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Alumni Trainees


Marc Adams, PhD is currently an associate professor in the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University. He is a behavioral scientist (BA Psychology, MPH. Health Promotion, PhD Public Health/Behavioral Science) with a focus on increasing physical activity and healthful eating for primary prevention of CVD. Dr. Adams’ interests include behavioral economic theories, ecological models, automated learning systems, and advancing objective measurement of behavior and environments. As part of his T32 training, he focused on the association between urban planning and physical activity internationally, which lead to a co-authored publication in The Lancet. Dr. Adams is principal investigator of two NIH-funded R01 studies focused physical activity and healthful eating. He has co-authored over 70 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters, and is a Senior Sustainability Scientist with the Global Institute of Sustainability at ASU. Dr. Adams enjoys traveling, cooking, hiking and sailing in his spare time.

Erica Ambeba, MPH, PhD received her MPH at Drexel University, and holds a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh. During her time as a T32 fellow, she worked on various projects, including determining the association of the gut microbiome and cardiovascular disease among participants enrolled in the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men (MrOS) Study, and examining the association between Life’s Simple 7 and psychosocial factors such as perceived quality of life and social connectedness among participants enrolled in the Community of Mine study. Dr. Ambeba is co-founder of Samuel Taylor Homes, LLC., an adult residential facility in San Diego that seeks to serve the needs of vulnerable populations. Specifically, she serves as financial data analyst for the facility.

John Bellettiere has training in economics, behavioral science, and epidemiology. His research focuses on human behavior and how it relates to health. Dr. Bellettiere is Adjunct Assistant Professor in the UC San Diego Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health, where he works with PhD candidate Osika Tripathi to study secondhand and thirdhand cannabis and tobacco smoke. Dr. Bellettiere is also a senior quantitative researcher at Meta, where his work focuses on improving global mental health. In the 2020-2021 academic year, Dr. Bellettiere was awarded Professor of the Year in the CRESH/MAS program.

Tanya Benitez, PhD is a behavioral scientist focused on preventing cardiovascular and lifestyle-related chronic disease in Latinos. She received her PhD in Health Education and Promotion from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Public Health and the University of Alabama (UA) Joint Doctoral Program, and holds a Master’s in Social Work from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Her research interests include the development and testing of culturally-appropriate, theoretically-driven interventions to increase physical activity in Latinos, and use of technology-based platforms for the promotion of physical activity in this underserved population.

Harpreet Bhatia, MD received his Bachelor of Arts in International Studies with a focus on American Government from Johns Hopkins University, and completed medical school at Emory University School of Medicine. He completed internal medicine residency, followed by being selected as Chief Medical Resident at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital / Weill Cornell Medical College. He is currently a fourth year fellow in Cardiovascular Disease at UC San Diego and served as Chief Cardiology Fellow during his third year. His interests, both clinically and in research, center around the prevention of cardiovascular diseases related to atherosclerosis. In particular, he is focused on epidemiology, risk stratification, and treatment options as they relate to individuals with abnormal lipid biomarkers (Lipoprotein(a) and oxidized phospholipids). He is also focused on early detection of subclinical disease through the use of coronary artery calcium (CAC), and his research centers around ways to implement CAC scoring and improve scoring methodology. He is concurrently enrolled in the UC San Diego MAS program in Clinical Research and his thesis focuses on therapeutic options for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in individuals with elevated Lipoprotein(a).

Alvaro Camacho, MD graduated in 1997 from Xavier University School of Medicine in Bogota, Colombia. He did his independent study project in 1996 and Research as a Visiting Scholar in 1998 under the mentorship of Joel Dimsdale, MD, Editor Emeritus of Psychosomatic Medicine, at the Department of Psychiatry of the UC San Diego, where he also finished his training in Psychiatry. He also obtained his Masters in Public Health from the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Camacho obtained several awards from the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychiatric Foundation for improving quality of mental health care among minorities. Furthermore, he received funding from the Hartford foundation to improve services to elderly Hispanics in Imperial County. Additionally, he completed the NIMH sponsored Career Development Institute for Bipolar Disorder at the University of Pittsburgh under the direction of Dr. David Kupfer. In addition of being a T-32 fellow in our Division of Preventive Medicine, Dr. Camacho was also a non-salaried Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UC San Diego.

Jordan A. Carlson, PhD, MA is Director of Community-Engaged Health Research at Children’s Mercy Hospital and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. His research interests include active living, school-based physical activity, neighborhood walkability, improving uptake and implementation of physical activity interventions, and physical activity measurement technology.

Noe Crespo, PhD is a public health and behavioral science researcher. He received his bachelors and master’s degree in exercise science from California State University Los Angeles, a masters of public health degree from the University of Southern California, and a PhD in Public Health from the San Diego State University/University of California San Diego. He also completed a post-doctoral fellowship at UC San Diego in cardiovascular disease epidemiology and prevention. Dr. Crespo is currently an Associate Professor at San Diego State University in the School of Public Health. His research focuses on physical activity, fitness, sedentary behavior and nutrition interventions to prevent chronic disease among Latinos and underserved populations. This includes studies conducted in partnership with city recreation centers, clinics and schools to conduct and evaluate effective public health approaches. Recently, Dr. Crespo has also conducted research to prevent COVID-19, increase COVID testing and vaccination among underserved communities.

Katie Crist, PhD, MPH is an Assistant Project Scientist in the Urban Studies & Planning Department at UC San Diego.  Her research is focused on understanding how programmatic and built environment interventions impact physical activity and health. She received her PhD in 2019 from University of Southern Denmark, an MPH in Chronic Disease Epidemiology from the Yale School of Public Health, and a BS in Biology from Cornell University. Prior to her doctoral work, she managed two large prospective interventions that combined individual behavior change strategies with built environment improvements to increase walking in older adults. Her dissertation focused on data driven collaboration between physical activity researchers and transportation planners, with a focus on improving health through active transportation. She is currently leading a 3-year study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Evidence for Action program to understand how travel behaviors, health and economic outcomes change during the COVID-19 recovery and in the context of a new light rail extension to campus. She aims to contribute evidence to build communities that support active lifestyles, health equity, and climate sustainability.

Aubrey Doede, PhD RN earned her undergraduate degree in Human Biology from Claremont McKenna College. After several years’ experience in clinical research, she obtained both her Master’s degree in nursing and continued on to earn her PhD, both from the University of Virginia. Her dissertation work focused on wind trajectory analysis and the impact of airborne pollutants on childhood asthma. During her graduate studies, she also gained research and teaching experience in clinical trials and global health, focusing mainly on non-communicable diseases including cancer and cardiovascular disease. In addition to her postdoctoral focus on environmental determinates of health, she is currently pursuing a Master’s in Advanced Studies in Clinical Research with a concentration in Translational Science.

Daniel Ervin, PhD received a BA in psychology from George Washington University, an MA in Geography from the University of Wyoming, and a PhD in Geography from UC Santa Barbara. He is a Program Specialist for the East-West Center in Honolulu, researching Climate Change and Health in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. His research interests include the interactions between place, space, migration, and health, Planetary Health, and geographic and health research methods.

Nketi Forbang, MD, MPH received his undergraduate degree in Biology from Truman State University, and his M.D. from the University of Kansas Medical Center. Dr. Forbang has completed two years of General Surgery residency at Howard University Hospital, and an NHLBI T32 post-doctoral fellow at UC San Diego. He also completed a Master’s Degree in Public Health (MPH), with a focus in Epidemiology, as part of his fellowship. Along with attending conferences, seminars, and monthly journal clubs, his T32 projects included investigating the progression of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) in Diabetic patients. This study specifically looks at Ankle-brachial Index as a measure of PAD disease progression in diabetics. He also determined anatomical variations in the location of the abdominal aortic bifurcation in the population, and associations of these variations with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors and CVD events. In his spare time, Dr. Forbang enjoys spending time with family and friends, sports, Latin dance, and surfing.

Jan M. Hughes-Austin, PT, PhD is an epidemiologist and physical therapist with interest in the role of the immune system in cardiovascular and bone disease. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Public Health [Nutrition] degree and a Master of Physical Therapy degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Hughes-Austin was selected as a June C. Allcott Fellow at UNC-CH for her lifelong commitment to community service. She was also awarded the Mary McMillan Scholarship Award by the American Physical Therapy Association for her leadership and evidence of potential contribution to physical therapy. She practiced physical therapy full time in Juneau, Alaska and Boulder, Colorado before returning to graduate school where she earned her PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Dr. Hughes-Austin’s doctoral work focused on cardiovascular disease in first-degree relatives of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, which resulted in two Graduate Student Achievement Awards from the American College of Rheumatology. As a T32 postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Hughes-Austin utilized data from three distinct cohorts, (Rancho Bernardo, Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), and LifeScore) to investigate atherosclerosis and inflammation in the coronary arteries and abdominal aorta, risk factors for atherosclerosis in the small peripheral arteries, and how measures of atherosclerosis in the small peripheral arteries associate with mortality. Following the completion of her T32 postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Hughes-Austin was awarded a K01 Career Development Award from NHLBI to investigate associations between rheumatoid arthritis related autoimmunity, bone disease, and cardiovascular disease in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. She joined the research faculty in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at UC San Diego in December 2015.  In her spare time, Dr. Hughes-Austin enjoys any time spent outdoors, which includes rock climbing, hiking, skiing, playing golf, and bicycling; and will jump at the opportunity to travel. She also enjoys time with family and friends, volunteering, and going to see live music shows.

Nicole Jensky, PhD a California native, received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from UC Santa Barbara with a minor in Health and Exercise Science. After graduating, she continued her education at University of Southern California and graduated with a PhD in Biokinesiology with an emphasis in Exercise Physiology. Her dissertation focused on analyzing skeletal muscle proteins that regulate muscle mass. She completed her T32 postdoctoral fellowship at UC San Diego. Her fellowship training included: obtaining a Masters Degree in Public Health (MPH) with a focus in Epidemiology at San Diego State University, attending conferences and seminars, journal club, writing manuscripts and writing grant proposals. Dr. Jensky's postdoctoral research focused on prevention of cardiovascular disease. She investigated the association between blood pressure measures and calcification in different vascular beds. Also, she investigated the association between body composition and calcification of different vascular beds, and lastly, she analyzed associations between physical activity and body composition as well as inflammatory markers in a diverse population.

After completing her postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Jensky worked at Cedars Sinai Medical Center as a Research Associate III. In this role, she collaborated with urologists to develop and coordinate a pro-active surveillance research study for low risk prostate cancer patients. Next, Dr. Jensky pursued a career at Allergan as a Therapeutic Neurotoxin Medical Science Liaison (MSL). She served as a liaison between industry and medical researchers for clinical, pre-clinical, and post-marketing studies. She is currently employed at AbbVie as Director, Global Medical & Scientific Content Excellence where she focuses on creation and roll-out of Global Medical Field Resources. The focus includes the planning, development, and roll out of global scientific resources and tools. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with family/friends and exploring new places.

Britta Larsen, PhD is a behavioral science and epidemiology researcher with a focus in behavioral prevention and management of CVD and diabetes. She received her MA and PhD in Experimental Psychology from UC San Diego, with a focus in health and social psychology. She has spent the past 10 years developing and testing physical activity interventions in underserved populations, including Latino men, women, and adolescents. She also used existing datasets to study behavioral and physiological risk factors for diabetes and heart disease, including social networks, physical activity, sedentary behavior, and body composition, with a focus on muscle mass. She is currently conducting a fully powered randomized trial of a physical activity intervention for Latina adolescents using multiple media channels, including Fitbits, smartphone apps, and social media. She is also studying cost effectiveness of physical activity interventions in community and clinical settings and performance based financial incentives for physical activity in clinical populations. In her spare time, Dr. Larsen enjoys traveling, writing, hiking, sailing, cooking, watching football, and spending time with her family.

Sarah Linke, PhD, MPH received a BA in Psychology from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, before moving to California to pursue graduate school. She obtained an MS in Clinical Psychology and MPH in Health Promotion from San Diego State University (SDSU) en route to completing her PhD through the SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology within the Behavioral Medicine Track. She completed her Clinical Psychology Internship/Residency at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, before returning to San Diego for a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UC San Diego. She completed her Postdoctoral Fellowship in the NHLBI T32 Integrated Cardiovascular Fellowship Program within the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health (FMPH) at UC San Diego School of Medicine in 2015. She then became a faculty member within FMPH at UC San Diego, where she served as Assistant (2016-2019) and Associate (2019-current) Health Sciences Clinical Professor. In January 2022 she transitioned to an industry position at Omada Health, where she currently serves as the Senior Director of Health Economics and Outcomes Research. Her research focuses on developing, implementing, evaluating, and scaling exercise and other healthy lifestyle behaviors as prevention and/or treatments for a host of chronic diseases and mental and physical health problems. She is also a licensed clinical psychologist within UC San Diego's Integrative Behavioral Health (IBH) Program, where she specializes in behavioral medicine, particularly the role of health behaviors in health problems. In her spare time, Dr. Linke enjoys long-distance running, live music, animals, and spending time in nature.

Morgana Mongraw-Chaffin, PhD, MPH is an epidemiologist with a focus on cardiovascular disease. She received a BA from UC, Santa Barbara, an MPH in epidemiology and biostatistics from University of California, Berkeley, and a PhD in epidemiology from Johns Hopkins University. She completed her postdoctoral work at the University of California, San Diego. Her primary research focus is on the etiology and prevention of obesity. Her complementary projects investigate how women’s reproductive health affects their lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease. Additional research interests include metabolically healthy obesity, counter-regulatory pathways for glucose control, and epidemiological methods for observational studies. Currently, Dr. Mongraw-Chaffin is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology & Prevention at the Wake Forest School of Medicine. In her spare time, Dr. Mongraw-Chaffin enjoys hiking, kayaking, millinery, and riding a tandem bicycle with her husband.

Karen Moy, PhD was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to the University of Auckland, New Zealand where she earned her doctorate degree in Public Health in 2001. Her research in physical activity and health behaviors among Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders includes the creation and validation of culturally-specific assessment tools and baseline statistics for this understudied, high-risk population. As a grant writer for local nonprofits, Dr. Moy secured over $4 million towards health-related research.  In 2014, Dr. Moy founded local nonprofit, Hearts for San Diego, and since 2018, she's been the Executive Director of Rescue Express.

Laura Pompano, PhD is a global health researcher focused on micronutrient malnutrition domestically and internationally. She received her B.S. in Biochemistry from Virginia Tech and an M.S. in Biological Chemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles. Afterwards, she completed her PhD in Nutritional Science from Cornell University with a focus on how iron deficiency affects physical performance and energy metabolism in university women in China, Rwanda, and the US. She currently is a Senior Micronutrient Specialist at McKing Consulting Corporation working with the International Micronutrient Malnutrition Prevention and Control Team at the US Centers for Disease Control.

Sonia Ponce, MD, MPH

Rosemay Remigio-Baker, PhD earned her BS from the University of California on Biochemistry and Cell Biology with a minor in Psychology, and her MPH from San Diego State University. For her thesis, she determined the prevalence of hypertension and diabetes among Filipino women in San Diego and assessed whether the use of antihypertensive medication induced diabetes in this population. Rosemay completed her PhD on Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) Epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health where she evaluated the association between depressive symptoms and body composition, and potential modification by race/ethnicity, sex, overweight/obesity status and neighborhood factors such as physical and social environment. During her doctoral program she earned multiple scholarships and recognition including the Miriam Brailey Award and Charlotte Ferencz Scholarship from the Department of Epidemiology, and the Marilyn Spivak Menkes Award for Personal and Academic Excellence. She also earned a Diversity and Predoctoral Health Disparities Fellowship and a training grant for Clinical Research and Epidemiology in Diabetes and Endocrinology. Her current research includes investigating adverse childhood events, CVD and lung disease among women residing in Hawaii; modification by neighborhood factors of the association between stroke and cognitive function in the Women’s Health Study; health disparities in the vitamin D/calcium and insulin resistance association using the Jackson Heart Study and Atherosclerosis Risk In Communities study; as well as the association between fatty liver and calcific atherosclerosis in the Multi-ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. She is a member of the American Heart Association Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Early Career Committee, as well as the planning committee for Mental Health Workshops on Asian-Pacific Islander populations provided by the Kalusugan Community Services Center in National City. In her spare time, Dr. Remigio-Baker enjoys spending time with her family, traveling and relaxing at the beach.

Erin Richard, PhD, MPH received her master’s degree in Public Health from San Diego State University and her PhD in Public Health Epidemiology from the UCSD/SDSU joint doctoral program (2020). Her primary research interest is in applying integrated epidemiological, clinical, and genetic data to investigate the underlying factors and processes that contribute to aging and age-related disease. Her dissertation focused on the relationship between biomarkers of kidney function and cognitive performance in older adults. As part of her postdoctoral work, she is conducting several large-scale genome-wide association studies to explore the genetic architecture of diabetic complications and smoking by gene interactions on cardiometabolic traits.

Isac Thomas, MD, MPH was born in Las Vegas, Nevada. He received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He then completed residency training in internal medicine at the University of Chicago. From there, Dr. Thomas returned to California where he began training in clinical cardiology at the University of California, San Diego. As a T32 fellow, he received a Master’s degree in Public Health with an emphasis in Epidemiology.  Following a period as a faculty member in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at UC San Diego, he joined the Hawaii Permanente Medical Group in Honolulu, Hawaii as a clinical cardiologist. His research interests include coronary and extra-coronary arterial calcification and associated risks of cardiovascular disease.

Maíra Tristão Parra obtained an undergraduate degree in Sport Sciences from Londrina State University, Londrina, Brazil. She continued her studies in Sports & Health Sciences at the University of Exeter (UK), where she received her Master of Science degree. Her Doctoral training was housed in the Evidence-based Health Graduate Program at the Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil, where she gained expertise in research methods, with an emphasis on systematic reviews for interventions. She joined the Family Medicine & Public Health Department at UC San Diego in early 2019 and later became a post-doctoral fellow in the Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology program. During her training, she completed an MPH degree at UC San Diego with a concentration in Epidemiology. She currently holds an Assistant Project Scientist position at the Hebert Wertheim School of Public Health and Longevity Sciences and is the Assistant Manager at the Exercise and Physical Activity Resource Center (EPARC). During her free time, Maíra enjoys swimming, outdoor activities, spending time with family and friends, traveling, and cooking Brazilian food.

Jonathan Unkart, MD is an Assistant Clinical Professor in the School of Medicine at UC San Diego. His clinical and research activities focus on the development and treatment of lower extremity venous and arterial disease. Additionally, Dr. Unkart has a strong research interest in healthy aging and medical education.

Priscilla M. Vásquez, PhD, MPH is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Urban Public Health at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. She obtained a BA in Literature from the University of California San Diego (UCSD), and both an MPH in Community Health Sciences and PhD in Kinesiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Her work is anchored in addressing health inequities in cardiovascular health and brain health among underrepresented populations, namely Latina/o adults. She aims to use epidemiologic evidence to inform community-based interventions. Her research interests include cardiovascular disease, cognitive function, social environments, and physical activity among middle-aged and older Latina/o adults. 


Maggie Crawford, PhD is a scientist at Dexcom, a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) company, where she studies the utility of CGM in diabetes management for people with type 2 diabetes. During her time in the T32, Maggie earned her PhD in the UCSD/ SDSU Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health, Health Behavior and her Masters in Public Health in Epidemiology from San Diego State University. Dr. Crawford earned her BS in Nutritional Science and Physiology from UC Berkeley. Her dissertation research focused on diabetes management using CGM in people with type 1 diabetes. Before joining the T32, she e was working as a mountaineering guide for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and as a professional mountaineer when she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Dr. Crawford spends her free time surfing waves, climbing rocks, running trails, and mountain biking and frolicking with her husband and dog.

Erin Delker, PhD is a lecturer at San Diego State School of Public Health and a post-doctoral researcher at UC San Diego Department of Pediatrics. She is a perinatal epidemiologist most interested in research related to the prevention and management of cardiometabolic-related pregnancy complications. She is also interested in epidemiologic methods available to improve the utility of administrative databases in answering causal questions. During her time in the T32, Erin earned her PhD in Epidemiology from the UCSD/SDSU Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health. Her dissertation explored associations between preconception cardiometabolic health and adverse birth outcomes. Prior to joining the T32, Erin earned an MPH in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University and a BA in Psychology from George Washington.

Jessica Jimenez, PhD is an Assistant Professor in Department of Psychology at National University. Prior to joining National University, Dr. Jiménez led global health program evaluations and managed study teams as a Senior Advisor for Evaluation and Research at an international non-governmental organization. As a Fulbright scholar in Oaxaca, Mexico, Dr. Jiménez studied the effects of out-migration on women’s physical and mental health. Dr. Jimenez is a graduate of SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health, Health Behavior. As a T32 pre-doctoral fellow in cardiovascular epidemiology, Dr. Jiménez conducted her doctoral work, under Dr. Paul Mills in the Department of Psychiatry, on the underlying neuroimmune mechanisms between depression and morbidity and mortality risk in Heart Failure patients.  She has published in the areas of psychoneuroimmunology, health psychology, and cardiovascular health disparities in underserved populations.

Jessica McCurley, PhD, MPH is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in General Internal Medicine and Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital. Jessica’s research focuses on behavioral interventions and health disparities in diabetes and cardiovascular disease. She received a BA in Cultural Anthropology and Latin American Studies from the University of Georgia and a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego Joint Doctoral Program. As a doctoral student and Predoctoral T32 Fellow, Dr. McCurley studied the intersection of stress, psychosocial factors, and cardiometabolic conditions in the national Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL), assisted with implementation of a diabetes prevention program for low income Mexican-American women, and conducted cultural adaptations of psychoeducation programs for the East African refugee community in San Diego. She also worked in clinical mental health service provision in San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, and received a Fogarty Global Health Fellows grant to conduct her dissertation research in Tijuana. Jessica concurrently completed a Master's degree in Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology, and aspires to continue an academic research career in behavioral medicine and community health.

Gina Merchant, PhD is a National Library of Medicine Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California San Diego in the Division of Biomedical Informatics, Department of Medicine, with a secondary appointment in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health. She also lectures at California State San Marcos. Her undergraduate and master’s degrees are in Psychology, and her doctorate is in Public Health with an emphasis on Health Behavior. Dr. Merchant's research is at the intersection of psychology, public health informatics, and data science. Her work broadly examines how online and offline social networks influence our health behaviors and healthcare decision-making. Dr. Merchant quantitatively and qualitatively investigates how spending time on social media platforms, creating and engaging with content, affects our health. She seeks to uncover methods to conduct large-scale content analysis of unstructured text data that is exchanged in online networks. Once we are able to interpret these data, she believes we will have a better understanding of how to intervene in virtual spaces to promote health-enhancing behaviors, and better predict who is at risk for health impairing behaviors. Dr. Merchant's work aims to discover ways to leverage social media and other Web 2.0 technologies to improve individuals’ health, and better understand how on- and offline social networks synergistically/antagonistically influence health attitudes and behaviors. Dr. Merchant is active in the R community, and is an advocate for increasing diversity in coding, especially among women in the behavioral and social sciences. In her spare time, Dr. Merchant enjoys playing soccer, running, cooking, gardening, and hanging out with her family.

Dr. Lorena S. Pacheco received her doctoral degree in Epidemiology from the University of California San Diego-San Diego State University Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health. Her research interests include nutrition and chronic disease prevention, particularly cardiometabolic disease prevention, metabolomics, and dietary interventions. She is a practicing bilingual and multicultural registered dietitian nutritionist, having worked with a number of community-based health initiatives in diverse populations in the U.S. and Latin America, as a dietitian and research collaborator. She is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition and is working on several nutritional epidemiological projects including analyses of the Nurse’s Health Studies, Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, and several Hispanic/Latino cohorts, and interventions related to diet, behavior, mindfulness, and planetary health. Lorena also works with the Childhood Obesity Intervention Cost-Effectiveness (CHOICES) Study and Teaching Kitchen Collaborative teams.

Kimberly Savin, MS, MPH is a doctoral student in the SDSU/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, with a major area of study in behavioral medicine and emphasis in quantitative methods. Kimberly earned an MS in Clinical Psychology and MPH in Epidemiology at SDSU. Her research focuses on cardiometabolic health in Hispanic/Latino individuals and individuals of lower socioeconomic status, in both epidemiologic cohort studies, to understand relationships in population-based samples and intervention studies, to understand how to improve health and reduce inequities. She’s especially interested in the role of sleep in cardiometabolic health. In 2022-2023, she will complete her clinical psychology internship at the UCLA-Semel Institute on the Health and Behavior track.

Smriti Shivpuri, MA, PhD received her BS in Psychology and French from The Ohio State University, her MA in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Michigan State University, her Masters in Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology from San Diego State University, and her PhD under the mentorship of Dr. Linda Gallo and Dr. Matt Allison through the Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology at San Diego State University/University of California San Diego. She completed her clinical internship at the Alpert Medical School at Brown University, and is currently a Program Manager in Primary Care- Mental Health Integration at the Jesse Brown Veteran's Affairs Medical Center in Chicago, IL. Her research interests include psychosocial factors related to cardiovascular disease risk in minority populations, with a special focus on the effect of stress.