We believe different perspectives and expertise only enhance solutions and their possibilities.


We strategically invest in academic and research programs that employ transdisciplinary approaches to solve challenging and persistent problems in urban communities. These program approaches draw stakeholders from diverse backgrounds and also set the stage for partnership equity between university and community partners where all perspectives are valued.

Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of what we do.


We model partnerships.

We collaborate to help others work together. Collectively, the iCubed signature initiative and its center and programs act as a catalyst for engaging faculty, staff, students and other stakeholder groups in collaborative activities that connect science, pedagogy and practice within urban communities.

Strategic partners of iCubed include the Virginia Commonwealth University Office of the President; Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs; Office of the Vice President for Health Sciences; Office of Research and Innovation; Division for Inclusive Excellence; Human Resources; and the colleges, schools, and institutes and centers within the university.


We guide and support.

A signature initiative of iCubed is transdisciplinary core development, providing guidance and support to senior administrators, academic deans, department heads, and institute and center directors on the creative integration of multiple communities of knowledge to solve societally relevant challenges.

iCubed is comprised of the Cluster Hiring Initiative and Program, the Pathways to the Professoriate Program, the Visiting Faculty Scholars Program and the Commonwealth Scholars Program.

Aashir Nasim, Ph.D.
Aashir Nasim, Ph.D.
Vice president for Institutional Equity, Effectiveness and Success (IES) and Director, Institute for Inclusion, Inquiry and Innovation
  • Office of Institutional Equity, Effectiveness and Success
  • 912 West Grace Street, 2nd Floor
  • Box 842527
  • Email: anasim@vcu.edu
  • Phone: (804) 828-1345
Meet Aashir Nasim, Ph.D.   

Aashir Nasim, Ph.D. holds dual positions as vice president for IES and director for the Institute for Inclusion, Inquiry & Innovation (iCubed). As Vice President, he serves as the university’s Chief Diversity Officer and supervises Inclusive Excellence, Title IX, Equity and Access Services and ADA and Accessibility offices.

As iCubed director, he is the responsible authority for new transdisciplinary academic and research programs that include more than 50 faculty and postdoctoral researchers across the university’s colleges and schools. Previously, he served as vice provost for faculty affairs, special assistant to the provost, and chair of the Department of African American Studies.

Dr. Nasim is a National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities Scholar and a VCU Massey Cancer Center member.  He has served as principal or co-investigator on grants totaling more than $25 million, and he has published his research in high-impact journals related to culture and health. He also has been acknowledged for his mentorship of faculty and for his work on institutional capacity-building grants to enhance the pipeline of minorities and women in health sciences and STEM.

Dr. Nasim is a tenured professor in the College of Humanities and Sciences. He joined VCU in 2008 as a jointly appointed associate professor of Psychology and African American Studies. He is a veteran of the Gulf War and has received recognition for distinguished service.

Amy Adkins, Ph.D.
Amy Adkins, Ph.D.
Scientific director
  • Office of Institutional Equity, Effectiveness and Success
  • 912 West Grace Street, 2nd Floor
  • Box 842527
  • Email: adkinsae@vcu.edu
Meet Amy Adkins, Ph.D.   

Amy Adkins' primary research interests focus on understanding genetic and environmental risk factors underlying risky alcohol use and related problems. As Director of Undergraduate Research for the Institute for Research on Behavioral and Emotional Health, she has developed and led undergraduate research opportunities to include securing external funding, working with faculty and substance use-related research centers across campus to create research opportunities for students, mentoring undergraduate researchers, and directing and developing training programs for undergraduates from underrepresented groups.

Dr. Adkins received her Ph.D. from VCU in 2012. In 2016, her initiative "Understanding Connections Between Behavioral and Emotional Health, Co-Curricular Engagement and Student Success" won a Quest Innovation Fund grant.

In 2021, she was added to The VCU Institute for Women's Health list of "VCU Women Making History" for Women's History Month. Dr. Adkins is passionate about creating opportunities to engage undergraduate students in research and enhancing diversity in the behavioral research fields. 

Faika Zanjani, Ph.D.
Faika Zanjani, Ph.D.
Associate director of academic programs & research training, Institute for Inclusion, Inquiry and Innovation
730 East Broad Street, Box 980228
Office: (804) 828-0670
Meet Faika Zanjani, Ph.D.   

Faika Zanjani is an associate professor in the Department of Gerontology at the VCU College of Health Professions. She has a Ph.D. in human development and family studies, with a concentration in gerontology, from Pennsylvania State University, with postdoctoral training in geriatric psychiatry from the University of Pennsylvania.

She also has had appointments as NIH/NIMH Predoctoral Fellow, APA Minority Health Fellow, NIH/NIMH Geriatric Postdoctoral Fellow, NIH BIRWCH Scholar, USDA Grant Awardee, and NIH/NIDA K Awardee.

Zanjani has experience in geriatric public health, particularly within the areas of health behavior change and health promotion; mental health and substance abuse/use; and community health intervention.

Her work focuses on both urban and rural community applications of health promotion, with respect to disease management/adherence and prevention. She also examines the management of mental health and substance misuse behaviors among older individuals through interventions and effective collaborations with clinical and community teams.

Here at VCU, she plans to continue her research and extend her efforts into overseeing iCubed’s ongoing academic programs and research training at the graduate, undergraduate, and postdoctoral levels, to reduce community health disparities.

Faika Zanjani's CV

Commonwealth Scholars Program

My Life, My Scholarship

Sarah McCall
Sarah McCall
Programs Manager, Office of Institutional Equity, Effectiveness and Success
  • Office of Institutional Equity, Effectiveness and Success
  • 912 West Grace Street, 2nd Floor
  • Box 842527
  • Email: mccalls2@vcu.edu
Meet Sarah McCall   

Sarah McCall serves as Education and Health Equity Programs Manager for the Office of Institutional Equity, Effectiveness and Success (IES). Her role includes providing program coordination, development, and support, as well as instructional design expertise.

McCall holds a Master of Fine arts from Old Dominion University, where she concentrated in creative writing and literature. She previously studied at the University of Mary Washington, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.

Her experience includes more than a decade of work as an educator in the public education system, in addition to ongoing work in administrative support and instructional design. Specialties include writing and editing, curriculum development and design, and program management. She is committed to cultivating accessible learning experiences and clear communication among all stakeholders.