Epidemiology Doctoral Student Profiles
Learn more about the focus of our students' research in Drexel Dornsife's PhD in Epidemiology program.
Paola Arevalo, MS
Degrees: MS in Nutrition and Foods with focus in Health Promotion and Prevention of Chronic Diseases, University of Chile; BS in Nutrition, Rafael Landivar University in Guatemala
Paola’s Focus: Paola is a Graduate Research Fellow in Drexel’s Urban Health Collaborative (UHC), under the “Social determinants of cardiovascular disease risk factors over the life course” D-43 grant.
- Health determinants and inequities
- Chronic diseases prevention
- Food environments and policies
- Urban health
- Health promotion
- Data analysis methods
- Research assistant in the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP), leading the data analysis in projects related with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO) and Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO)
- Junior investigator in the project “Monitoring of sodium and trans fats in packaged products of Panama”
- Research assistant with the University of Chile, focusing in the assessment of non-nutritive sweeteners in children and further recommendations to policy makers
Mercy Atuahene, MS
Degrees: MS in Applied Statistics, West Chester University; MS in Statistics and Operations Research, University of Orleans, France; BS in Mathematics, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana
- Maternal and child health
Professional Experience:: Mercy is a Senior Principal Biostatistical Programmer at Incyte Corporation. In her seven years at Incyte, Mercy has worked with a team of statisticians and clinical programmers in drug development.
As a Biostatistical Programmer, Mercy provides clinical summaries to team members via statistical programming and summarization of clinical trial data. These summaries provide insights to team members to advance drug development in the Dermatology and Cancer Therapeutic Areas.
Mercy is proud to highlight her contributions to clinical trial data for Opzelura, a recently FDA-approved treatment for Vitiligo and Atopic Dermatitis.
Ariela Braverman Bronstein, MPH
Degrees: MPH in Epidemiology and Maternal and Child Health from Boston University; MD from Anahuac University.
Ariela’s Focus: Ariela is a research fellow at the Drexel Urban Health Collaborative.
- Effects of neighborhood factors on maternal and child health
Professional Experience: Originally from Mexico, Ariela completed her MD and became a pediatrician in 2013. Before starting Drexel’s doctoral program in epidemiology, she worked as a junior researcher at the National Institute of Public Health in Mexico, where she collaborated in different projects such as the evaluation of the health impact of sugar sweetened beverage taxation in Mexico; the implementation of UNICEF’s Multi Indicator Cluster Survey in Mexico; and the development of strategies for teen pregnancy prevention.
Contact: email@example.com or personal website
Meghan Carey, MS
Degrees: MS in Epidemiology, Drexel University; BS in Biological Sciences, University of Delaware
- Autism risk factors
- Outcomes and quality of life among young adults on the autism spectrum
- Environmental health
- Intentional & unintentional injuries
Focus: My research interests include examining the transition to adulthood and life course outcomes for autistic individuals. For autistic youth, the transition to adulthood can be an incredibly difficult time because as they leave high school they lose access to many services (Roux et al. 2015). I am also interested in understanding environmental risk factors for autism and the association between environmental exposures during pregnancy and autism diagnosis.
Before returning to Drexel, I was working as a Research Coordinator at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I was responsible for preparing grant proposals, managing project budgets, and securing IRB approval. I’ve drafted major sections of six grant proposals that were funded including two R21s and an R01 from NICHD. I’ve also conducted statistical analyses in SAS, led the development of and served as a co-author on manuscripts, and presented at over a dozen conferences including the APHA annual meeting.
Awards and Honors: 2020 Emerging Innovator in Collaborative Research, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; 2016 Lifesavers Conference Traffic Safety Scholar
Curry AE, Yerys BE, Metzger KB, Carey ME, Power TJ (2019). Traffic Crashes, Violations, and Suspensions among young drivers with ADHD. Pediatrics, 143(6):e20182305.
Myers RK, Bonsu JM, Carey ME, Yerys BE, Mollen CJ, Curry AE (2019). Teaching autistic adolescents to drive: Perspectives of specialized driver educators. Autism in Adulthood, 1(3): 202-209.
Curry AE, Pfeiffer MR, Carey ME, Cook LJ (2019). Catalyzing traffic safety advancements via data linkage: Development of the New Jersey Safety and Health Outcomes (NJ-SHO) data warehouse. Traffic Injury Prevention, 1-4.
Moss CM, Metzger KB, Carey ME, Curry AE, Power TJ (2020). Chronic Care for ADHD: Clinical management from Childhood through Adolescence. The Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 41, S99-S104.
Carey ME, Mansour R, Anderson E, Sloan J, Curry AE (2020). Missed opportunities to advance knowledge on traffic safety: Accessibility of driver licensing and crash data for scientific research. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 139, 105500.
Zachary Fusfeld, MPH
Degrees: MPH from Thomas Jefferson University; Dual BA in Neuroscience and Philosophy from Johns Hopkins University
Zach’s Focus: Zach is a doctoral fellow working at the Drexel Urban Health Collaborative on the West Philly Promise Neighborhood grant.
- Urban health, particularly how urban health disparities may affect health outcomes.
Professional Experience: Zach worked for four years studying the neurobiological basis underlying goal directed behaviors in the context of substance use and inflammation at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In the year prior to starting the doctoral program, Zach worked in pediatric clinical research in vaccine trials and in the validation of novel tools in neonatal care in Philadelphia at Nemours Pediatrics.
Luwam Gebrekristos, MPH
Degrees: MPH from Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health; BA in Public Health Studies from Johns Hopkins University
Focus: Luwam is interested in examining the social and structural factors that drive racial and gender health inequalities. Currently, Luwam is a research fellow in the Department of Community Health and Prevention.
- Adolescent health
- Sexual and reproductive health
- Mental health
- Health disparities
Gebrekristos, L. T., Groves, A. K., McNaughton Reyes, L., Maman, S., & Moodley, D. (2020). IPV victimization in pregnancy increases postpartum STI incidence among adolescent mothers in Durban, South Africa. AIDS care, 32(sup2), 193-197.
Groves, A. K., Reyes, H. L. M., Gebrekristos, L. T., Moodley, D., & Maman, S. (2020). Examining why age-disparate relationships influence unsafe sex postpartum among South African women: relationship control and physical partner violence as explanatory mechanisms. Journal of interpersonal violence, 0886260520944531.
Purtle, J., Gebrekristos, L. T., Keene, D., Schlesinger, P., Niccolai, L., & Blankenship, K. M. (2020). Quantifying the Restrictiveness of Local Housing Authority Policies Toward People With Criminal Justice Histories: United States, 2009–2018. American Journal of Public Health, 110(S1), S137-S144.
Groves, A. K., Gebrekristos, L. T., Reyes, L. M., Moodley, D., & Maman, S. (2020). Describing Relationship Characteristics and Postpartum HIV Risk Among Adolescent, Young Adult, and Adult Women in South Africa. Journal of Adolescent Health.
Justin Jones, MPH
Degrees: MPH, Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases & Global Health, Yale School of Public Health; BS, International Health & African American Studies, Georgetown University
Justin’s Focus: Justin is working with Dr. Seth Welles, professor in the Epidemiology and Biostatistics department. His bachelor’s thesis focused on HIV/TB co-occurring infections in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. His MPH thesis focused on chronic disease manifestations in persons living with HIV in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. He also completed and published an independent research project on malaria resistance gene emergence in sub-Saharan Africa. Before joining Drexel he worked as the research coordinator for two large NIDA funded projects at Texas Christian University focused on HIV and opioid overdoses in parolees in Texas, Illinois and New Mexico.
- Tuberculosis (TB)
Professional Experience: Justin worked in emergency medicine research and as a EMT before obtaining his MPH from Yale.
Rini Jose, MPH
Degrees: MPH in Epidemiology from Emory University; BS in Biology from Emory University
- Adolescent health
- Exploring risk factors associated with sexually transmitted infections
- Experiences of violence
Professional Experience: 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.
Apollo Kivumbi, MBchB, MPH, MMed
Degrees: MBchB from Makerere University; MPH from Johns Hopkins University; MMed (Psychiatry) from Makerere University
Apollo's Focus: Apollo's focus is on neurodevelopmental disorders.
- Autism spectrum disorders
Professional Experience: I worked as a research coordinator and later as a principal investigator on a multisite NIH funded study as well as an R21.I have also worked as a psychiatrist in a child and adolescent mental health clinic in Mulago Hospital in Uganda.
Publications: View Apollo's publications on PubMed
Kevin Martinez Folgar, MD
Degrees: MD from the University of San Carlos of Guatemala
- Urban health
- Data modeling
Professional Experience: Before starting Drexel’s doctoral program in epidemiology, Kevin worked as a junior researcher at the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panamá (INCAP), where he collaborated on different projects such as the Economic and Social Cost of Doble Burden of Malnutrition in
Guatemala, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, and Honduras, working closely with ECLAC, PAHO, and WFP. Also, he was the lead data analyst in Central America for the SALURBAL project.
Edwin McCulley, MS
Degrees: MS in Epidemiology with Biostatistics minor from Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health; BS in Health Science from Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions
Edwin’s Focus: Edwin is a research fellow at the Drexel Urban Health Collaborative.
- Urban health
- Health equity
- Complex systems
Professional Experience: Edwin is a proud US Navy veteran with a background in preventive medicine and population health. Prior to beginning the doctoral program in Epidemiology at Drexel, Edwin worked as a research coordinator for Dr. Usama Bilal, where he focused on several projects examining health and health inequities in COVID-19 outcomes across large US cities. Additionally, Edwin worked as a research assistant on various projects aimed toward examining the relationship between city-level features and health outcomes in cities around the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or ResearchGate profile
Francesca Mucciaccio, MPH
Degrees: MPH in Health Policy from Emory University; BA in Linguistics (focus on linguistic anthropology) from Reed College
Francesca’s Focus: Francesca is a Doctoral Fellow at the Urban Health Collaborative.
- Measurement approaches to address racial, ethnic, and spatial disparities in chronic disease
- The effects of neighborhood-level factors and built environment on the development of chronic disease in urban contexts
Professional Experience: Previously, she was a public health analyst at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, working on federal policy and strategy development and science translation. Through the years, she worked in multiple areas, including chronic disease, emergency response, global health, and sickle cell disease.
Shreya Patel, MPH
Degrees: MPH in Epidemiology from George Washington University; BS in Public Health from University of South Carolina
Shreva's Focus: Research Fellow
- Urban health
- Environmental exposures
- Spatial analysis
- Health disparities
Professional Experience: Prior to coming to Drexel, Shreya worked as a research analyst at the National Cancer Institute, where she worked on several research projects examining the relationship between physical activity and cancer incidence and mortality. Prior to this, Shreya was a global health surveillance fellow at CDC, where she helped implement and monitor national bio-behavioral surveys among PEPFAR countries.
- Matthews CE, Carlson S, Saint-Maurice PF, Fulton J, Patel S, Loftfield E, Sampson JN, Keadle SK, Berrigan D. Changes in Physical Activity and Sedentary Time in United States Adults in Response to COVID19: Fall 2019-2020. PloS one. 2022 Sep 9;17(9):e0273919
- Saint-Maurice PF, Berrigan D, Whitfield GP, Watson KB, Patel S, Loftfield E, JN Sampson, Fulton J, Matthews CE. Amount, Type, and Timing of Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity Among US Adults. J Phys Act Health. 2021 Aug 1;18(S1):S114-S122.
- Matthews CE, Carlson S, Saint-Maurice PF, Patel S, Salerno EA, Loftfield E Troiano RP, Fulton J, Sampson JN, Tribby C, Keadle S, Berrigan D. Sedentary Behavior in United States Adults: Fall 2019. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2021 Jul 23.
- Nguyen LT, Patel S, Nguyen NT, Gia HH, Raymond HF, Abdul-Quader AS. Population Size Estimation of Female Sex Workers in Hai Phong, Vietnam: Use of Three Source Capture–Recapture Method. Journal of Epidemiology and Global Health. 2021 Mar;11(2):194-9.
- Matthews CE, Troiano RP, Salerno EA, Berrigan D, Patel S, Shiroma EJ, Saint-Maurice PF. Exploration of Confounding Due to Poor Health in an Accelerometer-Mortality Study. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2020 May 27.
Ana Lucía Peralta, MD MSCI
Degrees: MD from Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala; MPH in Epidemiology from Universidad Rafael Landívar; MSCI from Tulane University
- Chronic disease prevention
- Implementation science
- Social determinants of health
- Health disparities
Professional Experience:: Ana Lucía worked as research assistant at Tulane University School of Public Health for the CATCH Study, where she supported the development of a team-based care strategy to improve hypertension control in Colombia and Jamaica. She had previously worked at the Research Center for the Prevention of Chronic Diseases (CIIPEC) where she coordinated the field implementation of an effectiveness-implementation trial for Hypertension control in Guatemala.
Nicole Rafalko, MPH, CPH, CIC
Degrees: MPH in Infectious Diseases and Microbiology from University of Pittsburgh with a certificate in global health; BS in Biobehavioral Health from Penn State University
Nicole’s Focus: Nicole is working as a research assistant with Dr. Neal Goldstein.
- Infectious diseases
- Healthcare-associated infections and other emerging infections
- Healthcare epidemiology
Professional Experience:: I worked as a Disease Intervention Specialist, Field Operations Coordinator and Epidemiology Research Associate at the Montgomery County Office of Public Health. In my most recent role as Epidemiology Research Associate, I led epidemiological studies and reporting activities of health information for Montgomery County, PA. My research projects focused on COVID-19 transmission in the K-12 setting through partnerships with the CDC COVID-19 School Support Section.
Katherine Roshak-Durst, MPH
Degrees: MPH in Epidemiology from Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health; BS in Biology with a minor in Spanish from Ursinus College
- Cancer epidemiology
- Genetic epidemiology
- Epidemiologic methods
- Autoimmune diseases
Professional Experience: Before returning to Dornsife for her PhD in Epidemiology, Katherine worked in the pharmaceutical industry, specializing in clinical trial operations for oncology investigational medicines. Katherine works as an Oncology Senior Local Trial Manager at the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson and is pursuing her PhD in Epidemiology part-time.
Victoria Ryan, MSPH
Degrees: MSPH from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; BA in English from the College of William and Mary
Victoria’s Focus: Victoria is working as a doctoral fellow on Dr. Stephen Lankenau’s grant, “Medical Marijuana, Emerging Adults, and Community: Connecting Health and Policy” and her advisor is Dr. Ayden Scheim.
- Infectious diseases, including HIV
- Mental health and substance use disorders
- Harm reduction
Professional Experience: Most recently, Victoria worked as a data manager and analyst on a randomized, controlled trial examining screening and treatment for toddlers with autism, and on a study examining the association of community-level factors with the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Prior to this, she served as a strategic information advisor for the US Agency for International Development for HIV/AIDS programs.
Heather Santos, MPH
Degrees: MPH in Epidemiology from Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health; BS in Physics from Penn State University
Heather's Focus: Heather is working with Dr. Ayden Scheim, focusing on transgender health in Canada.
- Mental health
- Psychiatric epidemiology
- Adolescent health
- LGBT health
Professional Experience: Prior to beginning her MPH, Heather worked for two years as a research technician at Penn State, simulating global measles burden based on varying financial investments and vaccination scenarios, for WHO and Gavi.
Araliya M. Senerat, MPH, PMP
Degrees: MPH in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; BSc in Health Studies Honours Co-operative Program from the University of Waterloo
Araliya's Focus: Araliya focuses on the impact of the built environment on individual and population health. She will be working closely with Dr. Jana Hirsch on the effects of longitudinal neighborhood determinants on cognitive health.
- Built environment
- Health equity
- Racial disparities
- Gentrification & displacement
Professional Experience: Araliya has 7+ years of primary and secondary research experience in urban health, built environment, active design, cancer, and health services.
She is currently working at the International Society for Urban Health (ISUH), where she conducts literature reviews, connects with international urban health experts to promote equity, and assists in the planning of the International Conference on Urban Health (ICUH).
Before joining ISUH, she has worked for the Well Living Lab, ARCHIVE Global, and Center for Active Design, among others.
- Liu, Q.; Son, YJ; Li, L.; Wood, N.; Senerat, AM; Pantelic, J. Healthy home interventions: Distribution of PM2.5 emitted during cooking in residential settings. (2021). Building and Environment. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.buildenv.2021.108448.
- Aristizabal, S.; Byun, K.; Porter, P.; Clements, N.; Campanella, C.; Li, L.; Mullan, A.; Ly, S.; Senerat, A.; Nenadic, I.Z.; Browning, W.D.; Loftness, V.; Bauer, B. Biophilia office design: Exploring the impact of a multisensory approach on human well-being. (2021). Journal of Environmental Psychology. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272494421001353.
- Senerat, A.M.; Pope, Z.; Rydell S; Mullan A; Roger V; Pereira MA. Psychosocial and Behavioral Responses and SARS-CoV-2 Transmission Prevention Behaviors while Working during the COVID-19 Pandemic. (2021). Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovations, Quality & Outcomes. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34485827/.
- Senerat, A.M.; Manemann, S.M.; Clements, N.S.; Brook, R.D.; Hassett, L.C.; Roger, V.L. Biomarkers and indoor air quality: A translational research review. (2020). Journal of Clinical and Translational Science, page 1 of 10. https://doi.org/10.1017/cts.2020.532.
- Tannis, C.; Senerat, A.; Garg, M.; Peters, D.; Rajupet, S.; Garland, E. Improving Physical Activity among Residents of Affordable Housing: Is Active Design Enough? (2019). Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health (16):151. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16010151.
- Garland E.G., Watts A., Doucette J., Foley M., Senerat A., Sanchez SH. Stand Up to Work: Assessing the Health Impact of Adjustable Workstations. (2018) International Journal of Workplace Health Management. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJWHM-10-2017-0078.
- Burd, C., Senerat, A., Chambers, E. and Keller, K. L. PROP taster status interacts with the built environment to influence children's food acceptance and body weight status. (2013) Obesity (21): 786–794. https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.20059.
Contact: email@example.com or LinkedIn profile
Bricia Trejo, MPH
Degrees: MPH in Epidemiology and Maternal and Child Health from Boston University.
Bricia’s Focus: Bricia is a graduate research fellow at the Drexel Urban Health Collaborative.
- Effects of neighborhood factors on health
- Use of geographic information systems for public health
Professional Experience: Prior to coming to Drexel, Bricia worked as a Senior
Associate for the Clinton Health Access Initiative. In this role, she provided technical and operational support for the Honduras Ministry of Health’s malaria elimination initiative.
Chioma Uzoigwe, MPH
Degrees: MPH with a concentration in Epidemiology from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey; BA in Psychology from Stanford University
Chioma's Focus: 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.
- Outcomes research
Professional Experience: Chioma 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.
Rachel Vecchione, MPH
Degrees: MPH from Thomas Jefferson University; BS/BA in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and French from the University of Georgia
Rachel’s Focus: Rachel currently works at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute where she focuses on the impact of maternal diet on ASD outcomes.
- Impact of environmental factors on autism spectrum disorder
Jessica Webster, MPH
Degrees: MPH in Epidemiology from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; BS in Sociology and French from Arizona State University
- Epidemiologic methods
- Infectious diseases
- Health disparities among vulnerable populations
- Global public health
Jessica's Focus:Jessica’s interest in epidemiology stems from a desire to use data and information systems to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable populations on both a local and a global scale. Her research experience spans malaria preventative measures in rural Uganda, social determinants of health of New Yorkers, and US-bound immigrant and refugee health. During the program, she hopes to expand her knowledge on epidemiologic methods for infectious disease research and modeling.
- Research Fellow, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Intern, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Caichen “Karol” Zhong, MS
Degrees: MS Epidemiology from Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health; BS in Health Services Administration from Drexel University
Karol’s Focus: Karol is currently working with Dr. Kristen Lyall at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute for her master project where she analyzes placental data from children with enriched risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to examine placental morphology in association with ASD and broader neurodevelopment disorders.
- Pharmacoepidemiology and nutritional epidemiology, particularly the effects of perinatal diet and medication on childhood neurodevelopmental disorders
Professional Experience: Previously Karol worked as a student nutrition educator at Drexel University’s PA SNAP-Ed/ Eat.Right.Philly program, providing nutrition education to students and adults in School District of Philadelphia schools and community sites to promote lasting healthy habits.