Current Students

Students of the Clinical & Population Health Research program come from a wide array of backgrounds and have diverse research interests.  Read more about where our students come from and the work they are pursuing while at UMass Medical School. 

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Daniel Amante, MPH

Dan earned a BA from the College of the Holy Cross in Psychology in 2007 and an MPH from Boston University School of Public Health in 2010. His research experience includes working for Boston University School of Medicine in an Experimental Neuropathology Translations Therapeutics Lab for two years collecting, analyzing and reporting data from various behavioral, protein quantifications and histology methods. He completed a summer internship with Dr. Catarina Kiefe in the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences designing and collecting data for a project focused on examining health care price transparency in Massachusetts and how it compares to other states. In addition, he has been working in Dr. Kiefe’s group since September 2010 coordinating, scheduling and planning efforts for the Transitions, Risks and Actions in Coronary Events Center for Outcomes Research and Education (TRACE-CORE) project, contributing to the development of protocols, surveys and medical record abstraction tools plus recruiting, obtaining consent and interviewing patients enrolled in the center. His research interests include exploring the utilization of health information technology.

Camilla Benedicto 

Camilla Marie Benedicto, MPH 

Camilla earned an AB from Brown University in Community Health and an MPH in Sociomedical Sciences – Aging and Public Health from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. She most recently worked at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as a public health advisor in the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS). There, she served as the evaluation officer for the Epidemiology and Genetics Research Program; facilitated the sharing of genomic data through the NIH database of Genotypes and Phenotypes (dbGaP); and curated the Cancer Genome-wide Association and Meta Analyses database (GAMAdb), a CDC- and NCI- supported resource that describes genetic associations relevant to cancer risk.

As an NCI-designated Presidential Management Fellow (PMF) from 2008 to 2010, Camilla completed rotations with the DCCPS Office of the Director; the NCI’s Office of Advocacy Relations; the NCI’s Division of Cancer Prevention; and the 65+ Clinical Geriatrics Program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Prior to her tenure as a PMF, Camilla was a public policy intern at the Long Term Care Community Coalition in New York City and a research assistant for the Columbia University Department of Epidemiology, where she conducted research on injury-related health disparities and injury prevention. Mentored by Kate Lapane, PhD, Cami’s dissertation research seeks to describe management of cancer pain in nursing homes and to quantify the effect of Medicare Part D on use of opioid analgesics for cancer pain in nursing home residents.

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Joshua Chang, MS

Joshua is a 2007 BA/MS graduate of MIT in Engineering/Computer Science. He has done work at the Broad Institute developing software for the Genetics Analysis Platform, and his Master’s thesis was with Lincoln Labs in the area of laser radar applications. His interest in medicine stemmed from volunteer work abroad and he is particularly focused on the need for engineering and computer applications in areas of medicine such as imaging, genetics research, and physiological monitoring. As an MD/PhD student, he will be conducting thesis work with Dr. David Paydafar on optimal solutions for medical device applications such as deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease.

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Han-Yang Chen, MS

Han-Yang earned a BA in Economics from the National Taiwan University, a Master of Science degree in Information Sciences from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Master of Science degree in Population Health Sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to joining UMass, he worked as a Biostatistician/Assistant Researcher at the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Urban Population Health. He has published on issues in maternal-fetal medicine, health-related quality of life, cancer screening trends, and health disparities through his work on the annual Milwaukee Health Report, the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership Project, and the National Health Measurement Study. Mentored by Rob Goldberg, PhD, he is currently a graduate research assistant for The Worcester Heart Attack Study. His research interests include cardiovascular disease epidemiology, medication adherence, and patient-reported outcome among ACS patients. Han-Yang has authored/co-authored more than 10 peer-reviewed articles, and has presented at various regional and national research conferences. In addition, he has been invited to review journal articles, including European Journal of Public Health, Medical Decision Making, Maternal and Child Health Journal, Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, and Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice.


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Carol Curtain

Carol Curtin, MSW

Carol Curtin earned her BA in Sociology and Psychology at Trinity College in Hartford, CT and her MSW in Casework and Groupwork at the Boston University School of Social Work. She is currently a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at UMass Medical School and is the Associate Director of the LEND and UCEDD programs at the UMMS-E.K. Shriver Center in Waltham. Carol’s research focuses on health promotion for persons with developmental disabilities; she is interested in the biopsychosocial determinants of health and mental health, and in clinical interventions and public health efforts to address health disparities, health care access, health literacy, and improved health outcomes in this population. Mentored by Eric Mick, ScD, Carol is conducting research evaluating the relation between diet, physical activity and ADHD in children.

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Suzanne Czerniak

Suzanne holds a 2007 BA in Biochemistry from Middlebury College. At Middlebury she was a research assistant for several faculty and received a Vermont Genetics Network-Idea Networks of Biomedical Research senior thesis award to study the effects of caffeine on embryo development in felines. She was a TA for Developmental Biology and has an interest in reproductive biology. She was also a Research Assistant in the Renal Division at Brigham and Women’s Hospital post – graduation where she performed genotyping of mouse strains and was involved with mouse colony management. As an MD/PhD student, she is conducting neuroimaging research with Jean King MD.

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Natasha Dolgin

Natasha earned her BA in International Studies from Case Western Reserve University with a minor in Medical Anthropology in 2008. She graduated cum laude with departmental honors based on her honors thesis work on HIV and Public Health in Russia. Since graduating, she worked as a coordinator and assistant on various projects in clinical translational research in the Department of Bioethics at the Cleveland Clinic. She is joining CPHR as an MD/PhD student with an interest in outcomes of patients undergoing transplantation.

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Daniel Frendl, MS

Dan holds a BA in Biology and Chemistry from Duke University (2008) and an MS in Physiology from Georgetown University (2009). While at Duke he worked on studies at the Duke Center of Cerebrovascular Disease, the Duke Clinical Research Institute Outcomes Research Assessment Group, and the Duke Health Inequalities Program. He is first author of a paper in Stroke about paramedic training and use of CPSS, and has two other first authored papers in process. His work with the Duke Clinical Research Institute focused on cost-effectiveness of implementing systems for transmitting ECGs prehospital to improve ST-elevation acute MI time to treatment. Mentored by John Ware, PhD, he is working on researcg to incorporate patient reported outcomes in prostate cancer prediction models.


Hassan Fouayzi, MS 

Hassan Fouayzi, MS

Hassan received his Engineering degree in Agricultural Economics from the ENAM Agricultural School, Morocco. He completed his M.S. in Resource Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He has been working since 2004 as a data analyst and technical liaison for multi-site collaborations of the HMO Cancer Research Network at Meyers Primary Care Institute at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester. He has co-authored multiple papers and is interested in cancer research, social disparities in health outcomes, access and utilization of heath care, and health economics. Hassan is mentored by Allison Rosen MD ScD.

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Barbara Gandek, MS

Barbara earned a BA in Economics from Swarthmore College and an MS in Health Policy and Management from Harvard School of Public Health. Since earning her MS, she spent two decades at The Health Institute at NEMC, Health Assessment Lab, and QualityMetric Incorporated. She is currently an Instructor at Tufts University School of Medicine. Barbara’s research focuses on patient-reported outcomes measurement, and she has co-authored eight manuals and 40 articles about the SF-36 Health Survey and other PRO instruments. She has participated in the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) initiative and other projects that use computerized adaptive tests to measure health outcomes. Mentored by John Ware, PhD, Barbara is evaluating PRO measures in the context of patients receiving total joint replacements.


Gillian Griffith

Gillian Griffith

Gillian received her B.S. In Animal Sciences from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 2010. An an undergraduate, her research focused on a mouse model which contained a conditional knock-out of the gene Yin Yang 1 (YY1) in the developing oocyte. She helped to describe the phenotype and propose a molecular mechanism in this mouse, the results of which were recently published in Biology of Reproduction. However, Gillian has always had a strong interest in health systems and policy, and since coming to medical school, has redefined her research plans to focus on these areas. Mentored by Robin Clark, PhD, she is researching contraceptive use among women afflicted with opioid addiction.


Alexandra Hajduk

Alexandra Hajduk, MPH 

Alexandra earned her BS in Health Sciences from Northeastern University and her MPH from the University of Connecticut. Before starting her Ph.D., Alexandra worked as a falls prevention program manager for the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts, a laboratory technologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, and a graduate assistant researcher at UConn where she studied the influence of obesity and inflammation on prognosis in colorectal cancer. Alexandra's current research interests include epidemiological methods and cognition in aging, particularly with regard to cognitive changes in cardiovascular disease. Mentored by Jane Saczynski, PhD, Alexandra is researching the extent to which cognitive status is a predictor of uptake of secondary preventive lifestyle changes after acute coronary syndrome using data from the Transitions, Risks, and Actions in Coronary Events-Center for Outcomes Research and Education (TRACE-CORE) study.



Shao-Hsien, BSc

Shao-Hsien earned his BSc in Physical Therapy from National Yang-Ming University in Taiwan and his MPH in Health Policy and Management from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. In parallel to working clinically as a physical therapist, his research experiences include collecting, managing and reporting data in rehabilitation interventions for Parkinson’s Disease and stroke patients in Motor Control and Motion Analysis Lab of National Taiwan University Graduate Institute of Physical Therapy. While obtaining his master’s at Emory, he also gained valuable policy research experience by working at the Barton Child Law and Policy Center at Emory Law School through proposing and evaluating policies related to psychotropic medication use among foster care children. Shao-Hsien is interested in clinical outcomes research that involve measurements of functional outcomes, analysis of the costs and utilization of clinical services, and applications of comparative effectiveness research to improve quality of care in the field of chronic musculoskeletal conditions. His mentor is Kate Lapane, PhD. He is currently working on Dr. Lapane's contract using data from the National Osteoarthritis Initiative.


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Wei "Tiffany"Huang, MS

Tiffany graduated from Shanghai University College of Engineering with a degree in Computer Science, and holds an MS in Computer Science from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. She has been working at the UMMS Center for Outcomes Research (COR) in the Department of Surgery since 1995 and currently serves as the Assistant Director of COR. She has been involved in every aspect of research project design and management, and has numerous publications and presentations. Mentored by Rob Goldberg, PhD, she is interested in narrowing the gap between clinical trial evidence and real-world medical practice to improve health outcomes for a wide variety of diseases. In addition, she is interested in applying information technology to improve patient care.

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Aimee Kroll-Desroisers, MS

Aimee earned a BA in Anthropology from Mount Holyoke College and a MS in Epidemiology from UMass Amherst. She is currently a Biostatistician in the QHS Department at UMass Medical School, where she works with large datasets, including Medicare files and hospital trauma records, she conducts analyses for abstracts, manuscripts, reports and posters, and she works with numerous university faculty to plan research studies. Her research experience also includes several internships that included participating in a dietary intervention study in preschool children, and working on the design phase of a study examining the effect of weight loss on the change in mammorgraphic breast density in postmenopausal women. Her current research interests include women’s health, specifically reproductive and maternal health. She is also interested in examining the effect health disparities have on access to care and treatment.


Lisa Lines

Lisa Lines, MPH

Lisa holds a BS in Technical Communications (Biomedical Sciences Concentration) from Northeastern University and an MPH from UMass Amherst. She has over 12 years of healthcare and consulting experience, most recently at RTI International, where she works on Medicare payment reform research in the post-acute care setting. Prior to RTI, she was at Boston Health Economics, where she managed health economic and outcomes research studies, including designing decision-analytic models, conducting large-scale database analyses, developing utility instruments, and performing systematic literature reviews. She has co-authored six peer-reviewed journal articles with another in review and has presented abstracts at many national and international conferences. Her main research interests lie in health services and outcomes research, particularly predictive modeling. Lisa is mentored by Arlene Ash, PhD. Her dissertation research is funded by AHRQ.

Tariana Little 

Tariana Little

The first in her immigrant family to attend college, Tariana holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Boston and an AA in Social Science from Roxbury Community College. Her interests include Latino health disparities, namely mental health, sexual health, and chronic illnesses. Tariana has presented at local and national conferences, and has participated in competitive national and international training programs focused on health disparities, such as the 2011 MHIRT Latino Mental Health Research Training Fellowship in Mexico, an NCI UMass Boston-Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center research assistantship in Puerto Rico, and most recently the NSF Ethnographic Field School in Florida. Tariana completed the Pathways to Graduate Studies Program during the 2012 academic school year. Mentored by Milagros Rosal, PhD at UMMS, Tariana is a research assistant on an NIH-funded, large prospective study examining mental health among Latinos in Lawrence, MA. Coming from the same background as the populations with whom she seeks to work and study, Tariana’s doctoral training is a foundation towards an independent, transdisciplinary research career working within academia and communities to address health inequalities among Latinos.


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Richard H. McManus, MSW 

Rick McManus received his BA in Social Work from Bradley University and his Master of Social Work and Master of Public Policy degrees from the University of Michigan. He currently works at UMass Medical School's Department of Quantitative Health Sciences and was previously employed at its Center for Health Policy and Research where he investigated issues related to the provision of publicly-supported long-term care issues in Massachusetts and Maine. Through his work he has developed knowledge in evaluation methods, policy analysis, and issues related to aging and health. His research interests include the effect of health promotion and prevention interventions on the course of disease for elders, as well as studying the compression of morbidity hypothesis.

Qualifying Paper

Recent Trends in Mortality and Re-Hospitalization in Patients Hospitalized for Heart Failure: A Systematic Review

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Christine Motzkus-Feagans, MPH

Christine graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2008 with a major in biology, and subsequently completed an MPH degree, also from VCU. She has had wide ranging research and clinical experience, including designing and implementing a survey for the Virginia Department of Health on the effectiveness of the beach monitoring program; conducting bench research in pharmacology and toxicology on genes associated with alcohol tolerance; and was a Patient Safety Assistant for the VCU Health system for which she was assigned to monitor high risk trauma and psychiatry patients on inpatient units. She has several manuscripts published on C. difficile infection and use of statins. Most recently she has been a Research Assistant for Kate Lapane, PhD when she served as Chair of the Department of Epidemiology at VCU. Christine contributed to several projects exploring innovative ways to educate older adults with literacy issues on their medication use and evaluating how to maximize physician education in using e-prescribing. She is interested in conducting epidemiological research to improve care quality.

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Lisa Nobel, MS

Lisa completed a BA in Anatomy and Cell Biology in 2008, and then an MS in Epidemiology at McGill University in2010. She was a Research Assistant on an RCT about exercise and fatigue for cancer patients during her undergraduate years. She received a grant from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center for her Masters thesis. This research was on developing risk profiles for stroke that would help patients modified their health behaviors. She is interested in neurology and clinical epidemiology. Lisa is an MD/PhD student who is mentored by Jeroan Allison MD. Her research interests include cardiovascular epidemiology, in particular studying determinants of hospital re-admission for patients with Acute Coronary Syndrome.

Gioia Persuitte 

Gioia Persuitte, MPA

Gioia earned a BA in Sociology from Clark University, and a Masters of Public Administration, also from Clark. She is currently a Research Coordinator in the Department of Preventive and Behavior Medicine at UMass Medical School, and works on the Nutrition Core and Center for Applied Nutrition. Here she assists several doctors in writing, researching, and editing grants for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, prostate cancer, macular degeneration, pregnancy and weight, nutrition and obesity, and the nutrition environment. She was also an intern with the town of Barnstable, where she managed public health and environmental projects. While at Clark, she collaborated with a five-person research team on a four-year long NIEHS research project that examined the environmental health conditions in the Main South and Piedmont areas of Worcester. She has been on three publications and has had several presentations. Her research interests include preventative/behavioral health interventions and underserved/vulnerable groups.

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Tan Pham, MPH

Tan Pham earned a BA in Sociology and Human Sexuality Study (Individualized) from the University of Connecticut and a Master of Public Health degree with a focus on Epidemiology, from the University of Connecticut. Prior to joining the CPHR program, Tan was a Research Associate at the Connecticut VA Healthcare System and Yale University School of Medicine. At the VA and Yale, he collected and analyzed qualitative and quantitative data and maintained large datasets, served as a project coordinator where he assisted with grant application preparations and collaborated with investigators to draft reports and manuscripts, and worked on numerous quality management, system redesign and reproductive health disparities projects. He served as the Assistant Director of Clinical and Health Services Research Core at Yale University's Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS within the School of Public Health. He interned at the Connecticut Department of Public Health working on an injury epidemiology project. He was a Health Services Officer for the US Public Health Service where he was stationed with the Indian Health Service. Mentored by Jeroan Allison MD, MS, Tan has collaborated with a multidisciplinary team to build a unique longitudinal research quality database of HIV patients served by a Ryan White clinic.

Lauren Powell 

Lauren Powell

Lauren earned her BA in Biochemistry from Xavier University where she participated in a McNair Summer Research Program at the Center for Advanced Murostrustures and Devices. Subsequent to graduation she has had several positions in clinical research including at the Department of Medicine-Nephrology at Indiana University Hospital where she oversaw QI investigations for dialysis patients; at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Women’s Health Research Programs and Drug Investigation, Violence and Environmental Studies lab where she handled IRB applications, recruited and enrolled patients, and conducted field work in epidemiology and ethnography; at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Center for Nursing and Patient Care, where she recruited and consented patients and managed follow-up visits; and most recently has been a Clinical Research Coordinator at the National Cancer Institute where she screens and triages patients, organizes patient visits to NIH for trial participation, and maintains patient tracking data bases for several Phase I and II clinical cancer trials. She is interested in health disparities research. Lauren is mentored by Stephenie Lemon, PhD. She received her first NIH grant in fall of 2013.


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Alan Rathbun, MPH

Alan graduated from Rider University with a BS (Magna Cum Laude) in Biology, and earned a MPH in Epidemiology from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) School of Public Health. At Rider he was awarded acceptance into the Rider University Freshmen Fellowship program, and worked as a Research Intern within the Biology Department. In the subsequent years while completing his undergraduate degree Alan worked as a Field and Laboratory Technician at Certified Testing Laboratories, Interned at Capital Health Systems Hospitals in Trenton, NJ, and volunteered at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital of Hamilton and St. Francis Medical Center during his spare time. While attending graduate school he began working part time for the Violence Institute of New Jersey at the New Jersey Department of Health & Senior Services Center for Health Statistics (NJDHSS CHS) with their New Jersey Violent Death Reporting System (NJVDRS) research group. He completed his graduate thesis, “Potential Predictive Factors of Suicide: An Analysis of the Determinants Between Varying Mechanisms of Suicide Incidence in NJ,” in partnership with the NJDHSS CHS using NJVDRS data. Additionally, he participated in several other UMDNJ sponsored fieldwork and research endeavors including the Health Systems & Policy Department’s Dominican Republic Outreach Project. After completing his MPH, Alan worked in other part time research positions, including being a Lead Intern for a consultant to CRI Worldwide Clinical Trials Research, and most recently an Evaluation Intern to the Program Developer & Evaluator of the Cardiovascular Disease Control & Prevention Initiative at the Bureau of Chronic Disease Control within the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene. Mentored by George Reed, PhD, Alan is studying the bidirectional association of depression and rheumatoid arthritis using data from the CORRONA Registry.

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Christine Ulbricht, MPH

Christine earned a BA in Psychology and an MPH with a concentration in Epidemiology at the University of Maryland, College Park. Prior to joining the CPHR program, she spent more than four years in the Division of Services and Intervention Research at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). While at NIMH, she served as a liaison to federal agencies involved in psychiatric epidemiology activities, acted as the institute’s administrator, and supported the activities of multi-site clinical trials managed by the NIMH Clinical Trials Operations and Biostatistics Unit. Her research interests include psychiatric epidemiology, developing personalized interventions for mental illnesses, comparative effectiveness, and clinical trials methodology. Her dissertation research focuses on estimating the effect of benzodiazepine use and opioid use on the increased risk of suicide ideation among recent veterans. She is mentored by Kate Lapane, PhD.


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W.W. Sanouri Ursprung

Sanouri earned her BS in International Studies with a concentration in Biochemistry from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2007. During her time there she completed two senior theses one of which was accepted for publication in Psychopharmacology and another that was given the Provosts Major Qualifying Project Award for best thesis in a given department. She has worked at UMass since 2002, spending much of that time as the research coordinator for Joseph DiFranza MD, who serves as her mentor. She studies the progression of nicotine dependence through neuroimaging research, clinical trials, longitudinal school studies, cognitive interviews, evaluation of current addiction standards, and the creation of diagnostic scales. The measures she has collaborated on are used globally and have been translated into over 13 languages. Her work has been cited in the Surgeon General’s Report and DSM-V. In addition to her tobacco research, she has worked with Dr. Chyke Doubeni on research regarding the impact of socio-economic status on access to cancer prevention services and the use of geocoded census data to identify and tailor treatment for high risk patients. Sanouri has 15 publications (four first author) and over 13 conference presentations/posters. Her research interests include addiction, health disparities, policy driven research, advocacy, and the dissemination of relevant translational research abroad.

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Mollie Wood, MPH

Mollie earned her BA from Miami University in Ohio, where she majored in Zoology and Psychology, and her MPH from Boston University where she concentrated in Epidemiology. Her research and clinical experience includes her current work as a biostatistician at Inflexxion, Inc (specializes in behavioral research) performing statistical analysis of clinical trial, survey, and surveillance data. Her work involves her in every aspect of a research study from inception to eventual publication including analyzing clinical trial data, consulting with investigators on issues of study design, preparing grants or manuscripts and weighing in on ethical issues. She also worked at Beth Israel Deaconess part time performing statistical analysis of epidemiologic and clinical trial data and assisted clinical investigators with data analysis and manuscript preparation. She worked for three years as in the McLean Hospital and Cambridge Health Alliance as a research coordinator, and managed neuroimaging studies of children with mood and psychotic disorders. Mollie also volunteered as a counselor at the North Shore ARC supervising groups of adolescents diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. She has several publications and posters. Mollie’s research interests include early-onset mental illness, perinatal and early childhood epidemiology, epidemiologic methods, and applied Bayesian analytics. Mollie studies the effects of medications taking during pregnancy on the neurobehavioral outcomes in children. Her research committee includes Jean Frazier MD (mentor), Eric Mick, ScD, Susan Andrade ScD, Kate Lapane, PhD.

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Rui Xiao, MPH

Sherry graduated with a degree in clinical medicine in 2009 from Jilin University, China and earned a MPH in Epidemiology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. While obtaining her MPH, she worked as a Research Assistant on the IMPACT project at UMass and interned as a Research Assistant in the Boston Puerto Rican Health Study at Northeastern University. After joining the CPHR program, she has been working on the NIH-funded Medical Students Help Patients QUIT Smoking (MSQUIT) study and she has co-authored the MSQUIT Study design manuscript. She has presented at national meetings including the annual meetings of Experimental Biology, American Public Health Association and the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. Currently, she is working with her mentor, Molly Waring, PhD in the Decision making, Eating and Weight gain during pregnancy (DEW) Study. She has assisted Dr. Waring on preparing an IRB application, finalizing the data collection tool for the study, recruiting participants, obtaining informed consent, completing in-person study assessment, an coordinating with the Center for Applied Nutrition to schedule and to monitor dietary assessment. She will contribute to data analysis and manuscript writing as part of her Research Assistantship. Her research interests include nutritional epidemiology and women’s health with a focus on psychosocial and behavioral factors leading to weight management during pregnancy and postpartum.