News & Events


July 6, 2016

IWRI Research Assistants

The faculty and staff of IWRI wish to acknowledge and offer our heartfelt thanks to the ten student research assistants who were critical in the success of our projects during the past 2015-2016 academic year. The following autobiographies were written by the students and reflect their unique styles, perspectives, and interests. Biographies of two of the research assistants, Jackie Johnson and James Her, were published in the April 2016 issue of the IWRI Newsletter as recipients of the prestigious Bonderman Travel Fellowship, and do not appear here. We hope that their time here was educational and purposeful and that they will incorporate IWRI’s values in their future academic, research and/or clinical endeavors. Congratulations, students, on completing another successful academic year!



Jenna Forty (White ally)

Jenna Forty (White ally)
MPA Candidate, 2017
At the Evans School, I focus in Economic Policy and Development. I am an avid runner, backpacker and traveler.  Working at IWRI has given me exposure to the world of research. I have gained so much knowledge and appreciation for public health data collection and policy implementation. For the summer I will be working at the UN World Food Programme in Rome, Italy as a Performance Management Intern. I look forward to returning to IWRI in the fall and continuing to support research objectives.




Francesca Gatuz, MSW (Filipina)

Francesca Gatuz, MSW (Filipina)
Francesca Gatuz was born and raised on Guam, and moved to Los Angeles to attend Loyola Marymount University. After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, she returned to Guam to work in a program offering positive activities & role models for young girls and their families. In 2014, Francesca began graduate school at the UW’s School of Social Work.  IWRI has helped her develop a stronger sense of identity, affirmed her belief that those with lived experience should participate in the decisions that affect them, and broadened her understanding of tribal and community-based research, as well as the importance of collaboration and partnerships.
When not at IWRI, Francesca can be found at her internship with 21 Progress, working with undocumented youth and families and facilitating workshops on labor standards and storytelling for young workers of color. Francesca enjoys spending time with family and friends, going to the beach, attending concerts, dancing, and cooking. She is currently a member of UW’s Social Work Asian Pacific Islander Affinity Group and GABRIELA Seattle, a feminist, anti-imperialist grassroots organization dedicated to the liberation of Filipinas globally and locally.



Kiona Jones (African-American ally)

Kiona Jones (African-American ally)
MSW Candidate 2017
I just finished my 1st year as a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at University of Washington Tacoma. Working at IWRI has taught me a lot about Indigenous communities that I didn’t know. It’s also encouraged me to further conduct independent research. When I’m not at working, I love to dabble in photography. My favorite style of photography is abstract. I love to take pictures and play around with them digitally to creatively manipulate them. I’m also an avid reader and I love to write. I especially love reading action, non-fiction, and comedy. My favorite writing forms are poetry and creative. I’m currently in the process of fleshing out a couple ideas into stories. I’ve also been accepted into the Buenos Aires study abroad program for the summer and am really excited for the trip!


Student_MyHoa-My Nguyen, MSW (Vietnamese-American ally)
I am Hoa-My, a graduating student, pursuing a career in social work and aspiring to make an impact on my community. The last few years at the UW have inspired me to work with families using a multigenerational lens. My hope is that this area would allow me explore non-dominant cultural values in recovery and healing. Working at IWRI has helped me developed a greater appreciation to a multi-facet of different cultural values and resiliency through IWRI’s staff’s passion in their research projects and the friendly working environment that allows me to bond with my colleagues. Personally, I find meaning in building and establishing community relationships to foster compassion and empathy to ultimately strive for social equity in solidarity. Music, arts, and food signify key elements to bring people across different cultures together, in which has become my go-to method of self-care.



Epiphany Nick, BA (Samoan and African-American)

Epiphany Nick, BA (Samoan and African-American)

Epiphany Nick, BA (Samoan and African-American)
Epiphany Lototele Nick’s roots are in Samoa and South Carolina. While studying American Ethnic Studies and Biology at UW, her commitment to serve the community brought her to IWRI, as she wanted to learn more about the magnitude in which health/healthcare disparities plague indigenous and Black communities.  In congruence with Epiphany’s dream to become a pediatrician, Epiphany intends to develop her own indigenous lens, allowing her to pursue research with respect to cultural beliefs and attitudes.
She was a 2015 Māhina Indigenous health fellow and joined IWRI in October 2015 as a research assistant, where she helped with the Tribal Colleges and Universities Project.  She is most interested in the effects of historical trauma and research methodologies that address the uses of plant-based traditional medicine.  Epiphany will be serving as a Teacher’s Assistant for the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program this summer before she begins her studies for the MCAT and prepares her application for medical school.



Student_ChelsieChelsie Porter, MPH (White ally)
I was born and raised in Granite Falls, Washington, and got my B.S. in Public Health and B.A. in Spanish here at the UW. I continued my graduate education at the UW School of Public Health.
I worked as a Graduate Student Assistant at IWRI from 2015 to 2016, doing a little bit of everything.  Personally, I learned so much about the histories and cultures of indigenous communities around the world. Professionally, my time at IWRI taught me about the nitty-gritty details of research, as well as introducing me to Community-Based Participatory Research and showed me the importance of partnering with communities in a meaningful way. In addition to learning from the staff who supervised me, I learned so much from the other students I worked with, who became my really good friends.
This summer, I’m taking a trip to Eastern Europe, after which I’ll be joining the job hunt. In the future, I hope to find a way to incorporate my training as an epidemiologist with my passion for direct service. I plan to work in maternal and child health, with a focus on reproductive health and reproductive justice.
Now that I’m done with school and can actually have hobbies again, I’m looking forward to reading for fun, going to concerts, attending film festivals, and enjoying all the beautiful things Seattle has to offer.



Solana Rollolazo, B.A. (Filipina / Haida)

Solana Rollolazo, B.A. (Filipina / Haida)
I was born and raised in South Seattle, and just graduated from the UW majoring in Medical Anthropology and Global Health with a minor in Diversity.
I started working as IWRI’s web & technology assistant in October 2015 after being afforded the wonderful opportunity of conducting research in New Zealand through the Māhina program of summer 2015.  My main duties involved editing IWRI websites, covering IWRI events, and providing technical support. I learned about how to conduct research and provide health/social services that serve the interests and needs of people and community. Most importantly, I found that it is possible to build a true family within the workplace. It was inspiring to be surrounded by like-minded individuals whose people come from a similar walk of life as mine. As an indigenous student with an interest in health research, I felt comfortable, valued and empowered at IWRI.
Aside from working and studying at UW, I also served as a cardio kickboxing fitness instructor, the cultural dance chair for UW’s Polynesian Student Alliance and President for the Filipina organization “The Sisterhood of Pi Nu Iota.” Outside of school, I love to dance and teach Tahitian dance (at the local Te Fare O Tamatoa), which I’ve been doing for 14 years.
In the near future, my goal is to pursue a Master’s in Public Health. Ultimately, no matter what I end up doing, I want to integrate culture and health to promote resilience and holistic wellness in my community.


Student_Dorothy2Dorothy Thomas, MPH (African-American ally)
I was born and raised in Selma, Alabama, and went to Vassar College, where I was a double major in French & Francophone Studies and Neuroscience & Behavior.  I moved to Seattle to pursue my Master’s in Public Health at the UW.
I love living in Seattle! It is a super enchanting place to be. Although the rain can at times be kind of overwhelming, I am so charmed by the coffee culture as well as how laid back this place can be. I also love the proximity to mountains and other outdoor adventures. I miss my family and it is definitely very tough being far away from them but I feel so incredibly fortunate for the sense of community that I have established here. So far, the Pacific Northwest has been a stellar adventure.
As a graduate research assistant, my experiences at IWRI were remarkably formative. They really helped me to see how impactful it is to honor different ways of knowing–that is, to be open and aware and welcome to conceptualizing and doing things differently. I am so honored to have had the chance to learn from such wonderfully insightful and knowledgeable researchers.
Right now I am working with a Global Health non-profit called VillageReach. I am supporting work on strengthening immunization supply chains in West and Central Africa–primarily francophone countries including Benin, Togo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Later this year I plan to apply to Ph.D. programs.
Now that I am out of graduate school, I hope to spend my newfound free time recommitting to running, reading, writing and hot yoga.