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Our University of Miami Laboratory for
Integrative Knowledge (U-LINK) Team

Current Team Members

David W. McMillan

David W. McMillan is an Assistant Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery, and the Director of Education and Outreach at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, a Center of Excellence at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. He is academically trained as a physiologist, with his dissertation focusing on the role of the autonomic nervous system in the absorption and trafficking of dietary fats. Now, as Director of Outreach, he has a faciliatory role in many studies involving human participants (that can be viewed on The Miami Project’s website) spanning topics such as implanted neurotechnologies, neuromodulation augmented rehabilitation, peripheral nerve transfer surgery, and beyond. This might seem like a long shot from climate health risks, but his professional interests revolve around a people—those with spinal cord injury (SCI)—not an approach. Relevant to the community research partnership employed here at STiCHH: to guide his and other’s approach to studying SCI, Dr. McMillan co-founded and co-chairs a committee of people with SCI who provide advice to The Miami Project’s researchers on their scientific activities.

Katharine J. Mach

Katharine “Katie” Mach is a Professor at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a faculty scholar at the UM Abess Center, focused on environmental science and policy. Her research assesses climate change risks and response options to address increased flooding, extreme heat, wildfire, and other hazards. Through innovative approaches to integrating evidence, she informs effective and equitable adaptations to the risks. Mach was the 2020 recipient of the Piers Sellers Prize for world leading contribution to solution-focused climate research. She is a chapter lead for the US Fifth National Climate Assessment, and she serves as Co-Editor in Chief for Climate Risk Management. From 2010 until 2015, she co-directed the scientific activities of Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and she was a lead author for the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report. At UM, Mach is the Graduate Program Director for the Department of Environmental Science and Policy. She received her PhD from Stanford University and AB summa cum laude from Harvard College.

Joanna L. Lombard

Joanna Lombard is an architect and Professor at the University of Miami School of Architecture with a joint appointment in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the Miller School of Medicine. She has a Bachelor of Architecture from Tulane and a Master of Architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design. She brings climate adaptation expertise to the team through her work as an architect, urban designer, and founding member of UM’s Built-Environment Behavior & Health Research Group, and the UM HyLo team advancing a hyperlocal approach to climate adaptation. She has facilitated numerous community workshops and is active in community engagement in the areas of climate, health, and community identity. Professionally she links research to design in projects that include the development of a healthy building toolkit for affordable housing and consultations with healthcare systems to develop new and retrofit existing campuses to enhance wellness outcomes.

Anson James

Anson James proudly serves as president at the Spinal Cord Injury Support Group of South Florida Miami Chapter (SCISG). In 1982 Anson migrated from Guyana to the Richmond, Virginia at 13 years old, where he spent the remainder of his early adulthood. He moved to New York following his aspirations to run his own business, and in 2004 suffered a spinal cord injury (SCI) resulting in paraplegia. Following his adaptation to a new way of life, he moved to Orlando and achieved his goal of becoming a successful business owner. After careful consideration, Anson moved to Miami in 2011 to become a participant in the many clinical trials at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. He immediately became an active member of SCISG, and a year later took up a leadership role in the group. He has held different positions throughout the years, now currently serving as the president of SCISG. During his time at SCISG, he has sought to promote camaraderie through friendship, education, advocacy, and recreation to enhance the quality of life for those affected by spinal cord injuries, neurological disorders, and other disabilities. Anson bring his expertise in SCI to the team and serves as liaison for the SCI community. He is a community advocate and representative at the Miami Climate Alliance and the SCI Research Council at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. Anson routinely organizes community events such as fundraisers, workshops, sporting events and boat outings for those with paralysis. He serves as a resource of lived experience to guide this project forward and a voice for climate resilience.

Yoberly “Lilly” Zambrano

Yoberly “Lilly” Zambrano suffered a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) due to a car accident in Venezuela at age 17, that left her paralyzed from the neck down. After 3 years dedicated to rehabilitation, she realized that her new physical condition will probably be for a life. She decided to move forward, and re-started living her life becoming an advocate for herself and for the disabled community in a radio show called “Una voz en tu conciencia” (A voice in your conscience) to raise awareness about the Rights of People with Disabilities in Venezuela. Later on, Lilly graduated as a Systems Engineer at the “Universidad Nacional Abierta de Venezuela” and immediately started a business with her father. In 2017, she migrated from Venezuela to Miami, Florida and start a new beginning. She became a participant at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. In 2018 started participating in Marathons as a disabled-runner with the Nirvana Project Org, where she is a Co-Founder and proudly served as Director of Treasury for 4 years. As a runner enthusiast, she invited Dr. Daniel Samano into running, and together they became a running-duo that has run 3 full and 6 halfs marathons and many other races since 2018. Together they started the movement “Wills2Run” to promote SCI awareness, normalization and inclusion into the south Florida communities. During running trainings she has experienced the effects of Climate Change and helped in studies about Climate Change and Health. Her experience and advocacy for the community living with disabilities have taken her to develop leadership roles in the Human Resources field, currently working as an Admissions Coordinator for Goodwill of South Florida.

Daniel Samano

Daniel Samano is a Scientist-Researcher at the University of Miami (UM) Departments of Neurology – Division of Neuro Critical Care (NCC), Neurological Surgery, and the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. He received his Medical Degree from Anahuac University in Mexico City, and a Master of Public Health from UM. Dr. Samano oversees local and national clinical trials in Miami, encompassing the fields of Traumatic Brain Injury, Epilepsy, & Recovery of Consciousness. He is passionate about Climate and Health & Public Health research, as his research assesses the (in)direct impact of Extreme Weather Events on healthcare utilization, and vulnerable populations, including those living with spinal cord injury (SCI). He published a novel methodology to measure extreme heat index and precipitation’s influence on healthcare use in HIV populations. He works with national stakeholders on several projects to characterize the relationship between climate and health, and bring it to the forefront of climate conversations. During COVID-19, he facilitated scientific knowledge about the pandemic’s progression to CNNe and other media outlets in Latin America. In South Florida, Samano enjoys running marathons with SCI individuals and supports organizations inclusive of disabilities in sports, such as the nirvana project.

Austin Wells

Austin Wells (He/ Him/ His) is a second-year graduate student at the University of Miami where he is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health. Austin currently holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Health with a minor in Cell & Molecular Biology from California State University, Fullerton. His interests lie at the intersections of public health and environmental health, specifically focusing on climate, the built-environment, and how such factors influence community health outcomes and behaviors. His mission is to contribute to the research dialogue and help to reduce the occurrence of negative health events among minority and vulnerable populations, promoting healthy and safe and interventions.

Lynée Turek-Hankins

Lynée Turek-Hankins is a doctoral student in the Abess Environmental Science and Policy Graduate Program at the University of Miami and a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. She studies how infrastructure and policy can promote resilience and equity under a changing climate, focusing on strategic adaptations for the built environment, housing, and public health. Turek-Hankins uses diverse methods in her work, including but not limited to econometrics, building energy modeling, and co-production with partner organizations. She received her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University, focusing her courses on the thermal sciences and design. Her previous work experiences are diverse and multidisciplinary, including research with not-for-profit organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Argentina as well as at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Outside of her academic work, Turek-Hankins is an active member in the Miami climate activism and governance community. She is a contributing member to the Resilient 305 initiative, the Miami Heat Task Force, and the Miami Climate Alliance Clean Energy Working Group.

Past Team Members

Michael Correa

Michael Correa is a research associate at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, a Center of Excellence at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. He holds the position of Secretary at the Spinal Cord Injury Support Group of South Florida Miami Chapter (SCISG). His formal education includes a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science and Health Promotion from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. He brings expertise in Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) to the team through his work in clinical trials including individuals with paralysis. Although he is a neurologically intact individual, he is an active member of the SCI community, helping host numerous community engagement events and workshops.

Isabelle Fitzpatrick

Isabelle Fitzpatrick is a second-year undergraduate student at Miami pursuing a double major in Public Relations and Journalism and double minors in Ecosystem Science/Policy and Digital Media. Isabelle is passionate about environmental justice and climate communication, and hopes to find a career within the realm of environmental communications. She serves as the Public Relations Manager for Básico, a student-led carbon capture startup, which has reassured her passion for communicating environmental issues. As far as her contributions to our team, Isabelle is working on translating findings to an accessible webpage.

Lia Mussie

Lia Mussie is a third-year student at the University of Miami, majoring in Ecosystem Science and Policy and Political Science, with minors in Sustainable Business and Journalism. She has a passion for interdisciplinary approach to sustainability and mitigating climate change, including efforts focusing on public health, racial and socioeconomic inequities, and social justice. Some of Lia’s current involvements include Environmental Law Intern with Lean Orb, a Miami-based anti-plastics startup, and the World Green Growth Organization, a non-profit consulting extern with PwC, and a research assistant in Dr. Julia Wester’s Lab at the University of Miami analyzing stakeholder behaviors and attitudes towards Biscayne Bay. In this project, Lia works with the dissemination of data and configuration of content for the website and social media accounts, as well as a liaison between the project and its findings and our county partners. With experience in biotechnological and social science research, policy analysis, and social media, she hopes to work in environmental policy analyzing and consulting to make strides to make current habits more sustainable in our changing world. 

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