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.


Karen Ashe, BA, MS, MNSP

Karen Ashe earned her BA in Biology from Trinity University, Washington, D.C. and her M.S. in Biology from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2003.  After 10 years of rare disease preclinical research in the biotech industry her interests expanded to nutrition and obesity.  This curiosity led her to attend a Master’s program at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.  Studying issues of local and global nutrition through the lenses of both science and policy gave her a deeper appreciation of the need to translate research into practice. Her research interests include nutrition interventions, application of behavior change theory, mobile technology and patient privacy.


Ganga Bey, BA, MPH

Ganga Bey earned a BA in Anthropology from Princeton University in 2009, with a certificate in African American Studies. Intending to major in Biology as a premed student, Ganga was inspired my a course in Medical Anthropology to reconsider her interests. As an undergraduate, her research focused on understanding the social and cultural factors that impact health outcomes in minority communities.  She completed her senior thesis as an Illness narrative exploring the life of a young black woman living with diabetes in an underserved community in Trenton, New Jersey. Moved by the experience, Ganga then received a Masters degree in Public Health with a focus on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Her master's thesis research explored the impact of the built environment on decision-making in health behaviors for Latina and Black women living in the underserved community of the South Bronx, New York.  She is both thrilled and grateful to be joining the Pathways to Graduate Study PhD program in Clinical and Population Health Research under the mentorship of Stephanie Lemon and Sharina Person. She will continue studying the interaction between physical and sociocultural environments on the health of minority populations.

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.


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, MPH

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, BA, 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.

Aimee Kroll-Desrosiers, BA, 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.

Shao-Hsien, BSc

Shao-Hsien Liu, BSc, 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.


Andrea Lopez-Cepero, BS, MHSN

Andrea earned her BS in Cellular Molecular Biology from the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras where as an MARC fellow she studied the structure of the MHCII proteins and their transcriptional regulation. She completed her Master’s in Health Sciences and Nutrition at the University of Puerto Rico-Medical Sciences campus. For her master’s thesis, in collaboration with Milagros Rosal, PhD, and Stephenie Lemon, PhD, she studied the diet quality and obesity prevalence among Puerto Ricans living in the island and in Massachusetts. Andrea is a PGSP-CPHR student mentored by Milagros Rosal, PhD. Her interests include Latino health disparities, in particular, nutrition related chronic diseases.

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, BA, MS

Lisa completed a BA in Anatomy and Cell Biology in 2008, and then an MS in Epidemiology at McGill University in 2010. 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.


Meera Sreedhara, BA, MPH

Meera earned a BA in Psychology from College of the Holy Cross in 2007.  Her research experience includes coordinating clinical trials at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute within the Department of Radiation Oncology.  She worked as a clinical research coordinator in the Cancer Research Office at the University of Massachusetts Worcester while earning an MPH from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  Her knowledge of population health research grew during her time as a project manager at the Meyers Primary Care Institute.  Her research interests include nutrition, community-based participatory research and cancer prevention. Meera is mentored by Stephenie Lemon, PhD.


Hoang Tran, MD, MPH

Hoang received his medical degree from Hanoi Medical University. He also finished a Residency in Cardiology at Bach Mai Hospital and worked as a cardiologist for 1 year. Hoang earned MPH degree in Epidemiology from University of Nebraska Medical Center. His thesis focused on the role of pre-transplant antibodies, especially anti Angiotensin II type 1 receptor antibodies and clinical outcomes in heart transplant patients. Hoang has served as a reviewer for peer-review journal and has several publications in the field of cardiovascular disease and cancer. His main research interest is novel risk factors for cardiovascular disease, especially among Asian population. He is also interested in a wide spectrum of cardiovascular disease such as aortic disease, venous thrombosis and arrhythmia.

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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