Author Archives: Jazib Gohar

2nd Year MPH: Yesenia Ramirez

Category : #WeAreEmoryEPI

For this week’s special edition of #IamEmoryEpi, we met up with recent Women of Excellence Award recipient Yesenia Ramirez!

Tell us a little bit about your academic history:

I graduated from Wellesley College in 2015 and double majored in Chemistry and Italian Studies. After graduation, I worked as a research assistant for the child and family health department of the city of Chicago, then became a clinical research coordinator for the asthma and immunology department for a local hospital. 

What are your primary research interests?

My research interests include social epidemiology and issues affecting maternal and child populations (so most things), which led me to pursue the maternal and child health (MCH) certificate here at Rollins. I am currently researching how immigration policy has affected birth outcomes among minority populations in Georgia and have been privileged to work on various projects ranging from births defects, maternal mortality, and children and youth with special healthcare needs in my time here.

Are there any exciting projects or experiences you are involved in right now?

I am currently the principal investigator on a research project funded by a Health Innovation Student (HIP) seed grant with an interdisciplinary team of students across Emory, Georgia State University (GSU), and Georgia Tech, working with Embrace-Friends of Refugees to improve their pregnancy curriculum. Our team has filmed culturally-tailored videos on the late and postpartum stages of pregnancy focusing on topics like labor induction, infant care, and postpartum depression. Recently, our team was invited to the 2020 Association for Maternal and Child Health Programming (AMCHP) conference to present our work. Additionally, I work as an intern with the birth defects branch at the CDC and help manage data for the National Birth Defects Prevention Study.

Tell us about the Women of Excellence Award

The Woman of Excellence Awards are presented by the Center for Women at Emory and are awarded based on nominations submitted by the Emory community. There are eight distinct categories and I was nominated by fellow peers to receive the Student Leadership Award. They will be having a ceremony March 5th at 6:30pm and anyone can RSVP.

What are you receiving the award for?

I am receiving the Student Leadership Award for my work with Embrace– Friends of Refugee as well as other leadership endeavors, including being the co-president of Health Organizations for Latin America (HOLA) and involvement with local grassroots organizations providing assistance and advocacy for immigrant populations here in Atlanta.

What are you most excited about for receiving this prestigious award?

I am mostly excited to be able to spread the word and bring attention to the great work being done by Embrace- Friends of Refugees. They have amazing programs and could always benefit from Emory-Rollins Student volunteers.

What are three fun facts that you want people to know about you?

  1. I am an art appreciator and love learning about new artists.
  2. I speak three languages.
  3. I am on a quest to learn how to make vegetarian/vegan Mexican dishes.

1st Year MPH: Michael Kozuch

Category : #WeAreEmoryEPI

For this week’s #IamEmoryEpi spotlight, we met up with Michael Kozuch!

Tell us a little bit about your academic history:

I received my bachelors of science in neurobiology at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. I also spent considerable time in a medical entomology lab studying tick- and mosquito-borne disease.

What are your primary research interests?

I really want to focus in the realm of dementia research. Specifically, I would like to work with individuals to improve modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s Disease.

What are you looking forward to this Spring Semester?

I’m really enjoying the increased expectations placed on students to pursue their own interests through their class choices. I’m really looking forward to meeting so many new professors through my substantive courses in CVD Epi, Molecular Epi, and Human Genome Epi.

Are there any exciting projects that you are currently working on?

I am writing a health promotion grant on campus to facilitate bicycle commuting as a health-oriented mode of transportation. This grant will supplement ongoing work to educate and advocate for greater bicycle safety on campus and throughout Atlanta.

What is your favorite part about earning your MPH at Rollins?

I enjoy knowing that every person I meet here will challenge me to be my best self.

What advice do you have for people who may be interested in getting their MPH?

Cultivate your driving motivation for public health early on, but be willing to step outside your comfort zone to learn about new and exciting developments in public health.

What books are you currently reading, or what podcasts are you currently listening to?

I consume 1-2 hours of podcasts daily (on 1.5-2x speed!) covering everything from economics, to politics, to scientific research. I can heartily recommend starting your day with Judy Woodruff on the podcast version of PBS Newshour. I also enjoy hearing my past co-workers on the Dementia Matters podcast from the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

What are three fun facts that you want people to know about you?

  1. I have a wonderful little 48 lb husky named Phillip who likes to run and bike with me.
  2. My significant other and I both committed to study at Rollins together and moved here from Wisconsin.
  3. My favorite eustress is a long, quiet bike ride through some form of remote wilderness.

2nd Year MPH: Gerard Portela

Category : #WeAreEmoryEPI

For this week’s #IamEmoryEpi spotlight, we met up with Gerard Portela!

Tell us a little bit about your academic history:

I studied psychology at Rice University in Houston, TX and graduated in 2016.

What are your primary research interests?

I am primarily interested in infectious disease epidemiology. Specifically, I am interested in infectious disease dynamics and spatial dependence of infectious diseases.

What are you looking forward to this Spring Semester?

I’m looking forward to finishing my thesis, graduation in May, and figuring out plans for next year. I’m also really looking forward to visiting Houston for the rodeo!

Are there any exciting projects or experiences you are involved in right now?

My main focus has been my thesis on the surveillance of Staph aureus in Atlanta communities. I am looking at individual and neighborhood factors associated with these infections. I am also working on a project measuring mental health outcomes related to menstruation practices in women in rural India.

What is your favorite part about earning your MPH at Rollins?

I’ve really enjoyed being able to get involved in a variety of projects ranging from surveillance to WASH to infectious disease.

What advice do you have for 1st year MPH students?

Take the time and put in the work to find a thesis you are really interested in and want to work on. It helps a lot!

What books are you currently reading, or what podcasts are you currently listening to?

I am currently reading ‘The Outsider’ by Stephen King. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Rumble with Michael Moore for all things politics.

What are three fun facts that you want people to know about you?

  1. I keep a spread sheet of every restaurant, coffee shop, and bar I have been to and want to go to in Atlanta with what to try at each.
  2. I’ve seen every movie nominated for best picture in the last 5 years.
  3. I lived in NH for 12 years, but have never been to Canada.

1st Year MPH: Allie Tuttle

Category : #WeAreEmoryEPI

For this week’s #IamEmoryEpi spotlight, we met up with Allie Tuttle!

Tell us a little bit about your academic history:

I went to Northwestern University where I majored in Biological Sciences and minored in Business Institutions.

What are your primary research interests?

I’m interested in cancer epidemiology, specifically the genetic and molecular side of the disease, which is why I’m pursuing the Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology certificate!

What were you up this this past summer?

This past summer I wrapped up my job at a biotech start-up called Tempus where I worked on the clinical data team. I did a lot of different things while I was there, but one of the coolest projects I was involved with was creating reports for “live” cancer patients currently receiving treatment for their disease. We worked with other teams to compile & analyze individual patient’s specific genetic mutations, prior treatments, and tumor characteristics. Based on that info we identified therapies they were most likely to respond to, and provided this information to their oncologists to inform future treatment decisions. My experience at that company is what inspired me to pursue my MPH at Rollins.

What is your favorite part about earning your MPH at Rollins?

It’s been said before but I’ll say it again- the people! Emory has such a supportive environment. Everyone is incredibly welcoming and friendly, and there’s just a feeling that everyone from your peers to your professors really want to see you succeed.

What advice do you have for people who may be interested in getting their MPH?

Go for it!! I was debating if getting my MPH was the right decision up until I got here in August, but everything I’ve experienced since being at Emory has reassured me that it was!

What books are you currently reading, or what podcasts are you currently listening to?

I usually listen to The Daily from NYT every morning to stay up on general happenings & get an in-depth look at one story in the headlines that I may know nothing about (they recently did a series on the vaping epidemic- super interesting for epi people!) I’ve also started listening to a new podcast from NPR called Short Wave- it’s super short (10-15 mins) and covers a wide variety of topics that generally fall under the umbrella of “science.”

What are three fun facts that you want people to know about you?

  1. I’m obsessed with the Tiny Doors around Atlanta- I will find them all before I graduate
  2. In college I had pet rats named Hodor & Scabbers
  3. I played basketball at Northwestern (go ‘cats)

2nd Year MPH: Connor Van Meter

Category : #WeAreEmoryEPI

For this week’s #IamEmoryEpi spotlight, we met up with Connor Van Meter!

Tell us a little bit about your academic history:

I graduated from Washington University in Saint Louis in 2015 after studying mathematics and anthropology.

What are your primary research interests?

My primary research interests are in both perinatal and infectious disease epidemiology. Specifically, I am interested in congenital infections and infectious disease dynamics and modeling.

What did you do this past summer?

This summer I worked on a team at CDC that specializes in emerging threats to mothers and babies. I supported projects in surveillance and research of Zika virus and other pathogens that can be transmitted from mothers to their children during pregnancy.

Are there any exciting projects or experiences you are involved in right now?

The research group I work with is reviewing responses to the Emory American Men’s Internet Survey. Results from the analysis may be used to inform transmission models of HIV among men who have sex with men. These models may be used to guide policy and prevention measures.

What is your favorite part about earning your MPH at Rollins?

There are so many kind, conscientious, and intelligent people here with many different interests and different backgrounds. I’m always learning.

What advice do you have for 1st year MPH students?

Easier said than done, but try not to over-commit. Always make time for the most important things, like yourself, your family, and your friends.

What books are you currently reading, or what podcasts are you currently listening to?

My favorite podcast is This American Life. Sundays at noon on 90.1 FM WABE but also streaming online or downloadable on the app! Generally two or three original stories each week are shared based around a central theme detailing life across America.

What are three fun facts that you want people to know about you?

  1. I can say the entire alphabet backwards.
  2. I sing in my car when no one is riding with me.
  3. I can sing the entire alphabet backwards in my car when no one is riding with me.

2nd Year MPH: Lilly Boyer

Category : #WeAreEmoryEPI

For this week’s #IamEmoryEpi spotlight, we wanted to highlight someone who has played a big role in The Confounder’s success as its first editor: Lilly Boyer!

Tell us a little bit about your academic history:

I was a Human Health major at Emory University.

What are your primary research interests?

I am interested in chronic disease epi. I am writing my thesis with CHOA on cancer survivorship.

What are you looking forward to this spring semester?

I am excited to be working with CHOA (after having worked with them last year through REAL)! I am passionate about cancer survivorship and excited to be a part of the great research they do that directly informs the care of childhood cancer survivors.

Are there any exciting projects or experiences you are involved in right now?

I’m currently working at the Georgia Department of Public Health with the acute Epidemiology team on foodborne illness. It’s been great seeing what it’s like to work at the state level.

What is your favorite part about earning your MPH at Rollins?

I chose Rollins because of the exposure to public health practice through work experience and the strength of the academic program. I have really enjoyed getting to see public health in practice and being part of the community, especially being a part of the Confounder team!

What advice do you have for 1st year MPH students?

There are so many great opportunities at Rollins and in the public health organizations in Atlanta but make sure you take some time to unwind and do something you love. I recommend going to the botantical garden and Piemont Park!

What books are you currently reading, or what podcasts are you currently listening to?

Some of my favorite podcasts to listen to are Freakonomics Radio, Dear HBR and Hidden Brain. I find Freakonomics Radio very interesting because it covers behavior change and even some public health issues. Dear HBR is good for professional development advice; I like Hidden Brain because it uses science to explain human behavior and relationships.

What are three fun facts that you want people to know about you?

  1. I raised sheep and had pet rabbits as a kid.
  2. I love Orangetheory, just ask my friends. I’ve recruited 5 people to join.
  3. I love to bake; it is genetic as my mom’s family were popular bakers in Germany and Washington DC.

What will you miss most about being part of the EmoryEpi Social Media Team?

I am going to miss working with the Confounder team. As a first year especially, I really enjoyed getting to work with Tori and Duncan and getting advice from them. I enjoyed seeing the Confounder grow and develop as time went on and we welcomed the new team. I feel like part of the reason the Confounder has been so successful is because of the students, faculty, ADAPS and alumni who contribute to the team, read the content and send in items to post. I really enjoyed connecting with alumni and students in the Rollins community and hearing the great work people are doing while at Rollins and beyond. 

2nd Year MPH: Marina Bruck

Category : #WeAreEmoryEPI

For this week’s #IamEmoryEpi spotlight, we met up with Marina Bruck!

Tell us a little bit about your academic history:

I was a pre-med Spanish major at the University of Florida (Go Gators!)

What are your primary research interests?

My primary research interests include hospital epi, infectious disease, and climate change.

What are you looking forward to this spring semester?

I am really looking forward to graduation in May, and hoping the Gators make the NCAA tournament!

Are there any exciting projects or experiences you are involved in right now?

I am currently working as an intern with the Infection Prevention team at Emory University Hospital Midtown. I get to do surveillance of HAI’s and work on teams made up of people from across all sectors of the hospital.

What is your favorite part about earning your MPH at Rollins?

My favorite part of earning my MPH at Emory is hearing about all the awesome things my friends are doing. Everyone has a different passion, and I love that we can all share that.

What advice do you have for 1st year MPH students?

Put down the books once in a while and enjoy this great city you’re living in. Whether it’s joining a yoga class in a different part of town or grabbing a bite after class, each neighborhood in ATL has it’s own personality!

What books are you currently reading, or what podcasts are you currently listening to?

My current favorite podcast is “Battleground:Florida,” which talks about everything from the political climate to the film industry.

What are three fun facts that you want people to know about you?

  1. I grew up 30 minutes from Disney World.
  2. My favorite movie of all time is Jaws.
  3. I’ve only ever seen snow twice and that is more than enough for me!

1st Year MPH: Emma Butturini

Category : #WeAreEmoryEPI

For the first #IamEmoryEpi spotlight of the semester, we met up with the newest member of our EmoryEPI Social Media Team: Emma Butturini!

Tell us a little bit about your academic history:

I just graduated from Wake Forest University, in North Carolina where I majored in biology and minored in health policy and administration.

What are your primary research interests?

My main research interests are in infectious disease, outbreak response, and disease surveillance.

What are you looking forward to this spring semester?

I am really looking forward to taking more electives this semester. I am taking a GIS class and global health systems and financing class, which I think will be really interesting topics to complement what I’ll be learning in the main Epi classes.

Are there any exciting projects or experiences you are involved in right now?

At my REAL job with the Rwanda Zambia HIV Research Group, their clinic in Rwanda has been recruited to assist in the administration of a mass Ebola vaccination campaign along the border of Rwanda and the DRC, so I have been able to help prepare some materials for the campaign and I am excited to continue working on that project as it unfolds and learn more about how large scale vaccination initiatives are run.

What is your favorite part about earning your MPH at Rollins?

The professors have definitely been my favorite part about Rollins so far. In the intro classes last semester, I was so surprised how enthusiastic all of my professors were about the material, how passionate they were about getting to know their students, and how they provided guidance through their own journeys in public health.

What advice do you have for people who may be interested in getting their MPH?

Based on the advice I got from advisors in undergrad, I would remind them that while academics are important, going into your MPH it is just as important to focus on gaining practical experiences and professional/research mentorship to prepare you best for whatever opportunities you are hoping to pursue afterward. Also don’t feel pressured to decide on a specific research area from the start, take time to explore your interests and opportunities that are exciting to you!

What books are you currently reading, or what podcasts are you currently listening to?

Some of my favorite books that I have read recently are “The Hot Zone” by Richard Preston, about the origins of the Ebola virus and “We Fed an Island” by Jose Andreas, about the humanitarian response led by a group of chefs to feed hundreds of thousands of people in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

What are three fun facts that you want people to know about you?

  1. I love to cook and try new restaurants in my spare time.
  2. I didn’t learn to ride a bike until I was 22 (and I am still not very good at it).
  3. In my junior year of college I did a multi-country study abroad program, and spent the semester in India, South Africa, and Brazil.

What are you most excited about being on the EmoryEPI Social Media Team?

I am really excited to have the chance to get to know and learn about more people across the Rollins community, and to be able to help connect students to meaningful resources and opportunities!


PhD Candidate: Davit Baliashvili

Category : #WeAreEmoryEPI

For this week’s #IamEmoryEpi spotlight, we met up with Davit Baliashvili!

Tell us a little bit about your academic history:

I went to Medical school in Tbilisi State Medical University, in the country of Georgia. Then did my MPH in the same university before coming to Emory for my MSCR (Master of Science in Clinical Research) degree in 2013-2014

What are your primary research interests?

My research interest is infectious diseases in general, although my research is mostly focused on tuberculosis and viral hepatitis C. I have co-advisors in the PhD program: Dr. Neel Gandhi and Dr. Henry Blumberg

What were you up this this past summer?

The first few weeks of summer I was “healing wounds” (i.e. lying on the couch doing nothing but watching TV and playing video games) from the PhD qualifying exam that we took in early June. Then I went to country of Georgia, where I started to work on my dissertation ideas and developed a concept letter.

Are there any exciting projects or experiences you are involved in right now?

Recently I attended The Union’s World Conference on Lung Health where I presented my project that I am working on as part of my Research Assistantship. I am also working on a manuscript about hepatitis C seroprevalence and genotype distribution in the country of Georgia. However, most of my time is focused on dissertation, in which I am studying co-infection of tuberculosis and hepatitis C in the country of Georgia.

What is your favorite part about earning your PhD at Rollins?

Agh, so many things! I feel like I learned more things in past two years that I have during all my previous years of education. But if I have to name just one favorite part of getting PhD at Emory, it’s getting to know my fellow PhD students. Amazing people!

What advice do you have for MPH students?

Try to separate your work hours and rest/relax hours as much as you can. The more focused you are during work hours, the more productive these hours are and more time is left for relaxation and fun activities. If possible, try completing all the schoolwork at school or in library, and enjoy the well-deserved rest at home.

What books are you currently reading, or what podcasts are you currently listening to?

I am currently reading/listening three books in parallel – The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman on my Kindle, Favorite Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow as a print book and Aesop’s Fables as an audiobook.

What are three fun facts that you want people to know about you?

  1. I had a pet turtle when I was a kid
  2. I learned how to ride a bike when I was 29 (still don’t know how to drive a car)
  3. I translate science fiction and fantasy books from English into Georgian (my native language) together with my friend, and we have translated and published 10 books so far.

Rollins Professor: Allison Chamberlain

Category : #WeAreEmoryEPI

For this week’s #IamEmoryEPI, we caught up with Dr. Allison Chamberlain!

Tell us where you went to school:

I am a proud Virginia Wahoo (GO HOOS!). After my time in Charlottesville, I got a Masters of Science degree from Georgetown University and my PhD in Epi from RSPH.

What are your primary research interests?

I am interested in infectious disease epidemiology, public health practice, and vaccine promotion. I do a lot of work with clinicians interested in improving their promotion of preventive health interventions (e.g. vaccines, PrEP for HIV) to their patients. Right now, I am working to characterize PrEP (for HIV) promotion practices among primary care providers in Atlanta. I want to explore whether a particular model from vaccine promotion can be tweaked for and applied to PrEP promotion.

What did you do this past summer?

This past summer, I worked with two recent Emory Epi PhD grads on data analysis for a PBS Frontline documentary exploring the breadth and impact of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that occurred around the time of the Flint water crisis. It was an interesting opportunity to put our Epi skills and knowledge towards a lay media production. The documentary aired on September 10 and can be found here:

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/flints-deadly-water/

How did you find the research that you are currently conducting?

Much of my current research is done in collaboration with the Fulton County Board of Health (FCBOH) in downtown Atlanta. I work as a consultant to FCBOH two days per week. More on that can be found here:

https://jphmpdirect.com/2019/01/29/my-life-as-a-pracademic/

Are there any exciting manuscripts or projects that you are currently working on?

Yep! Having just finished FCBOH’s second sexual health & PrEP-focused survey at the 2019 Atlanta Pride festivals, I am drafting up descriptions of my analysis needs…will be looking for some more student help soon!

What is your favorite part about being at Emory?

The ambition of the students. It’s infectious and energizing.

Do you have any advice for MPH students?

While you’re at Rollins, accept any opportunities you can that involve either primary data collection or survey design & implementation. Those skills will serve you enormously in the working world!

What current books are you reading and/or podcasts that you are currently listening to?

Pivot by Jenny Blake is my absolute favorite Podcast. Her book (also called Pivot) is so great for anyone trying to figure out their next career move. The book Range by David Epstein is also a great read – particularly for those of us (ahem, me) looking to justify having interests in a lot of topics!

What are three fun facts about yourself?

  1. I love working in between academia and local public health practice. I want more students and faculty to work at this intersection.
  2. I am looking forward to leading EPI 535: Designing and Implementing Epi Studies for the first time this Spring!
  3. I never order anything but plain chocolate ice cream when I go get ice cream. Drives my topping-loving kids insane.

Upcoming Events

  • The Summer Institute in Statistics and Modeling in Infectious Diseases (SISMID) July 15, 2024 – July 31, 2024 Conference / Symposium Event Type: Conference / SymposiumSeries: The Summer Institute in Statistics and Modeling in Infectious Diseases (SISMID)Speaker: Leaders in the FieldContact Name: Pia ValerianoContact Email: pvaleri@emory.eduLink: https://sph.emory.edu/SISMID/index.htmlThe Summer Institute in Statistics and Modeling in Infectious Diseases (SISMID) is designed to introduce infectious disease researchers to modern methods of statistical analysis and mathematical modeling.
  • The Second Annual RSPH Staff and Post-Doctoral Ice Cream Social August 14, 2024 at 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm Networking and Special Event Event Type: Networking,Special EventContact Name: Staff CouncilContact Email: rsphstaffcouncil@emory.eduRoom Location: RRR_Terrace 2nd FloorRSPH staff and post-docs are invited to join us for ice cream and delightful conversation. This event is hosted by the RSPH Staff Council.
  • Tricks and Treats with the Council, hosted by the RSPH Staff Council October 31, 2024 at 10:00 am – 11:30 am Networking and Special Event Event Type: Networking,Special EventContact Name: Staff CouncilContact Email: rsphstaffcouncil@emory.eduRoom Location: CNR_8030 Lawrence P. &Ann Estes Klamon roomRSPH staff and post-docs are invited to join the RSPH Staff Council for a festive gathering featuring sweet treats and refreshments. Costumes are encouraged but not required.

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