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Urban Health Collaborative Welcomes New Doctoral Fellows

November 21, 2016

The Urban Health Collaborative is pleased to announce the three awardees of the 2016-2017 UHC Doctoral Fellows program. The program supports incoming doctoral students conducting research focused on understanding and improving health in cities. Fellows participate in ongoing UHC research and training activities with faculty mentors from the UHC.

Samantha Rivera Joseph, MPH '12, Community Health and Prevention

Mentor: Amy Carroll-Scott, PhD, MPH

Samantha Joseph will study community resilience and the protective factors that support Philadelphia communities with high levels of violence and resulting chronic trauma. Joseph will examine neighborhood level data and community organizing efforts to understand the risk factors for community and domestic violence, create an inventory of community assets that can be used for addressing these factors, and organize partnerships to build supports. She will use Community Based Participatory Research to identify interventions to address disparities and build community capacity.

Joseph is an MPH alumna of Drexel's Dornsife School of Public Health, and received her BA in natural sciences from Fordham University. She previously worked at Congreso de Latinos Unidos, a Philadelphia-based organization, first as a Development and Quality Assurance Manager for health programs and then as the Director of Primary Care for their Federally Qualified Health Center. Before coming to Philadelphia, she worked in HIV prevention and community empowerment in Brooklyn, NY. Additionally, Joseph is on the steering committee and serves as a coach for the Latino Partnership Institute, which focuses on community organization/mobilization and leadership training in the Greater Philadelphia area.

Matthew Kearney, MPH, Community Health and Prevention

Mentor: Philip Massey, PhD, MPH

Matthew Kearney will develop evidence around sexual health education programs in Philadelphia in hopes of increasing their implementation. This has the potential to improve the sexual health outcomes of youth, which can impact disparities in overall physical and mental health and educational attainment. Kearney’s research will incorporate mHealth and social media to evaluate school-based health programs. His research will include developing better tools to assess adolescents’ health seeking behavior and health literacy and the programs that aim to influence them.

Kearney earned his MPH from the University of Pennsylvania and a BS in biology from Union College. His master’s thesis was a qualitative study examining medical residents’ engagement with the development and implementation of a health education program that he helped create at Henry C. Lea Elementary School in West Philadelphia. He also led a health education program at Samuel B. Huey Elementary School in West Philadelphia, and was a research assistant at the Center for Public Health Initiatives, the Mixed-Methods Research Lab, and in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health. Before graduate school, Kearney taught high school biology, algebra, and environmental science in Connecticut and Missouri.

Erica Smith, MPH, Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Mentors: Esther Chernak, MD, MPH and Alison Evans, ScD

Erica Smith’s research will focus on the social and environmental determinants of infectious disease rates in cities, with the potential to compare rural versus urban areas. She plans to study the relationship between food insecurity, food safety, and the determinants of health, examining disparities in foodborne illness and food safety. Smith will use multiple sources of data and both descriptive and analytic epidemiological methods to investigate these population health issues.

Smith earned her MPH from Virginia Commonwealth University and a BS in biology and anthropology from the College of William and Mary. While earning her MPH, she worked at the Virginia Department of Health and the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. Since completing graduate school, Smith worked for the Pennsylvania Department of Health for six years, first as a Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) Applied Epidemiology Fellow in Infectious Disease, and then as a general infectious disease epidemiologist, before becoming a statewide foodborne/enterics epidemiologist.

 In addition to the three UHC Doctoral Fellows, the Collaborative is hosting two additional doctoral students and a new Postdoctoral Fellow this year.  

Kim Daniels, MS, Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Mentor: Ana Diez Roux, MD, PhD, MPH

Kim Daniels will be studying the social and environmental factors related to obesity and cardiovascular disease. She is particularly interested in child obesity and is collaborating with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in order to study this population. She is also hoping to compare the environmental factors related to cardiovascular disease and obesity between the city of Philadelphia and the greater state of Pennsylvania.

Daniels completed her MS in epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and a BS in mathematics and biology from the University of Maryland (Baltimore). Daniels previously worked as a statistician at Boston Children's Hospital under Dr. John Meara MD, DMD, MBA and assisted the surgeons in the Plastic and Oral Surgery department in analyzing their data and running quality improvement projects. She also worked as an epidemiologist in Boston Children’s Program in Global Surgery and Social Change, where she helped the fellows in the program design research projects and analyze data, in addition to running her own modeling projects.

Ana Ortigoza, MD, MS '16, Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Mentor: Ana Diez Roux, MD, PhD, MPH

Ana Ortigoza will study the impact that violence among young people in Latin American cities has on mortality and morbidity, at citywide levels. As part of the Urban Health Network for Latin America and the Caribbean, Ortigoza is part of a large interdisciplinary team that is combining multilevel and longitudinal data analysis approaches with systems thinking and simulation modeling to 1) understand relationships and processes involved and 2) gain insights into plausible effects of city level factors.

Ortigoza 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 joined the Urban Health Collaborative in 2014 and 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. Before coming to Drexel, Ortigoza worked as chief resident in pediatrics, clinical instructor and assistant professor of pediatrics at the Hospital Provincial de Rosario, and previously as project manager of a clinical trial related to RSV infection in preterm babies in Chaco, Argentina.

Ivana Stankov, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow

Mentor: Ana Diez Roux, MD, PhD, MPH

Ivana Stankov’s research focuses on understanding the social and environmental determinants of health and disease using soft and hard systems methods. Her current research employs participatory methods to identify and understand built environments implicated in the development of cardiometabolic risk. She is actively involved in research that employs simulation-based methods, including spatial agent-based modelling, to understand place-health relations and explore the effectiveness of policy-relevant interventions on health-related behavior and chronic disease outcomes. She is also involved in research examining the role of peer and romantic partner influences on adolescent marijuana use.

Stankov completed her PhD in Social Epidemiology at the Centre for Population Health Research at the University of South Australia. Her thesis is titled, “The built environment and cardiometabolic disease: Framing place health relations from a complex systems perspective.” During her doctoral studies, Stankov completed an International Residency at the Brookings Institution Center on Social Dynamics & Policy with Director Ross Hammond, PhD and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with Pamela Matson, PhD, MPH, which was funded by a Maurice de Rohan Scholarship. Stankov also completed a Bachelor of Physiotherapy with Honors from the University of South Australia and a BS in Biology, Physics, Mathematics, and Chemistry from the University of Adelaide in Australia. Stankov has previous work experience as a physiotherapist.