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Our Team

Our primary leadership team consists of:

Dr. Nicole M. Joseph is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education in the Department of Teaching and Learning (Peabody School of Education). Her research explores two lines of inquiry, (a) Black women and girls, their identity development, and their experiences in mathematics (b) Whiteness, White Supremacy and how it operates and shapes underrepresentation of Black women and girls in mathematics.

Christy Erving

Dr. Christy L. Erving is a medical sociologist and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology who does research on health disparities within minority communities. Her work on gender differences in health among Black Americans demonstrates that Black women experience worse health along multiple dimensions vis-a-vis their Black male counterparts. Her ongoing research focuses on Black women in particular, and aims to identify the stressors (e.g., financial strain, interpersonal family conflict) and psychosocial resources (e.g., social support in close relationships, high levels of self-esteem and mastery) contributing to their physical and psychological health.

Rena Robinson

Dr. Renã A. S. Robinson in an associate professor of Chemistry whose research centers around Alzheimer’s disease, sepsis, racial disparities, the role of the periphery in these disorders. Her research team develops and applies a suite of proteomics and lipidomics technologies to study the molecular basis of these disorders.

Dr. ReAnna S. Roby, is a Postdoctoral Scholar at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College in the Department of Teaching and Learning. Currently, she works with the NSF funded Fisk-Vanderbilt Bridge Program Regional Center of Excellence in Broadening Participation. As a first-generation scholar, Roby’s background as a Black Southern woman in science greatly informs her service, research, and teaching—praxis. Roby’s scholarship employs Critical Race Feminism, Curriculum Theory, and Critical Qualitative methodologies to explore the ways in which the narratives of Black women and girls in science (formally and informally) could be used to reconceptualize science.

Our advisory team:

  • Dr. Stacey Floyd-Thomas, Divinity School
  • Dr. Emilie Towns, Divinity School
  • Dr. Phillis Sheppard, Divinity School

Our student contributors:

Nauff Zakaria is a Hebrew Bible PhD student in the Graduate Department of Religion.  Her research focuses on the linguistic and grammatical structure of the Hebrew Bible within the context of ancient Near Eastern literature.  Prior to her matriculation at Vanderbilt, Nauff earned a MA in Hebrew Bible and the ancient Near East from the University of Chicago.  Possessing a teaching certification in secondary education, Nauff has also worked in the public school system in San Antonio, TX as a paraprofessional, Career & College counselor, and English teacher.  Nauff has a deep passion for education and working with underrepresented groups in academia.

Riana is a second-year graduate student at Vanderbilt University studying Education Policy. She has an interdisciplinary background that includes both strategy consulting and corporate social responsibility. Outside of her academic and professional work, Riana devotes time to nurture the professional and personal growth of young women and girls. In 2014, she founded Femdelacreme with the mission of creating a community where Black girls can tap into their full potential and feel equipped with the skills, confidence, and network needed to achieve their goals. Having the opportunity to make a significant impact in the community is what truly drives Riana. Therefore, she hopes her work is reflective of both her business background and philanthropic spirit.



Teyana Santos is an undergraduate student at Vanderbilt University studying Elementary Education and African American & Diaspora Studies. As a first generation college student, Teyana hopes that her experiences will inform her research about the intersectionality of Black women and girls in society and be a tool to explore the topic more. She plans to use this experience to learn more about the research process as well as learn more about the pathways created to ensure the success of Black women.