2023-2024 Public Policy Fellows
Johanna Marquez Diaz
CHCI Health Public Policy Fellow Presented by PepsiCo Foundation
Hometown: Orlando, Florida
School: Florida State University
Degree: B.S. in Neuroscience
Placement: The Office of Congresswoman Lois Frankel
Johanna (she/her) was born and raised in Orlando, Florida. She is the proud daughter of Honduran immigrants and a first-generation college graduate. From a young age, she was taught the values of resilience, empathy, and hard work. Her mother’s journey as the first member of her family to immigrate to the United States encouraged Johanna to maintain an unwavering determination to pursue her goals. These lessons, combined with her passion for neuroscience and community service, have fueled her interest in science and public health policy.
Johanna began her academic journey at Seminole State College of Florida before transferring to Florida State University, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience. During her time at Seminole State College, she served as a peer mentor, supporting first-generation students in navigating higher education by sharing her own experiences and providing campus resources. She also held leadership positions as a Biology Tutor, Student Volunteer Director, and Campus Events Coordinator to promote community and service for the student body. Florida State University provided her with the opportunity to explore diverse research areas, leading her to discover her passion for neuroscience and behavioral health science. The potential of scientific research conducted in partnership with local communities, offering the possibility of tailored interventions to address the unique needs of the community, captivated Johanna’s interest. As a research assistant, she delved into investigating information intake behaviors and perceptions of women of color diagnosed with breast cancer who genetically express the BRCA gene. She also assisted in research aimed at investigating metabolic disorders, focusing on the communication between the gastrointestinal tract and neuronal activity in rodent models. Johanna applied her leadership and research experience and became an Undergraduate Research Leader, teaching undergraduate transfer students interested in expanding their STEM research experiences and providing community among a diverse group of students. After graduation, Johanna became a Research Technician, conducting research to understand the effect of sleep on spatial reorientation in Alzheimer’s disease rodent models and analyzing key biomarkers.
As a CHCI Health Public Policy Fellow, Johanna seeks to bridge the gap between scientific research and legislative processes. By advocating for research-informed policies, and addressing public health challenges, she seeks to improve health outcomes for individuals and communities. She hopes to learn about the development and enactment of evidence-based health policies and make a meaningful impact by helping pass equitable public health policies.