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Alumni Notes

group of women
Lauren Shepler, MPH β€˜15 (seated) outreach and communication manager for the FIRST Center; Regan Murray, MPH ’17, EMT (left) who will oversee the SAVER study as Project Manager and Andrea Davis, MPH ’12 (right) Senior Project Manager.

Alumni Trio to Oversee Study of How Stress and Violence Impact Emergency Medical Responders

While on sabbatical, Jennifer Taylor, PhD MPH, associate professor of environmental and occupational health and director of the Center for Firefighter Injury Research and Safety Trends (FIRST) at Dornsife, submitted a proposal, “Stress and Violence in fire-based EMS Responders (SAVER).” The new project won a $1.5 million grant from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AGF), run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). “The success of the FIRST Center comes from hiring Drexel’s excellent school of public health alumni,” says Taylor. Her project team includes Lauren Shepler, MPH ‘15 outreach and communication manager for the FIRST Center; Regan Murray, MPH ’17, EMT who will oversee the SAVER study as Project Manager and Andrea Davis, MPH ’12 Senior Project Manager.


Dariusz Wolman, MPH ‘99 presented on pediatric abusive head trauma at the International Trauma Foundation conference in Quebec Canada November 3-5. He also presented on EMS provider suicides at the same conference


Amber Tirmal (Sterling), MPH ‘09 manages the immunization program at the City of Philadelphia Public where she’s worked for 8 years. She supervises a staff of about 30 people who serve children and adults with limited access to health services.


Kuan-Lung Daniel Chen, MPH ’11 is a Senior Research Associate at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health. He is a staff member of Building Community Resilience ( focusing on primary data analysis, and using data to tell stories about five program sites across the country.

Adrianne Jiles (Bailey), MPH ’11 is a Clinical Data Analyst at Holyoke Health Center, a federally qualified health center in Holyoke, MA. The center offers an array of services including primary care, dental, behavioral health and substance use treatment. Adrianne analyzes clinical data and assists with their quality management activities. 2014 Brittany Barnes, MPH ‘14 has worked at the Center to Advance Palliative Care for the past two and a half years. She was married in August, in Montego Bay Jamaica.


Brandon Brooks, MPH ’14 is a Research Coordinator at New York University School of Medicine working at the Spatial Epidemiology Lab on HIV/Health Disparities which incorporate GPS technology to learn more about the connection between neighborhoods and health.

Gregory Caplan, MPH ‘14 is working at Boston Children’s Hospital in the Program for Patient Safety and Quality (PPSQ). Working directly for the Chief Quality Officer, he contributes to annual quality and safety reports. Gregory celebrated his first wedding anniversary in August.

Debra Harris, MPH ’14 is a Health Policy Analyst at Commonwealth of Massachusetts. She works on policy development, payment and eligibility for Health Safety Net, a state reimbursement program for lowincome patients.

Michelle Klawans, MPH ‘14 is currently an epidemiology doctoral student at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston, TX focusing on maternal and child health.

NaDea S. Mak, MPH ‘14 is an IRB Project Coordinator in the Human Research Protection Program, at Drexel University. She provides guidance to Principal Investigators on the assembly and submission of research protocols working to ensure that human subjects research protects the safety, rights, and welfare of those subjects. NaDea says she learns something new daily and no two days are the same!

Kate Ogden, MPH ’14 is a Policy and Regulatory Analyst for Quality and Physician Payment at the Association of American Medical Colleges. 2015 Danielle Fernandez MPH ‘15 is working as an infectious disease epidemiologist in the Applied Epidemiology and Research unit at the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County (DOH-Miami-Dade). Her team conducts syndromic surveillance, responds to outbreaks, and conducts research on topics including Zika virus (ZIKV), Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae.

(CRE), and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). In 2016, she presented her Drexel master’s project research on the role of measurement error and reporting bias on the widely-accepted 2 to 21-day incubation period of Ebola virus at the annual Council for State and Territorial Epidemiologists’ meeting in Anchorage, Alaska.

During the 2016 Zika virus outbreak, she served as the lead for all epidemiologic field investigations and community surveys to identify local ZIKV transmission events during the first identified local autochthonous transmission of ZIKV in the continental United States. In November 2017, Fernandez and her colleagues published a report on the epidemiology of pediatric ZIKV infections in Miami-Dade County in the journal Pediatrics. Fernandez was honored with the 2017 “Individual Award for Excellence in Epidemiology” for Zika virus efforts at the Florida Department of Health Statewide Epidemiology seminar. “Moving forward in my career, I am confident that my training at Drexel University has left me well-prepared to continue to do the “boots-on-the ground” work to improve the health of populations,” Fernandez says.


Joëlla Adams: Leveraging Computer Modeling to Reduce HIV Among Women

While still at Drexel, Joëlla Adams, MPH ’14, collaborated with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health on researching ways to improve the health of women living with HIV . Now she is extending this research by examining how the mass incarceration of men in the United States impacts HIV rates among heterosexual, African American women as a doctoral student in epidemiology at Brown University’s School of Public Health.

“We know that mass incarceration disrupts relationships,” Adams said. “But what we don’t understand is how the mass incarceration of men impacts the women left behind and increases the risk of HIV acquisition within the wider community.”

Adams is using agent-based modeling – an advanced form of computer modeling employed in public health and other fields – to try to answer some of these complex questions. With historical surveillance information from the Department of Public Health, Adams created a virtual world modeled on Philadelphia to reflect what has actually happened in the city regarding mass incarceration and HIV rates among women and to look at ways of reducing acquisition rates. Adams hopes her work will ultimately be applicable to other cities.

“Drexel was an excellent place for me to realize how to bring academic research into practice and to make sure that the work that I did could translate into the real world,” Adams said.


Hanyang Shen, MPH ‘15 is a research data analyst in the department of Psych/Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences at Stanford University. 2016 Ruth K. Boansi, MPH ‘16 is working for a mid-sized healthcare non-profit with the mission to improve the quality of health care. She will be celebrating one year with NCQA at the end of September. She was also recently promoted from Healthcare Analyst to Senior Healthcare Analyst and had the honor of presenting her team’s health equity research to the Director of CMS Office of Minority Health and additional CMS staff.


Chari Cohen: Leading the Good Fight Against Hepatitis B

When Chari Cohen, MPH, DrPH ’15, started working in the field of hepatitis B 18 years ago, she recalls people telling her that viral hepatitis was not going to be a problem in a decade because there was a vaccine.

“Unfortunately, we’re seeing new infections, and we’re seeing people who have hepatitis B who are not able to access care,” said Cohen, vice president of public health and programs for the Hepatitis B Foundation (HBF), in Doylestown, Penn. “There is still a lot of work to be done.”

So Cohen has dedicated herself to the planning, implementation and evaluation of community programs and research projects focusing on hepatitis B and liver cancer. She has striven to reduce hepatitis B-related health disparities and to develop culturally competent models for improving health care access.

Cohen also helped start Hep B United, a coalition of coalitions, now with 35 national partners in 27 cities and 17 states, that offers education, free testing and linkage to care. Hep B United Philadelphia tries to reach the 20,000 people locally who have hepatitis B – many of whom don’t know it and are in danger of developing liver cancer. “It has become such a stigmatized disease,” Cohen said. “Nobody wants to talk about it, and people don’t want to get tested for it.”

HBF has started a campaign called Just B, in which people who are affected tell their stories. “The goal is that someone will look at these stories and say, this is me,” Cohen said. “And hopefully over time it will help people to talk more about hepatitis B and to get tested.


Emily Anderson, Global Health Fellow: Building Data Analysis and Evaluation Skills in Tanzania

As a PHI/CDC Global Health Fellow within the Strategic Information Branch in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Office in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Emily Anderson, MPH ’15 supports the HIV surveillance portfolio and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) activities under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program.

Over the past year, she’s been engaged with the implementation of a Key Populations Formative Assessment in Zanzibar, and has learned how to conduct analysis of PEPFAR program data to gain an understanding of the epidemic in high burden areas. Her work informs Tanzania’s HIV control program, turning M&E data into information for action. “Living and working abroad has been a learning experience on its own,” Anderson says. “I hope to continue in global health, possibly in HIV , and would really like to find an opportunity where I can pair public health with my clinical laboratory skills to develop and support laboratory infrastructure in other countries.”

Anderson says she’s also had some opportunities for professional development, including leadership and management, GIS, qualitative methods, and “so much Excel!”


Kathryn McNamara, MPC ‘16 is writing occupational health and safety regulations as a health scientist for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in Washington, DC.

Ricardo A. Mora, MPH ‘16 works at the health department in Houston, TX. He conducts research to identify individuals who have fallen out of HIV medical care so they can be linked back to medical and other services they may need.

Hammad S. N’cho, ‘16 PhD, MS,  has completed the epidemiology and biostatistics graduate certificate in 2016 at Dornsife and is currently serving as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer (Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Kofoworola Williams, MPH ’16 is a second year Social and Behavioral Sciences doctoral student at Virginia Commonwealth University, whose work addresses interpersonal/dating violence, health communication in the media and health disparities. In 2016, she received an institutional award that will provide financial support for up to three years as well as professional development mentorship and networking opportunities.


Kaitlynn Jones, MPH ’17 is the Diabetes Prevention Program Coordinator for the Center for African American Health in Denver, CO. She develops, implements, and evaluates all diabetes/ health programming for the Center. 

Rennie Joshi, MPH ’17 is a doctoral student at Dornsife School of Public Health and is an Urban Health Collaborative Doctoral Fellow.

Dave Kern, PhD ‘17 is working at Janssen Research and Development sector of Johnson & Johnson. His focus is evaluation of the extended-release and long acting (ER/LA) opioid analgesics Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) in partnership with the FDA. The goal is to examine how continuing medical education has influenced prescribing behaviors of providers, and impacted rates of abuse and misuse by patients.

Cydney McGuire, MPH ’17 is a doctoral student studying Health Services Research Policy and Administration at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in the Division of Health Policy and Management. She is also a Minnesota Obesity Prevention Training (MnOPT) Program fellow in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Sarah Robitaille, MPH ‘17 is an assistant research scientist/data analyst in the New York State Department of Health in Albany, NY .

Anita Wade, MPH ’17 is a Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) Applied Epidemiology Fellow at the Vermont Department of Health and Mental Health.

Portia Womer, MPH ’17 is a Public Health Planner in New Jersey at the Warren County Health Department creating the emergency and disaster preparedness plans for the county and leading a community health initiative focusing on mental health.