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.


Research Assistants

Richard Duran

Richard is currently supporting the Pascale Sykes Foundation’s Strengthening Families Initiative. Richard is pursuing a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice at Rutgers University-Camden, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with minors in Psychology and Sociology.




Amanda Ekelburg

Amanda Ekelburg is a graduate student in the Criminal Justice program here at Rutgers University-Camden. Amanda previously worked as an independent study student during the 2020 Spring Semester to collect Criminal History, Commitment Offense, and Recidivism Data as part of the CORP evaluation. Amanda is returning to WRI to help collect data for the COAP Evaluation. Amanda is also working to complete analysis for the NJYSA Community Conversations project.


Bessy Gallicchio

Bessy is supporting the Cumberland County Positive Youth Development Coalition, a county-wide effort focused on decreasing juvenile delinquency in Cumberland County. Bessy is pursuing a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice at Rutgers University-Camden, where she also earned her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and Sociology in 2016. Previously, Bessy worked on the Pascale Sykes Foundation South Jersey Strengthening Families Initiative.


Joseph Mendoza

Joseph Mendoza is a research intern supporting various projects, including but not limited to the Pascale Sykes Foundation’s Strengthening Families Initiative, New Jersey YMCA State Alliance’s Community Conversations, and Inspira Health Network’s Community Health Needs Assessment. Joseph is pursuing his undergraduate degree in the Health Sciences program at Rutgers-Camden and was recently accepted into the BA/MPH program at Jefferson University.



Waliyah 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.


Ummulkhayer Sameha

Sameha is an undergraduate student majoring in Psychology and Political Science at Rutgers University-Camden. Sameha is working to assist with the County COVID tracking work. Sameha is also working to complete analysis for the NJYSA Community Conversations project.




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.




Graduate Assistants

Lili Razi, M.A.

Lili is working on community development, spatial changes, and strategic planning. She is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in Public Affairs with a focus on Community Development. Currently, Lili is working on the Holly City/Millville strategic planning initiative, a project that helps to develop housing strategies and policies to increase home ownership, reduce vacant properties, and attract new home buyers. She is also involved with “A New View” – a Bloomberg public art installation that transforms vacant lots into artistic spaces. Given her background in urban and community engagement practices, she hopes to participate in capacity development and shape effective urban public policies in areas of need.


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.


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