Mentors

Steven A. Bell, Ph.D.

Steven A. Bell is an Associate Professor (Lecturer) in the Department of Occupational and Recreational Therapies, at the University of Utah. He has served as the Coordinator of Clinical Education in the Recreational Therapy program and the Coordinator of Cooperative Education I & II in the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism (PRT). Steve teaches undergraduate and graduate courses that prepare students to practice recreational therapy in interprofessional healthcare settings. Over the tenure of his career in higher education, Steve has shared the responsibility of developing, restructuring, and implementing the recreational therapy program, as well as participating in the development and teaching of the PRT Integrated Core; an innovative method of delivering core curriculum in a concentrated block during one semester. Steve serves on numerous Department, College, University, and Community committees.

Steve completed his Ph.D. at the University of Utah in December of 2006. His dissertation and research interests are in ethnic identity exploration and the use of experiential learning. Steve is licensed in the State of Utah as a Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, and nationally certified as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist by the National Council on Therapeutic Recreation Certification. Steve’s clinical experience includes working as a recreational therapist, challenge course/ropes course facilitator and experiential educator in behavioral health.

Laurence Parker, Ph.D.

Dr. Laurence Parker is a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy at the University of Utah. He has taught undergraduate and graduate classes in the area of critical race theory and educational leadership and policy issues both at the K-12 and higher education arenas. Dr. Parker is also an Associate Dean of the Honors College. His most recent publications appear in the journals Urban Education, Qualitative Inquiry, and Race Ethnicity & Education. He is the winner of the 2013 Derrick Bell legacy award from the Critical Race Studies Education Association.

Kamisha L. Johnson-Davis, Ph.D.

Dr. Johnson-Davis is an Associate Professor (Clinical) at the University of Utah in the Department of Pathology and Medical Director for Clinical Toxicology at ARUP Laboratories. She is the Co-Director for the Clinical Chemistry Fellowship program.  She received her B.S. degree in Biochemistry from the University of California, Riverside and her Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Utah.  She was a postdoctoral research associate at the Center for Human Toxicology and she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in clinical chemistry at the University of Utah, Department of Pathology.  Dr. Johnson-Davis is board certified in Clinical Chemistry and Toxicological Chemistry. She is a Diplomate of the American Board of Clinical Chemistry and a Fellow of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry Academy.

Paula Smith, Ph.D.

Dr. Paula Smith is a developmental psychologist with expertise in school-based preventive intervention. Dr. Smith's research uses a risk and protective factors framework to understand youth involvement with risky behavior, such as violence, drugs, early sexual debut to prevent their engagement with the juvenile justice system.  She uses a collaborative framework for working with teachers and school leaders to develop a positive school climate to provide youth with social and emotional support coupled with expectations for academic excellence.  Importantly, this preventive intervention framework engages a systemic, comprehensive, and sustainable approach towards positive youth development. 

Clifton G. Sanders, Ph.D.

Clifton G. Sanders, Ph.D., is the Provost for Academic Affairs at Salt Lake Community College. He has more than 25 years teaching, administrative and leadership experience in higher education, primarily at Salt Lake Community College (SLCC). He earned tenure at SLCC as a chemistry instructor, and since 2000 he has held several administrative posts including Division Chair for Natural Sciences, Dean of Science, Mathematics and Engineering, and Interim Vice President for Workforce and Literacy. Dr. Sanders led the development of several STEM programs and has provided leadership for several local and national initiatives in STEM education and workforce development, including major grants sponsored by the Department of Labor and the Department of Energy, and collaborative projects with the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) and Utah MESA/STEP. Prior to joining SLCC, Dr. Sanders was a senior research scientist and has several patents in biomaterials technology. His research was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense. In 2017, Dr. Sanders received a Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Utah Chemistry Department.

Dr. Sanders earned a BA in Chemistry from Hamline University (St. Paul, MN), a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Utah and a Certificate in Biblical Languages from Salt Lake Theological Seminary.

Paul H. White, Ph.D.

Paul H. White is an Associate Professor of social psychology in the Department of Psychology at the University of Utah. Dr. White was born in Langston, OK (home of Langston University) and spent most of his adolescence in southeastern KY (Appalachian Mountains). He received a Bachelor’s at Berea College (Berea, KY) in 1989 and his Ph.D. at Northeastern University (Boston, MA) in 1993. Dr. White spent two years as a postdoc at The Ohio State University before joining the University of Utah in 1995.

Dr. White's research and teaching interests are in attitudes and persuasion, prejudice and stereotyping, group processes, motivation, and diversity issues. His work attempts to understand the underlying motivations that connect stigma and identity issues within these larger areas of study.

Considered a social justice advocate by day and a devil’s advocate by night, Dr. White explores how these social psychological concepts play out in everyday life in people’s intergroup & intragroup relations.

William A. Smith, Ph.D.

Dr. William A. Smith is a full professor and chair in the Department of Education, Culture & Society at the University of Utah. He also holds a joint appointment as a full professor in the Ethnic Studies Program. He has served as the Associate Dean for Diversity, Access, & Equity in the College of Education as well as a Special Assistant to the President at the University of Utah & its NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative. Dr. Smith is the co-editor (with Philip Altbach & Kofi Lomotey) of the book, The Racial Crisis in American Higher Education: The Continuing Challenges for the 21st Century (2002).  His work primarily focuses on his theoretical contribution of Racial Battle Fatigue, which is the cumulative emotional, psychological, physiological, and behavioral effects that racial microaggressions have on People of Color. Dr. Smith’s work has appeared in such journals as The International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, Journal of Negro Education, Harvard Educational Review, Educational Administration Quarterly, and American Behavioral Scientist, to name a few. Dr. Smith is a former postdoctoral fellow for both the Ford Foundation and the Center for Urban Educational Research and Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a former Research Associate with the CHOICES Project at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has worked as an administrator or professor at Eastern Illinois University, Governors State University (University Park, IL), Western Illinois University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. He received his undergraduate and master’s degrees from Eastern Illinois University (BA in psychology and MS in guidance and counseling), and his Ph.D. is from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (educational policy studies, sociology/social psychology of higher education).

Kolawole S. Okuyemi, Ph.D.

Kolawole S. Okuyemi, MD, MPH, is Professor and Chair for the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine. He also serves as the Senior Director for Diversity and Inclusion at the Huntsman Cancer Institute as well as the Associate Director for Mentorship Development for the Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences (CCTS).

Prior to coming to Utah, he was Professor and the inaugural Endowed Chair for Health Equity Research in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School Twin Cities. In Minnesota, he served as the Director for the Program in Health Disparities Research and Director of Cancer Health Disparities for the Masonic Cancer Center.

He received his medical degree from the University of Ilorin, Nigeria, completed a family medicine residency and Master of Public Health at the University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas, and a public health research fellowship at the Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia.

Dr. Okuyemi’s career in the last 20 years focused on research and training programs to improve the health of underserved populations and to eliminate health disparities/inequities using pharmacological and culturally tailored behavioral interventions as well as community-engaged research approaches. He is one of the Principal Investigators for the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) and serves as PI/Director of NRMN’s Professional Development Core. Dr. Okuyemi has a passion for mentoring. He has mentored faculty, trainees, and students, many of whom have established their own independent academic, research, or other health professional careers.

Martell Teasley, Ph.D.

Martell Teasley is the dean of the University of Utah College of Social Work, president of the National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work, and editor-in-chief of the journal Children & Schools.  His research primarily focuses on social work in school settings, particularly the vital role that social work can play in advancing educational equity.  He is well known as an innovative and talented leader, having previously served as the chair of the Department of Social Work in the University of Texas at San Antonio College of Public Policy.  Dr. Teasley’s experience also includes employment as a substance use disorder counselor, time as a licensed practical nurse, and a decade of service with the U.S. Army.  He earned his Ph.D. in social work from Howard University, where his scholarship focused on African American adolescent development.  He also holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Fayetteville State University and Virginia Commonwealth University, respectively.

Tiana Rogers, Ph.D.

Tiana N. Rogers, Ph.D. currently serves as Program Manager for Sorenson Impact Center’s Data, Policy, and Performance Innovation team. She works on a variety of portfolios using data to inform government and not-for-profit entities with capacity building in the areas of child welfare and social services. Dr. Rogers also oversees the center’s Policy Fellows.

Her career has focused on conducting research and serving as a field expert in the areas of homelessness, child welfare & maltreatment, juvenile justice, public policy, and racial disparities. In addition to being a published author with teaching experience, Dr. Rogers has also consulted with national and international social service organizations on program evaluation and development.

Dr. Rogers holds a B.S. degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; dual M.A. degrees in Criminal Justice and Human Service Leadership from Concordia University-St. Paul, and a Ph.D. degree in Human Services with a Social & Community Services Specialization from Capella University.

Richard A. Ferguson, MD.

Born and raised in Washington D.C. Attained a B.A. in Genetics at Northwestern University before working as an English Teacher for the Japanese Government. Attended Michigan State University- College of Human Medicine and while studying joined the U.S. Army as a Health Professions Scholar. Matched to Ophthalmology Residency at Brooke Army Medical Center from 2004-2006 before serving a 15-month tour in Iraq as a Battalion Surgeon 2007-2008. Served as a clinic physician in Eastern Germany with the U.S. Army for 3 years before relocating to Ft. Polk Louisiana as a Brigade Surgeon. Advanced to the rank of Major before being accepted into the University of Utah's Family Medicine Program. Graduated from the University of Utah's program in 2012 and has served as an Emergency Medicine Physician in over 7 States.
Live in Salt Lake City and enjoys mentoring at the Boys and Girls Club. Serves multiple humanitarian and disaster response missions a year.
Currently in his last year at the Eccles School of Business Executive Program.

Luisa Whittaker- Brooks, Ph.D.

Luisa Whittaker-Brooks is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Utah whose research focuses on synthesizing and elucidating the functional properties of well-defined and high-quality organic and inorganic materials for applications in photovoltaics, thermoelectrics, batteries, spintronics, and electronics.  Her research also focuses on generating a fundamental understanding of what happens at the interfaces (an aspect that is often overlooked in materials chemistry and physics) of organic-inorganic hybrid materials in order to control charge (spin) injection, transport, manipulation, and detection in devices.   Dr. Whittaker-Brooks received her B.S. degree in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Panama. Under a Fulbright Fellowship, she received her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Materials Chemistry from the State University of New York at Buffalo.  She was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Princeton University. She was the recipient of the 2013 L’Oréal Fellowship for Women in Science Award and the 2015 Marion Milligan Mason Award for Women in the Chemical Sciences administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Recently, she was named a Scialog and Cottrell Fellow by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA), a Talented 12 by C&En news, and a GERA Ovshinsky Energy Fellow by the American Physical Society (APS).  She is also the recipient of a Department of Energy Early Career Award.

Charles R. Rogers, Ph.D.

Dr. Charles R. Rogers currently serves as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Family & Preventive Medicine at the University of Utah’s School of Medicine. In addition to serving as the Founding Director of his Men’s Health Inequities Research Lab, Dr. Rogers is also an Associate Member of Huntsman Cancer Institute. He joined the Utah community in June 2018 after 4.5 years at the University of Minnesota Medical School, where he was an Assistant Professor (Division of Health Disparities), Masonic Cancer Center member, and National Cancer Institute-funded postdoctoral fellow (focused on cancer-related health disparities and community-based participatory research).

Since racial inequalities in health are extensive in the U.S., Dr. Rogers is committed to serving medically underserved and minority populations. His transdisciplinary training in applied mathematics and statistics, health education, and public health administration & policy, provide a unique perspective for translating research findings into prevention methods among government agencies, policy makers, private health care organizations, and communities. As an emerging leader of the cancer health disparities workforce, Dr. Rogers has shared his knowledge across North America, East Africa, and Jamaica as well as via a number of venues including newspapers, radio stations, national conferences, minority health fairs, and television.

Dr. Rogers’ research agenda contributes to translational solutions that address the complex underpinnings of inequalities in men’s health, with a current focus on colorectal cancer awareness and prevention among African-American men. His research foci also include cancer health disparities, behavioral & community-based implementation science, mixed methods, and survey methodology. Dr. Rogers’ capabilities and potential have been recognized locally and nationally by the receipt of several competitive scholarships, grant awards, and fellowships aimed at strengthening his knowledge and skills for a life-long career in health equity research. Since he is passionate about paying it forward, Dr. Rogers has also received a number of honors acknowledging his servant leadership (e.g., 100 Most Influential Black Alumni at NC State University).

Roderic R. Land, Ph.D.

Dr. Roderic Land is serving as the Dean of the School of Humanites and Social Science at Salt Lake Community College. Having received his PhD in Educational Policy, Organization, & Leadership, Dr. Land committed his life and work to higher education. As a scholar activist, he has insisted on bridging the gap between theory and practice. His hands-on approach to communities broadly defined, is paramount and largely significant to his research and social agenda.  As such, he has taught at the University of Utah in the Department of Education, Culture & Society & The Ethnic Studies Program.

As a professor, his academic range includes sociology of education, educational policy, hip-hop and social justice education, leadership development and Ethnic studies. His research is committed to liberatory educational practices with a sound pedagogical approach. In other words, Dr. Land insists that race and racism, coupled with other historical, oppressive realities are yet continued battles in the 21st century and are largely important to the new millennium scholar.

He has taken his work and gifts seriously. His community involvement is untiring and necessary to his philosophy and work as a scholar, researcher and administrator. He maintains and believes that God has assigned him to this duty and he humbly works as a servant for God, his students, community, and the many he has mentored throughout the years on a national level. His ultimate global impact will resituate the perception of inclusivity and equity in education and society at large.