Our Team Members

Principal investigator

Dr. Donghai Liang

Assistant Professor

My research focuses on health effects associated with air pollution and persistent organic pollutant using exposure assessment and high-throughput omics technology. I am particularly interested in measuring multi-dimensional exposures and elucidating the molecular mechanisms accounting for the complex health responses to environmental mixtures. This has involved extensive, primary field-based data collection, and laboratory-based analyses. More recently, I have shifted majority of my effort toward incorporating high-resolution metabolomics and multi-omics into the investigations on the molecular mechanisms and disease etiology associated with environmental exposures.

Dr. Jeremy Sarnat

Associate Professor

My research focuses on characterizing human exposure to urban air pollution. My deep interest in environmental exposure science is motivated by the many epidemiologic and toxicologic findings linking air pollution to a range of adverse health endpoints. This body of research has established air pollution as a major contributor to the global burden of disease, although substantial questions remain concerning the specific pollutant sources and chemical components of the urban air mixture most responsible for the observed effects.

Public health interventions will be of limited effectiveness without an improved understanding of the true causal agents of effect as well as the most significant routes of exposure to these agents. Specifically, my research addresses these issues through investigations of factors affecting exposure to urban air pollution, the impact of measurement error in air pollution exposure studies, confounding in epidemiologic analyses with respect to co-pollutant exposures, and the associations between specific pollutant components and sources and corresponding health responses.


Dr. Robert Baltasar Hood

Postdoctoral Fellow

I am currently a 2nd year postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Epidemiology. I earned my bachelors in biology and public health from Baldwin Wallace University, my Masters of Public Health in epidemiology from the University of Georgia, and my PhD in epidemiology from the Ohio State University. My research focuses on the health impacts of environmental exposures on reproductive health including maternal and child health and development. I utilize metabolomics to understand the underlying biological pathways between environmental exposures and alterations in reproductive health. I am also interested in using metabolomics to identify biomarkers of environmental exposures and reproductive diseases

Dr. che-jung (Rong) chang

Postdoctoral Fellow

I am a postdoctoral research fellow at NIEHS. My research currently focuses on the environmental exposures, especially endocrine disruptors, in relation to multiple cancers risks. I also utilize different biomarkers and omics to further understand the biological responses underlying the exposure-disease relationship.

Zhenjiang Li

Postdoctoral Fellow

I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at university of Southern California, Los Angeles. I received PhD at Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, supervised by Dr. Donghai Liang. I received my bachelor’s degree in medicine and first master’s degree in epidemiology from Peking University, China. My research in this period focused on the health effect of secondhand smoking during the periconceptional window on the occurrence of neural tube defects. Due to my previous research experience, I have a broad interest in environmental epidemiology, with specific training in omics data analysis and the health effect of air pollution on susceptible populations, such as pregnant women.

Group Members

Susan Buckenmaier

PhD Student

I am a doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology at Rollins School of Public Health.  Before coming to Emory, I received my BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Dickinson College (Go Red Devils!) and my MPH in Epidemiology from the University of Maryland (Go Terps!).  Between my MPH and my doctoral education, I worked at the National Cancer Institute as a Cancer Research Training Award Fellow with the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences.  My interests are in persistent organic pollutants and their impact on reproductive health and how metabolomics mediate observed associations.  Currently, I am working with Dr. Liang on projects evaluating risk score approaches for metabolomic data and metabolic changes in response to exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals.  In my free time, I love running, eating ice cream, and enjoying the Atlanta sunshine.

Sarahna Moyd

PhD Student

I am a 3rd year PhD Candidate and in Environmental Health Sciences. As an emerging data scientist with a passion for story-telling and policy-informing research, I hope to improve equity in environmental and reproductive health via interdisciplinary research. I have a BS in Molecular Cellular Biology and MPH in Maternal and Child Health from the University of Arizona. Early in my career I led public health initiatives on infant feeding practices in Maricopa County (Phoenix, AZ) and assessed national needs of children and youth with special health care needs in accessing medical care (AMCHP in Washington, DC). These experiences highlighted the direct and indirect roles of our collective environments on health. I chose to pivot to research which led me to Rollins. I recently completed a 2nd masters in Environmental Health as part of my PhD training at Emory University. Now as as doctoral candidate, my goals are to apply interdisciplinary methodologies in molecular epidemiology, -omics, and computational toxicology to improve life, wellness, and public health policy in reproductive health.

Ziyin Tang

PhD Student

I am current a Ph.D. student in the Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University. I studied Preventive Medicine for my bachelor’s degree at School of Public Health, Southern Medical University (SMU). Currently, my areas of interests mainly focus on exploring molecular mechanisms underlying air pollution-related health impacts and developing novel metabolomics biomarkers of air pollution exposure with the application of untargeted metabolomics.

Kaitlin Taibl

PhD Student

I am an Environmental Health Sciences PhD student at Emory University where I also graduated with an Environmental Health and Epidemiology MSPH in 2021. In my research, I use a life course approach to understand the relationships between metabolism-disrupting chemical exposures and cardiometabolic health outcomes, particularly those concerning critical windows for development and populations experiencing environmental injustices. I am trained in leveraging high-throughput molecular epidemiology tools, including ultra-high-resolution metabolomics, and an enthusiastic learner of all things exposomics.

Youran Tan

PhD Student

I am current a Ph.D. student in the Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health. I graduated from department of Epidemiology for master degree, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University. My research interests include environmental epidemiology and MCH (maternal and child health), especially on the environmental chemical exposure assessment and its related health effect in area of metabolome. 

Kasthuri Sivalogan

PhD Student

I am a third-year PhD student in the Nutrition & Health Sciences program at Emory University. Prior to this, I received by BS and MPH from Boston University and worked for the Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance Network at Emory’s Global Health Institute. For my dissertation, I am using metabolomics and microbiome data to investigate the role of household air pollution on maternal and infant nutrition.

James (Jiada) Zhan

PhD Student

I am a current Nutrition and Health Sciences Ph.D. student at Emory University. For my dissertation, I am studying the effect of microbial metabolites on Alzheimer’s disease via literature review, big data analysis, and animal/cell model validation, supervised by Drs. Dean Jones (Chair) and Young-Mi Go (Co-Chair). My research interests include metabolomics, gut/oral microbiome, bioactive compounds in foods, machine learning, and dietary pattern analysis. I created an R package (dietaryindex) that is a versatile informatics tool that allows for the standardized compilation and analysis of dietary pattern indexes for researchers in the field of nutrition, epidemiology, and medicine using NHANES and all other nutrition-related databases and assessment tools ( I received my master’s degree in public health nutrition and the Registered Dietitian credential at Case Western Reserve University and my bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics at Purdue University.  

Simon (Chin-An) Yang

PhD Student

I am a second-year PhD student in the Nutrition & Health Sciences program at Emory University. Before entering Emory, I received my BS and MS from National Taiwan University (NTU) and worked in the Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Academia Sinica. My research interests include nutritional -omics and microbiome, investigating the underlying mechanisms and potential biomarkers on non-communicable diseases.

Sabrina Chow

PhD Student

I’m a first-year PhD student studying Environmental Health-Epidemiology at Rollins. My research interests are in environmental epidemiology, specifically how environmental factors affect mental health and cancer outcomes in vulnerable populations, particularly the disability community. Prior to Rollins, I received my B.S. in Health: Science, Society, and Policy and biology from Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. In my free time, I enjoy doing community service, traveling, and hiking.

Benjamin Kessler

Master student

I am a second year MPH student studying Environmental Health and Epidemiology at the Rollins School of Public Health.  I received my BS in Physiology from Michigan State University, and after my graduation, I worked for the Pediatric Public Health Initiative, an academic-community partnership in Flint, MI.  My research interests lie in the dietary and environmental risk factors for metabolic diseases, particularly diabetes mellitus and obesity.  In the future, I hope to use epidemiological methods to design and evaluate interventions for these chronic disease states.  Outside of graduate school, I love to explore the Atlanta area and take in everything the South has to offer.

Ethan Li

Master student

I am a second-year MPH student at the Rollins School of Public Health in the Environmental Health and Epidemiology program. I graduated from the University of California, Davis with a BS in Genetics and Genomic in June 2022. Prior to graduation, I volunteered as a clinic intern for Bayanihan Clinic and worked for the Aggie Public Health Ambassador program at UC Davis. My current research interests are focused on links between environmental factors, especially climate-related exposures, and chronic diseases, and using epidemiological methods to uncover those links and design interventions. Outside of academics, I enjoy cooking, writing, and exploring the Atlanta bar scene. 


Xiajie Lyu

Master student

Xiajie is a graduated MPH student in the Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health at Rollins School of Public Health (Class of 2023). She received my Medical Degree in China, and her previous research focused on cancer and its biomarkers. After joining Emory, she expanded my knowledge to focus on population data analysis and health outcomes. Her research interests are the molecular and biochemical metabolites of environmental toxicants and pollutants and their effects on disease etiology, formation, and development. She is particularly interested in cancer and adverse birth outcomes due to prenatal exposure.

Yilin Wang

Master student

Yilin is a graduated MPH student in Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health at Rollins School of Public Health (Class of 2023). Her major is environmental health Before studying here, She received my Bachelor of Medicine degree in preventive medicine from Shandong University, China. Her research interests mainly focus on environmental metabolomics, the effect of exposure to pollutants on newborn metabolism and birth outcome. 

Priyanka Bhanushali

Master student

Priyanka is a graduated MPH in the Department of Environmental Health at Rollins School of Public Health (Class of 2023). She is a registered Medical Practitioner from India and did my Bachelor’s in Ayurvedic medicine (Indian Medicine) and surgery. Previously, she worked as an intern in healthcare settings and have also worked as a medical officer in the Covid-19 taskforce post her undergraduate. Her interests lie in understanding the impacts of climate on health using the metabolomics approach. As a graduate student, She is keenly interested to understand how an environmental factor impacts health, particularly reproductive health, and birth outcomes, and elucidating its effects, metabolomics is the way to go. Outside academics, She loves painting, hiking, and traveling.

Haoran Cheng

4+1 BS/MPH Candidate

Haoran is a graduated BS/MPH in the Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health at Rollins School of Public Health (Class of 2023). He is interested in various topics related to health and data sciences. His previous research experience was mostly at the macro level, including measuring personal exposure to ambient air pollution and quantifying air quality and associated health and economic burden change using machine learning counterfactual simulations. He is also interested in research at the micro-level, and my specific responsibility within the group involves using a multi-omics approach to look into the impact of air pollutants on the human body on the molecular level, with a particular emphasis on adverse birth outcomes like preterm birth.

Sitong Chen

Master Student

Sitong is a graduated MPH student in the Department of Epidemiology at Rollins School of Public Health (Class of 2022). Before Rollins, She received my Bachelor of Science degree from UC San Diego in Family Medicine and Public Health in 2020. Her research interests mainly focus on maternal and child health, birth defects, and environmental epidemiology. In her free time, she’d love to cook and work out.

Natalie Shen

Master student

Natalie is a graduated MPH student in the Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health at Rollins School of Public Health (Class of 2023). She received B.S. in Microbiology and Cell Sciences from the University of Florida. There, she was involved in wet-lab research in the microbiology department, studying the effects of breastmilk bacteria on the gastrointestinal epithelium. As a graduate student, she is excited to expand my knowledge base to focus more on data analytics and using a multi-omics approach in the research projects that I’m involved in. Her interests lie in the cross-section of environmental toxicants, the gut microbiome, and how ‘omics technology can be utilized to inform future clinical interventions and treatment of diseases associated with enteric dysbiosis.

Xiaojie Zhi

Xiaojie is a graduated MPH student (Class of 2021) in Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health at the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, supervised by Dr. Donghai Liang. She’s interested in data analysis and management for air pollution data, laboratory data and clinical trial data. She studied Pharmaceutical Sciences for B.S. in Peking University Health Science Center.

Xiaoyue Zhang

Xiaoyue is a graduated MPH student (Class of 2021) in Environmental Health at Gangarose Department of Environmental Health. Her research interest mainly lies in environmental metabolomics, effect of exposure to organic pollutants on birth outcome as well as effects of exposure to outdoor air pollution on respiratory health. Her previous research project focused on exploring the association between maternal exposure to phthalates and metabolic perturbation among African American Pregnant Women. Before turning to environmental health, she obtained her bachelor’s degree in Sports Somatic Science from Beijing Sport University in China.

Rachel Tchen

Rachel is a graduated MPH student (Class of 2021) in the Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health at Rollins School of Public Health. Her professional interests are in human health risk assessment, exposure assessment, and toxicology. Before Rollins, she earned a B.S. in Neuroscience from Trinity University in San Antonio, TX.

Yifan Wang

Yifan is a graduated MPH student (Class of 2021) in Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, and hold a B.S. in preventive medicine from Wuhan University, China. Her research interests mainly focus on environmental epidemiology and global health, especially the health impacts of air pollution and climate change on the elderly, women and children and related protective measures. The project she worked on was exploring the association between prenatal exposures to ambient air pollutants and the risk of preterm birth in the Atlanta African American Birth Cohort.

Eunheh Koh

As a part of the 4+1 program, Eunheh graduated from Emory College with a degree in Environmental Science in May 2020, and finished her MPH in Environmental Health at Rollins in 2021. Her research focused on prenatal exposure to flame retardants (PBDEs) and how they may be linked to adverse birth outcomes.

Here is her research gate profile: