Category Archives: #WeAreEmoryEPI

Student Spotlight: Cynthia Jones

Category : #WeAreEmoryEPI

Cynthia Jones, 2nd Year MPH Student

I am a graduate research assistant with the Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) support center. In partnership with other organizations, our team conducts operational research activities that address challenges faced by NTD control and elimination programs globally. My responsibilities include managing data from surveys that quantify the presence of helminthic infections – onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, and loiasis – and representing our findings to support and inform ongoing program activities.

At EmoryEPI, I’ve learned: The key to excellent data management is excellent documentation – the truth is always in the details. Much of my job requires extensive attention to detail, and thanks to the professors who require thorough descriptions of code work and study methods, activities such as reproducing data manipulations and performing trace-backs are no problem.

Being part of a team that supports disadvantaged populations around the world through its unique role in the fight against NTDs is extremely motivating and challenges me to continue learning and developing new skills so that I can contribute to the best of my abilities. It’s an exciting time to work in NTDs!




Student Practicum (APE) Spotlight: Zara Khan, Ibis Reproductive Health

Category : #WeAreEmoryEPI

Zara Khan, 2nd Year EPI MPH

Undergrad: Rice University, Cognitive Sciences

Research Interests: Sexual and reproductive health, developmental origins of human disease

Summer Practicum Experience: I spent the summer working on my dream practicum in Oakland, CA with Ibis Reproductive Health, a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing rigorous research and principled partnerships to advance sexual and reproductive autonomy, choices, and health worldwide. My work mostly entailed quantitative and qualitative analysis for several projects, including a randomized controlled trial of a smartphone app to provide women in Indonesia access to information about medication abortion. After my summer internship, I have continued my work with Ibis as a consultant. My supervisor, Ruvani (also a Rollins Epi grad!), remains one of my most trusted mentors, helping guide my trajectory both at RSPH and within the SRH field.

Lilly Boyer, 1st Year EPI & Alumni Kristina Lai, Rebecca Lewis, and Kristen Allen work together at CHOA

Category : #WeAreEmoryEPI

First year EPI student Lilly Boyer works alongside Kristina Lai, Rebecca Lewis, and Kristen Allen, Emory EPI Alumni at CHOA’s Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorder Center.

Lilly Boyer, EPI 2020: “I work with Rebecca on cancer survivorship research studies. I’m currently helping to review children’s oncology group centers who have survivor clinic. I really like working at CHOA because of the community and I can tell the staff really care about the patients we serve. I am very passionate about working in cancer survivorship to improve the quality of life of childhood cancer survivors.

Rebecca has been a great boss! She pays close attention to detail so she’s been incredible helpful in checking over the surveys. I have learned a lot from her about data analysis! (Also, she’s very kind- she made brownies for my birthday.)

I don’t work with Kristina in an official capacity but our desks are closeby. I’ve enjoyed getting to know her and ask her questions about her experiences at Rollins, the field of epidemiology and about her work at CHOA.”

Rebecca Lewis, MPH EPI 2011: “I am a Research Epidemiologist with the survivorship team at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.  Our research focuses primarily on the late effects of therapy among pediatric cancer survivors. My day to day is filled with the spectrum of research from helping to design studies and write grants to cleaning and analyzing data to preparing manuscripts for publication.

I spend a lot of time cleaning and merging data so my SAS skills have been fundamental.

I truly enjoyed learning the course work — the curriculum focuses on instilling methods that can be used in a variety of fields.”

Kristina Lai, MPH GLEPI 2016: “I am a research epidemiologist for the sickle cell disease team here at CHOA. I mostly work on projects related to health services, but I frequently collaborate with psychologists, infectious disease physicians, and outside partners in public health for any research related to sickle cell disease. I also manage a large clinical database of sickle cell patients that is used by CHOA physicians and partners for clinical trials and outcomes research.

The training I received at Emory has provided me with a fantastic foundation for a career in epidemiology!”

Thanks to the CHOA Team for sharing their #IAmEmoryEPI story with us! If you work with other Emory EPI students and alumni, we’d love for you to share your stories with us! Email us or submit your answers here:

Meet your new RSGA EPI Reps!

Michelle McKinlay Nathan Quan
Hey y’all! My name is Michelle and I am so excited to have the opportunity to serve as one of your Epi Reps. I am originally from a small town called Enumclaw, Washington, completed my undergrad at UC Berkeley (GO BEARS!), moved to rural Alabama for two years to complete a community health fellowship, and am now here at RSPH with all of you. Within the department, I find myself most interested in social epidemiology, though am enjoying the opportunity to explore various topics at Rollins. Some of my favorite things include paddleboarding, eating yummy food, scary movies, gymnastics, the Seahawks, the Cal Bears, and spending time with my family. I’m also a self-proclaimed coffee shop connoisseur, so please share your favorite spots with me! One of my main goals as your Epi Rep is to create an environment within the department that allows everyone to feel welcome, and encourages students to extend beyond their typical comfort zones. And, of course, to help create an awesome Epi Department t-shirt! See you around Rollins.
I’m very excited to have begun my term as EPI student rep! I grew up in Vienna, VA and attended Virginia Tech for undergrad (GO HOKIES!!!). In my spare time, I love cooking, reading, and discovering new music. I’m also training to enter my first road cycling race this semester! One of my goals as EPI rep is to increase first and second year student body interaction. I hope to meet each and everyone of you!

Alumni Spotlight: Nicole Sartwood

Category : #WeAreEmoryEPI

Nicole Sartwood, MSPH EH EPI 2017

Research Analyst & Programmer -Harvard T.H. Chan School

I build computational models of tuberculosis in both the US and global populations. Through these models various intervention and policy options are investigated for their ability to reduce disease burden and their cost-effectiveness.

What from the EPI program helps you in your current position: Working as Dr. Sam Jenness’ TA reminded me of my love for computational modeling and its utility in the realm of Public Health.

Advice to current EPIs: Network! Not only with professors and other established scholars, but also with your peers. The students at RSPH have a diverse wealth of knowledge!

Faculty Spotlight: Dayna Johnson

Category : #WeAreEmoryEPI

Dayna A. Johnson, PhD, MPH, MSW, MS

My research is aimed at understanding the root causes of sleep health disparities and their impact on cardiovascular disease by 1) addressing the social and environmental determinants of sleep disorders and insufficient sleep; and 2) investigating the influence of modifiable factors such as sleep disorders and disturbances on disparities in cardiovascular outcomes.

Favorite Lecture to Teach: Social determinants of sleep

How I interact with students: I have 4 students that work in my research lab. They help with launching new studies, scoring sleep, literature searches and participate in manuscript as well as grant preparation.

Twitter Handle: @DrDaynaAJohnson

Fun Facts: I have run 4 half marathons and was on a marathon relay team.

Recent Publications: 

Johnson, D. A., et al. (2018). “Prevalence and correlates of obstructive sleep apnea among African Americans: the Jackson Heart Sleep Study.” Sleep 41(10).

Johnson, D. A., et al. (2018).  “Association Between Sleep Apnea and Blood Pressure Control Among Blacks: Jackson Heart Sleep Study.” Circulation.


Alumni Spotlight: Vanessa Da Costa

Category : #WeAreEmoryEPI

Vanessa Da Costa, GLEPI MPH, 2018

Global Epidemiology Fellow at CDC South Africa (PHI/CDC Global Health Fellowship Program)

I am on the Quality Improvement Team at CDC South Africa. In this position I support the development of data collection and analysis tools for quality improvement projects. I also manage SIMS (Site Improvement Monitoring System) to ensure adequate data collection, visit completion, and quality assurance. I work with the Quality Improvement team to collaborate across CDC branches (prevention, care and treatment, etc) and support implementing partners in our overall goal of helping facilities reach their 90-90-90 PEPFAR targets through the use of quality improvement strategies.

From the classroom, I found my coursework in evidence-based decision making, data cleaning to be very helpful skills to my work in this position. Additionally, I am very glad I took the weekend EPI Info course, since I use that software on a daily basis! My work-study experience at Rollins is instrumental to my work now. While working with the Rwanda Zambia HIV Research Group and my faculty advisor in the Department of Epidemiology, I was able to lead the data collection tool development and actively participate in the monitoring and evaluation of a postpartum family planning intervention. Those skills I gained while at RSPH are directly related to the work I am doing at CDC South Africa.

Additionally, take advantage of courses outside of your department. The qualitative coursework I’ve completed and accompanying practical experience is beneficial to my work in Quality Improvement. Another suggestion is to take advantage of out of classroom learning opportunities. Personally, my non-classroom experiences are just as valuable- if not more- than my in classroom ones. This includes work study, practicum, and Rollins mHealth Collaboration sessions on implementing digital health strategies!


Faculty Spotlight: Lauren Christiansen-Lindquist

Category : #WeAreEmoryEPI

Lauren Christiansen-Lindquist, PhD, MPH

My research interests include improving 1) stillbirth surveillance, 2) access to evaluations to determine the cause of death, and 3) the care that families receive around the time of a loss.

Courses: EPI 534, EPI 565, EPI 740, EPI 791, HLTH 207

Favorite Lecture to Teach: It’s so hard to choose! I really enjoy teaching about selecting controls for case-control studies – it’s fun to show how the math works out in order for the OR to estimate other measures of association

How I interact with students: Advise theses, work with REAL students through the MCH Center of Excellence

Follow on #EpiTwitter: @LCLindquist

Recent Publication:  Forsberg K, Christiansen-Lindquist L, Silver RM. (2018). Factors Associated with Stillbirth Autopsy in Georgia and Utah, 2010-2014: The Importance of Delivery Location. Am J Perinatol. 35(13):1271-1280. doi: 10.1055/s-0038-1648234. Epub 2018 May 3. PubMed PMID: 29723902.

Fun Fact: When I’m off duty (both from work, and being a mom of 3 boys), I like to spend time in my craft room sewing.

Upcoming Events

  • Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Series September 21, 2023 at 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm CNR-AUDITORIUM Event Type: Seminar SeriesOther Calendars: MeetingSpeaker: Spencer Fox, PhDSeries: Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics SeriesContact Name: Porchia Coleman-ArnoldContact Email: Porchia.Arnold@emory.eduEvent Open To: Faculty, Students, AlumniTitle: Actionable modeling of outbreaks for public health
  • Dispatches from the AIDS Pandemic: Discussion and Book Signing September 26, 2023 at 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm Special Event; Zoom Online Location: ZoomEvent Type: Special EventSpeaker: Dr. James Curran, Dr. Kevin DeCock and Dr. Harold JaffeContact Name: Michelle JamesContact Email: michelle.james@emory.eduA unique firsthand account from three public health leaders of CDC's early response to AIDS, the book traces the evolution of AIDS from newly recognized disease to pandemic. Join the authors for an engaging discussion…
  • Coffee With the Council - hosted by Staff Council September 27, 2023 at 10:30 am – 11:30 am Meeting Event Type: MeetingSeries: Coffee With the Council - hosted by Staff CouncilContact Name: Staff CouncilContact Email: rsphstaffcouncil@emory.eduRSPH staff are invited to join us in the Klamon Room (CNR 8030) for Coffee with the Council, hosted by Staff Council. Discover our plans, share feedback, and connect with fellow RSPH colleagues over coffee and breakfast. Your presence…

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