Gaining Real-World Experience

Each day, we build upon a base of knowledge for good policy and practice in South Jersey, and we work to address issues that impact residents and local organizations through applied research, community engagement and organizational development. Through this work, we connect scores of talented students from diverse backgrounds with opportunities to connect with stakeholders in local communities and tackle real-world challenges.


Student Research Assistants


Matthew Brodsky

Matthew Brodsky is currently pursuing his undergraduate degree in Political Science. Matthew is interested in researching issues related to education, criminal justice and voting. Matthew will be supporting the Clayton Model evaluations.



Kelvin Fong

Kelvin Fong is currently pursuing his undergraduate degree in Political Science. Further, Kelvin is a research assistant intern at New Jersey Courts (Atlantic County Criminal Court) doing research for a project in criminal justice reform with the ultimate end goal to help address racial disparity in defendants’ expungement application. Kelvin wants to use his time at WRI to learn as much as I can about how properly conducted research can foster meaningful policy changes, thus ultimately translate to the improvement of the community. Kelvin wants to work to improve his data analysis skills as he wishes to pursue a career in area of data analytic/data science. Kelvin wants to attend graduate school at the Georgia Institute of Technology.



Ajitha Jasti

Ajitha Jasti graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Information Technology from R.V.R & J.C College of Engineering in June 2021. Ajitha completed an internship at Cognizant Technologies from January 2021 to July 2021 as a Programmer Analyst where she designed and implemented the Claims Management system using the Spring framework for the front-end, and the H2 Database for the backend and deployed using AWS (Amazon Web Service). Ajitha is pursuing Master’s degree in Computer Science at Rutgers University-Camden. Ajitha completed data analysis research on United States Accidents data in the past. At WRI, Ajitha will be working to support the Pascale Sykes Foundation Evaluation. Ajitha aims to become product designer after graduation.



Joseph Johnson

Joe Johnson is pursuing a master’s degree in Psychology. He is currently working in a psychology research lab focusing on attention and has also worked in a lab focusing on social relationships and health. Joseph is a lifelong resident of South Jersey and hopes that the projects he works on can have a positive impact on the communities around him.




Oguz Kaan Ozalp

Oguz Kaan Ozalp is a graduate student in the Public Affairs and Community Development program at Rutgers University Camden. Oguz’s research interests center around local and regional development strategies, as well as implementing such approaches within migration and minority populations. Oguz previously worked on certain projects as an assistant and coordinator at local and international NGOs in Turkey. Oguz will be supporting the AtlantiCare CHNA as well as other projects at WRI. 




Ryan Pletcher

Ryan is a student researcher currently engaged in ongoing work with the Cumberland County and Burlington County Overdose Fatality Review Teams to assist in their data collection, management, analysis, and reporting. He is also involved with a domestic violence and gun violence research project. Ryan received his Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Stockton University in 2018 and his Master’s degree in Psychology from Rutgers University-Camden in 2020, and he is currently pursuing his Juris Doctor from Rutgers Law School.



Polina Poliakova

Polina Poliakova is a recent Rutgers – New Brunswick Graduate and is currently pursuing a Masters in Psychology at Rutgers – Camden. Her research interests include mental health and psychopathology intervention methods in childhood populations. At WRI, Polina will be assisting in the Clayton Model Evaluation.




Waliya Rahman

Waliya is pursuing her undergraduate degree at Rutgers University-Camden, Faculty of Arts and Sciences with a major in Biology and minors in Chemistry and Spanish for Health Professions. Waliya is also a member of the Honors College. Waliya’s research interests include population health, access to healthcare, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted families. Waliya is also interested in researching how young children are affected in our communities, and hopes to work in the Pediatric field of study in the future. At WRI, Waliya is working on a project gathering secondary data for the Center for Family Services’ needs assessment and wage study, which focuses on identifying the changing needs in the community, health information, and population trends crime data to assess the needs of early childhood-age children in Burlington and Camden Counties in New Jersey.



Samuel Ross

Samuel Ross is interested in researching sustainable community development practices and methods of poverty alleviation in addition to policy analysis for local and state government. Samuel is working as a research assistant while at WRI and will primarily focus on conducting and analyzing research performed by WRI staff as well as providing translation services when needed. Sam is currently pursuing a Masters of Public Administration with a Community Development focus. Areas of interest include sustainable development, poverty alleviation, immigrant community assistance, and election procedures. He has worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala as well as a Behavioral Health Navigator for a Philadelphia Non-Profit. After, graduation he hopes to continue to advocate within local government.



Priyal Shah

Priyal is pursuing her undergraduate degree here at Rutgers-Camden with a double major in Biology and Psychology. Priyal is assisting with tracking COVID-19 by county in New Jersey. Priyal also has a background in population health and will be working on the forthcoming Inspira Health Network Community Health Needs Assessment and the NJYSA Community Conversations project.




Katie Wisniewski

Katie Wisniewski obtained her Bachelor’s in Science in Psychology from West Chester University in 2021. She worked on many projects there including trauma and clinical research as well as organizational psychology and racial and ethnic socialization research. She is currently a first year Master’s student here at Rutgers University. While at Rutgers she has spent time working on cognitive and experimental projects focusing on facial perception, emotion, and artificially generated images. At WRI, Katie will be supporting the evaluations of the Clayton Model.



Kelsey Woodard

Kelsey Woodard is currently a first-year master’s student studying psychology and received my bachelor’s degree in 2021 from Loyola University Maryland. Kelsey hopes to continue working with psychology doing both research and clinical work, eventually earning a PhD, and have a special interest in sleep health including sleep patterns and behaviors. Kelsey is currently working with Dr. Lauren Daniel in her sleep lab that works with HSCT patients at CHOP. Kelsey is also currently a teacher assistant for Dr. Rufan Luo in her undergraduate statistics course(s). At WRI, Kelsey is thrilled to work on such a variety of projects with different groups and organizations.



Shibin Yan, M.A.

Shibin is supporting several projects as an analyst and researcher. He is analyzing secondary data of the community health needs assessment and assisting faculty fellow Dr. Melanie Bowers with research on housing services for those experiencing homelessness. Shibin is pursuing his doctorate in Public Affairs at Rutgers University-Camden. His research interest includes elderly care, public health, policy evaluation, and anti-corruption. He worked for a think tank in China for two years to secure professional training in policy analysis. After graduation, he intends to work as a research consultant.



Student Assistants

Pariti Sutaria

Pariti Sutaria is passionate about social change and an advocate for women’s rights. On campus, Pariti is the GAO Chairperson in the Student Governing Association, as well as the President of TEDxRutgersCamden that brings annual TEDx Talk Conferences to Camden in order to share ‘ideas worth spreading’ within our community. Pariti is pursuing her undergraduate degree in Management with a minor in Statistics and Leadership, as well as a dual-degree MBA program candidate in the School of Business. At WRI, Pariti is a communications assistant focused on creating, managing, and distributing WRI content through a variety of channels within the Camden community and beyond.



Interested in joining WRI’s team of student assistants? Learn more.