Our Team

Marni Sommer, Professor of Sociomedical Sciences, Director of GATE 

Marni Sommer, DrPH, MSN, RN, has worked in global health and development on issues ranging from improving access to essential medicines to humanitarian relief in conflict settings. Dr. Sommer's particular areas of expertise include conducting participatory research with adolescents, understanding and promoting healthy transitions to adulthood, the intersection of public health and education, gender and sexual health, and the implementation and evaluation of adolescent-focused interventions. Dr. Sommer presently leads the Gender, Adolescent Transitions and Environment (GATE) Program, based in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences. GATE explores the intersections of gender, health, education and the environment for girls and boys transitioning into adulthood in low-income countries and in the United States. GATE also generates research and practical resources focused on improving the integration of menstrual hygiene management and gender-supportive sanitation solutions into global humanitarian response.

Sarah Blake, Senior Research Program Manager

Sarah Blake, PhD, MPH, MSc has worked at the intersections of research and programming in gender, adolescent health and well-being and rights across diverse global contexts, including West Africa and Central Asia. Her research focuses on qualitative and participatory research on the health and social dimensions of adolescents’ transitions to adulthood. Dr. Blake has contributed to policy and evidence reviews, and program evaluations of health and educational interventions in school and community settings. In addition, she has worked with community, national, and international non-governmental organizations to gather and translate evidence into adolescent-centered, community-based programming. Dr. Blake holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of California, San Francisco, an MPH in Population and Family Health from Columbia University, and an MSc in Gender, Development, and Globalisation from the London School of Economics and Political Science. 

Natalie Wyss, Program Manager

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Natalie Wyss, MA, is a Program Manager for the GATE Program. She has personal and professional interests in the intersections of health, education, and gender equity. Her research uses critical qualitative methods and has included studies on girls’ education, teacher practice, and early marriage. She has also supported studies on sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence prevention, climate change education, and international education policy and decision making. Through this work she has collaborated with government, multilateral, and research partners from around the world including Latin America, East Africa, Eastern Europe, and South Asia. Natalie has a BA in Global Health from the University of California San Diego and an MA in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Wisconsin Madison. 

Susi Martinez, Program Coordinator

Susi Martinez, MPH, is the Program Coordinator for the GATE Program. She is interested in the intersections of gender and health, human rights, and health systems strengthening for migrant populations in low-resource settings, particularly among women, girls, and LGBTQI+ individuals. She has supported research on health system resiliency to natural disasters, investigated health systems' responses to gender-based violence in emergency settings, and contributed to monitoring and evaluation initiatives for HIV care. Susi previously worked at Comunidad Connect in Nicaragua, where she coordinated community development projects and managed a rural mental health program. Susi is passionate about implementing community-centered and sustainable health approaches using a gender and human rights lens. 

Angela Nguyen, Postdoctoral Research Scientist

Angela Nguyen, DrPH, MPH, is a postdoctoral research scientist for the GATE Program. She earned her doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health and her MPH from the New York University School of Global Public Health. Angela’s interdisciplinary research to date has focused on vulnerable populations, social determinants of health, and environmental exposures. Her dissertation centered on the epidemiology of disaster mental health, particularly the community- and individual-level factors associated with mental health recovery among displaced women survivors. More recently, she collaborated on a quantitative research study on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on period poverty in the U.S. With GATE, Angela will engage on several research projects ranging from examining the dissemination of puberty educational content to young people, to assessing the impact of menstrual health on the daily lives of those with periods.

Rose Monet P. Little, Research Assistant 

Rose Monet is a second-year Master of Public Health student in the Department of Sociomedical Science, with a certificate in Health Communication. She graduated from UC Riverside in 2021 with a BA in Microbiology. After graduation she went into the workforce to strengthen her knowledge about the U.S healthcare system and acquire patient-centered skills. Rose Monet additionally went abroad to Switzerland and Spain to work on a service research project with UNICEF and observe international health systems alongside medical techniques. Rose Monet's areas of interest in public health include promoting education and health service accessibility within women's health to address reproductive health disparities. During Summer 2023, Rose Monet interned with a nonprofit called SisterWeb to develop a program assessment tool for doulas serving Black, Brown, and Latinx communities in California's Bay Area. During Fall 2023, Rose Monet will be working with GATE to assist with qualitative research projects and the management of GATE’s EdX courses. 

Laila Odeh, Communications & Social Media Assistant

Laila Odeh is a second-year MPH student in the Department of Population and Family Health with a certificate in Health Policy and Practice. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts in Community and Global Public Health in 2022. Laila is supporting the GATE program as the Communications and Social Media Assistant. She is passionate about improving menstrual and reproductive health outcomes through increased healthcare access and policy change.

Ellen Somers, Evaluation Research Assistant

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Ellen is a second-year graduate student in the Clinical Psychology Department at Teachers College, Columbia University. She gained a first class honors degree in Psychology from University College Dublin in 2021. Her prior work has focused on gender and sexuality, with particular interest in menstrual wellbeing, and working with survivors of sexual violence. She is also the founder of Field, a mood curated creative platform, as a result of her interest in the impact of expression through creativity as a bolster to wellbeing. Ellen has also worked in several communications roles and is passionate about the role of messaging in reducing menstrual health and mental health stigma. 

Sadie Bergen, Research Assistant

Sadie Bergen, MA, is a fifth year PhD student in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences where she is a predoctoral fellow in Gender, Sexuality and Health. Her research examines the ways that institutions like hospitals and corporations have historically shaped reproductive health access and outcomes. Her dissertation project traces the history of neonatal intensive care in the United States. In her time at Columbia, Sadie has participated in qualitative research on a range of subjects related to reproductive health equity, including the experiences of women living with HIV and the role of pro-choice physicians play in abortion politics. 

Aminata Diarra, Research Assistant 

Aminata is a recent MPH graduate from the Department of Population and Family Health with a certificate in Global Health. She completed her MPH Practicum abroad in Chad, Africa where she was part of a research team conducting qualitative and quantitative research on person-centered maternity care as well as formative research on adolescent sexual and reproductive health in the Sudanese refugee population in Guereda, Chad. The studies involved a collaboration among IRC, RAISE/MSPH and the University of N’Djamena. Her areas of interest in public health include maternal and child health care/reproductive health disparities, health inequality and social determinants of health, healthcare delivery and health communication. She graduated from Fordham University in 2020 with a BA in Anthropology and a minor in Humanitarian Studies.

Aaron Morrill, Research Assistant 

Aaron is a recent MPH graduate in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences and MA graduate in Jewish ethics at the Jewish Theological Seminary's Kekst Graduate School. He graduated from Columbia and JTS's undergraduate joint-degree program in 2021, earning BA's in data science and Jewish thought. Aaron is currently a research assistant for two Columbia research projects outside of GATE: one centered around the impact of Covid-19 experts on Twitter; and MOVE (Marriage, Orthodox Judaism and a Vision of Empowerment), which is examining forced marriage as a social phenomenon in the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. His research interests include information dissemination, data communication, and the intersection of religion and public health. With GATE, Aaron is a research assistant for a qualitative study on young men's knowledge, attitudes and beliefs on menstruation. This study is aiming to bridge a key knowledge gap surrounding young, low-income, BIPOC men's knowledge and perceptions of menstruation. 

Sanika Sule, Research Assistant

Sanika is a second-year MPH student in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences with a certificate in Applied Biostatistics and Public Health Data Science. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2021 with a BS in Public Health and a BA in French. Before starting at Mailman, Sanika worked in health education where she introduced middle school and high school students to public health concepts, with a focus on health disparities impacting Central Brooklyn. Sanika supported gender and menstrual health research as a GATE Summer 2023 Gender and Menstrual Health Research Practicum Student. 

Gabriella Modesti, Global Mental Health Intern

Gabriella Modesti is a rising senior at Skidmore College majoring in Psychology with a minor in Gender Studies. She is a summer intern for Columbia’s Global Mental Health Programs and is working alongside the GATE team. Gabriella has participated in research at Skidmore focusing on the intersections of gender, race, and stigmatization in the field of mental health, as well as studies revolving around how children think and learn about the social world. During the summer of 2023, she worked on a project with GATE assessing the relationship between menstrual health management and mental health.