Doctoral Student Profiles
Sara Abelson, MPH, uses causal methods to investigate the impact of higher education policy on student mental health, with a goal of identifying opportunities to improve health equity. She serves as a Co-Investigator and Lead for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Projects for the largest national study of college student mental health, Healthy Minds. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies, Sara was Vice President of the national nonprofit, Active Minds, where she worked with students and administrators across the country to build healthy campuses.
Marcus Andrews, MPH, is a doctoral student in the Department of Health Behavior & Health Education. He is interested in the concordance and discordance between objective and perceptive measures of neighborhood environment and their relationship to cardiovascular disease risk factors among urban racial/ethnic populations.
Kiana Bess, MPH, is a doctoral student in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education and a Rackham Merit Fellow. Broadly, her research focuses on social and structural influences on child and adolescent health outcomes. Using CBPR and community-engaged approaches, she is interested examining the relationships between systemic discriminatory policies, urban design, neighborhood exposures, and health disparities in minority communities.
Janae Best, MPH (she/her/hers) is a doctoral student in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education. She is interested, broadly, in the impact of racism on Black communities. Specifically, she aims to highlight the impact of race-based stress on the sexual health and mental health of Black Americans while noting factors that have contributed to resiliency. This includes considering religiosity, social support, and racial identity as coping mechanisms. Her methodological interests lie with program design and community-based participatory research. Ultimately, she aims to implement interventions to address structural racism and move Black communities toward health equity.
Laura Brotzman, MPH is a doctoral student in the Department of Health Behavior Health Education at the School of Public Health and a Rackham Merit Fellow. Broadly, she is interested in medical decision making, risk communication, information visualization, and implementation of clinical practice guidelines.
Gregory Bushman, MPH, MSW, is a doctoral student in the Department of Health Behavior & Health Education at the School of Public Health. His work explores the relationship between the urban built environment and health, and examines the efficacy of community-engaged environmental design as a public health intervention for the reduction and prevention of crime, violence, and injury. Methodologically, he is interested in the visualization and analysis of spatiotemporal data, and in the application of data science and machine learning techniques to public health research.
Monika Doshi, MPH, Prior to beginning her doctoral studies, Monika consulted on infectious disease and chronic disease research projects in Asia and Africa. As the Principal of Saath, a public health consulting firm which she founded in 2011, she has partnered with domestic and international academic institutions and non-academic organizations to conduct public health related research and program development. While she has largely been focused on HIV prevention among gender and sexual minorities including those who practice sex work, as a doctoral student and a Population Studies Center trainee, Monika plans to expand her research to examine immigration and health, with a specific focus on women's health.
Alexa Eisenberg, MPH, is a doctoral student in the Department of Health Behavior & Health Education in the School of Public health and a Population Studies Center (PSC) public health demography trainee. Her research interests focus broadly on the intersection of housing justice and urban health equity. Her work applies the principles of community-based participatory research to understand and address the structural determinants of housing and health inequities, specifically in the city of Detroit.
Sara J. Feldman, MPH, is a doctoral student in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education (HBHE) at the School of Public Health and is a Rackham Merit Fellow. Sara has domestic and global experience in the development, implementation and promotion of disability and health education programs and policies. She has broad interests in dementia caregiver wellness, advance care planning, early diagnosis and risk disclosure of Alzheimer's Disease, and mental health promotion. Specifically, she is interested in reducing the burden experienced by caregivers of persons with dementia by enhancing effective social and behavioral interventions, and also addressing how to promote the accessibility and utilization of services and resources for dementia caregivers.
Cecelia French, MPH, is a doctoral student in Health Behavior and Health Education at the School of Public Health and a Population Studies Center trainee at the Institute for Social Research. Her research interests surround drug use and addiction, particularly opioid use in rural parts of America. Utilizing a structural focus, she hopes to focus on the inequities around first drug use, rehab utilization and relapse.
Molly Green, MPH, is a PhD candidate in Health Behavior and Health Education. Her research is focused on the effects of the social environment on mental health. She uses both quantitative and qualitative methods to explore issues of discrimination and acculturation and their relationship to mental health among migrant populations from the Middle East and North Africa in the US and in Germany.
Landon Hughes (he/him/his) is a doctoral pre-candidate in the Department of Health Behavior & Health Education and a Population Studies Center trainee. His research focuses on structural determinants of health with a particular focus on how institutional and social discrimination shape the health of gender minorities. Before attending the University of Michigan, he worked at RTI International implementing and evaluating programs for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Gabriel Johnson, MPH, MPH (he/him/his), is a doctoral student at the University of Michigan, department of Health Behavior Health Education. Prior to re-entering academia, he was a 7th grade educator of Mathematics in Sacramento, CA and worked to support harm reduction efforts at Glide Memorial Church in the tenderloin neighborhood in San Francisco. Gabriel is interested in how masculinity and other structural factors impact the biopsychosocial health of Black men and masculine of center LGBT+ communities. In addition, he is currently in partnership with community-based organizations in Zambia and Kenya, developing mental health programs for the LGBT+ community. Broadly, Gabriel is interested in how structural factors impact Black communities and the development, implementation, and translation of interventions intended to dismantle those factors.
Wesley King, MPH is a doctoral student in Health Behavior and Health Education and a Rackham Merit Fellow. He is interested in community-driven research that explores, analyzes, and mitigates the impacts of cissexism and violence on the health of transgender populations. He is particularly interested in how gender affirmation and trans community connectedness influence mental wellness.
Kyle Nisbeth, MPH is a doctoral student in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education and a Population Studies Center trainee. Her research examines the structural and social impacts of discrimination on cardiovascular disease risk and mental health outcomes. Broadly, she is interested in how place, space and personhood influence disparities in chronic illness.
Amel Omari, MPH, is a doctoral student at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education. Prior to her doctoral work, Amel conducted bench science in regenerative medicine, and earned her Master’s in Public Health. Broadly, her work is interested in understanding the impacts of racism on the body. Her dissertation research asks how racism constrains the health benefits of citizenship and education for migrants from the Caribbean and Africa to France. Methodologically, Amel is interested in how the utility of quantitative analysis can be maximized by incorporating historical and social understandings of race. Understanding the contributions of racialization and migration to the health of migrants is critical to informing migration policies to promote health and health equity.
Geila Rajaee, MPH is a PhD Candidate at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education. Her research interests include spirituality/religion, chaplaincy, management of chronic disease, and behavioral interventions to improve health outcomes. Geila is particularly interested in preventable chronic diseases (e.g., diabetes) and the role of chaplains in mitigating and managing adverse health outcomes.
Kristefer Stojanovski, MPH, is a doctoral student at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholar. Kristefer's research explores the role of fundamental causes, predominately stigma, and how it influences health outcomes among racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities. His dissertation focuses on understanding the complexity of HIV risk and infection that arises from stigma. He utilizes novel approaches, such as complex systems theory, agent-based modeling, and multi-level structural equation models to conduct computational and empirical causal modeling to create a holistic approach to understanding and addressing HIV risk.
Dominique Sylvers, MPH, is a doctoral student in the department of Health Behavior & Health Education who is committed to working for more equitable aging. Dominique is a trainee with the Population Studies Center (PSC) and Social Environment and Health (SEH) Department, both at the Institute for Social Research (ISR). Her research largely focuses on the older African American adults, specifically around explicating the influence of segregation and the neighborhood context on disparities in cognitive aging.
Casey Thacker, MPH, is studying management of chronic illness, especially chronic pain. His research interests include support by and for caregivers of those managing chronic illnesses, novel ways to leverage mobile technologies for self-monitoring, associations between depression and chronic illness, and ways of improving quality of life among older adults.
Elyse Thulin, MS, is a doctoral student in the Department of Health Behavior Health Education at the School of Public Health and is a Rackham Merit Fellow. Her research interests are in youth development, gender based violence, sexual and mental health, in communities that face complex political and social challenges in domestic and international settings. At the University of Michigan, Elyse is involved with several projects in the Prevention Violence Center (PRC) including Youth Empowerment Solutions (YES) and the Flint Adolescent Study.
Melanie Ward, MPH, is a doctoral candidate interested in translating research evidence into public health practice and policy, using principles and approaches from community-based participatory research, complex systems thinking, and various program evaluation methodologies. Her current research employs quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods analyses to explore the ways in which community-based participatory research partnerships promote and assess progress toward achieving health equity.