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Dornsife Public Health Fellows

The Dornsife Public Health Research Fellows are incoming MPH students of exceptional promise who are awarded with a tuition scholarship and research assistantship.

Prospective MPH students may indicate their interest in this fellowship via SOPHAS. Learn more about the Dornsife Public Health Research Fellowship.

Meet our Fellows:

2021 Fellows

Channa Buxbaum headshot

Channa Buxbaum

Hometown: Oak Park, MI
Undergraduate Institution: Yeshiva University
Undergraduate Major: Neuropsychology
MPH Major: Epidemiology
Faculty Mentors: Yvonne Michael, ScD, SM, & Jana Hirsch, MES, PhD

Channa is currently a first-year MPH student with a concentration in Epidemiology. Prior to starting at Drexel, she collaborated with her undergraduate professor to study sexual education and marital satisfaction among Orthodox Jewish women. She additionally volunteered at a senior service organization and interned at an assisted living facility, where she designed and taught weekly neuroscience workshops for the residents. These experiences bolstered her interest in exploring the field of geriatric epidemiology.

Channa is excited to join the Drexel Urban Health Collaborative under the guidance of Dr. Yvonne Michael, ScD, SM, and Dr. Jana Hirsch, MES, PhD, to research environmental determinants of health disparities among urban older adults. She is particularly interested in bridging her neuropsychology background with her interest in medical anthropology to explore racial and ethnic disparities among sufferers of dementia.

Alice Choe headshot

Alice Choe

Hometown: Ellicott City, MD
Undergraduate Institution: Wellesley College
Undergraduate Major: Spanish, Chemistry
MPH Major: Community Health and Prevention
Faculty Mentor: Ana Martinez-Donate, PhD

Before coming to the Dornsife School of Public Health, Alice worked at community health centers in Chile and with AmeriCorps, which expanded her previous understandings of medicine and public health to include holistic care models. While at the centers, she learned unique methods of community engagement and health promotion related to mental health, preventative cancer screenings, and social determinants of health screenings. During the past year, she also engaged heavily in COVID-19 testing and vaccine distribution in North Philadelphia. Through these roles, she witnessed the complexities of creating equitable health strategies that benefit the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in a population.

Her research interests lie in using community-engaged research techniques to eliminate health disparities in chronic illnesses for low-income, immigrant populations in U.S. cities. She is excited to work alongside Ana Martinez-Donate, PhD, who has extensive experience in developing and evaluating community-based interventions that benefit Latino immigrants and other disadvantaged populations.

Sarah Dilday headshot

Sarah Dilday

Hometown: Plainfield, IL
Undergraduate Institution:
Valparaiso University
Undergraduate Major:
Health Science
MPH Major:
Health Management & Policy
Faculty Mentor: 
Ali Groves, PhD, MHS

Sarah is currently a first-year MPH student with a concentration in Health Management and Policy. Before attending Drexel, she worked in a research lab examining the environmental effects of plastic on microbial growth and resistance. Additionally, she’s served as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Northern Illinois Food Bank as their summer child nutrition ambassador. There she gained experience within food insecurity nonprofit work and developed a deeper understanding of health disparities in the context of community outreach programming.

Sarah is interested in research involving the social and structural factors impacting health inequity to improve and inform policy advocacy initiatives. She is excited to be working with Ali Groves, PhD, MHS, examining sexual and reproductive health outcomes in her global health research initiatives.

Hope Vega headshot

Hope Vega

Hometown: Newark, DE
Undergraduate Institution: University of Delaware
Undergraduate Major: Dietetics, BS
MPH Major: Community Health and Prevention
Faculty Mentor: Ana Martinez-Donate, PhD

Hope is a first-year MPH student majoring in Community Health and Prevention. Hope graduated from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics and went on to complete the University of Delaware's Dietetic Internship Program in 2021. As a dietetic intern, Hope completed clinical rotations at the Wilmington Veteran’s Medical Center and worked as a Program Coordinator for UD Cooperative Extension’s Small Steps to Health and Wealth program, where she developed a passion for health that extended beyond the realms of solely nutrition.

During Hope's time at the University of Delaware, she also co-founded a startup called GetPotluck, which focused on making ethnic and culturally appropriate foods more accessible to international students. Working on this venture allowed Hope to realize how much she enjoyed developing ways to help communities overcome obstacles.

Hope's passions for nutrition, health, and entrepreneurship ultimately led her to apply to Drexel. Her goal is to develop innovative solutions to real-life health problems. Her research interests include exploring health disparities and promoting health within marginalized communities, particularly Latinx communities. Hope is looking forward to working with Ana Martinez-Donate, PhD, and is excited to further develop her research skills and interests.


2020 Fellows

 Kylie Brinson headshot

Kylie Brinson

Hometown: Norristown, PA
Undergraduate Institution: Villanova University
Undergraduate Major: Psychology
MPH Major: Health Management and Policy
Faculty Mentor: Jonathan Purtle, DrPH, MPH, MSc

Kylie is currently a first-year MPH student with a concentration in Health Management and policy. Before coming to Drexel, she worked in a research lab that focused on resilience and development in adverse environments, further exposing her to the socioeconomic factors that impact health and development. Additionally, during her undergraduate career, Kylie founded her own health-driven nonprofit organization, Mission 4 Nutrition, which serves impoverished families in her hometown by helping to increase access to nutritious foods and promote healthy lifestyle practices.

She is interested in research which focuses on policies and institutional practices that perpetuate health disparities among low-income communities and communities of color. Kylie would like to learn more about the health disparities across the globe, focusing on the communities and populations that are the most disproportionately impacted. She is excited to be working with Jonathan Purtle, DrPH, MPH, MSc, in hopes that working with him will profusely increase her knowledge of policy implementation and advocacy.

Anna Davis headshot

Anna Davis

Hometown: King of Prussia, PA
Undergraduate Institution: Old Dominion University
Undergraduate Major: Health Sciences (Concentration in Public Health)
MPH Major: Epidemiology
Faculty Mentors: Esther Chernak, MD, MPH, FACP and Renee Turchi, MD, MPH

Anna is currently a first-year MPH student majoring in Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Her most recent summer internship took place at Janssen Pharmaceuticals where she was the GI Therapeutic Area Intern and worked as a member of the clinical development team. She also conducted an independent undergraduate research project at Eastern Virginia Medical School evaluating the socioeconomic determinants of childhood caries. As an analytics minor in undergrad, she has interest in expanding her quantitative knowledge. Additionally, her primary research interests are mainly in infectious disease, vaccines, HIV, and clinical trials.

Anna looks forward to working closely with Esther Chernak, MD, MPH, FACP, and Renee Turchi, MD, MPH, and continuing to develop her qualitative and quantitative research skills. She has the goal of later going on the earn her PhD and wants to be able to be at the forefront of public health research.

Abigail Knouse headshot

Abigail Knouse

Hometown: Boiling Springs, PA
Undergraduate Institution: Pennsylvania State University
Undergraduate Major: Biological Anthropology
MPH Major: Community Health and Prevention
Faculty Mentor: Suruchi Sood, PhD

Abigail is currently a first-year MPH student with a concentration in Community Health and Prevention. Before starting at Drexel, Abigail worked as a research assistant in a psychology lab focusing on traumatic brain disorders and the factors that affect the neural systems. Additionally, Abigail volunteered in several biological anthropology labs that have allowed her to gain a multifaceted perspective in the field of public health.

Her research interests lay in the barriers that affect child and maternal health. She is currently working with Suruchi Sood, PhD, to study the social norms surrounding child marriage in Kyrgyzstan. Her goal is to expand her understanding of public health research in order to improve both child and maternal health.

Elise Krims headshot

Elise Krims

Hometown: Concord, MA
Undergraduate Institution: Bates College
Undergraduate Major: Latin American Studies and Spanish
MPH Major: Community Health and Prevention
Faculty Mentor: Randall Sell, ScD

Elise is a current first-year graduate student at the Dornsife School of Public Health with a concentration in Community Health and Prevention. After completing her undergraduate studies, Elise held various research positions. She has worked at Massachusetts General Hospital as a Research Coordinator on a medication treatment study of youth with bipolar disorder and substance use disorder, the AIDS Action Committee as a Bilingual Field Interviewer for a behavioral health survey, and at Harvard University as a Faculty Assistant. After working for several years, it became clear to Elise that she wanted to advance her career in public health by pursuing an MPH.

Elise's research goals are to learn how to formulate and implement programs that are culturally responsible and effective by partnering with community leaders in order to provide better access and care for marginalized communities. She looks forward to working with Randall Sell, ScD, and continue her work with the LBGTQ+ community cataloging measures of sexual orientation and gender identity being used around the world to collect data on sexual and gender minorities.

Kasia Kujawski headshot

Kasia Kujawski

Hometown: Wheaton, IL
Undergraduate Institution: DePaul University
Undergraduate Major: Public Relations & Advertising
MPH Major: Health Management & Policy
Faculty Mentor: Mariana Chilton, PhD, MPH

Kasia is currently an MPH student with a concentration in Health Management and Policy. Prior to her time at Drexel, Kasia worked in health public relations and supported several pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in their corporate communication and consumer marketing efforts, including initiatives for combatting COVID-19.

Her research interests lay in examining health disparities and understanding how policy can reduce those disparities and improve health outcomes in marginalized populations. Currently, Kasia is working with Mariana Chilton, PhD, MPH, to research the relationship between systemic racism and food insecurity.


2019 Fellows

 Gabrielle Connor headshot

Gabrielle Connor

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Undergraduate Institution: Franklin & Marshall
Undergraduate Major: Economics
MPH Major: Health Management and Policy
Faculty Mentor: Ana Martinez-Donate, PhD

Gabi is currently a first-year MPH student with a concentration in Health Management and Policy. Before starting at Drexel, Gabi worked as an economic consultant conducting research related to a wide range of topics from transit system access to improved corner store offerings to proposed tax incentives, each of which indirectly affect a region’s residents significantly.

Her research interests lay in the extensive environmental and social determinants of personal well-being. Gabi is currently working with Ana Martinez-Donate, PhD, to study the health and healthcare access of Mexican migrants before, during, and after migration. The research collected on health trends and health risks will help to form and implement new policies to protect the health of these migrants.

Rozhan Ghanbari headshot

Rozhan Ghanbari

Hometown: Paso Robles, CA
Undergraduate Institution: University of Alabama at Birmingham
Undergraduate Major: Public Health: Global Health
MPH Major: Epidemiology
Faculty Mentor: Jonathan Purtle, PhD

Rozhan is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology. Before coming to Drexel, Rozhan has interned at the 1917 HIV Clinic as a HIV Testing and Counseling Intern, been on the executive board of Rangeela, a non-profit dance organization that creates conversations on public health topics through the platform of dance, and has worked at the Jefferson County Department of Health to administer varying health and wellness programs.

Rozhan is looking forward to working with Jonathan Purtle, PhD, on how communication correlates with adverse childhood experiences and gaining a better understanding on how children's mental health policies and programs are implemented and how successful they are.

Foram Patel headshot

Foram Patel

Hometown: La Plata, Maryland
Undergraduate Institution: University of Maryland, College Park
Undergraduate Major: Public Health Sciences
MPH Major: Epidemiology
Faculty Mentor: Joseph Amon, PhD, MSPH

Foram is currently a Master of Public Health student concentrating in Epidemiology. Through previous clinical internships, she realized the importance of preventive care and the extent to which health disparities impact different populations. Her research interests include maternal and child health (MCH), infectious disease, health disparities, and global health. She aims to reduce health disparities in the field of MCH by understanding the complex relationship between contributing risk factors. Also, in the future, Foram aims to improve the health of pregnant women, mothers, and children exposed to infectious diseases.

Currently, Foram is working with Joseph Amon, PhD, MSPH, on a collaboration with Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition to prepare their annual report of attacks on health care. Her goal is to deepen her understanding of public health research in order to improve the health of vulnerable populations.

Reem Shair headshot

Reem Shair

Hometown: Clifton, NJ
Undergraduate Institution: William Paterson University
Undergraduate Major: Public Health
MPH Major: Health Management and Policy
Faculty Mentor: Allison Groves, PhD, MHS

Reem hopes to increase her understanding of community health and intervention strategies by working with Ali Groves, PhD, MHS. Her main research interest is addressing quality and access to care in impoverished communities. She wants to distinguish and address the gap in preventative care within these types of communities. While this may be her primary interest she has also worked as a research assistant with her undergraduate school in reforming it into a tobacco free campus. She has also held an internship with the Great Swamp Watershed Association in which she addressed environmental concerns, particularly with New Jersey’s water quality and safety.

All of these experiences have helped her gain a versatile perspective in the field of public health. She hopes to further expand her experiences and understanding of different fields of public health by working with Dr. Groves.

2018 Fellows

Maura Boughter-Dornfeld

Maura Boughter-Dornfeld

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Undergraduate Institution: Brandeis University
Undergraduate Major: Health: Science, Society, and Policy (HSSP), and Biology
MPH Major: Health Management & Policy
Faculty Mentor: Mariana Chilton, PhD

Maura is interested in discovering ways to improve both individual and population health through a widespread, policy-oriented approach. Maura is interested in learning more about how deeply enmeshed access to care is with social determinants of health and disparities, and hopes to detangle these problems from a systemic approach. Maura is currently doing research with Chilton in the Center for Hunger Free Communities, specifically on the Building Wealth & Health Network that is a Trauma-Informed Financial Self-Empowerment Program for Families with Young Children. Maura hopes to use her MPH to work to ameliorate perpetual disparities and inequalities within all communities, specifically within those that are underserved and underrepresented.

Sarah Bowler

Sarah Bowler

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Undergraduate Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Undergraduate Major: Biological Sciences and Sociology
MPH Major: Health Management & Policy
Faculty Mentor: Ali Groves, PhD

Sarah aims to further her understanding of public health practice through research with Groves in the department of Community Health and Prevention. Her interests lay in reducing health disparities, maternal and child health, and women’s reproductive health. She is currently involved in the MAMAS project, a study designed to reduce STI/HIV incidence by increasing re-enrollment of adolescent mothers at school through a mentorship program. Additionally, Sarah is assisting with a systematic literature review of community-based HIV testing services among general and key populations for the World Health Organization. This information will be used by WHO officials to update testing guidelines worldwide. In the future, Sarah would like to work for a global non-profit organization as a political consultant and advocate, specifically developing health policy and promoting women’s fundamental rights.

Breauna Branch

Breauna Branch

Hometown: Bowie, MD
Undergrad: The Lincoln University
Undergrad Major: Biology
MPH Major: Epidemiology
Faculty Mentor: Janell Mensinger, PhD

Breauna is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology. She always had a passion for healthcare and hopes to improve the health of African-Americans and other minority communities. Prior to Drexel, Breauna has worked at Trusted Health Plan, a Washington D.C.-based Medicaid company, interned at the American Public Health Association as an Injury and Violence Prevention Intern, and most recently worked at Health Volunteers Overseas, a global health nonprofit. She currently works with Janell Mensinger at the Urban Health Collaborative where she is studying healthcare avoidance in obese women. Breauna plans to have a career in infectious disease epidemiology as an officer in either the United States Public Health Service or Air Force.

Danielle Catrillo

Danielle Catrillo

Hometown: Henryville, PA
Undergraduate Institution: Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Undergraduate major: Psychology (Honors); Minors in French and Biology
MPH major: Community Health and Prevention
Faculty mentor: Randy Sell, ScD

Danielle is a first year MPH student concentrating in Community Health and Prevention. She has always had an interest in bridging the gaps between domestic and global public health, utilizing health communication and policy to advance health equity. Danielle’s public health interests span different aspects of reproductive and sexual health including access to family planning services, sex education and communication, and the empowerment of women and LGBTQ people in the public health sphere, in relation to healthcare choices.  With Randy Sell, she hopes to improve access to information regarding LGBTQ demography both domestically and abroad in public health research.

Katherine LaWall

Katherine LaWall

Hometown: Cary, NC
Undergraduate Institution: University of South Carolina
Undergraduate Major: BA,Public Health
MPH Major: Epidemiology
Faculty Mentor: Yvonne Michael, PhD

Katherine is currently a Master of Public Health student concentrating in Epidemiology. Before starting this program, she was a Senior Program Assistant in the Health and Medicine Division of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and had previous positions andinternships related to health policy at both the state and local levels. With her background in health policy, she understands how important good research and data analyses are for the development of sound, evidence-based, public health policies and interventions. Katherine has always enjoyed working with data and sees her future role in the public health field as working on the background science that supports the implementation of various public health policies and interventions. Her areas of interest include, but are not limited to, disease control and prevention, emergency response and preparedness, environmental health, and the health disparities that are related to these areas as well.

Rachel Seitz

Rachel Seitz

Hometown: Monkton, Maryland
Undergraduate Institution: University of Maryland
Undergraduate Major: BS, Behavioral and Community Health
MPH Major: Health Management and Policy
Faculty Mentor: Esther Chernak, MD

Rachel is a first year MPH student in the Health Management and Policy department. Through an internship at the Maryland General Assembly, Rachel developed an interest in policy and legislation. She is interested in influencing policy that disproportionately affects populations with chronic health conditions and disabilities. Rachel is currently working with Dr. Chernak on a project focused on emergency preparedness and children with special health care needs. Through interviews with health care providers and family caregivers, she seeks to better understand the disaster information needs of families with special health care needs. Rachel looks forward to applying her research experience to the policy arena and to advocating for policy change in the health care system.

2017 Fellows

Samantha Stalford

Samantha Stalford

Hometown: Green Lane, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Undergraduate Institution: West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Undergraduate Major: BS, Public Health
MPH Major: Health Management and Policy
Faculty Mentor: Tran Huynh

Samantha aims to increase her understanding of how system-wide efforts affect individual and population health so she can find ways to promote health through policy, advocacy, and organizational management at all levels. She is interested combating health disparities by targeting the social determinants of health and ensuring the consideration of health in all policies. Currently, Samantha is working with her faculty mentor, Tran Huynh, on research aimed at improving and protecting the health of nail salon workers through a multi-level intervention strategy that brings everyone to the table, including policymakers and the workers themselves. Samantha looks forward to translating what she learns in academic and research settings into fair and feasible action that protects health as a human right, whether that be through improving food security, advocating for labor rights, or helping to make the health care system more just for all.

Maura Adams

Maura Adams

Hometown: Ocean City, New Jersey
Undergraduate Institution: Stockton University
Undergraduate Major: BS, Public Health
MPH Major: Epidemiology
Faculty Mentor at Dornsife: Amy Auchincloss

Maura is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology. She is interested in data analysis, spatial analysis, and urban health. Through research, she hopes to understand how to reduce health disparities and increase wellness and sustainability of communities in Philadelphia. Prior to Drexel, Maura interned with the Environmental Health Unit at a county health department in South Jersey. She also volunteered at the South Jersey AIDS Alliance, assisting with their Syringe Exchange Program. Another experience that helped to form her interests was helping to build a grassroots Smart Growth Association in her home town. This group advocated for environmental protection and transit-oriented development on a local level. Maura is now working with Dr. Amy Auchincloss on the Drexel Neighborhood and Transportation study. This project investigates bicycle share program effects on physical activity, as well as disparities within the effects. Maura has also been working with Dr. Jana Hirsch on creating data briefs for the Urban Health Collaborative. Maura plans to pursue a career in public health research and make a positive impact on the local community.

Virginia Noblet

Virginia Noblet

Hometown: Langhorne, PA, US
Undergraduate Institution: Pennsylvania State University
Undergraduate Major: BS, Biology
MPH Major: Epidemiology
Faculty Mentor at Dornsife: Augusta Villanueva

Virginia has always wanted to help improve the quality of life for people, and felt her skill set and interests would be most effective at the population level in the field of public health. Virginia tends to focus on the science behind public health interventions. Her interests include, but are not limited to, disease control and prevention, emergency response and preparedness, environmental health, and global health. She hopes to be involved in increasing preventative measures of disease, and their effectiveness, for those with health disparities. In addition, she is interested in working to improve preparedness for natural disasters and epidemics, especially in areas with high burden of disease.

2016 Fellows

Benjamin Borchers

Benjamin Borchers

Hometown: North Wales, PA
Undergraduate Institution: West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Undergraduate Major: BS, Health and Physical Education
Year of Graduation: 2011
MPH Concentration: Health Management and Policy 
Faculty Mentor: Jonathan Purtle 

Ben is interested in exploring and helping to bridge the gap of health disparities that occur within the urban environment of the city that he calls home, Philadelphia. He is most interested in working with underserved populations, with a specific interest in mental health and substance abuse disparities that occur within the homeless and veteran population. He is currently working on research focused on comprehensive state mental health parity legislation with his faculty mentor, Jonathan Purtle. After graduating from the Dornsife School of Public Health MPH program, Ben would like to take the skills and principles that he learned and work in the field of health policy analytics.

Kathryn Boyle-Steed

Kathryn Boyle-Steed

Hometown: Salem, NH
Undergraduate Institution: University of New Hampshire
Undergraduate Major: BA, Psychology
Year of Graduation: 2012
MPH Concentration: Epidemiology
Faculty Mentor: Félice Lê-Scherban

Kate believes that health is a human right and that healthy lives are necessary to social equity. Kate’s interests in health disparities began by observing patterns of social determinants of health while working for a dating violence organization, a psychiatric hospital, an underfunded school, and adolescent health clinics. Kate is particularly interested in working at the local level due to its focus on community involvement, need for accountability, and potential for observable impact. Kate aspires to work as an epidemiologist for a city health department using data and community input to help strengthen community health, justify funding for needed programs, and encourage proactive health behaviors. Kate is most interested in urban health, sexual health, and maternal and child health.

Kelli Kostizak

Kelli Kostizak

Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
Undergraduate Institution: The University of Arizona
Undergraduate Major: Double Major: BA, Communication and English
Year of Graduation: 2015
MPH Concentration: Community Health and Prevention
Faculty Mentor: Suruchi Sood

Kelli is currently pursuing a Master's of Public Health degree in the Community Health and Prevention department with a minor in Program Planning and Evaluation. Kelli is working with Dr. Sood and her team as a research assistant in the development and evaluation of two global health programs. One of the programs focuses on Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management in India and is in the final evaluation stages. The other program is being implemented this year and focuses on ending the practice of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in two countries in Africa. In the future, Kelli would like to create, monitor and evaluate health communication programs both in the global sector and here in the United States. 

Abigail Mudd

Abigail Mudd

Hometown: Baltimore, MD
Undergraduate Institution: Drexel University
Undergraduate Major: BA, Chemistry
Year of Graduation: 2016 
MPH Concentration: Epidemiology 
Faculty Mentor: Yvonne Michael

Abby Mudd has a love of research. She works with Dr. Yvonne Michael at the Urban Health Collaborative on a Big Data Project with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Her project investigates spatial accessibility to pediatric primary care in Philadelphia. Continuing the work from her practicum, she is completing a descriptive epidemiology analysis of a database she built consisting of multidrug resistant organism (MDRO) screens at St. Christopher's Children's Hospital. As there is no agreed upon best practice for screening for MDROs, such as VRE and MRSA, she hopes her work will add to this field. For her Masters Project, she is working at the Philadelphia Public Health Department in Tuberculosis Control with Dr. Jane Gould. She is investigating how country of origin and time since arrival to the United States relates to pediatric tuberculosis. She is also a TA for the core Methods class and president of the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Club.