Summer Program Alumni Spotlights


2016 Summer Program Alumni Spotlight


Patricia Aubel

Patricia Aubel is studying Applied Mathematics with a concentration in
Statistics and Health Science at San Jose State University. A history of
volunteering with UNICEF has inspired her passion for public health and
epidemiology. Her research interests span topics in population and sexual
health, global health, and analyses of policy interventions. In the past,
she has worked at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, evaluating Pacific
Biosciences’ single molecule real time technology for its use in single
nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) detection. Her current research under Dr.
Joshua Gagne and Dr. Richard Wyss (Harvard) aims to understand the
dynamics of various firearm regulation policies and their efficacy in
reducing firearm mortality. Patricia was also an Academic All-American
for the San Jose State Division 1 gymnastics team, and enjoys hiking and
spending time with family.




Jesse Valasek

Jesse Valasek is a senior at Mercyhurst University where he studies Public Health and Epidemiology.He is highly involved in the public health institute, athletics and other extracurricular clubs at Mercyhurst. He is the president of the public health club and also serves as an ambassador and research assistant for the Mercyhurst Institute for Public Health. Additionally, Jesse plays hockey for Mercyhurst and will be finishing up his senior year as captain. Jesse’s future plans are to attend graduate school to obtain his MPH and then continue on to get his Ph.D. in Epidemiology. He would like to work within the field of public health practice, implementing public health policy in nutrition and healthcare. Jesse has just recently finished up his internship at the Harvard School of Public Health in the Summer Program in Epidemiology. This internship has broadened his knowledge base in public health and has helped him to
narrow down his focus of study. He had a truly incredible experience at Harvard and hopes to take what he has learned and use it to advance himself in the field of public health.



Jessika Douglas
Jessika Douglas

Jessika Douglas is a rising senior at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. She is majoring in Health Promotion through her university’s College of Public Health. Upon graduation she seeks to become a Certified Health Education Specialist. After obtaining her certification she hopes to pursue a PhD in either Cancer and Cancer Prevention Epidemiology or Immunology. She is considering the MD/PhD route as well. Her interest in Public Health stems from her lifelong journey as a childhood cancer survivor. Her childhood battle with cancer inspired her to find a cure to cancer and if not a cure, at least more bearable treatments for children who develop cancer. Her experiences through the CDC Disease Detectives Summer Program in high school and the Harvard T. H. Chan Summer Program in Epidemiology have further driven her passion for Public Health. In her spare time she is the treasurer of a student organization that raises money for the homeless population in Athens, Georgia to have job interview supplies. She also volunteers at Compassionate Care Hospice Center’s Athens, Georgia location where she goes on patient visits and assists their bereavement coordinator in developing new coping materials for the families of their hospice patients. Her hobbies include singing, baking, and playing the piano. Her hometown is Covington, Georgia, a small town forty-five minutes east of Atlanta where she resides with her family and three dogs when classes are not in session.



Cristian Ovadiuc
Cristian Ovadiuc

Cristian Ovadiuc is a senior as the University of Washington (UW)  where he investigates pediatric Cerebral Malaria (CM) looking into the molecular determinants for Plasmodium falciparum (malaria causing agent) parasite adhesion in the brain. In addition to looking into developing new therapeutics and vaccines for CM his overarching  goal is to develop novel methods for vaccine development by taking advantage of computational tools such as structural protein bioinformatics, high performance computing, machine learning, data science and network theory together with molecular biology tools to investigate CM in addition to looking at pathogens reliant on antigenic variation for immune evasion and establishment of chronic infection in host-pathogens systems from multiple disciplinary perspectives.Notable examples of pathogens with antigenic variation include but not limited to bacteria (i.e Streptococcus) , protozoan parasites ( i.e. Plasmodium falciparum) and viruses (i.e. HIV, Influenza). These pathogens do not have effective vaccines due to their ability to express various degrees of antigenic variation – an incredibly fascinating and intriguing adaptation due to its highly sophisticated nature being able to readily compromise new vaccines and serological surveillance tests. Additional interests include infectious disease modeling, surveillance of emerging and reemerging pathogens and biosecurity/biosafety. Cristian plans to pursue interdisciplinary doctoral study which combines computational biology, data science and infectious disease epidemiology within public/global health. Outside of school and research he enjoys playing soccer and is an avid fisherman.


Jina Jeun Jun
Jina Jeun Jun

Jina Jeun Jun is an undergraduate student at St. John’s University, double majoring in Biology and Spanish while minoring in International Studies. After spending her childhood in Korea, growing up in culturally rich neighborhood in Southern California, studying in ethnically diverse New York City and engaging in many international activities, she became strongly interested in global/public health and health disparities for minorities. Her past international experiences include a medical service trip to Honduras, a semester abroad in Spain, and serving as a mentor to international students through St. John’s Asian & International Mentoring Program. At her home institution, she is a assisting in a public health research project utilizing the Photovoice method as participatory research to document vulnerabilities in food security and health among children living in a homeless family shelter in New York City. At Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, she was a part of a research project under the mentorship of Dr. Taj Azarian at Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. Her research with Dr. Azarian focused on the diversity of pneumococcal protein antigens and vaccine development. In the future, she wishes to work closely with the underrepresented populations, especially of those from Latino and Asian communities.