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Leadership and Education in Academic Research and Networking for Enhancing Diversity (LEARNED)

Program Leadership


Aisha Dickerson

Aisha S. Dickerson, PhD

Faculty Lead

Dr. Dickerson is an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology with several years of experience in diversity and inclusion advocacy. As former Chair of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Dean’s Advisory Committee for Diversity and Inclusion, she led an effort to develop a strategic plan for improving diversity, inclusion, and belonging. As a product of several diversity initiatives, Dr. Dickerson has also experienced many programs with varying success rates. During her transition into her current faculty position, she recognized the need for professional development and networking activities reflecting the unique experiences of underrepresented groups at JHBSPH and collaborated with students and postdocs to develop the LEARNED program. In addition to her overarching research interest in environmental risk factors for neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders, Dr. Dickerson investigates environmental justice issues in vulnerable populations along with health disparities related to cognitive assessment and service provision.


Roland J. Thorpe, PhD

Faculty Co-Lead

Dr. Thorpe is Associate Vice Provost of Faculty Diversity, a professor in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society, and a national leader in seeking to understand how social determinants of health impact race- and SES-related disparities across the life course in functional and health status of community-dwelling adults with a current focus on African-American men. He is also PI on an NIA R01 grant that examines that the role of psychosocial stress and longevity in African-American families. As a Provost’s Fellow, he worked with the Offices of Faculty Affairs and Research to design skills training modules for undergraduate research and develop a mentoring program to train graduate students, postdoctoral trainees, and faculty in the art of mentoring undergraduate students.

Dorian Jackson

Dorian is a fourth year PhD candidate in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. With interest in vector borne and parasitic diseases, his research focuses on the molecular mechanism of action for various insect repellents that are currently being used in mosquito control. Before coming to Hopkins, he worked on his MPH at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health where he was heavily involved in diversity initiatives and even worked in the UC Berkeley Office of Graduate Diversity. Throughout his graduate education, he has valued outreach and support of other underrepresented minorities and looks forward to continuing this work through the LEARNED initiative.


Joel Bolling

Mr. Bolling works collaboratively to increase the recruitment, retention, and mentorship of students and postdoctoral fellows from underrepresented and underserved backgrounds. He coordinates initiatives to ensure that all JHBSPH constituents are valued, respected, and nurtured, inclusive of their identities. Prior to joining the Bloomberg School, Mr. Bolling supported diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice efforts at various higher education institutions, most recently Towson University.

Sabra Klein

Dr. Klein is a Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology (MMI). She is an expert on sex and gender differences in immune responses and susceptibility to infection. Her group considers how immunological, hormonal, and genetic differences between males and females affect sex differences in susceptibility to viruses, including influenza, Zika, and SARS-CoV-2 viruses. She is the principle investigator of the Johns Hopkins Specialized Center for Research Excellence (SCORE) in sex and age differences in immunity to influenza. She is President-elect of the Schoolwide Faculty Senate, Chair of the MMI Graduate Program Committee, member of the University Doctor of Philosophy Board, co-Chair of the advisory board of the Johns Hopkins Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health, co-Director of the Center for Women’s Health, Sex, and Gender research, and served for 3 years on the Schoolwide Committee on Equity, Diversity, and Civility. She provides mentoring and training for diverse students and fellows through her participation in these department, Schoolwide, and University-wide committees and boards.


David Sullivan

Dr. Sullivan has 27 years of research experience on malaria and the erythrocyte. His particular area of expertise focuses on heme, hemozoin and metal metabolism in the malaria infected erythrocyte related to diagnostics and drug action. Dr. Sullivan's research work has also involved malaria clinical field studies in Bangladesh and Africa. As SARS-CoV-2 has transformed our society and science, scientists from diverse disciplines have focused on the virus. Dr. Sullivan has pivoted from a mostly malaria bench researcher with limited observational human trials in Africa and Bangladesh to a COVID-19 clinical trialist. He is national PI on a study of the early treatment of outpatient COVID-19 which aims to prevent hospitalization and death with a single transfusion of high SARS-C0V-2 antibody titer convalescent plasma. Dr. Sullivan is working with Dr. Klein to expand mentoring opportunities for underrepresented bench science PhD students by developing training opportunities and a protocol for diversifying thesis committees by including members from institutions outside of the JHU system.

Founding Initiative Leaders


Alyssa McCoy Agnes

Alyssa M. Agnes, PhD is staff scientist at Propagenix and a former postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. Her current research focuses on the effects of temperature on the respiratory epithelial response to influenza A and SARS-CoV-2 infection. In addition to her work in the laboratory, Dr. McCoy advocates for diversity and inclusion in bench sciences and collaborates with organizations to run S.T.E.M camps and workshops for underrepresented minority youth in the community.


Ohemaa Poku

Ohemaa Poku, PhD is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at Columbia received her doctoral degree from the Department of Mental Health. Her research interests include the cross-cultural interpretations of illness and how stigma impacts access to psychosocial care, particularly for persons living with HIV.