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Epidemiology and Biostatistics Doctoral Student Profiles

Epidemiology Doctoral Student Profiles

Leny Mathew, MS

Leny earned his M.S in Math with concentration in Statistics and Operations Research from New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology, NM. He has worked as a Statistician for the perinatal research center at Drexel University College of Medicine (DUCOM) and more recently at the Adolescent Medicine Department of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). His work at DUCOM included research on causes of preterm birth, sexually transmitted diseases, public health research in childhood practices and maternal health. At CHOP, Leny was part of the Nat’l Children’s Study group where he worked on projects including STD transmission among adolescents with HIV, and behavioral and developmental screening in young children. His research interests include the association of stress and inflammatory processes on preterm birth, public health research on maternal health outcomes and screening for behavioral and developmental disorders among young children.

Pam Phojanakong, MPH

Pam received her BA in Biochemistry from Dartmouth College and her MPH in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from Drexel University. Prior to her doctoral work, she was the Research Coordinator for the Chaco Area Reproductive Endocrinology (CARE) Project based at the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University. Pam’s research focuses on chronic disease epidemiology, specifically the associations of reproductive health, biomarkers, and the environment with cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorder outcomes.

Dina Terloyeva, MS

Dina earned her MS in Epidemiology from the University at Albany, State University of New York and her MPH at the Kazakhstan School of Public Health. Her Master’s research focused on the prevalence of depressive symptoms among people living with HIV in Kazakhstan. Her research interests lie in the field of HIV; psychiatric comorbidities of infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and TB, effect of depression on cell-mediated immunity and synergetic approach to HIV prevention and treatment.  Dina worked for the Columbia University’s Global Health Research Center of Central Asia at the study of tuberculosis risk factors among labor migrants in Central Asia.  As a Project Director she was working with key stakeholders and field stuff on planning, organizing, and conducting the study with further data analysis, preparation of publications, and developing recommendations for the Ministries of Health of these countries to improve access to diagnostic and treatment services for labor migrants.

Daniel Vader, MS

Daniel Vader earned his Master of Science degree in Epidemiology at the Drexel University School of Public Health, and evaluated the influence of geographic origin on the incidence of Adult T-Cell Leukemia/Lymphoma in the United States for his Master's Thesis. Prior to pursuing his Master of Science degree, Daniel worked as a computer programmer in Indiana and as an English Language Instructor in Moundou, Chad. His research interests include infectious disease epidemiology, global health, and public health informatics.

Li "Sherlly" Xie, SCM

Li received her Sc.M. degree in Biostatistics from Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health and a B.S. in Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior from University of California, Davis. Li’s research interests include treatment outcomes evaluation, social determinants of disease process and epidemiological methods. Prior to starting her doctoral program, Heather worked at the Nemours/A. I. duPont Hospital for Children providing biostatistics support for biomedical research initiatives.

Yichen Zhong, M.H.S.

Yichen received her M.H.S degree in Epidemiology from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, a B.S. degree in Nutrition and Food Sciences from University of Maryland, and a B.S. degree in Life Science from China Agricultural University. Yichen is currently working as a Sr. scientist supporting pharmacoepidemiology and outcomes research at Merck. She also worked as a healthcare analyst at Analysis Group. Yichen’s research interests include outcomes research, pharmacoepidemiology, nutritional epidemiology, and health economics.

Rennie Joshi, MPH

Rennie earned her MPH in Biostatistics & Epidemiology from Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health in 2017 and her BA in Health Science from Gettysburg College in 2011. Rennie’s research interests include urban health and the effects of neighborhood environments on chronic diseases. Rennie is a doctoral fellow through the Dornsife School’s Urban Health Collaborative, where she previously worked as a Research & Data Core Research Assistant. She has been involved in numerous projects related to drug and alcohol use, the West Philadelphia Promise Zone neighborhoods and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's health equity research.

Anqi (Angie) Wang, MS

Angie earned her Master Degree in Biostatistics from Georgetown University and a Bachelor Degree in Biology Science from Shandong University School of Life Science in China. Before starting Drexel’s doctoral program in epidemiology, she was working as a research assistant in Georgetown University, Department of Biostatistics, Bioinformatics and Biomathematics for finding novel biomarkers for lung cancer by measuring telomere length variation. She also joined a program as a laboratory assistant in Lombardi Cancer Center, Georgetown University, where her work mainly focused on analyzing the Matriptase protein in tumor and normal tissue by utilizing logistic regression.

Janene Brown, MPH

Janene earned her MPH from Drexel University’s School of Public Health in 2014 and a BA in Health and Societies with a concentration in Epidemiology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2009. Janene’s research interests include the epidemiologic study of gun violence, chronic disease and its relation to the built environment, and the relationship between the use of public assistance programs and health status. Prior to starting her doctoral program, Janene worked in the Research and Evaluation Group of Public Health Management Corporation where she conducted an ongoing evaluation of the Pennsylvania Free Quitline, a smoking cessation service, and rigorous evaluations of sexual health interventions for at-risk youth.

Jessica Rast, MPH

Jessica earned an MPH from the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University in 2014. Her research focuses on the outcomes of young adults on the autism spectrum, largely in the domains of education, employment, and health. She is interested in the coordination between agencies that provide services to adults with disabilities, and how this impacts community outcomes. Jessica currently works at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute using national data to understand the characteristics, experiences, and service needs of people on the autism spectrum.

Amie Devlin, MPH

Amie earned her MPH in Epidemiology from George Washington University in 2010 and her MA in Urban Bioethics from Temple University in 2018. Amie’s research interests include urban health and the effects of neighborhood factors on health. Amie is a graduate research assistant at the Dornsife School’s Urban Health Collaborative. Prior to coming to Drexel, Amie worked as a Research Program Manager at Temple University. In this role, she oversaw numerous community health research studies based in North Philadelphia.

Tanner Nassau, MPH

Tanner earned his MPH from Drexel’s School of Public Health in 2014 and a BA in Philosophy from Indiana University in 2012. Prior to starting his doctoral program, Tanner worked for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health within the AIDS Activities Coordinating Office as an epidemiologist in HIV surveillance where his main responsibilities were improving data quality and data accessibility. Tanner’s research interests include the influence of social factors on HIV care and prevention, geospatial analysis of the HIV epidemic, and analyzing phylogenetic HIV transmission networks in combination with risk networks to identify potential methods to curb the ongoing spread of HIV.

Dustin Fry, MPH

Dustin is a doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, advised by Gina Lovasi, PhD, MPH. He received a bachelors degree in Biology from the University of Texas, Austin and an MPH from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.  Dustin is a research fellow at the Urban Health collaborative. His research interests include innovative data sources, physical activity determinants, and policy-relevant research including integration of StreetView based audit data for the measurement of physical disorder and pedestrian-supportive infrastructure.

Rini Jose, MPH

Rini earned her MPH in Epidemiology in 2016 and her B.S. in Biology in 2012 from Emory University. Rini’s research interests include exploring risk factors associated with contracting sexually transmitted infections and experiencing violence in adolescent populations, from a life course perspective. Prior to starting her doctoral program, Rini worked in the New Jersey Department of Health’s Communicable Disease Service, primarily focused on the prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections.

Nguyen Tran, MPH

Nguyen earned his MPH in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health in 2018 and his BS in Public Health from The University of Texas at Austin in 2016. Nguyen’s research interests include the epidemiologic study of HIV/bacterial STI among sexual, gender, and racial minorities and quantitative methods for misclassification bias adjustment. Prior to starting his doctoral program, Nguyen worked as a research assistant for numerous projects related to HIV risk factors among individuals at high risk for HIV (i.e., men who have sex with men, persons who inject drugs, and high-risk heterosexuals), drug and alcohol use among youths, and evaluation of immigrant health at the Texas-Mexico border.

Chioma Uzoigwe-Smith, MPH

Chioma earned her Master of Public Health degree with a concentration in Epidemiology from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and BA in Psychology from Stanford University. Chioma is currently a Senior Manager in Health Economics and Outcomes Research at Novo Nordisk, where she has worked for the past 7 years supporting the growth hormone and most recently, diabetes therapeutics areas. She had previously worked as a research analyst for The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Mathematica Policy Research, where she conducted work in public health disparities and health policy. Chioma's research interests include outcomes research and pharmacoepidemiology.

Max Pistilli, M.Ed., MS

Max received his B.S. in biology and biotechnology from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, his M.Ed. in science education from the University of Washington, and his M.S. in biostatistics from Drexel. He has worked in HIV research at the Wistar Institute, pain and patient reported outcomes research as a graduate research assistant at Washington, and has most recently worked as a biostatistician in the department of ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania. He also spent a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA working on teacher education at the Seattle Aquarium, and on environmental education in an elementary school where kindergartners liked pouring sand on his keyboard.

Ana Ortigoza, MS, MD

Ana is a 2016 graduate of the MS in Epidemiology program at the Dornsife School of Public Health. Originally from Argentina, she completed her MD at the National University of Rosario, Argentina, and became licensed in pediatrics in 2008. She also earned a Master in Epidemiology, Health Policies and Management from University of Lanus in Bueno Aires. She has been working on the Urban Health Network for Latin America and the Caribbean since its inception. Her research interests focus on childhood, youth violence and health disparities. She is studying the impact that violence among young people in Latin American cities has on mortality and morbidity, at citywide levels.

Kim Daniels, MS

Kimberly Daniels received her M.S. in epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and B.S. degrees is math and biology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Prior to starting her PhD in epidemiology, she worked at Boston Children's Hospital in their Plastic and Oral Surgery Department and with the Program in Global Surgery and Social Change as an epidemiologist assisting with the design, analysis, and interpretation of study results. Her interests include the prevention of cardiovascular disease and obesity along with health outcomes, Bayesian statistics, and health economics. 

Erica Smith, MPH

Erica earned a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2010 and a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Anthropology from the College of William and Mary in 2008. Erica's current research interests include the impact of social determinants of health on foodborne and other infectious disease outcomes. Prior to starting the doctoral program, she was a foodborne and infectious disease epidemiologist at the Pennsylvania Department of Health, where her work focused on infectious disease epidemiology, surveillance, and outbreak investigation.

Biostatistics Doctoral Student Profiles

Ruby Bayliss

Ruby earned her BS in Mathematics in 2017 from St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her research interests include environmental health, urban health, and health disparities. Before starting the doctoral program in Biostatistics at Drexel, she worked as a research assistant for Dr. Meghan Mason, where she analyzed the relationship between behaviors and exposures associated to pathogen carriage at a large community gathering.

Shanika DeSilva, MS

Shanika received her M.S in Biostatistics from Drexel University in 2018 and her B.S in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Denver in 2015. Prior to starting her graduate studies, she worked as a lab technician at a pathology laboratory conducting routine hematological and immunological tests, and as a research assistant in a conservation genetics lab where she had the opportunity to study the Lake Titicaca frog of Peru. Her research interests include statistical learning methods, multivariate data analysis and the applications of statistics to cancer and genetics.

Yuna Kim, MS

Yuna received her M.S. in Biostatistics from Drexel University School of Public Health and a B.S. in Biology from State University of New York at Stony Brook. Before  beginning her study of Biostatistics, Yuna worked in ovarian cancer drug resistance research as a research assistant at the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB) within the Biotherapeutics Translational Research Center. Yuna’s research interests include the development of statistical methodology and its application for drawing inferences from genetic data, understanding the genetic basis of human diseases and traits, and translating the genetic basis into clinical application. 

Melissa Meeker

Melissa completed her Masters in Biostatistics at Drexel University and found the faculty and staff of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics to be warm and welcoming. They have created an environment that is conducive to critical thinking and personal growth. This is a school that continuously challenges her and has helped her cultivate analytical and professional skills that are necessary for a dynamic field such as public health. Besides the welcoming atmosphere of the department, Melissa chose this program in particular because of the impressive number of smart, dedicated and successful women at the top of the field. They have been role models throughout her time at Drexel.