Research Scholars

The Hassenfeld Institute Research Scholars Program for Clinical Fellows and Junior Faculty is made possible through the generous support of the family of Alan Hassenfeld. Two research scholars will be chosen annually to participate in the program. The selected Hassenfeld Institute Research Scholars will play active roles in the work of the institute under the mentorship of institute-affiliated faculty, while gaining outstanding training opportunities for their future careers in maternal and child health. The Hassenfeld Institute Research Scholars will also receive scholarship support to participate in the Clinical and Translational Research certificate program at Brown University. The Hassenfeld Institute Research Scholars Program will embrace Brown’s “learning by doing” approach to engaged scholarship. This will provide the Hassenfeld Institute Research Scholars the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to the work of the institute while gaining the knowledge, skills, perspective and experience they will need to become the next generation of child health leaders.

Applications for the 2020 program are now open. Please see below for details on eligibility and the application process.


Any clinical fellow in Brown-affiliated fellowships relevant to maternal and child health or maternal and child health clinical faculty who are at the rank of assistant professor or instructor as of July 1, 2020, are eligible to apply to the Hassenfeld Institute Research Scholars Program.

Research Focus

A broad range of maternal and child health topics may be appropriate for the Hassenfeld Institute Research Scholars Program. The institute embraces the World Health Organization’s definition of health as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Topics could include mental health, physical health, risk reduction or optimal growth and development, including school and social functioning. The focus includes maternal health and its influence on child health, as well as family influences more broadly.

Application Process

Applicants should submit the following by email to [email protected]:

1.     A current CV

2.     A 500-1,000-word essay describing the applicant’s:

a.     Research interests

b.     Career plans

c.     Reasons for wanting to become a Hassenfeld Institute Research Scholar

3.     The names of up to two faculty from whom the applicant has requested letters of recommendation. This must include the applicant’s fellowship director, division director or department chair. Up to one additional letter of reference may be requested from a current or past mentor.

Letters of reference must be emailed by the letter writer from their institutional email address to [email protected]

All application materials (including letters of reference) must be received by July 22, 2020.

Criteria for Selection

Criteria for selection to the program include the following:

·      The academic performance and future promise of the applicant

·      The applicant’s potential to benefit from the program

·      The match of the applicant with the goals and activities of the Hassenfeld Child Health Innovation Institute

Benefits of the Program and Award Conditions

In addition to receiving scholarship support for the Certificate Program in Clinical and Translational Research, Hassenfeld Institute Research Scholars will actively participate in research activities of the Hassenfeld Child Health Innovation Institute, receiving mentorship from institute faculty and staff.

The Hassenfeld Institute Research Scholars will have up to a three-year term, dependent on remaining in a fellow or faculty position in the clinical department at Brown University.  Hassenfeld Institute Research Scholars must remain in good standing in their Brown-affiliated clinical fellowship or clinical department faculty position and make satisfactory progress on their work with the Hassenfeld Child Health Innovation Institute. They must also remain in good academic standing and make appropriate progress in the Clinical and Translational Research Certificate Program.

2019 Clinical Fellows​

Nina Ayala, MD

Nina Ayala is a Maternal Fetal Medicine Fellow at Women & Infants Hospital. Nina earned her bachelor's degree in neuroscience from Brown University before attending the Warren Alpert Medical School, where she concentrated in medical education. Nina completed her residency in obstetrics/gynecology at McGaw Medical Center at Northwestern University. She is the recipient of many honors and awards, including the Bray Fellowship in Humanism in Medicine and the Jack and Edna Saphier Award in Obstetrics and Gynecology while at Alpert Medical School. Her primary research interest is patient-centered outcomes, particularly, how personality characteristics of pregnant women and their physicians impact antepartum and peripartum outcomes. She is interested in how the labor and delivery process, treatment of common pregnancy complications and mode of delivery impact long-term neonatal and childhood outcomes.

Devina Savant, MD

Devina Savant is a developmental and behavioral pediatrics fellow at Hasbro Children's Hospital. Devina graduated with top honors from Topiwala National Medical College in Mumbai, India. She completed her residency in pediatrics at Harlem Hospital Center in New York. Devina is interested in studying food insecurity status and trends, interventions used to combat food insecurity in both India and the United States and how cultural beliefs, eating patterns and access to food stamps and food rations interact with these patterns. Ultimately, Devina aims to work in an academic setting where she can continue her clinical work of supporting children with developmental and behavioral needs and their families.

2018 Clinical Fellows

Starrina Gianelloni, DO, FAAP

Starrina Gianelloni is a developmental and behavioral pediatrics fellow at Hasbro Children's Hospital. She earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Washington, Seattle, and her Doctor of Osteopathy from Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, Missouri. She completed her residency in general pediatrics at the Louisiana State University in New Orleans. She is a distinguished graduate of the Commissioned Officer Training School of Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. After completing her residency, she was the chief of pediatric services at Yokota Air Base in Japan and flight commander of Educational & Developmental Intervention Services at Aviana Air Base in Italy. Starrina is interested in the association between the use of developmental services and excess media exposure among young children and understanding why young children with disabilities are using so much digital media.

2017 Clinical Fellows

Martha Kole, MD

Martha Kole is a Maternal Fetal Medicine Fellow at Women & Infants Hospital. Prior to this fellowship, she completed her residency at Women & Infants Hospital and medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. Martha is primarily interested in health care quality, specifically, how new practice guidelines are implemented at a hospital-wide level. Additionally, she has a passion for reducing maternal mortality and optimizing maternal health.

Nicole Muhlbauer, MD

Nicole Muhlbauer is currently a physician in pediatric hematology and oncology at Stony Brook Medicine. Nicole attended St. George's University School of Medicine in Grenada, West Indies, before completing her residency in pediatrics at the University of Arizona. She was a pediatric hematology/oncology fellow at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, where she completed a spatial analysis project that aimed to understand the relationship between environmental exposures and the development of pediatric cancer in Rhode Island. She hopes that her research will impact future pediatric health policy.

2016 Clinical Fellows

Catherine Buck, MD 

Catherine (Caty) Buck is currently an assistant professor in the Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at Yale School of Medicine. She was a pediatric fellow in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at Women and Infants Hospital/Alpert Medical School and worked with the child environmental health group at the School of Public Health studying how prenatal exposure to environmental chemicals may alter infant birth weight and child growth trajectories. Caty graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Connecticut and also attended medical school at UConn. Caty completed her pediatric residency at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, where she also served as chief resident. Her research interests include the intersection of maternal health and neonatal and child health outcomes.

Maureen S. Hamel, MD 

Maureen Hamel is currently a physician specializing in obstetrics and gynecology in the Maternal-Fetal Medicine division of UPMC-Magee Women's Hospital in Pittsburgh. She was a Maternal Fetal Medicine Fellow at Women & Infants Hospital, where her primary research interest was in clinical obstetrics, particularly antibiotic use in labor and how to best manage labor for women with gestational diabetes. Maureen received her bachelor's degree in psychology from Providence College before attending Tufts University School of Medicine. She completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Women & Infants Hospital.