Current Students

  • Hawa Abu

    Hawa Abu, MBBS, MPH, CPH

    Hawa graduated with her Medical Degree from the University of Ibadan, South Western Nigeria in 2010. During her medical training, she became passionate about preventing chronic diseases with a particular interest in working to improve the health outcomes of vulnerable populations. While practicing as a general physician in Nigeria, she decided to develop her skills in population-based research due to the limited impact of her interaction with patients beyond the walls of the clinical setting. In 2015, she earned her MPH degree in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. During this time, she volunteered with the Johns Hopkins Center to Eliminate Cardiovascular Health Disparities. She additionally obtained her Certification in Public Health in 2015, further establishing her commitment to the field of public health. Hawa is enthused about the CPHR program as it has enabled her to engage deeply in cardiovascular epidemiology research and to address the needs of minority populations experiencing health disparities. She seeks to acquire more knowledge and experience in translating research findings to clinical practice and the “real-world”.  She is co-mentored by Dr. Catarina Kiefe and Dr. Robert Goldberg in the Quantitative Health Sciences Department.

  • Matthew Alcusky

    Matthew Alcusky, PharmD, MS

    Matthew graduated with his Doctor of Pharmacy and MS in Pharmacoepidemiology from the University of Rhode Island in 2014. His master’s thesis examined patterns of chronic medication use before and after transitions of care among patients with diabetes. He subsequently furthered his research experience through the 2-year Thomas Jefferson University and Janssen Scientific Affairs Health Economics and Outcomes Research Post-Doctoral Fellowship program. During the fellowship, Matthew led and contributed to health economic, pharmacoepidemiologic, and outcomes research studies conducted in both academic and industry settings, across several therapeutic areas. Matthew has developed a thorough appreciation for the social determinants of health and the need to expand the scope of research and healthcare interventions beyond the traditional realm of medicine in order to effectively improve population health. He aspires to conduct and disseminate impactful research which influences clinical practice and informs health policy, with an ultimate goal of tangibly advancing the tenets of social justice and population health. Mentored by Kate Lapane, PhD, Matthew is presently a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences and is also pursuing a PhD in the CPHR program.

  • Karen Ashe

    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. 

  • Ariel Beccia

    Ariel Beccia

    Ariel earned her BS in Neuroscience from St. Lawrence University in 2014. After completing her bachelor’s degree, she earned her MS in Integrative Medicine Research from Helfgott Research Institute in Portland, OR, where her research focused on eating disorder prevention and treatment. Her master’s thesis was a mixed methods exploration of women’s experiences with integrative medical care for eating disorders, and she also conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of mindfulness-based eating disorder prevention programs. Her research interests include community-based mental illness prevention, the effects of shame and stigma on mental health, and mindfulness-based interventions for promoting resilience. Mentored by Dr. Judson Brewer, Ariel is currently working on developing a validated measure of mindfulness-based behavioral change. 

  • Ganga Bey

    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.

  • Maira Castañeda

    Maira Castañeda, 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. 

  • Nathaniel Erskine

    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. His thesis works examines the association of patients' usual sources of care with outcomes after hospitalization for an acute coronary syndrome using data from the Transitions, Risks, and Actions in Coronary Events-Center for Outcomes Research and Education (TRACE-CORE) study. 

  • Christina Haughton

    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 Hunnicut

    Jacob Hunnicut, 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

    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.

  • 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 Department of Quantitative Health Sciences.

  • Andrea Lopez-Cepero

    Andrea Lopez-Cepero, BS, MHSN

    Andrea earned her BS in Cellular Molecular Biology from the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras where as a MARC fellow she studied the structure of 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 in Puerto Ricans living in the island and in Massachusetts. Andrea joined the CPHR program through the Pathways to Graduate School Program. Mentored by Milagros Rosal, PhD, her research focuses on eating behaviors and Latino health disparities, in particular, nutrition related chronic diseases. Andrea is also assisting in research on lifestyle interventions.

  • Deborah Mack

    Deborah Mack, 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. 

  • Apurv Soni

    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

    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

    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. 

  • Yiyang Yuan

    Yiyang Yuan, BS, 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.

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