Doctoral Student Profiles

David AguilarDavid Aguilar is a doctoral student in Environmental Health Science, a Rackham Merit Fellowship (RMF) awardee and an Environmental Toxicology and Epidemiology Training Grant (ETEP) trainee. He is interested in characterizing novel environmental exposure-associated biomarkers and pathologies in various organ systems using integrated spatial transcriptomics, imaging mass spectrometry, epigenomics, digital pathology, and machine learning. Additionally, he is interested in building biomonitoring/epidemiological tools that harness epigenetic and medical imaging data in addition to traditional modalities.

Jarrod Eaton Jarrod Eaton, MPH, is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Environmental Health Science. His research focuses on biomarkers of exposure to air pollution and their association to maternal health birth outcomes, such as preterm birth. He is also interested in understanding the relationship among macroenvironmental exposures (e.g. proximity to major roads, proximity to greenspace) and various birth outcomes, as well.

Jessa EhlingerJessa V. Ehlinger is studying toxicology as a doctoral student in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences. Having received her bachelors' degrees in Marine Biology and Spanish, she is excited to now be studying the human health side of environmental health more in-depth. Through her thesis work, Jessa is taking an epigenetics approach to studying the effects of childhood mercury exposure on neurological outcomes in children and adolescents. Jessa utilizes both in vitro models of human neurodevelopment as well as epidemiological data through the ELEMENT (Early Life Exposures in Mexico to ENvironmental Toxicants) birth cohort. When Jessa is not in the lab, she enjoys playing her cello, SCUBA diving, cooking, hiking, and ignoring reminders from DuoLingo telling her to actually practice French.

Ariana HaidariAriana Haidari, MS, RD, is a doctoral student in Environmental Health Sciences. She she aims to study how nutritional and toxicant exposures across the life span alter the epigenome, and how these alterations are related to detectable changes in biomarker and metabolomic measurements. A registered dietitian since 2016, Ariana is also interested in relating epigenomic data into clinical practice.

Tomoko IshikawaTomoko Ishikawa, MS, (she/her) is a doctoral student studying Toxicology in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences. Her research interests center around early life exposure to environmental toxicants and chronic health outcomes. She is particularly interested in investigating the sex-specific epigenetic impacts of Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and arsenic on heart health. Her methodological interests include using human-induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocyte (hiPSC-CM) and mouse models. She aims to determine the molecular mechanisms and develop potential interventions that mitigate the effects on health and well-being outcomes in diverse populations.

Hailey JenkinsHaley Jenkins, MPH, RD (she/her) is a second-year EHS doctoral student in the Meeker-Watkins lab. She is interested in using biomarker epidemiology to understand the impact of anthropogenic chemical exposures (e.g., pesticides) on prenatal and perinatal health outcomes and infant/child development. Haley hopes her future research endeavors positively impact the vast existing health disparities in environmental exposures and ultimately inform policy change to protect vulnerable populations.

Thu LeThu Le is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences and international student from Vietnam. She is broadly interested in developing new, environmentally friendly, and sustainable methods of microbial control, especially to remove bacterial biofilms. She currently studies nanobubbles and their effects on various single-species and multi-species biofilms using culture techniques, microscopy, and 16S rRNA gene sequencing.

Xin LiXin Li, MS, is a doctoral student in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences. She is interested in public health issues related to microorganisms and wastewater-based epidemiology. Specifically, she aims to obtain information on the health status and spread of antibiotic resistance in communities from wastewater they discharged. She is currently involved in a wastewater surveillance project for COVID-19 in which she is working with her teammates on building up methods to monitor the spread of the disease by monitoring genetic materials of viruses in wastewater.

Evelyn MateiEvelyn Matei, MD/PhD student in the University of Michigan Medical Scientist Training Program. She has completed half of her medical training so far, and is now pursuing her doctoral degree in Toxicology in the department of Environmental Health Sciences. She is broadly interested in the effects of environmental toxicant and pesticide exposure on health, particularly in underserved, rural, and urban communities disproportionately affected by environmental poisoning. She is excited to work with Dr. Colacino and Dr. Bakulski on a project concerning the effects of lead exposure on the development of neurodegenerative disease. In terms of clinical interests, she hopes to pursue residency in either Emergency Medicine or Family Medicine, because of the connections these fields have to rural health and toxicology. In her free time, she enjoys listening to/playing music, reading, spending time with cats, and doing anything outdoors. 

Edith MercadoEdith Mercado, BS, is a first year doctoral student in the Environmental Health Sciences School of Public Health. She is interested in assessing human exposure to chemicals (metals, pesticides, PFAS, & tobacco exposures) and how they play a major role in human health. More specifically, how the mechanisms and outcomes of these chemicals interact in the human body. In addition, she is interested in how environmental injustice plays a role in marginalized communities and their interaction with these types chemicals impacting their well being. 

Shannon ParkSeonyoung (Shannon) Park, MPH, is a PhD candidate in Environmental Health Sciences. Shannon's research centers on investigating the impact of environmental chemical exposures, including endocrine-disrupting chemicals and air pollution, during pregnancy on maternal and children's health. Her research interests also encompass the utilization of advanced mixture modeling and mediation analysis techniques to gain a comprehensive understanding of real-world exposure scenarios and the underlying physiological mechanisms through which these exposures influence the development and etiology of complex diseases.

Katelyn PolemiKatelyn Polemi, MS, is a Toxicology doctoral student in the Department of Environmental Health. Katelyn’s research interests lie in examining the role of chemical exposures in breast cancer development, investigating the epigenetic impact of these chemicals, and understanding the role of piRNA in cancer progression and treatment.

Margaret RabotnickMargaret H. Rabotnick, MPH, is a PhD candidate pursing a degree in Toxicology. Her research focuses on the role of chemical exposures during pregnancy on immediate and long-term maternal and fetal health. Maggie's dissertation work involves studying the impact of in utero exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and modification of the maternal lipidome as well as placental cell specific lipid- and transcriptomic changes that are potentially mediated by peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs). She is specifically interested in the impact that any lipid- and transcriptomic alterations may have on the pathogenesis of adverse pregnancy outcomes including preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, preterm birth, and low birth weight.

Kimberley Sala-HamrickKimberley (Kimmie) Sala-Hamrick (she/her) is a PhD student pursuing a degree in Toxicology. She has a B.S. in Biology from the University of Michigan and worked as a research assistant at Wayne State University School of Medicine before starting graduate school. Her research projects focus on developmental exposures and their possibility to affect piRNA biology in the heart. In her free time, Kimmie enjoys exploring the great outdoors and her cats, Aang and Bumi.

Abas ShkembiAbas Shkembi, MS, is interested in connecting the dots between environmental and occupational exposures and their role in cumulative environmental injustices using spatial statistics and machine learning techniques. Abas received his BS in Statistics, minoring in Environmental Science, from the University of Michigan in 2020, and an MS in Industrial Hygiene, also from the University of Michigan in 2023

Ram SiwakotiRam C. Siwakoti, MS, is a doctoral student focusing on environmental epidemiology in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences. He is broadly interested in applying advanced statistical and data science methods to examine the health effects of various chemicals, including per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). In addition, Ram is also interested in studying the combined health effects of mixtures within or across different chemical classes.

Jennifer SmithJennifer Smith is a doctoral student in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences pursuing a PhD in Toxicology. She is interested in the effects of environmental toxicants on gene expression, and their subsequent contributions to abnormal neurobehavioral deficits in adulthood. She has a passion for maternal and fetal health, and hopes to study the effects of these gene-toxicant interactions in utero. Jennifer hopes to elucidate the various barriers that may exist amongst different populations because of epigenetic setbacks that have occurred as a result non-consensual toxic exposure. She seeks to use her research as a tool to advocate for widespread policy change in urban and rural areas, and other locations of uniquely high toxic exposure and poor health outcomes.

philip steenstraPhilip Steenstra, M.S., MMAS, is a doctoral student in the Toxicology program of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences. His research interests revolve around assessing human exposure, measuring long-term health outcomes, and determining environmental transport and fate of chemical hazards within the environment. 

savannah sturla iziarrySavannah Sturla Irizarry (she/her) a doctoral candidate in Environmental Health Sciences. She is interested in how environmental exposures contribute to disparities in adverse birth and developmental outcomes. Savannah aims to integrate biomarker epidemiology with mixed-methods and community-based frameworks in her work. Savannah's dissertation focuses on prenatal exposure to metal and metalloid mixtures through drinking water and child neurodevelopment outcomes in Puerto Rico using both quantitative and qualitative investigation. 

Anupon TadeeAnupon Tadee, MS, (he/him) is a doctoral student in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences – Industrial Hygiene. He has a BPH in Occupational Health and Safety and MS in Toxicology from the University in Thailand. He is broadly interested in the investigation of health and safety of workers in various fields. His dissertation aims to understand the occupational hazards, risk factors, and health and safety perspectives of researchers. In his free time, he enjoys walking in natural places, watching youtube, and relaxing at home.

Lauren WardLauren Ward, MPH&TM, (she/her) is a doctoral student in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences. She is interested in the health impacts of environmental and occupational exposures to infectious agents, and
chemicals. Lauren's research uses epidemiological approaches to examine the relationships between such exposures and epigenetic outcomes, as well as the impacts of toxicant exposures on immune system function. Her current research  focuses on the impacts of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) exposure on epigenetic age and infectious disease immunity in firefighters and the relationship between environmental PFAS exposure and immune function in adolescents in Nepal.

Xin ZhangXin Zhang, MPH, (she/her) is a doctoral student in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences. She is interested in occupational exposure to physical agents, with a focus on noise exposure, hearing loss, and related health outcomes. In addition, Xin is interested in integrating novel sampling method to collect exposure data on a larger scale and applying advanced statistical models to explore the exposure-response relationships.