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Current Students

  • Ariel Beccia

    Ariel Beccia, BS, MS

    Ariel Beccia (she/her/hers) is a PhD candidate in the Clinical and Population Health Research program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Her research interests include the social epidemiology of eating disorders and bridging quantitative epidemiological methods with social and feminist theories, with a focus on intersectionality theory. Mentored by Dr. Kate Lapane, her dissertation research is examining the prevalence and social determinants of eating disorders and disordered weight control behaviors at the intersection of sexual orientation, gender expression, and weight status. Prior to her PhD training, Ariel had conducted research on the “gender puzzle” of alternative medicine use and the use of mindfulness-based interventions for eating disorders and other mental health issues. Ariel received her MS (Integrative Medicine Research) from Helfgott Research Institute and BS (Neuroscience) from St. Lawrence University.

  • Maira Castañeda

    Maira Castañeda, BS, MS

    Maira A. Castañeda earned a B.S. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from Universidad Metropolitana in San Juan, Puerto Rico. After completing her bachelor’s degree, she was accepted into the Introduction for Cancer Research Career (ICRC) program of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), where she worked in the dermatology branch for 2 years and discovered a special interest in epidemiology and biostatistics. In 2015, Maira earned a MS in epidemiology at the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus. Her thesis project related Chlamydia trachomatis serostatus with HPV infection in women living in PR. Most recently, she was awarded a diversity supplement by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial research (NIDCR) (5R21DE024850-02), where she worked on a project aimed at evaluating the association between periodontal disease and oral HPV infection. Maira joined the CPHR program through the Pathways to Graduate School Program. Mentored by Mara Epstein, ScD, Maira's research is focused on cancer prevention and the control of infection-related cancers among underserved populations, with a specific focus on Latino/Hispanic health disparities. 

  • Qiaoxi Chen

    Qiaoxi Chen, BS, MPH

    Qiaoxi (Tracy) Chen earned her BS in biomedical sciences in Central Nervous System stream from University College London. Her undergraduate thesis focused on the role of phosphorylation of NMDA receptors that locate in neurons during the spreading of pain signals. She then earned her MPH with a concentration in Biostatistics and Epidemiology from Boston University. After graduation from BU, she worked for Brigham and Women’s Hospital as a clinical data analyst participated in providing statistical analysis and data visualization support to the Medicaid pilot projects including Community Partners project and Serious Mental Illness project as well as Faculty Wellness projects held by Brigham and Women’s Physician Organization.

  • Eric Ding

    Eric Ding, BS, MS

    Eric graduated from University of California, San Diego with a BS in biochemistry and psychology as well as an MS in biology. His thesis work in the regulation of cardiac molecular signaling during ischemic stress sparked a strong interest in research and led him to the MD/PhD program at UMMS. During medical school, Eric explored many different avenues of research and discovered exciting opportunities to merge his background in programming and software design with research in improving health conditions and outcomes, specifically in cardiovascular disease. Eric is mentored by Dr. David McManus and is currently working on leveraging biosensors on novel technologies such as smartphones and smartwatches to aid in the diagnosis and management of cardiac arrhythmias.

  • Zachary Dyer

    Zachary Dyer, AB, MPH

    Zach Dyer holds an AB in Creative Writing from Columbia University and an MPH in Maternal and Child Health from Boston University. For several years, Zach worked for the Worcester Division of Public Health as Deputy Director where his work focused on coalition building for health improvement, community engagement, and policy change. Zach remains active in local, state, and national boards including the Massachusetts Public Health Association Policy Council and the National Civic League’s Council of Advisors.

    Zach’s research interests center on improving social determinants and reducing health disparities through broad, high-level systems change including payment reform and innovative risk adjustment modeling. He has rotated with and is currently advised by Dr. Jay Himmelstein and Dr. Arlene Ash in the department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences.

  • Oluwabunmi Emidio

    Oluwabunmi Emidio, MD, MPH

    Bunmi earned her Medical Degree from the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Nigeria and her MPH from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  Her research experiences include coordinating research at the Mckusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She also worked at the Evidence-based Practice Center, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health where she developed a great interest in translational medicine and implementation science. Mentored by Stephenie Lemon, PhD, Bunmi is presently a PRACCTIS post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences and is also pursuing a PhD in the CPHR program.

  • Katarina Ferrucci

    Katarina Ferrucci, BA, MS

    Katarina earned her BA in Psychology from Bard College. Her undergraduate thesis proposed an exploratory study, which investigated the relationship between perceptions of personal size, BMI, and body adiposity. While at Bard, Katarina aided in establishing the Affective Cognition Laboratory at Bard College; a novel psychophysiology lab, which focused on affect sharing and empathetic emotion. During this time, she also served as a clinical research assistant at the Anderson Center for Autism, where she conducted independent case investigations for individuals expressing atypical eating and feeding symptomology, as well as exacerbated emotional expression. At Anderson, she additionally contributed to a validation study of the English translation of the San Martin Scale, which provides a comprehensive assessment of quality of life for individuals on the Autism Spectrum. Following graduation, she pursued her MS in Behavioral and Social Health Science from the School of Public Health at Brown University. Throughout her second year at Brown, she worked as a research assistant with RIDOC: Heart and Sole Debate; teaching and facilitating a cardiovascular health course and debate program to incarcerated males at the Rhode Island state medium security ACI. Her master’s thesis investigated the relationship between body image, self-perceived weight status, and body shaping behaviors in young, transgender women. Following graduation, she worked as a Research Coordinator at UMMS, aiding in a study investigating delay in diagnosis for patients with Ankylosing Spondylitis. Her research interests include LGBTQIA+ health, community-based health behavior intervention, health outcomes of incarcerated populations, as well as how grit and resilience contribute to health behavior maintenance and change. Katarina is currently a first year PhD student and is mentored by Dr. Kate Lapane.

  • Melissa Goulding

    Melissa Goulding, BS, MS

    Melissa earned a BS in Biology from Emmanuel College, Boston MA and a MS in Medical Sciences from Boston University School of Medicine. Through her master’s program she was introduced to clinical research at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. After completing her masters Melissa remained at UMMS where she worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator in the Emergency Medicine Department. Melissa’s research interests include disease prevention and health promotion through lifestyle interventions with particular interest in children of low socioeconomic status. She is mentored by Dr. Stephenie Lemon.

  • Julie Hugunin

    Julie Hugunin, BS

    Julie Hugunin earned a BS in Biology from Northeastern University, Boston MA. Through her experiences in college, she was inspired to become a physician-scientist so that she could improve health at both the individual and population level, while helping to bridge the worlds of patient care and scientific research. Julie is interested in improving mental health care and outcomes through integrated and collaborative approaches within primary care. She is mentored by Dr. Christine Ulbricht and is currently working on understanding working-aged adults with serious mental illness in nursing homes.

  • Nien-Chen Li

    Nien-Chen Li, BS, MPH, MA

    Nien-Chen Li (Anny) received her BS in Medical Science and Technology from Taipei Medical University, Taiwan. Subsequently she obtained MPH in Epidemiology and MA in Biostatistics from Boston University School of Public Health, and MA in Statistics from Boston University Department of Mathematics and Statistics. During her stay at Boston University, she served as a teaching assistant in several major courses, and research assistant in medical research involving pharmacoepidemiological studies related to hepatitis C, Alzheimer disease, dementia and Parkinson’s disease; diabetes; patterns of recovery for children with burn injuries; and US Veterans health care outcomes and health related quality of life, etc. After graduation, she worked for Fresenius Medical Care, the world’s largest dialysis company, as a biostatistician participated in clinical epidemiology research for end-stage renal disease; patients’ clinical outcomes and quality of life; intervention analysis; large oracle data extraction and management; statistical analysis using SAS including GENMOD, survival analysis, case-control matching, and propensity analysis. She is mentored by Professor Arlene Ash as a PhD student in the Population and Quantitative Health Sciences Department.

  • Deborah Mack

    Deborah Mack, BA, MPH

    Deborah earned her BA in Biology and Studio Art from Bates College. Her undergraduate thesis focused on medication adherence of Somali Refugees. She then earned her MPH with a concentration in Health Services Research and a focus in gerontology from Brown University in 2015. Her master’s thesis focused on the POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) development across the US - its effectiveness, utilization, and progress in implementation.  Following graduation from Brown, she worked at the Institute for Aging Research in Boston. Her research interests include health services research and policy among a geriatric population including cost-effectiveness of services, large dataset and claims analysis, and innovative approaches to long-term care. 

  • Grace Masters

    Grace Masters, BS

    Grace graduated from Cornell University with a BS in Biological Sciences, concentrating in Neurobiology and Behavior. After college, she worked at McLean Hospital, in a lab researching the neurobiological underpinnings of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Her passion for understanding and improving the lives of those with serious mental illness led her to the UMMS MD/PhD program, where she plans to train to become a physician-scientist focused on mitigating the difficulties we face in identifying and treating these illnesses. Under the mentorship of Dr. Nancy Byatt and Dr. Kate Lapane, she plans to pursue this work by examining psychiatric treatment of depression and bipolar disorder in pregnant and post-partum women to improve health outcomes.

  • Catherine Nagawa

    Catherine Nagawa, MS

    Catherine earned her BS in Statistics and Mathematics from Makerere University in Uganda, and her MS in Epidemiology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her thesis focused on predictors of anemia among HIV patients in Uganda. After obtaining her MS, she worked as a research coordinator at the University of Massachusetts Medical School within the Division of Health Informatics and Implementation Science. Catherine’s research interests include application of behavior change theory and use of mHealth technology to improve health. With an underlying passion for math, Catherine is a lifelong learner in the field of predictive data analytics. She is mentored by Dr. Rajani Sadasivam, PhD and Dr. Thomas Houston, MD, MPH.

  • Divya Shridharmurthy

    Divya Shridharmurthy, MBBS, MPH

    Divya is a doctoral candidate in the Clinical and Population Health Research Department. Prior to her doctoral training, Divya earned her Bachelor’s degree in Medicine from M S Ramaiah Medical College, India and Master's degree in Public Health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore. She then worked as a Research Fellow at the University of Maryland in the Pharmaceutical Health Services Research Department, during which she was primarily involved in comparative effectiveness research and patient centered outcomes research studies conducted in both academic and industry settings. Her research interest is in pharmacoepidemiology and pharmacoeconomics including developing methods to optimize use of therapeutics, cost-effectiveness of prescription drugs and medical devices, as well as the development and evaluation of policies to improve their use. Divya is mentored by Shao-Hsien Liu, PhD.

  • Meera Sreedhara

    Meera Sreedhara, BA, MPH

    Meera earned a BA in Psychology from College of the Holy Cross and an MPH from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  She previously worked as a clinical research coordinator at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute within the Department of Radiation Oncology and in the Cancer Research Office at the University of Massachusetts Worcester.  Her knowledge of population health research grew during her time as a project manager at the Meyers Primary Care Institute.  Meera’s mixed-methods research focuses on public health approaches that promote healthy eating and physical activity. She is mentored by Stephenie Lemon, PhD and assists on a community-based health behavior intervention, public health systems research, and physical activity policy research.

  • Yiyang Yuan

    Yiyang Yuan, MS, MPH

    Yiyang earned her BS from East China University of Science and Technology, and MPH from University of California Los Angeles. After graduation, she worked as a research data analyst at Boston University School of Public Health, where she later obtained her second master’s degree in health services research. Her thesis topic focused on the impact of parental depression on depressed children and adolescents’ use of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy. Yiyang has a wide variety of research interests, ranging from children and adolescents with mental health disorders to the quality of care at nursing homes. She enjoys digging deep into the data and believes there is a story to tell behind every statistic. Yiyang is currently a first year Ph.D. student mentored by Dr. Christine Ulbricht.

  • Danni Zhao

    Danni Zhao, MS

    Danni graduated from Peking University in China with a Bachelor of Medicine in 2016. Following graduation from PKU, she came to U.S. and earned her MS in Global Health at Duke University in 2018. Danni's master thesis focused on evaluating the association between pain and depressive symptoms in advanced cancer patients. During her time at Duke, she discovered a great passion for epidemiology and statistical programming, and she is interested in utilizing large healthcare datasets to study drug use and drug effects in the population. This lead her to the CPHR program at UMass Medical School. Danni is presently a first-year Ph.D. student in the program, working on opioids-related pharmaco-epidemiology studies, and she is mentored by Professor Kate Lapane.