2015 PHAST Bloggers


 alexanderLaura Alexander is a 2nd year dual masters student at the University of Michigan. She is studying Health Behavior and Health Education at the School of Public Health and Community Organization at the School of Social Work. Originally from Oregon, she has spent several years living outside of the US, including attending the University of Toronto for her undergraduate degree. She also spent 3 years in Mongolia as a Peace Corps Volunteer. She will be graduating in December of 2015.View Laura’s posts.


batdorfSamantha Batdorf  is a first year Master of Public Health student studying epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. I received my undergraduate degree in evolutionary anthropology and Spanish, also at the University of Michigan. I was lucky enough to meet Dr. Marie O’Neill during my senior year, and even luckier still to work on her preterm birth project for a year before beginning my MPH. My interests include women’s health, infectious disease, risk assessment, and public health practice, and I look forward to learning more about each of these subject areas as I move towards my second year at UMSPH.


Adrienne Cocci is a MPH candidate at the University of Michigan studying Health Behavior and Health Education. She currently works at the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan on the Project for Early Childhood Health (PEACH) team. After graduating from Ithaca College in 2013, she joined City Year to serve a year at Cody High School in Detroit working as a tutor and mentor. After she graduates from Michigan in 2016, she hopes to work in the field of child and adolescent health.View Adrienne’s posts.

murrayEmma Murray is a first year MPH candidate studying Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Her primary interest is in the health and well-being of children, particularly as this relates to their school readiness, academic success, and mental health. Emma has a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Public Health from Tulane University. In her spare time, she loves to dance – particularly salsa, forró, and, most recently, tango.View Emma’s posts.

Spetersoniri Peterson is a first year graduate student at the University of Michigan School of Public Health (UMSPH) where she studies Epidemiology within the Epidemiology Methods and Applications (EMA) track. At UMSPH, Siri works for a cancer epidemiologist, analyzing the association of incomplete pregnancies and ovarian cancer; she is also actively involved in PHAST and WiHL. Before pursuing her MPH, Siri spent a year volunteering in Tucson, AZ with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC). Her volunteering centered on performing emergency home repairs for low-income families. Through this work, she learned many handyman skills and was exposed to the lack of health care resources for disadvantaged populations and the impacts this had on their well-being and lifestyles. Siri received her BA in Mathematics from Boston College in 2013; during her undergraduate education, she was actively involved in service trips and local volunteer work, maintained a job within the athletic department, played intramural basketball, and ran the Boston Marathon.View Siri’s posts.

seffrenVictoria “Tory” Seffren is a first year MPH student studying Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. My main public health interests include capacity building for mental health and social support services, community level interventions, and global health. I enjoy traveling, skiing and snowboarding, and my favorite food is crab.View Tory’s posts.


yasutaka Kalyn Yasutake is a current student at University of Michigan School of Public Health pursuing her Masters of Epidemiology and a certificate in public health genetics. She especially loves public health research in chronic diseases and specifically cancer and hopes to one day work on research focused on these diseases in disparate populations. She currently works for the Center for Public Health and Community Genomics assisting on their new project to promote gene-environment educational curricula in schools and communities. In addition, she has begun working with the Kardia Research Group which focuses on public health genetics. Last year, she spent a year between undergraduate and graduate school in Billings, Montana, as an AmeriCorps VISTA member. She helped to raise awareness of homelessness within this community and worked with different community organizations and committees to address this prevalent social issue. She also spent that year exploring the many gorgeous mountains, forests, and wildlife the state had to offer. She even learned how to properly use bear spray and received a cool survival handbook with handy tips if you get lost in the woods. Although she goes to Michigan, she is a hardcore Wisconsin Badger fan. Receiving a BS in genetics and sociology with a certificate in criminal justice, she attended University of Wisconsin for undergraduate, spending many fond days on the terrace enjoying Lake Mendota and sipping on refreshing beverages and eating cheese curds. She has a wonderful younger brother and sister who are absolutely amazing human beings and are way more stylish then her to boot. In her free time, she likes to read, do yoga, travel, watch Netflix, and watch her favorite sports teams, the Wisconsin Badgers, Chicago Bears, and the Chicago Cubs, win games…well maybe not those last two teams…but hey there’s always next year right?!View Kalyn’s posts.

2015 Grenada bloggers

Chinyere Neale is the Assistant Director of Global Public Health at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. Her professional interests include sexual and reproductive health and peer education. She also enjoys the arts, film, and the environment. View Chinyere’s posts.

Drawing of a giraffe

Dana L. Thomas, MPH, is a Program Manager in the Office of Public Health Practice at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. This is her 13th time leading a PHAST field experience over the past eight years.  View Dana’s posts.




Chelsea Foo is a 2nd year master’s student at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. In May, she will complete her MPH in Epidemiology with a Graduate Certificate in Health Informatics. Chelsea received her B.S. in Biology at UCLA. Her research interests include infectious diseases, sexual health, substance abuse, and the evolving role of health information technology. Her master’s summer internship was with Public Health – Seattle & King County, regarding opioid overdose education and community distribution of naloxone. Currently, her research focuses on Hepatitis C infection awareness in the United States. In her spare time, Chelsea enjoys traveling, hiking, and spending time with her two nieces, ages 2 and 8.  View Chelsea’s posts.

hollandMy name is Brianna Holland, a second year HBHE graduate student at UMich! #GoBlue. My public health focus is community health and community health resources, specifically program planning and implementation. View Brianna’s posts.



langIan Lang is a second-year Master of Public Health student in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education. He completed his undergraduate studies at Grand Valley State University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Public and Nonprofit Administration with an Emphasis in Community Health. During his time at Grand Valley, he volunteered as a street health outreach worker and organized free, on-campus HIV testing by collaborating with the local health department.  He also served as an AmeriCorps State and National member through the Michigan Service Scholars program. While at the University of Michigan, he has worked as a research assistant for both the University of Michigan Health System and the Center for Managing Chronic Disease. Most recently, he interned at International Peace Initiatives in Meru, Kenya. As an intern, he worked alongside Dr. Karambu Ringera in addressing food insecurity and food injustice using a community-based participatory approach. He is interested in the social determinants of health and reducing health inequities with a specific emphasis in food security, chronic disease prevention, and promoting healthy behaviors among youth. In his free time, Ian enjoys running, being outside, reading, and spending time with family and friends. View Ian’s posts.

lawrenceBianca Lawrence is a second year Health Behavior and Health Education candidate. She began working in the field of public health as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan. As a Brain Behavior and Cognitive Science major with a Pre-Medicine concentration I was very interested in mental health and how it was framed and treated within different communities, both domestically and internationally. During this time I was able to participate in two different public health projects, one in Lusaka, Zambia, which focused on HIV/AIDS education. The other took place in Mbarara, Uganda, which was a public health research project that focused on the connection between HIV/AIDS and women’s reproductive choices. View Bianca’s posts.

lyElizabeth Ly is a second year Master of Public Health candidate in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health (UMSPH). In addition to studying General Epidemiology, she is pursuing a certificate in Health Informatics through a UMSPH partnership with the School of Information. Prior to entering UMSPH, Elizabeth received her Bachelor of Science in Integrative Biology and Physiology at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2012. Her public health interests span a wide range of topics including, but not limited to, infectious disease surveillance, social determinants of health, health disparities, community-based initiatives, and dental public health. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, relaxing on the beach, roller skating, and trying out new foods. View Elizabeth’s posts.

malikFarnaz Malik is a second year Master of Public Health (MPH) student, studying Epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. She is also pursuing a certificate in Global Health. Farnaz graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a B.A. in Integrative Biology and a minor in Global Poverty and Practice (GPP). Through the GPP minor, she had the opportunity to work for the Women’s Daytime Drop-in Center, which provides resources for homeless women and children in the Bay Area. The position strengthened her passion for healthcare equity and women’s wellness advocacy. This summer, Farnaz worked for the Sustainable Sciences Institute in Managua, Nicaragua, analyzing the health records of children at a local health clinic in order to determine the incidence and seasonality of various disease diagnoses. She is particularly interested in how socioeconomic and demographic factors influence the transmission of and susceptibility to infectious diseases. View Farnaz’s posts.

ndubuizuMy name is Christopher Ndubuizu and I am a second year Health Behavior, Health Education student. I am from Inglewood, CA. I have a passion for creating an equitable food system for all. I am also interested in applying theoretical frameworks to explain the high prevalence of obesity among certain populations. I have a passion for learning and I am always prepared to challenge myself.

As a current HBHE student I am very interested in strengthening my knowledge of how different social determinants of health affect health outcomes within diverse communities, and how understanding these determinants allows health professionals to create tailored interventions to serve these communities. In the future, I hope to create interventions that specifically target populations that are underrepresented in health care in order to increase the knowledge, and improve the health behaviors, of those most affected by certain health conditions (specifically mental health). I am most interested in children’s mental health care in urban settings. View Christopher’s posts.

2015 Texas bloggers


Mava Cooper is a  first year Health Behavior and Health Education student at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.  Her interests lie in child and adolescent health, specifically how families influence the health of children.  She has a particular interest in children who are neglected, abandoned, abused and orphaned domestically and internationally.  She is an avid lover of the outdoors, backpacking, and reading. View Mavamarie’s posts.


Gregory Foakes is a first year MPH student in Global Health Epidemiology with a graduate certificate in Complex Systems. His primary interests are studying mathematical models of disease with environmental and social factors as well as the design and implementation of public health interventions. In his free time he plays each and any intramural sport he can find. View Gregory’s posts.



Aparna Ghosh is a first year Global Health Epidemiology student, most interested in the intersection of culture and healthcare. She enjoys reading, Indian dancing, and cooking/baking in her spare time. She is a graduate of U of M with a degree in Neuroscience and International Studies and hopes to pursue a career combining public health and medicine. View Aparna’s posts.



Megan Hogikyan is a first-year graduate student pursuing a Master of Public Health degree in Health Behavior and Health Education. One of her primary areas of interest is chronic disease prevention and management. Megan has a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Affairs from the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University. An Ann Arbor native, she loves the outdoors and all the fun activities each Michigan season brings. View Megan’s posts.



Amanda Kogowski is a first year Epidemiology student at UM SPH. She completed her undergrad at Grand Valley State University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Her public health interests include mental health and infectious disease epidemiology. View Amanda’s posts.



shawSarah Shaw  is a first year MPH student in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education. In June 2013, she graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in Anthropology and a minor in Society and Genetics. Before moving to Michigan, she interned with the Family Planning Program at the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Her research interests include community-based participatory research, HIV/STI prevention and treatment, medical anthropology, global health and health disparities driven by cultural constructions of gender. Sarah currently works as a Research Assistant at the Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities. View Sarah’s posts.


Abigail Thomas is a first year-MPH candidate in the Global Health Epidemiology program. She has a broad range of interests, most recently in cancer epidemiology, specifically in the global setting. View Abigail’s posts.




kaylaKayla Vanden Esschert is a second-year MPH student in the general epidemiology program. She is also pursuing a Global Health Certificate, as she hopes to respond to public health emergencies and disease outbreaks overseas in the future. After she graduates in April, she hopes to work at a local or state health department. Her research interests include vaccine-preventable diseases, maternal and child health, and nutrition. In her spare time she likes DIY crafting, traveling, and dance inspired fitness classes such as barre and Zumba! View Kayla’s posts.


Jhordan Wynne is a first-year Health Behavior Health Education student with a focus in Global Health. She has research interests in Maternal and Child Health in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Spanish-speaking populations. View Jhordan’s posts.






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