PhD Students, Candidates and Alumni

Michelle DeVost, MPH

Graduation Date: 2023

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.

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

Sepehr Hashemi

Graduation Date: 2023

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

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

Marta San Luciano Palenzuela, MD

Graduation Date: 2023

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

Graduation Date: 2023

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

Kristen Azar, MSN/MPH

Graduation Date: 2024

Education: University of California, Berkeley (BA, English); Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (BS and MS Nursing) and Bloomberg School of Public Health (MPH)

Research interests: My research interests include chronic disease prevention and management in primary care settings and the impact of social determinants of health on risk, treatment and outcomes. I have worked as an investigator in Sutter Health’s research enterprise since 2012. Additionally, I have clinical expertise in the prevention and treatment of cardiometabolic diseases.
 

Akansha Batra, MS

Graduation Date: 2024

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. 
 

Yusuph Mavura, MS

Graduation Date: 2024

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.

Nita Mukand, PharmD, MBA, MPH

Graduation Date: 2024

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.

Eduardo Rodriguez Almaraz, MD, MAS

Graduation Date: 2024

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

Research interests: My broad research interests include the application of epidemiology methods to discover patterns (biological and social) that can be used to prevent and treat diseases. I developed interest in applying Artificial intelligence methods in the epidemiology and cancer domains to improve clinical outcomes such as overall survival and progression free survival while working in the Brain Tumor Center at UCSF. As a Master’s student I worked on the impact of cannabis in the quality of life of patients with central nervous system tumors which interested me in quality of life measure development. As a doctoral student, I aim to acquire further skills to contribute to the effort in neuro oncology of improve patient quality of care, quality of life and survival.

Caitlin Turner, MPH

Graduation Date: 2024

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.

Priscilla Espinosa Tamez, MD

Graduation Date: 2025

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.

 

Elisabeth Gebreegziabher, MPH

Graduation Date: 2025

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

Graduation Date: 2025

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.

Leah Koenig, MSPH

Graduation Date: 2025

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.  

Shivani Mehta, MPH

Graduation Date: 2025

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.

Maia Scarpetta, MPH

Graduation Date: 2025

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

Graduation Date: 2025

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

Graduation Date: 2025

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

Graduation Date: 2025

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.

Jingxuan Wang, MPhil

Graduation Date: 2025

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

Research interests: High-dimensional statistics, Neuroimaging, Epidemiology of Aging

Carrie Chan, MSN, CPNP, MPH

Graduation Date: 2026

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

Graduation Date: 2026

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.

Erin Ferguson, MPH

Graduation Date: 2026

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.

James Antonio Najera, MS

Graduation Date: 2026

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.