PhD Students, Candidates and Alumni

Akansha Batra, MS

Education: University of California, Los Angeles (MS in Health Policy and Management with emphasis on research); University of Delhi, Delhi (MA in Economics and BA Economic Honors.)

Research interests: Social Epidemiology, Health Disparities, and Policy Evaluation. My past research experience has been focused on health disparities driven by geographical location, access to care or gender differences. During my doctoral training, would like to understand how behavioral, social or economic interventions can address health disparities in different contexts. I am also interested in exploring the effects of policies on mental health. 

Carrie Chan, MSN, CPNP, MPH

Education: University of California,Berkeley (BA, Public Health), University of Pennsylvania (BS, Nursing; MS, Nursing), Harvard University (MPH, Epidemiology)

Research interests: My research interests include epidemiologic methods and translational/implementation science through the lens of pediatric/adolescent health promotion and HIV prevention. My research projects focus on leveraging electronic health recorddata, clinical decision support systems, and provider interventions to offer HIV prevention services to youth as well as youth perspectives, preferences, barriers, and facilitators for preventive care.

Kate Chirikova, MAS

Education: Higher School of Economics University, Moscow, Russia (BA, Sociology; MA,Sociology), University of California, San Francisco (MAS, Clinical Research)

Research interests: Immunizationand cancer health disparities, social determinants of health, statistical and machine learning methods for analysis of real-world data. My past research has been focused on cancer risks associated with ionizing radiation exposure. As a doctoral student, I am interested in methods of analysis of real-world data, linkage of different data sources andlevels of data (genetic, clinical, and socio-economic), and intersectional research to guide public health policy and interventions that address immunization and cancer health disparities.

Michelle DeVost, MPH

Education: California State University, Northridge (BS, Mathematics, Pure Mathematics and Classical Applied Mathematics concentrations); UCLA (MPH, Biostatistics)

Research Interest: My professional research experience ranges from statistical consulting for model development and biomarker validation in nursing to investigating sexual health behaviors and biomedical HIV prevention among sexual and gender minority communities. As a doctoral student, I am particularly interested in the principles of study design, statistical methods for clinical trials, applying mathematical modeling to public health research and leveraging electronic medical records data to investigate barriers to effective intervention implementation and to dynamically monitor and enhance population health.

Priscilla Espinosa Tamez, MD

Education: Universidad de Monterrey (MD)

Research interests: research methods in implementation science; design, implementation, and evaluation of screening interventions; the intersection of chronic and infectious diseases. My previous research at the National Institute of Public Health in Mexico has focused on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and congenital syphilis, and the evaluation of the feasibility of colorectal cancer screening in Mexico City.

Erin Ferguson, MPH

Education: Boston University (BA, Neuroscience; MPH, Epidemiology & Biostatistics)

Research Interests: At a broad level, I am interested in investigating early risk factors (especially neuropsychiatric or vascular comorbidities) of cognitive decline and dementia. As a student, I also want to understand how these risk factors and notable biomarkers could be used by clinicians to improve patient care and slow cognitive decline.

Elisabeth Gebreegziabher, MPH

Education: University of California, Berkeley (BA, Public Health; MPH, Epidemiology & Biostatistics)

Research interests: infectious disease epidemiology including design, implementation, and evaluation of interventions to prevent and treat infectious diseases, targeted strategies for at-risk populations as well as disparities in health outcomes.

Sirena Gutierrez, MPH

Education: University of Texas at Austin (BSA, Biology; BA, Sociology); University of Texas Medical Branch (MPH, Epidemiology)

Research Interests: My research interests broadly focus on the intersection of behavioral, environmental, and social determinants of health in older adults. Other areas of research include health disparities among migrant populations. As a doctoral student, I want to leverage statistical and epidemiological methods to identify how biopsychosocial trajectories across a life course influence depression, cognitive and functional decline in older adults to help guide public policy and interventions.

Cozie Gwaikolo, MD, MAS

Education: Cuttington University (BS, Biology); University of Liberia (MD, General Medicine); University of California, San Francisco (MAS, Clinical Research)

Research interests: I am interested in reducing infectious diseases burden in low- and middle-income settings through epidemiological research, with emphasis on tropical diseases. During my MAS training, I worked with the Montserrado County Health Team, Ministry of Health Liberia, to study post-acute sequela of COVID-19 and its determinants in Liberia.

Sepehr Hashemi, PhD student in UCSF Dept. of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Sepehr Hashemi

Education: UC Davis (BS in Genetics with emphasis on genomics); Harvard School of Dental Medicine

Research interests: Predicting common surgical outcomes and complications, maxillofacial transplantation platforms, palliative therapy of oral cancer complications, and molecular assessment of treatment-specific complications in breast and prostate cancers

Hyelee Kim, MD, MAS, MS

Education: Seoul National University College of Medicine (MD, Medicine); Seoul National University Hospital (Internship and Psychiatric Residency); University of California, San Francisco (MAS, Clinical Research); Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (MS, Neuropsychiatric Epidemiology)

Research interests: Neuropsychiatric epidemiology, autism spectrum disorder, causal inference of psychiatric disorders, application of machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve disparities in mental health care, child protection, psychiatric measurements, digital therapeutics for psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders

Leah Koenig, MSPH

Education: Wesleyan University (BA, Social Studies), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (MSPH)

Research interests: My research interests center on using social epidemiology to understand access and barriers to sexual and reproductive health services. At UCSF I work with Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health on studies that focus on testing new models for abortion services. During my doctoral training, I hope to explore both clinical and population science perspectives to contribute to evidence-based programs and policies that optimize reproductive choice and wellbeing.  

Aimee Lansdale, MS

Education: Duke University (BA, Global Health), Stanford University (MS, Community Health and Prevention Research)

Research interests: Global Health; Social Determinants of Health; Child and Maternal Health; Health Policy 

Yusuph Mavura, MS

Education: Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (BS Biochemistry and Molecular Biology), Georgia Institute of Technology (MS Bioinformatics)
Research interest: I am interested in genetic epidemiology and the etiology of complex diseases such as cancer and also health disparities. My previous research experience in genomics of Ovarian Cancer as well as research at the NIH working on Genome-wide Association study (GWAS) for a Chinese pancreatic cancer study encouraged me to pursue a PhD focusing on human statistical genetics. I am also interested in bioinformatics and big data analysis.

Shivani Mehta, MPH

Education: University of California, San Diego (BA, Global Health), Brown University (MPH, Epidemiology & Biostatistics)

Research Interests: My broad research interests include the intersection of data analytics and health disparities research. My interest is to use real-world data and machine learning to predict health outcomes to enhance population health and reduce disparities. Additional interests include exploring causal inference methodology as a statistical tool to enhance the generalizability of machine learning models and improve precision medicine.

Nita Mukand, PharmD, MBA, MPH

Education: Wesleyan University (BA, Biology), University of Illinois at Chicago (PharmD and MBA), Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (MPH)

Research Interests: Inequities in cancer care and outcomes, with an emphasis on second primary cancers. My work is informed by caring for oncology patients and cancer survivors during my pharmacy training. My prior research utilized National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) data to identify disparities in the incidence of second cancers.

Rachel Murro

Rachel Murro, MPH

Education: Cornell University (BS, Human Biology, Health, and Society), CUNY School of Public Health (MPH, Community Health)

Research interests: My current research focuses on sexual and reproductive health, primarily contraception, abortion and pregnancy desires. I am passionate about using a reproductive justice and harm reduction lens to conduct ethical research. During my doctoral training I am specifically honing my skills in qualitative methods, sampling "hidden" populations, social epidemiology, and causal inference.

James Antonio Najera, MS

Education: University of California, San Diego (BS, Microbiology; BS, Public Health), University of Washington (MS,Genetic Epidemiology)

Research Interests: My broad research interests focus on population genetics, gene-environment interaction, and big data analytics for omics. My previous research at the University of Washington focused on the exploration of HLAalleles and haplotypes associated with the progression of Type 1 Diabetes. As a doctoral student, I aim to use genomic research to improve health equity among underserved communities.

Eduardo Rodriguez Almaraz, MD, MAS

Eduardo Rodriguez Almaraz, MD, MAS

Education: Instituto Politecnico Nacional, Mexico City, Mexico (MD, General Medicine); University of California, San Francisco (MAS, Clinical Research)

Research interests: As a physician with a background in clinical outcomes, I have a keen interest in the field of neuro-oncology. Throughout my doctoral studies, I have dedicated my efforts to exploring innovative and rigorous quantitative solutions to the challenges that arise in this area of medicine. My research focuses on the application of artificial intelligence (AI) methods to leverage diverse data sources in order to generate predictive models that enable personalized medicine. Within the Designated Emphasis in Computational Precision Health program, I aim to utilize AI to analyze genetic, imaging, electronic health, and patient-centered data, including quality of life metrics, to gain new insights into brain tumor pathogenesis and evolution. I also seek to identify novel prognostic biomarkers and develop more effective therapeutic targets. Ultimately, my goal is to contribute to the development of AI-based tools that can aid clinicians in delivering more effective treatments and improving healthcare delivery in the brain tumor space.

Marta San Luciano Palenzuela, PhD student at UCSF Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Marta San Luciano Palenzuela, MD

Education: University of Navarre, Spain (MD), Boston University (Residency, Neurology), Beth Israel Medical Center (Fellowship, Movement Disorders), Albert Einstein College of Medicine (MS Clinical Research Methods)

Research Interests: I am a clinical neurologist with specialty training in movement disorders, and my research interests are broadly in clinical and genetic epidemiology of Parkinson's disease, dystonia and other movement disorders and neurodegenerative illnesses, as well as in outcomes research in neurology and neuromodulation surgeries. My current research focuses on identifying predictors of favorable motor outcomes following deep brain stimulation surgery in isolated dystonia, a disabling movement disorder. While this type of surgery can improve symptoms in many patients, there is great variability in results and a great proportion of non-responders exist. Genetic etiologies of dystonia and different phenotypes may underline some of the differences. By means of the doctoral program, I hope to improve my understanding of research methodology to be able to identify such predictors in an innovative way and improve clinical care for this population.

Eduardo Santiago-Rodriguez, PhD student at UCSF Dept. of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Eduardo J. Santiago-Rodríguez

Education: University of Puerto Rico, Bayamón (BS, Human Biology); University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus (MPH, Epidemiology)

Research interests: the role of social and environmental factors on cancer health disparities, especially those observed in racial and ethnic minorities; research methods; issues impeding minority groups from getting timely screening and adequate treatment

Maia Scarpetta, MPH

Education: Reed College (BS, Psychology); University of New Mexico (MPH)

Research Interests: My interests are centered on the intersection of infectious disease and social epidemiology. While working as a COVID-19 epidemiologist in the Bay Area, I became specifically focused on how social determinants of health haveinfluenced COVID-19 health outcomes in the U.S. and globally. As a doctoral student, I hope to investigate the impact of infectious diseases on communities affected by climate change, political unrest, and social inequality.

Mai Sedki, MD, MPH

Education: Wayne State University (BA, Romance Languages, BS Biological Sciences and Psychology), Wayne State University School of Medicine (MD), University of California, Berkeley (MPH)

Research Interests: outcomes and epidemiologic research in gastroenterology and hepatology with a particular emphasis on gastrointestinal cancer epidemiology and cancer surveillance.

Carolyn Smith Hughes, MS

Education: University of Wisconsin-Madison (BS, Genetics, Life science communications), University of California, San Francisco (MS, Global Health Sciences)

Research interests: Maternal health, maternal mental health, health economics, health policy, healthcare systems. My interests are in the epidemiology and social determinants of severe maternal and postpartum complications and poor outcomes, especially in underserved populations.

Tanvi Srivastava, MBA, MPH

Education: Indira Gandhi Institute of Technology (BTech, Mechanical & Automation Engineering), Carnegie Mellon University (MBA), University of California, Berkeley (MPH, Epidemiology)

Research interests: Reduction in population cancer burden through research in cancer epidemiology, health disparities, and modifiable risk factors of cancer, and application of research findings using methods in implementation science.

Jack Taylor, MAS

Education: University of California, Davis (BS, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology); University of California, San Francisco (MAS, Clinical Research)

Research interests: Dementia care models and clinical technology implementation; Mendelian randomization studies of dementia risk factors

Mary Thoma, MPH

Education: University of San Diego, (BA, Biology); Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, (MPH)

Research interests: My research focuses on risk factors of cognitive decline and dementia. I am particularly interested in elucidating the role of social isolation in dementia risk by exploring various plausible causal pathways, such as decreased cognitive stimulation, changes in psychosocial well-being (loneliness and depression), and related risk factors such as sensory impairment (vision and hearing loss).  

Caitlin Turner

Caitlin Turner, MPH

Education: University of California, Davis (BS, Psychology with an emphasis in mathematics); University of California, Berkeley (MPH, Epidemiology & Biostatistics)

Research interests: While working as an epidemiologist at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, my interests centered around social determinants of health for trans, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary communities. During my doctoral training, I will leverage rigorous epidemiological and statistical methodologies to identify social determinants of health for these communities, while building my skillset in translational science to effectively address these health disparities.

Jingxuan Wang, MPhil

Education: University of Hong Kong (BS, Statistics; MPhil, Statistics)

Research interests: Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD), causal inference, electronic health records, brain imaging, epidemiologic methods. My research interests focus on applying causal inference methods to better understand risk factors for dementia and cognitive aging, based on observational health databases. I am also interested in preclinical biomarkers of AD and statistical methods for analysis of electronic health records. My ultimate research goal is to identify modifiable targets for prevention of ADRD.

Whitney Wells, MSc

Education: Stanford University (BA, Human Biology, MA, Sociology), University College London (MSc, Social Epidemiology)

Research interests: Social epidemiology, Social determinants of health, Health inequities. My research focusses on social determinants of health and applications of natural experiments for identifying pathways to reduce health disparities. I am interested in health and social policy and inequities related to Covid-19 to inform interventions to address systemic health inequities.