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.


Daniel Amante, MPH

Daniel 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. Prior to enrolling in the CPHR program, his research experience included working for Boston University School of Medicine in an Experimental Neuropathology Translations Therapeutics lab and completing a summer internship with Dr. Catarina Kiefe in the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences (QHS) on a project focused on examining health care price transparency. As a professional track student, Dan has worked in QHS since September 2010, first on the Transitions, Risks and Actions in Coronary Events Center for Outcomes Research and Education (TRACE-CORE) project and more recently evaluating the Veterans Health Administration’s mobile health (mHealth) initiative as a Project Director in the Division of Health Informatics and Implementation Sciences. His research interests include exploring the utilization of health IT, mHealth, patient-facing and wearable technologies to improve patient engagement, disease management, and continuity of care.

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.

Joshua Chang, MS

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.

Han-Yang Chen, MS

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 Dr. Robert Goldberg, Han-Yang is currently a PhD candidate and a graduate research assistant for The Worcester Heart Attack Study. His dissertation research examines hospital treatment practices, 30-day hospital readmissions, and long-term prognosis in patients hospitalized with acute myocardial infarction. Han-Yang has authored/co-authored more than 15 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 Czerniak, BA

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.

Natasha Dolgin

Natasha Dolgin, BA

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.


Nathaniel Erskine, BA

Nate earned his BA with high honors in Chemistry from Swarthmore College in 2010. His undergraduate thesis research in synthetic organic chemistry led him to work as a medicinal chemist in Singapore before coming to UMMS as an MD/PhD student. Nate is currently pursuing his interest in studying cardiovascular disease under the mentorship of Dr. Catarina Kiefe and Dr. Robert Goldberg. He intends to study prediction models for clinical and patient-centered outcomes after an acute coronary syndrome using data from the Transitions, Risks, and Actions in Coronary Events-Center for Outcomes Research and Education (TRACE-CORE) study.

Daniel Frendl, MS

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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Gillian Griffith

Gillian Griffith, BS

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.


Christina Haughton, BS

Christina earned her BS in Biology from Villanova University and her MPH from Northeastern University. While obtaining her MPH, she worked as a coordinator at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in the Pediatric Stem Cell Transplant Department. Her research interests include maternal and child health, perinatal epidemiology, and nutritional epidemiology. Under the mentorship of Stephenie Lemon, PhD, she is assisting in research on lifestyle interventions.


Jacob Hunnicutt, MPH

Jake received both his BA in Religious Studies (2012) and his MPH in Epidemiology from Indiana University. His master's research focused on the relationship between iron and coronary heart disease as well as psoriasis treatment during pregnancy.  Under the mentorship of Kate Lapane and Jen Tjia, he hopes to continue to use large datasets to help answer clinically relevant questions that can help shape policy and practice. He is currently involved in researching the off-label use of antipsychotics in nursing homes.


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-Desrosiers, MS

Aimee earned her BA in Anthropology with a focus on Culture and Health from Mount Holyoke College and her MS in Epidemiology from UMass Amherst.  She has been a biostatistician in the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences at UMass Medical School since 2010, where she has worked with numerous investigators within the university and gained experience conducting analysis of observational data, assisting in the management of a large clinical trial, and working with Medicare and other types of claims data.  Her research interests include reproductive and maternal health, the coordination of care across providers, and the history, current policies, and alternative methods utilized in conducting clinical trials in vulnerable populations, specifically pregnant women.  Aimee is mentored by Dr. Kristin Mattocks.

Tariana Little 

Tariana Little, BA

The first in her immigrant family to pursue college, Tariana holds a BA (Psychology) from UMass Boston and an AA (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, including the MHIRT Latino Mental Health Research Training Fellowship in Mexico (2011), an NCI UMass Boston-Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center research assistantship in Puerto Rico (2012), and the NSF Ethnographic Field School in Florida (2013). Mentored by Milagros Rosal, PhD, Tariana is involved in community-based research projects focused on minority populations. Coming from the same background as the populations with whom she seeks to work and study, Tariana’s doctoral training is a foundation towards a transdisciplinary research career working across different sectors to promote health equity among under-served groups.

Shao-Hsien, BSc

Shao-Hsien Liu, MPH

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 prior research experiences include collecting, managing and reporting data in rehabilitation interventions for Parkinson’s Disease patients as well as 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 patient-reported outcomes, physical activity, and applications of comparative effectiveness research to improve quality of care in the field of chronic musculoskeletal conditions. Mentored by Kate Lapane, PhD, Shao-Hsien is currently working on Dr. Lapane's contract using data from the National Osteoarthritis Initiative.

Christine Motzkus-Feagans, MPH

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.

Lisa Nobel, MS

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.


Lauren R. Powell, BS

Lauren Powell is a PhD candidate in the Clinical and Population Health Research program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Under the guided mentorship of Stephenie Lemon, Ph.D., Milagros Rosal, Ph.D., and Jeroan Allison, M.D., MS, her research focuses on minority health disparities and the effects of racism on health, the social determinants of health, and methods to improve the participation and experiences of African-Americans and Latinos in clinical research studies. Lauren graduated from Xavier University of Louisiana in 2006 where she majored in Biochemistry, with a double minor in Biology and Mathematics.

Following the completion of her undergraduate degree, she coordinated clinical research studies in some of the most prestigious medical institutions in the country including: the Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine and Public Health, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. She is an active member of the Worcester community, serving as a member of the Worcester Partnership for Racial and Ethnic Health Equity and volunteering with Mosaic Cultural Complex, an organization that provides health screenings and education to men of color in African American and Latino barbershops.

Lauren served as a 2013-2014 Boston Albert Schweitzer Fellow and was awarded her first grant in Fall 2013 from the National Institutes of Minority Health and Health Disparities to investigate methods of improving research literacy in underserved populations. She was a recipient of the 2013-2014 Hope Scholarship from the Harvard School of Medicine’s Diversity and Community Partnership’s Biomedical Science Careers Program. Upon completion of her doctoral degree, Lauren aspires to secure a position within a federal government agency that will position her to have a broad impact on the elimination of health inequities.


Eric Romo, BA

Eric earned a BA in Neurobiology from Harvard College in 2014, with a minor in Global Health and Health Policy. As an undergraduate, his research focused on elucidating the role of the protein BACE in long-term memory formation, using a Drosophila melanogaster animal model. He also worked a stint at the Center for Neurologic Disease at Brigham and Women’s Hospital investigating the potential role of amyloid beta in cerebral spinal fluid as a biomarker of Alzheimer’s disease. With an increasing interest in social justice and health disparities, Eric turned to public health research, designing a project that studied the cultural perceptions of substance abuse among Native Americans and the role of such perceptions in interventions among tribes in the Southwest U.S. Also passionate about global health, he was thrilled to spend a winter working alongside community health workers in Kenya through Mass. General’s Initiative to End Childhood Malnutrition. Eric is currently a student in the Pathways to Graduate Study Program and is mentored by Dr. Allison Rosen. His research interests include health care delivery in resource-poor settings, health disparities, community-level interventions, and operations and implementation research.


Apurv Soni, BA

Apurv is a 2011 graduate of Boston University with a major in Biology w/ concentration in Neurobiology and a minor in Human Physiology. While at Boston University, he worked on Finite Element Analysis to predict cumulative Traumatic Brain Injury over the course of a football season among college football players using accelerometer data from devices installed within the players’ helmets. He also worked in the Anatomy and Neurobiology lab to study adult neurogenesis as well as post-stroke modification in the architecture of neurons and synapses using non-human primates as an animal model. Since 2010, Apurv has built a collaboration with a medical institution in rural India focused on reducing health disparities in underserved areas of Western India. Apurv is a MD/PhD Student who is mentored by Jeroan Allison, MD Msc. Apurv is working on a study to understand predictors of poor maternal and child health outcomes in India and is interested in developing evidence based and community participatory interventions to improve maternal and child health outcomes.

Christine Ulbricht, MPH

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.


Mollie Wood, MPH

Mollie earned a BA in Zoology and Psychology from Miami University in 2004, and an MPH in Epidemiology from Boston University in 2009.  Her research interests include reproductive and perinatal epidemiology, pharmacoepidemiology, treatment of chronic illnesses during pregnancy, neurodevelopmental disorders in children, and causal inference and epidemiologic methods.  Mentored by Jean Frazier, MD, Mollie is investigating the risks of neurodevelopmental problems in children associated with prenatal exposure to triptan medications, using data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study.

Rui Xiao, MPH

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.

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