Ph.D. in Public Health
Student Profiles

Jaime Allgood

Jaime Allgood, MA

UCI Public Health Ph.D Student

My research interests are in green chemistry public policy. Currently, I am completing a qualitative study on the public comments to California’s Green Chemistry Initiative. I am also interested in chemicals of concern - mainly flame retardants and bisphenol-A,, assessment of associated risks and possible alternatives. Further, I am interested in practical asspects of alternatives to products containing bisphenol-A such as consumer knowledge and preferences for those products. Also, I am beginning a study measuring levels of flame retardants, mainly from common office electronics, found in dust and possible risks to persons exposed.

Bridgette Blebu

Bridgette Blebu, MPH

UCI Public Health Ph.D Student

Advisor: Annie Ro

I currently study the influences of social context on the health of immigrants and their children. I'm especially interested in the role of neighborhood co-ethnic density on the health trajectories of second generation Black immigrant youth. Neighborhood ethnic density effects have been studied among Caribbean Americans, but little is known about how it functions among second generation Africans, who tend to be residentially more dispersed. Additionally, I am interested in exploring the role of immigrant parents in second generation ethnic identity formation, given evidence which suggests immigrant parent's import and adapt social capital in host contexts to benefit the incorporation of their children. Methodologically, I employ mixed method approaches including multilevel analyses and qualitative case studies.

Amanda Brown Tortorici

Amanda Brown Tortorici, MS, RD, CSCS

UCI Public Health Ph.D Student

My research focuses on dietary behaviors in end-stage renal disease hemodialysis patients.

I am a practicing registered dietitian, and I have conducted nutritional assessments on hemodialysis patients enrolled in the Malnutrition, Diet, and Racial Disparities in Chronic Kidney Disease study. I also currently serve on the International Society of Renal Nutrition and Metabolism (ISRNM) review panel to work with the Kidney Disease Outcome Quality Initiative (KDOQI) to develop updates on guidelines in renal nutrition.

Kathleen Carlos

Kathleen Carlos,

UCI Public Health Ph.D Student

I am interested in the stigma associated with depression, suicide, and mental health in general. Currently, my research focuses on self-harm and suicide in Orange County adolescents. The emergency department appears to be an important first line of care for adolescents that self-harm, which is a well-documented risk factor for later suicide attempt. I am interesting in pursuing a means to utilize the emergency department in preventing future suicide in adolescents.

Mariam Davtyan

Mariam Davtyan,

UCI Public Health Ph.D Student

Advisor: Cynthia Lakon

My research interests are HIV-related stigma in women of color and developing stigma reduction initiatives for healthcare settings. Stigma and discrimination in the context of HIV are powerful stressors for impacted populations and lead to negative health outcomes. A prominent setting where stigma is experienced is in the healthcare sector. In my recent work, I recruited Hispanic and African American women and asked them to define and describe their personal experiences with HIV-stigma using autobiographical photography. The study narratives and reflective photographs are currently being translated into a pilot stigma reduction intervention for implementation at LAC+USC Medical Center and UC Irvine Medical Center.

Nicole DeVille

Nicole DeVille, MPH

UCI Public Health Ph.D Student

Advisor: Andrew Noymer

I am passionate about chronic & infectious disease epidemiology in Pacific Islander and other Indigenous populations, as well as, maternal and child health. My current research focuses on exploring the rise in maternal mortality in the United States over the last several decades. I am also investigating the steady increase in five-minute Apgar scores in
newborns in the United States over the last few decades. My previous research experiences include work with the Non-Communicable Disease Unit in the Republic of Palau and projects with the University of Hawaii Department of Psychiatry and the University of Hawaii Cancer Center.

Amruta Dixit

Amruta Dixit, MPH

UCI Public Health Ph.D Student

Advisor: Guiyun Yan

My research interests lie primarily in infectious disease epidemiology within the context of global health. My current research is based on developing a better understanding of malaria epidemiology in regions of unstable transmission so that this knowledge can be used to improve malaria elimination strategies. My previous research experience includes a spatiotemporal analysis of the geographic and demographic profile of tuberculosis in Orange County, California; conducting field research on malaria epidemiology in the western Kenyan highlands; and conducting field research on the immunoepidemiology of schistosomiasis infection resistance in the lakeside villages in western Kenya.

Javier Garcia-Rivas

Javier Garcia-Rivas, MA

UCI Public Health Ph.D Student

Advisor: Dean B. Baker

My research interests are in occupational health psychology and the surveillance of psychosocial factors at work. I am interested in exploring working conditions which contribute to the development of mental and physical health outcomes in diverse occupational groups. My past research experience includes the assessment of psychosocial work stressors and the development/adaptation of context and culture-specific questionnaires (e.g. presenteeism, burnout, stress) in the Mexican industry. My current efforts are focused on work-site environment and health behaviors which may be related to obesity measures among firefighters. Also, I am exploring working conditions and injury experience among vulnerable Latino working populations. I currently maintain academic and research collaborations with universities in Latin America, including my home university in Mexico.

Mariam Girguis

Mariam Girguis, MPH

UCI Public Health Ph.D Student

Advisor: Veronica Vieira

My research is focused on the use of spatial and temporal modeling methods to understand the relationship of exposure to ambient air pollutants (ex. PM2.5 concentrations) and risk of birth outcomes and infant morbidity. I am also interested in understanding the role of maternal/child nutrition in mediating the relationship between morbidity and exposure to environmental pollutants.

Georgia Halkia

Georgia Halkia,

UCI Public Health Ph.D Student

After analyzing the 2012 Great California ShakeOut post drill evaluation data as a Master’s student at California State University, Fullerton I decided to direct and concentrate my focus on Disaster Preparedness either being natural or manmade, and risk communication taking a Global perspective. I am hoping to collaborate with seismologist, engineers, and scientists from various disciplines to develop an intervention that ultimately will help mitigate the impact of a major disaster and prevent it from becoming a catastrophe. Speedy recovery of major lifelines is crucial for reducing the impact, and every single day that passes after a disaster without access to clean water the spread of disease increases exponentially as well as the number of casualties in general. California lies on a major fault line that can generate very powerful earthquakes. Recent research suggests that earthquakes of lesser magnitude are also capable of damaging water and sewage lines. The recent M5.1 La Habra earthquake is proof of that, thus there is no reason to wait for the Big one to strike in order to start designing community interventions that have the potential of saving thousands of lives and expediting recovery with minimal losses.

Pauline Lubens

Pauline Lubens, MPH

UCI Public Health Ph.D Student

My decision in 2010 to pursue a Master of Public Health (MPH) was the logical evolution of a 30-year journalism career. I was anxious to position myself to be more hands-on involved in the issues for which I had a passion than my work in journalism would traditionally allow. As a photojournalist I had researched and produced documentary stories focusing on toll of the war in Iraq on civilians in the warzone, the struggles of refugees resettling in Silicon Valley, California, as well as the home front battles fought by veterans, military personnel and military families. During the first Persian Gulf War, I had also covered the challenges facing refugees in Jordan and southern Iraq, who had been displaced by that conflict.

The years I spent telling the stories of those who were bearing war’s burden inspired me to focus on the impact of war on public health.  During my MPH studies at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, I focused my research on the health outcomes associated with armed conflict, particularly the psychological toll and the post-conflict challenges facing refugees, and U.S. military personnel and their families.

After completing the MPH in 2011, I returned to California to teach War and Public Health — a course I designed while at Hopkins  — at UCI. Since entering the Public Health doctoral program at UCI in 2012, I have continued to focus my research on the toll of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on veterans and refugees.

I have a passion for teaching and aspire to a career that will enable me to channel both my interest in furthering research that quantifies the public health effects of war and my interest in teaching public health students about the role public health professionals can play, not only in quantifying the effects of war, but in the prevention of armed conflict as well.

Parvati Singh

Parvati Singh,

UCI Public Health Ph.D Student

My research interests primarily focus on maternal and child health and its relation with income in resource constrained settings. In my professional career, I have worked with various state governments in India, the World Bank and the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare in India for development and implementation of various micro-finance based community health interventions. I also possess implementation and research experience in Conditional Cash Transfers in low and middle income countries. I did my undergrad in Bio Medical Instrumentation Engineering (Avinashilingam University) from India, followed by an MBA in Rural Management (IRMA, Anand) and a Masters in Public Policy (University of Texas at Austin). At UC Irvine, I am working with Prof. Tim Bruckner in understanding the effects of conditional and unconditional cash transfers on change in health- related expectations, preferences and outcomes in populations with low socio-economic status.

Justin Wilford

Justin Wilford,

UCI Public Health Ph.D Student

Advisor: Lari B. Wenzel

My research interests lie in translating laboratory, clinical, and epidemiological findings in preventive and behavioral medicine into community-based interventions to lower health risks throughout the trajectory of childhood cancer survivorship. More specifically, I am interested in combining social psychological findings in social support, social learning, and social modelling with pre-clinical and clinical research in supportive oncology and preventive medicine. I want to use this multidisciplinary integration to design flexible, mobile, and adaptive health behavior interventions for childhood cancer survivors and their families. Ultimately, my goal is to find ways to leverage the power of human social integration to improve health and lower risks across the survivorship continuum. I hold a doctorate in geography from UCLA and made the transition into public health after my wife and I started a childhood cancer non-profit called MaxLove Project, inspired by our son’s battle with brain cancer.

Tze-An Joann Yuan

Tze-An Joann Yuan,

UCI Public Health Ph.D Student

As I am on the Disease Prevention Tract, my goal in public health is to identify the population at risk of non-communicable diseases, especially in malignancies. In particular, my research focuses on finding genetic variations in melanoma carcinogenesis, in hopes to provide more accurate information for the possibility of developing novel biomarkers for screening out highly susceptible individuals in order to improve melanoma early detection or prevention.

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