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.


We are new.

We established iCubed in July 2015.


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.

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

Camille Burnett, Ph.D.
Camille Burnett, Ph.D.
Associate vice president, Education and Health Equity and Executive associate director, Institute for Inclusion, Inquiry, and Innovation
  • Office of Institutional Equity, Effectiveness and Success
  • 912 West Grace Street, 2nd Floor
  • Box 842527
  • Email: burnettc2@vcu.edu
  • Phone: (804) 828-1345
Meet Camille Burnett, Ph.D.   

Dr. Burnett received her PhD from the University of Western Ontario, her Masters at the University of Western Ontario, and her BScN from the University of Alberta. Her longstanding research interests, and her commitment to women’s health issues evident in her endeavors has made her a highly respected leader in the field.

She served as the inaugural Academic Director of Community Engagement and Partnership at the University of Virginia from January 2016 until July 2019 when she was hired at the University of Kentucky.  In that role, she sustained and expanded community engagement, built and sustained numerous community partnerships, established a donor supported nurse-led clinic in a predominantly black historic public housing neighborhood, and co- founded the Equity Center at the University of Virginia.

Dr. Burnett takes a systems view for understanding the process by which structures produce unintended consequences that affect health outcomes for vulnerable women and disparate populations to inform her research, community engagement and service appointments on over 25 local, national and international boards.

Dr. Burnett has served as Vice-President for the Nursing Network on Violence Against Women International, as a fellow UVA Center for health policy and has held prestigious appointments on the National Collaboration on Violence, the American Association of Colleges of Nurses policy think tank, and as an International Council of Nurses Global Nurse Leader. 

Emily Avesian
Emily Avesian
Talent acquisition partner, Institute for Inclusion, Inquiry and Innovation
  • Office of Institutional Equity, Effectiveness and Success
  • 912 West Grace Street, 2nd Floor
  • Box 842527
  • Email: ejavesia@vcu.edu
  • Office: (804) 828-6827
Meet Emily Avesian   

Emily Avesian serves as talent acquisition partner for the Institute for Inclusion, Inquiry and Innovation. Her role includes providing full-cycle recruitment services for iCubed and on-boarding support to incoming team members.

Avesian holds a Master of Public Administration from the VCU L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, where she concentrated in human resources. She previously studied at Arizona State University, where she earned a Master of Performance and Literature. Avesian has been a certified Professional in Human Resources since 2011.

Her experience includes serving as personnel and operations manager for the Richmond Symphony and as human resource generalist/compliance for the Catholic Diocese of Richmond. Specialties include selection, workforce planning, policy development and data analysis. She is committed to fostering a fair, inclusive and productive work environment.