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The Global Deaf Research team is composed of experts in multiple disciplines including education administration, natural and population sciences, and linguistics.

Dr. Lorne Farovitch (he/him)

Founder and Co-Executive Director

Dr. Farovitch is a scientist with an extensive research career focused on institutional response to public health emergencies and developing inclusive and accessible services for marginalized populations. He performs transdisciplinary research focused on social and cultural determinants of health in deaf populations. Lorne was born to a deaf family in Vancouver, Canada and is a native ASL signer. He attended Arizona Schools for the Deaf and Blind, Gallaudet University, and Rochester Institute of Technology. He received his doctorate in Translational Biomedical Science from the University of Rochester Medical Center.


Kristina Willicheva (they/them)

Co-Executive Director

A lifelong learner with a major zeal for life, Kristina Willicheva is a New York native originally from Moscow, Russia. After experiencing the best of both worlds at Gallaudet and RIT/NTID to obtain a Bachelor’s in Political Science, Kristina acquired a Master’s in Educational Administration from Northeastern University. Kristina is now nearing completion of their Doctorate in Deaf Education at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Their professional passions lie within bettering the lived experiences of deaf people through immaculate alignment between policy, administration, and action objectives, with a particular expertise in assessment, evaluation, and data analysis. They enjoy the mountainous Appalachian lifestyle in Knoxville, Tennessee with their spouse, pet dog, and pet pig, along with reading nonfiction, running and hiking on trails, trying new recipes, and exploring the beauty of the world.

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Chris Medeiros (he/him)

Director of Operations

The only hearing member of the team, Chris came to the Global Deaf Research Institute from outside academia while studying health-supportive culinary arts and nutrition at the Institute of Culinary Education in Los Angeles, while simultaneously training to work as a Spanish healthcare interpreter with the Pacific Asian Languages Services for Health. Chris has a mind for languages and speaks 5: English, Spanish, French, Japanese, and ASL, and is here to break down communication barriers. He’s also passionate about nutrition and cultural exchange. Chris thrives traveling. Born and raised in Hawaii, Chris studied abroad in Rennes, France in high school then received his Bachelors in Philosophy from Yale University, during which time he completed sessions abroad at Waseda University in Tokyo. Most recently, he spent 17 months living in Mexico at the height of the pandemic, and is excited to put his adaptability and gift for language to use with GDRI while supporting those aspects of our research related to nutrition and food security.

Our Collaborating Partners

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Dr. Alina Engelman (she/her)

Lead Investigator and Supervisory Board Member

Dr. Engelman is an Associate Professor of Public Health at the California State University, East Bay. Dr. Alina Engelman's scholarly work focuses on health disparities for the deaf and disabled. She has worked internationally in Kenya evaluating a peer-led HIV/AIDS Voluntary Counseling and Treatment initiative and has conducted psycholinguistic research in Nicaragua. Other work explored the emergency preparedness and response role of community-based organizations serving older adults and people with disabilities in Puerto Rico. Dr. Engelman received her doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley, her MPH in Global Health from Yale and her BA at Brown University.


Dr. Shazia Siddiqi (she/her)

Public Health Researcher and Supervisory Board Member


Dr. Siddiqi is a Staff Scientist at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York. Dr. Siddiqi earned a Bachelor’s in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley, a Master’s in Public Health from Dartmouth College, and a doctorate in Medicine from St. George’s University School of Medicine. Dr. Siddiqi works with underrepresented populations with a focus on the social determinants of health. She works to advance deaf representation in research data, where they have been historically excluded, with the goal of using these findings to affect local, national, and international policy. Her professional interests include deaf health equity, global deaf health, gender-based violence, trauma-informed care, and maternal and child health.

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Dr. Emily Jo Noschese (she/her)

Linguistic Researcher and Supervisory Board Member

Dr. Emily Jo Noschese is an Assistant professor for Bilingual & Bicultural Education at Wayne State University. Dr. Noschese is a fourth generation Deaf and received her PhD in Linguistics at University of Hawai'i. For the past few years, she taught American Sign Language (ASL) along with linguistics properties, as well as a consultant for ASL/English Bilingual Grammar Curriculum. Dr. Emily Jo is currently developing courses and a program and teaching ASL in Wayne State University. Her research interests are bilingual education, sign language linguistics/documentation and preservation, and language acquisition. After working with Hawai’i Sign Language, Emily Jo had a project with Deaf people in Laos, documenting Modern Laos Sign Language as well as Original Laos Sign Language. Emily Jo's hobbies consist of sewing, baking, and reading.

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Dr. Barbara Spiecker (she/her)

Data Scientist

Dr. Barbara Spiecker is the Co-Founder of Atomic Hands and currently a Research Scientist at the University of New Hampshire. Dr. Spiecker is a deaf marine ecologist and data scientist who uses mathematical and statistical tools, coupled with experiments and field observations, to answer questions in ecology, conservation science, and ecosystem management. Most of her work is focused on scale-dependent responses of marine communities to climate change across space and time, and adaptive monitoring and management of marine habitats. She has a Ph.D. in Integrative Biology from Oregon State University, M.S. in Marine Biology from Northeastern University, and a B.S. in Biology from Rochester Institute of Technology.

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