhD from the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania. She is also a Visiting Professor at the Center for AIDS Prevention Research at UC-San Francisco and a Senior Fellow at the Penn Center for Public Health Initiatives. 


Bridgette Brawner, PhD, APRN

Bridgette Brawner, PhD, APRN and her health disparities research team immerse themselves in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods – conducting focus groups, interviewing neighbors, and doing behavior surveys. They combine this information with GIS data on community characteristics such as income and education levels to analyze how social and structural conditions, including the built environment – crowding, green space, and proximity to public transit – affect health.   Brawner’s work shows how conditions such as living in disadvantaged neighborhoods or being under stress due to high levels of crime can harm health, while remedying them can effect positive change. 

Trained as a psychiatric-mental health advanced practice nurse, she also focuses on how mental health conditions, such as depression in Black youth, correlate with unhealthy behaviors. In her clinical work, Dr. Brawner partners with behavioral health providers on interventions for adolescents with mental illness and works with youth affected by HIV/AIDS. She also studies how community gathering places such as churches and barbershops are important for community health and the spread of information.

Dr. Brawner received her BSN from Villanova University and studied at the University of Pennsylvania for her MSN and PhD.


Stephen Bonett, BSN/PhD Candidate

Stephen Bonett is a Hillman Scholar in Nursing Innovation at the University of Pennsylvania. Stephen studies health inequity and community-based health, particularly in pediatric and adolescent populations. Stephen graduated from the the University of Iowa in 2012 with a degree in Mathematics and Statistics and is currently enrolled in the accelerated BSN/PhD Program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.

Stephen hails from Iowa, the land of corn and soy. He fled the cold weather to live in Austin, Texas, where he worked as an after-school teacher, a cook at a homeless shelter, a “compost pedaller,” and a nurse aide at the children’s hospital.



Deshaun Parris, MPH Candidate

Deshaun Parris is a University of Pennsylvania Master of Public Health candidate (May 2017) and holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Health from Temple University. He has a passion for utilizing health communication tools to deliver culturally competent health education messaging to those in underserved communities.

He began his career by coordinating Alzheimer’s awareness and sexual health education classes to the geriatric population in the Germantown area of Philadelphia. He was then awarded the FAO Schwartz Family Foundation fellowship. This fellowship is awarded to individuals who desire to become leaders in the health education and youth development fields. Earning this fellowship gave him the opportunity to work with The Food Trust across the Healthy Corner Store Initiative and the Youth Leadership departments to ensure that 72 middle and high schools thought out Philadelphia could decrease the informational and access gaps.



Kahaari Kenyatta, B.A.

Kahaari graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Health and Societies and a concentration in Public Health. Viewing health as a human right, Kahaari seeks to improve the health infrastructures that support disadvantaged populations through research, programming, and policy.

Kahaari's first research endeavor spanned India, South Africa, and Brazil where he compared resource entitlements in informal and/or unauthorized settlements (e.g., favelas, shantytowns) and the distribution of illness in those communities. More recently, he worked as Lead Field Coordinator for MAPSCorps NYC, an asset-based community development and youth engagement program, in conjunction with the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center and New York State Health Foundation. Now in his second year with the Health Equity and Media Lab, Kahaari is proud of the progress the team has made and excited for the successes on the horizon.


Amanda Sangston, BSN Candidate

Amanda Sangston is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania studying in the School of Nursing. She sought out Dr. Stevens’ project after she was inspired by a presentation done during her NURS 103 lecture. 

Her interest in sexual health and gender has prompted her to become involved in research at the Health Equity Lab. This has been her first exposure to qualitative coding and research and she has really enjoyed exploring a completely different side of public health (compared to the clinical experience she receives through her academic program). In addition to research, Amanda is on the executive board of her sorority, Chi Omega, and is involved with Student Nurses at Penn. 

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Fiona Stuart, BSN/MSN Candidate

Fiona Stuart holds a degree in psychology from Bates College (2014) and is a current accelerated BSN/MSN candidate at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. A native of Havertown, PA, Fiona is glad to be back in Philadelphia to begin her nursing career and pursue her interests in community health.

After Bates, Fiona moved to Boston and joined the Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital as a clinical research coordinator, focusing on studies related to multiple sclerosis. When she's not working or studying, Fiona enjoys spending time with her dogs (a recently adopted Greyhound and a regal Clumber Spaniel) and knitting.


Elizabeth Lazarus, B.A. Candidate

Elizabeth Lazarus is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania and a candidate for a B.A. in Health and Societies with a Concentration in Public Health. During her junior year of high school, she earned her certification in nursing assistance. Through this she developed a passion for improving healthcare for disadvantaged and minority youth.