Students in the School of Public Health's newest Doctoral Program, in Behavioral and Social Health Sciences (BSHS), come from all over the country, and all over the world. Meet them here:
Current BSHS Doctoral Students
Advisor: Patricia Risica
Anna Alikhani is a first year doctoral student who focuses on issues impacting maternal and child health outcomes. Her primary research interests involve infant feeding practices, responsive parenting and identifying ways to improve patient-provider interactions prenatally and postpartum. Anna holds a BA from Sewanee: University of the South and received an MSW from the University of Maryland School of Social Work and an MPH from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Advisors: Jennifer Merrill, Kate Carey
Holly Boyle is a third-year doctoral student who holds a BA in Neuroscience and Psychology from Smith College and two master’s degrees, a MA in psychology from Mount Holyoke College and an ScM in Behavioral and Social Health Sciences from Brown University. Prior to coming to Brown, Holly worked on several research projects as a lead clinical research coordinator at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College. Her research interests include exploring (1) psychosocial determinants of alcohol use in college students, (2) the interplay between stress levels and substance use, (3) and mHealth and eHealth interventions designed to address real-time, risky drinking behavior in a college student population.
Advisor: Jennifer Tidey
Teresa DeAtley is a third-year doctoral student who holds a BA from William and Mary and a MPH with a focus on Behavioral Science from Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, where she earned a certificate in Global Tobacco Control. Prior to Brown she worked in the international research unit at the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, and at the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Studies at the Truth Initiative, focusing on international and domestic tobacco control policy and research. Her research interests center broadly around substance abuse, smoking, vulnerable populations and tobacco control policy. She is specifically interested in understanding how biological and psychosocial mechanisms drive substance abuse and nicotine addiction, and exploring the burgeoning research paradigm of behavioral economics and its application to understanding consumer preferences for products with lowered health risks.
Advisors: Abigail Harrison and Jennifer Pellowski
Kira DiClemente is a is a third-year Doctoral Candidate who holds a BA in Visual Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and an MPH from the Yale School of Public Health. Her research focuses on global women's health, gender-based violence and empowerment. She is interested in how women's empowerment- individual, relational, and environmental- affects a range of health outcomes, including reproductive and mental health. Methodologically, Kira focuses on Community-Based System Dynamics, Group Model Building and grounded-theory qualitative analysis. Kira's dissertation is titled "Defining the System of Trauma, Depression and Anxiety among African Refugee Women Living in the United States: Applications of Community-based System Dynamics." This work focuses on defining the complex system surrounding Central African refugee women's mental health throughout the resettlement period.
Advisor: Katie Biello
Alberto Edeza is a fourth-year doctoral student interested in cultural perspectives on HIV and their subsequent effects on PrEP/PEP access and adherence within domestic Spanish & Portuguese-speaking MsM populations, as well as sexual & gender minority youth health and associated policy. He completed his BS in Biology and BA in Health and Humanity at the University of Southern California. Prior to attending Brown, he worked in both the education and public health non-profit sectors in California, serving primarily low-income communities.
Advisor: Lynn Hernandez, Jennifer Nazareno, Don Operario
Ashley Gomez is a second-year doctoral student whose primary research interests are Latinx urban health issues; including chronic disease, substance use, healthcare access, and the intersection of identity and place. Prior to Brown, she worked with government agencies, nonprofits, and community-based organizations to promote health equity and access for Latinxs in the U.S. and abroad. Ashley holds an MPH degree in Sociomedical Sciences and a certificate in Public Health Research Methods from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, New York City. She also holds a B.A. in Chicanx Studies from UCLA.
Advisors: Tyler Wray, Jacob van den Berg
John Guigayoma is a first-year doctoral student interested in the development and evaluation of behavioral health interventions to address disparities in HIV prevention and treatment outcomes among sexual and gender minorities. Prior to Brown, John coordinated HIV services in various community clinic settings throughout California as well as worked in HIV surveillance for the San Francisco Department of Public Health. His interests also include mixed-methods research, behavioral health technology, and implementation science. John has an MPH in Health and Social Behavior from UC Berkeley and an BA in Comparative Literature from UCLA.
Advisor: Patricia Markham Risica
Augustine Kang is a fourth-year doctoral student whose research focuses on factors that impact children's lifestyle behaviors (e.g. diet, physical activity, sleep, screen-based activities) in the context of obesity prevention. His dissertation examines sleep, physical activity, and their association with weight outcomes among Hispanic preschool-aged children, with the goal of clinical trial development. Augustine is also actively leading research efforts in the following areas: (1) Biopsychosocial modeling of treatment outcomes among patients with end-stage renal disease, (2) risk reduction of cardiovascular events via physical activity promotion among renal transplant recipients, and (3) identification of lifestyle factors contributing to hypertension and weight outcomes among Black women.
Advisor: Matthew Mimiaga
William Lodge II is a doctoral student focused on developing and evaluating interventions around HIV with a specific interest in the role of community health workers and their interpersonal/psychosocial relationship in delivering quality HIV care. Prior to Brown, he worked several years at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School on a range of research projects such as knowledge and attitudes on polio immunization, Ebola and Zika viruses; quality of surgical care, and cost-effectiveness of a national immunization program. While his work has primarily been focused in South Asia, he has also worked on projects in Tanzania, Somalia, Guinea Bissau, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the United States. William holds an MSc in International Educational Development from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in English Literature and South Asian studies from Brandeis University.
Advisors: Abigail Harrison, Caroline Kuo
Ashleigh LoVette is a fifth-year doctoral student who holds both a BA and an MA from Michigan State University, where her focus was on Health Communication and International Development. With an interest in global health, she has spent time completing research and working in Ghana and South Africa. Her overall goal is to promote the mental health and well-being among young people, with special attention to strength-based approaches and cultural humility. Ashleigh's current research interests include understanding how we conceptualize and measure resilience, particularly in the context of HIV/AIDS.
Advisor: Akilah Dulin
Rachel Mealy is a first-year doctoral student who holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Akron in Ohio, where she completed a BS in Exercise Science, with a second major in Spanish, and a minor in Psychology. Rachel also holds an MS in Global Health from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. Her academic interests include urban health, social/environmental determinants of health, physical activity promotion, chronic diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, especially among minority and marginalized populations.
Advisor: Jacob van den Berg
Marquisele Mercedes is a first-year doctoral student who holds a BA in English Literature, Language, and Criticism from Hunter College and a certificate in Public Policy from the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute. She is interested in using mixed methods and medical sociology to research the physical and social impact of individuals’ interactions with healthcare systems. Her specific interests include, but are not limited to, patient-provider relationships, Latinx health, and gerontology. Her overarching goal is to contribute to interventions that will address the link between structural inequality and diminished healthcare access, delivery, and quality for marginalized patients. Marquisele is a recipient of the Brown University Presidential Fellowship.
Advisors: Jacob van den Berg, Philip Chan, Amy Nunn
Madeline Montgomery (pronouns: she/her/hers) is a second-year doctoral student who holds a BA in Anthropology and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and an MPH from Brown University. Madeline’s research interests include social determinants of healthcare utilization and health information among queer and trans persons, with a focus on sexual health and minority stress. Madeline is motivated by the goal of promoting health equity and meaningful inclusion in research of these and other systemically oppressed populations.
Advisor: Matthew Mimiaga
Adedotun Ogunbajo is a fourth-year doctoral student who holds a BS and MHS from Johns Hopkins University and a MPH in Social & Behavioral Science from Yale University. His research interests are on issues related to health disparities and inequity, specifically HIV prevention and treatment, mental health, and substance use in racial and sexual minority communities both in the United States and across the African continent. He is also interested in the social and economic determinants of health outcomes among African immigrant communities in the United States.
Advisor: Don Operario
Arjee Restar is a fourth-year doctoral student with an MPH degree in Epidemiology and a certificate in Sexuality, Sexual and Reproductive Health from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, New York City. Prior to attending Brown, she worked at the NYC Health Department and was engaged in several citywide campaigns involving both Pre-and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP and PEP) and HIV home testing kits, as well as promoting workplace inclusivity for transgender and gender-nonconforming employees and visitors through policy recommendations. Her broad interests are in promoting health equity through tailoring structural- and behavioral-based interventions with social justice and public health lenses. She strives to improve the health and lives of marginally placed communities that are at risk for a multitude of sexual and mental health outcomes, particularly those experienced by transgender and gender-nonconforming communities of color.
E. Karina Santamaria
Advisor: Don Operario
E. Karina Santamaria is a sixth-year doctoral student who holds two degrees from the City University of New York: a BA from the City College of NY in Psychology and an MPH from Lehman College in community-based public health and health equity. In her role as research project director at the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies, at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University, she managed a longitudinal study examining the burden of HIV infection during different stages of adolescence and its relationship to mental health, successful adult transition, and risk behavioral outcomes. Karina has collaborated on several other studies investigating factors that affect medical adherence among HIV seropositive mothers and youth from inner city neighborhoods, including psychiatric disorder, stress, family functioning, and social support. Her research interests are focused on the health behaviors and psychological functioning of women and youth living with HIV/AIDS, and on intimate partner violence. She is interested in the role of culture, race, gender, and urban stressors in shaping health behaviors and outcomes.
Advisor: Don Operario
Sylvia Shangani is a sixth-year doctoral student who holds both BSc and MPH degrees from Moi University in Kenya and an ScM in Behavioral and Social Sciences Intervention from Brown. Her research interests include determining behavioral incentives that facilitate linkage and retention in HIV care and establishing determinants of psychological well-being of high-risk HIV-infected and affected sub-populations.
Advisor: Christopher Kahler
Anthony Surace is a third-year doctoral student who holds an MA degree in Psychology from Hunter College. Prior to attending Brown, he worked for several years on myriad federally-funded research studies examining health behavior among minority populations. These include work on designing and evaluating interventions to improve Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) uptake, and reducing alcohol and substance use among populations at risk for HIV infection. He is interested in elucidating the psychosocial factors which attenuate substance use intervention efficacy. Ultimately, his goal is to tailor treatments to better serve at-risk populations.
Pablo K. Valente
Advisors: Katie Biello, Matthew Mimiaga
Pablo K. Valente is a second-year doctoral student who holds an MD from University of Brasilia, Brazil, and an MPH in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University. Prior to attending Brown, he provided clinical care to people living with HIV in Brazil and studied health disparities among LGBTQ individuals in the US and East Africa. He is interested in using quantitative and qualitative methods to study the relationship between socioeconomic status, stigma, and health disparities among vulnerable populations, especially regarding HIV prevention and care.
Advisor: Jennifer Pellowski
Alison Weber is a first-year doctoral student who holds a BA in Biology and Spanish from Mount Holyoke College and an MPH from Brown University. Prior to Brown, she worked in quality control testing for pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Her research interests are centered around global women's health, particularly during the postpartum period. She is interested in (1) the links between structural health drivers and maternal health disparities, and (2) the impact of novel sanitation technologies on menstrual hygiene management and gender equality in the postpartum period.
BSHS Doctoral Alumni
Rachel Denlinger PhD’19
Dissertation: The Effects of Menthol Flavoring in Cigarettes on Tobacco Product Selection, Use, and Perceptions of Harm: Implications for Tobacco Regulation
Current Position: Postdoctoral Fellow, Wake Forest School of Medicine
Jessica Emerson PhD’19
Dissertation: When Outcomes Matter: A Temporal Analysis of Beliefs in the Exercise and Smoking Domains
Current Position: Research Fellow in Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Brown University
Harold Lee PhD’19
Dissertation: Genetic Underpinning of Physical Activity Adherence: Affective Response to Physical Activity as an Intermediate Phenotype
Current Position: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Harvard University