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Research Into Action Staff

Stephen H. Linder, Ph.D., Associate Director
Stephen Linder is the associate director of the Institute for Health Policy. He was on the faculty of UCLA and Tulane University before coming to the University of Texas School of Public Health in 1984. He is currently a professor in two divisions -- Management, Policy and Community Health, and Health Promotion and Behavioral Science. He received his doctorate in political science from the University of Iowa. He has been honored with the prestigious Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation Award, which is given annually to Texas professors for superior teaching at the college level.

Marlisa Allen, Graduate Assistant

Lisa Allen is currently pursuing a doctorate of public health in community health practice at The UT School of Public Health.  She received her bachelor's degree in biology from Grambling State University and her master of public health in maternal and child health from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Lisa's research interests include access to care and social services issues in the African-American community, maternal and child health, and minority health disparities.

Richard A. Austin, M.A., Sr. Communications Specialist
Rick Austin holds a master of arts in speech communication from the University of Maryland, and a bachelor's degree in public relations and advertising from Syracuse University. He has more than 25 years of experience in business communications, program design, marketing, speechwriting, speech coaching, publications design, and video production. He has worked in defense contracting, nonprofit marketing and public relations, education and training programming, and advertising. As a senior communications specialist for Research Into Action, he merges proven knowledge translation practices with contemporary business communication techniques.

Oluwafolakemi M. Olaniran, Graduate Assistant
Graduate Assistant Folake Olaniran received her master of science degree in population and development from the London School of Economics and has worked for the United Nations Population Fund in Nigeria. She is currently enrolled in the doctoral program at the UT School of Public Health. Folake's research interests include health disparity policies, organizational behavior with a focus on health care systems, quality of care issues and program evaluation.

Patricia Poole, Executive Assistant

Patty Poole has been the executive assistant for the Institute for Health Policy since 2003. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Houston-Downtown. During her 10 years with the UT School of Public Health, she has held positions with the offices of Research, Planning & Development and Information Technology. Patty coordinates special projects for program management, functions and communications. Her background is in the legal and medical industries.

Shannon M. Rasp, Sr. Communications Specialist
Senior Communications Specialist Shannon Rasp earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Sam Houston State University and has continued her professional development with advanced training in crisis communications, news writing, editing, and photography, among other topics. She has over 20 years of experience as an award-winning newspaper reporter, writer, and media relations professional. Shannon worked in the media relations departments of UT-Houston, the Harris County Hospital District, the University of Houston, and the Houston Astros Baseball Club before joining the Institute for Health Policy in 2008. She specializes in communicating medical and health discoveries to the media and general public as well as publication design and production.

Nickalos A. Rocha, M.P.A., Program Manager
Nick Rocha is the program manager of Research Into Action. His previous 15 years of work experience focused on surveillance systems, nonprofit development and evaluation, alcohol-related substance abuse prevention programs, injury prevention programs, program-specific knowledge translation efforts, and grant, contract and philanthropic development. Nick earned a bachelor's degree in political science, a master of public administration with a concentration in international policy and administration from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and a certificate in injury prevention from The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health as well as a certificate of public health from The UT School of Public Health.