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Interdisciplinary Research Institute for the Study of (in)Equality

Irise retreat

Interdisciplinary Research Institute for the Study of (In)Equality (IRISE)

Staff & Advisory Board

Tom Romero

Tom I Romero, II, JD, PhD

IRISE Director
Assistant Provost for IE Research & Curriculum Initiatives
303-871-7784 | Email

Dr. Tom Romero is an Associate Professor at the DU Sturm College of Law and an Affiliate Faculty of the Department of History.  In his role as Assistant Provost, Tom will be working to make the University of Denver one of the premier institutions in the country for the rigorous study of social and institutional inequality.

Ceema Samimi

Lisa Colon, MA

Graduate Assistant

Lisa Colón is a doctoral student at the Graduate School of Social Work. She earned her BA and MA in Psychology at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. Her research interests broadly involve the interruption of cycles of trauma. Her current research focus is understanding health and other disparities experienced by Puerto Ricans by viewing them through the lens of historical trauma. More specifically, she is interested in using what is known about historical trauma and relevant cultural practices to help Puerto Ricans overcome the effects of colonization, thereby reducing the health disparities.

Ceema Samimi

Ceema Samimi, MSSW, MPA

Graduate Assistant

Ceema Samimi is a doctoral student at the University of Denver with interests in restorative practices and other models that empower communities. Her interests include alternatives to incarceration and restorative justice as a tool for positive youth development, youth voice, and inter-generational collaboration. She is specifically interested in how policies and structures of youth-serving organizations are influenced by legacies of colonization. Ceema earned her MPA at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and MSSW at Columbia University.


Carolyn M. Coles Taylor, MA

Manager of Undergraduate Student Programs

Carolyn moved to Denver from Philadelphia to pursue a graduate degree that married her two loves, people and people. She earned her BA in marketing from Virginia Commonwealth University and immediately joined the Peace Corps, she served in El Salvador as a community engagement and economic development volunteer. After a stint in China and meaningful education reform work in Philadelphia, the Peace Corps Coverdell Fellowship brought her to DU, where, in addition to her studies, she joined the staff of the living and learning communities. After finishing her MA in International and Intercultural Communication, she joined the ODI team. On campus, she helps the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to run like a well-oiled machine; overseeing budgets, planning events, scheduling meetings, monitoring grant awards, contributing to intellectual conversations and any gap in-between. She devotes her time and talent to various inclusive excellence task forces and serves as an adjunct professor for the Office of Internationalization. In her spare time, she volunteers at the Denver Police Academy, leading statistical analysis of bias, ethics and de-escalation curriculum. When Carolyn is not traveling the world or visiting friends, you can find her adventuring with her husband Brandon and their miniature pincher, Ladybug.

kahleaKahlea Hunt-Kabir, BA

Graduate Assistant

Kahlea Hunt- Khabir is a graduate student studying Higher Education in the Morgridge College of Education. She graduated from Colorado State University in 2017 where she received her bachelor's degrees in Ethnic Studies and General Sociology. She took a year off honing in on her research skills working as a Research Assistant on the Champions Project: The State for Black Boys in Education in Jamaica, the United States and the United Kingdom with Dr. Saran Stewart. As well as working for the Colorado Department of Higher Education. Her research focus thus far explores the inequalities for Black girls and Women throughout their educational journeys from a comparative international education standpoint. Specifically, working on how to create and maintain equitable educational spaces. She spent half of her senior year in Brazil producing an Autoethnography titled Black + Woman in Brazil the Search for Inclusion & Representation, which was recently featured in the Special Issue: Envisioning Future Education, Journal of Education and Development in the Caribbean.

Cheri Colter

Cheri Colter, PhD

Administrative Postdoctoral Fellow

Cheri holds a PhD in Public Policy and Political Economy from the University of Texas, Dallas. Her dissertation work, quantitative and qualitative, analyzed the effect of neighborhood environment on academic outcomes in an area of concentrated poverty in south Dallas as part of a larger National Science Foundation funded quasi-experimental study. Following dissertation completion, Cheri led a successful advocacy campaign funded by the American Heart Association to address the food desert crisis in south Dallas. As the Administrative Post-Doctoral Fellow for IRISE, Cheri will work towards further development of IRISE 2.0 including the expansion of research resources and community outreach. Her research focus is neighborhood effects in health and education and urban policy analysis. Cheri also holds an MA from the Korbel School of International Studies in Global Finance, Trade and Economic Integration.


 Advisory Board

True to its interdisciplinary mission, IRISE has pulled together a group of scholars from multiple disciplines to serve on its advisory board. These faculty bring distinct and valuable visions of research, teaching, and service that enhance and contribute to the study of (in)equality.

For more information on the advisory board, please see their research profiles on the Affiliate Faculty Page.