Former Yerby Fellows

In addition to the wide assortment of workshops, seminars, and classes available to the Yerby fellows, former fellows return to the School from time to time to share their research interests and to provide counseling and advice to the current fellows through workshops and discussions about career development and career choices.


To learn more about the Yerby postdoctoral experience, prospective applicants are welcome to contact our former fellows:

Aisha S. Dickerson, PhD
Yerby Fellow: 2017 – 2019

Current Title(s):  Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Research Interests:  She is an environmental epidemiologist with a research focus on environmental risk factors for neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders. Her past research has primarily evaluated associations between exposures to air pollution and heavy metals and risk of autism spectrum disorder. Additionally, she continues to investigate the influence of disparities in autism assessment and service provision along with environmental injustice in low-income communities. She holds a BS in Biology and MSPH in Epidemiology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. After receiving her PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Aisha also completed a year of postdoctoral training at the US Environmental Protection Agency.


“Through the Yerby Fellowship Program, I was able to join a unique and elite network of scholars. Not only have I built potentially life-long friendships with fellows in my own cohort, I have been able to connect with past Yerby fellows to discuss best methods for productivity and suggestions for career development. Through Yerby workshops, I was also able to prepare for the academic job-search process and successfully negotiate a competitive start-up package for my newly acquired faculty position.”


María Andrée López Gómez, PhD

Yerby Fellow: 2017 – 2019

Current Title(s):  Postdoctoral Fellow, Centre for Demographic Studies, Spain

Research Interests:  Her broad research interests lie on the impact that public and organizational policies have on workers’ health. Her doctoral research focused on how labor market policies and benefits in Spain shape labor trajectories and how these trajectories determine mortality and permanent disability rates. The core of her current research focuses on assessing policies, programs and practices at the workplace and how these impact workers’ health and well-being. She is interested in how policies and practices impact workers’ mental health and injury rates in populations of patient care workers in hospital and nursing home settings. She is also working on intervention development and evaluation and the translation of research into practice by the study of policy implications from important work on workers’ health. Maria Andree received her Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Neuroscience and French from Wellesley College. She holds a PhD in Health and Life Sciences, a Master of Public Health and a Master in Sociology and Demography from Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain.


“The Yerby Program has been a great opportunity to advance my skills in academic research and build my capacity towards a path of independence. The Program offered insightful workshop focused on academic skill development and tailored for us. Some of the workshops included academic writing skills, grant writing skills and leadership in academia, among others. As Yerby Fellows, we were provided with many supports to advance our research and with various opportunities to speak one-on-one with experts in many fields who provided feedback on our career plans as well as on our research. I am very thankful for the Yerby Program and the supportive environment it provided me with.”


Tia McGill Rogers, PhD, MPH
Yerby Fellow: 2017 – 2019

Current Title(s):  United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Officer, CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service; Visiting Professor, Department of Epidemiology

Research Interests:  As a behavioral scientist, Tia has worked in various capacities in the field of public health, including direct service provision, training, and research—all towards the goal of advancing the knowledge base and service availability for children and families across the globe.  Her research encompasses mixed methods approaches to understanding the life course epidemiology of mental health problems. These include posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and substance abuse associated with experiences of concentrated adversity such as: community and family violence, child maltreatment, disaster, and war.  Her most recent studies explore the influence of mental health on intervention utilization and behavior change, key factors related to coping with violence exposure among adults exposed to war during childhood, and associations between mental health, violence, and the transition to parenthood.  Currently, under the mentorship of Dr. Karestan Koenen, Tia is working on several projects investigating epigenetic differences associated with early trauma exposure that may help explain associations between adverse childhood experiences and mental and physical health problems across the life course.  Tia received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, with a mental health concentration from Spelman College, and holds a Master of Public Health from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health. After receiving her PhD in Behavioral Science from Georgia State University, Tia completed a one-year Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development postdoctoral research fellowship in the department of Global Health and Population’s Research Program on Children and Global Adversity at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.


“The Yerby Fellowship has provided one of the most rewarding experiences of my public health career. The opportunity to gain hands-on training with unparalleled mentorship proved to be stimulating both professionally and personally. As a Yerby Fellow, I received tailored guidance in the areas of science and professional development that allowed me to strengthen my existing skills and develop new strengths. By design, the Yerby Fellowship provided a space for me to learn and grow in a collegial atmosphere that has equipped me to successfully enter the next phase of my career with confidence.”


Mariana Arcaya, SD2013 04 18 Harvard_Mariana Arcaya_8642
Yerby Fellow: 2013 – 2015

Current Title(s):  Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Health; Associate Department Head, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Research Interests:  Mariana Arcaya is a social epidemiologist and urban planner whose work explores dynamic relationships between geographic contexts, particularly neighborhoods, and health. Mariana conducts scholarly and policy-relevant research in two main areas: 1) bi-directional relationships between place and health, including how health considerations shape socioeconomic outcomes for individuals and communities, and, 2) applied and translational research on the social determinants of health, particularly health risk factors shaped by urban policy and planning decisions.

Contact Information:
Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139



Mesfin Awoke Bekalu, PhD
Yerby Fellow 2016 – 2018

Current Title(s): Research Scientist, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI)

Research Interests: Dr. Bekalu’s research interests include: studying the link between communication inequalities and health disparities; and investigating the intended and unintended effects of media and messages on health-related attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. This involves studying the effects of campaign materials designed and produced for strategic communication purposes and delivered through different media (print, broadcast and the Internet) as well as the unintended harmful and/or beneficial effects of media and messages on health-related outcomes in secular communication contexts. His studies draw on different communication and behavioral theories that advance our understanding of health-related behavior change processes. 

Contact Information:
Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness
450 Brookline Avenue, LW, Room 601
Boston, MA 02215


Gary Bennett, PhD
Yerby Fellow: 2002-2003

Current Title(s):  Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education; Bishop-MacDermott Family Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience; Professor of Global Health and Medicine, Duke University

Research Interests:  Bennett’s work focuses on on developing strategies to prevent obesity in high risk populations. His research program has three major themes: 1) use of new media technologies to deliver obesity interventions; 2) examining social and psychosocial determinants of obesity and physical inactivity, and; 3) exploring the dissemination of evidence-based interventions. Many of his group’s ongoing research studies are based in the primary care setting, where efficacious obesity intervention approaches are particularly necessary.

Contact Information:
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
Duke University
9 Flowers Drive, Room 222
Durham, North Carolina 27708


Cabral A. Bigman-Galimore, PhDCabral Bigman-Galimore - professor of communication
Yerby Fellow: 2011 – 2013

Current Title(s):  Associate Professor, Department of Communication, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Research Interests:  Dr. Bigman’s research focuses on communication and health inequalities, health communication, risk communication, and media effects.

Contact Information:
Department of Communication
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
3001 Lincoln Hall
702 South Wright Street
Urbana, Illinois 61801


Manuela Carrasquilla, PhD
Yerby Fellow: 2020

Current Title(s): Postdoctoral Researcher, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology

Research Interests:  During her time in the Neafsey Lab and as a Yerby Fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard Chan School, she has been involved on two main projects: 1) Genomic surveillance of Plasmodium falciparum in South America through the development of a multiplexed amplicon sequencing panel for implementation in Colombia and Guyana and 2) Understanding the genomic epidemiology of malaria in the Pacific Coast of Colombia, a hot-spot of Plasmodium falciparum in the Americas, through the analysis of whole genome sequences obtained through her ongoing collaborators in Colombia.

Contact Information:
Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology
Portugal Lab
Virchowweg 12
10117 Berlin


Jorge E. Chavarro, MD, ScD
Yerby Fellow: 2006-2008

Current Title(s):  Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Research Interests:  Chavarro’s research focuses on investigating the role of diet and the interaction between dietary and genetic factors in the pathogenesis of diseases affecting reproductive and hormone sensitive organs, particularly malignancies of reproductive organs. Specific research areas include investigation of the role of fatty acids and their metabolism in the development and progression of prostate cancer, work on a methodological problem in nutritional epidemiology related to the study of breast cancer, and a study of the role of diet in male and female fertility.

Contact Information:
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Department of Nutrition
665 Huntington Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02115


Patricia Chocano-Bedoya, MD, PhD
Yerby Fellow: 2011-2013

Current Title(s): Head of the “Ageing” Research Unit, Bern Institute of Primary Health Care (BIHAM), University of Bern, Switzerland

Research Interests: Dr. Chocano-Bedoya has conducted research on micronutrients and premenstrual syndrome, data-driven dietary patterns and inflammatory markers with a focus on geriatric depression, and healthy ageing. Her current research focuses on dietary patterns, inflammation, and cognitive impairment. In addition, she is a senior lecturer in epidemiology (Maître d’Enseignement et Recherche) at the University of Fribourg and has extensive experience teaching clinical epidemiology and advanced research methods in a clinical context.

Contact Information:
Universität Bern
Berner Institut für Hausarztmedizin (BIHAM)
Mittelstrasse 43
3012 Bern


Bettina Drake, PhD  
Yerby Fellow: 2006-2009

Current Title(s):  Professor of Surgery, Division of Public Health Sciences, Department of Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

Research Interests:  Bettina Drake is a cancer epidemiologist at Washington University School of Medicine and Siteman Cancer Center. Her research interests are in reducing disparities in cancer by focusing on cancer-prevention strategies through nutritional and community-based approaches. Currently, she is conducting community-based research through the Program for the Elimination of Cancer Disparities (PECaD) on minority recruitment into biorepository studies. In addition, she co-leads the Prostate Cancer Community Partnership, a community partnership of PECaD, which seeks to reduce prostate cancer disparities in the region. In addition to cancer prevention through community-based approaches, Dr. Drake has institutional and Department of Defense funds to research the benefits of vitamin D on prostate cancer. She is most interested in how her community-based work informs and strengthens her nutritional epidemiology findings. Information gained from community-based studies informs both study design and recruitment strategies. In turn, the results of the cancer prevention work can be disseminated in collaboration with community partners.

Contact Information:
Washington University School of Medicine
660 S. Euclid Avenue
Campus Box 8100
St. Louis, Missouri 63110


Dustin T. Duncan, ScD
Yerby Fellow: 2011 – 2013

Current Title(s):  Associate Professor of Epidemiology, Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health

Research Interests:  Dr. Duncan’s research focuses on how neighborhood characteristics (such as the built environment and the social environment including crime and violence) influence population health (especially HIV prevention). He has a special emphasis on minority health and health disparities among sexual and gender minorities, especially gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM). Methodologically, his research utilizes a geospatial lens to apply spatially explicit approaches such as computer-based geographic information systems, web-based geospatial technologies, real-time geospatial technologies and geospatial modeling techniques.

Contact Information:
Department of Epidemiology
Mailman School of Public Health
Columbia University
722 West 168th Street, Room 715
New York, New York 10032


David A. Hurtado, ScDdavid 3 env
Yerby Fellow: 2013 – 2015

Current Title(s):  Assistant Professor, Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences

Research Interests:  Rooted in social epidemiology and the study of the social determinants of health, my research aims to assess and intervene on occupational factors causally linked with the health of workers, their families and their organizations. In particular, his research has been focused on understanding how and why modifiable workplace factors (e.g.  schedules, breaks, supervisor and coworkers’  support) influence the risk of chronic disease and injury, especially among high-risk populations (e.g. health-care, food-service). As a member of the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center, he is also involved in workplace interventions aimed at promoting and protecting occupational health and safety, following the Total Worker Health™ framework.

Contact Information:
Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences
3181 S.W. Sam Jackson Park Road
RJH 1596
Portland, Oregon 97239-3098


John W. Jackson, ScDjohnjackson
Yerby Fellow: 2014 – 2016

Current Title(s):  Assistant Professor, Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Research Interests:  His work focuses on understanding and reducing the excess morbidity and mortality in patients with mental illness, and uses state-of-the-art methods to provide insight about the effectiveness of potential interventions.

Contact Information:
615 N. Wolfe Street
Room E6543
Baltimore, Maryland 21205


Renee Johnson, PhD  
Yerby Fellow: 2004-2006

Current Title(s):  Associate Professor, Department of Mental Health; Deputy Director, Drug Dependence Epidemiology Training Program, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Research Interests:  Dr. Johnson’s current research centers on adolescent risk behaviors (including substance use and violence), with an emphasis on low-income, urban youth.  Dr. Johnson is a core faculty member with the CDC-funded Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center. She has received funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Institute on Drug Abuse to study youth violence and substance abuse.

Contact Information:
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Baltimore, Maryland 21205



Özge Karanfil, PhD
Yerby Fellow 2016 – 2018

Current Title(s): Assistant Professor, Operations and Information Systems Group, College of Administrative Sciences and Economics, Koç Üniversitesi (Istanbul) and Visiting Scientist, Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Research Interests:  Dr. Karanfil’s research interests include
(1) dynamic modeling for policy analysis (public health, medicine, environment, sustainability, or any other complex system problem), (2) specific application areas in health policy and management as an overarching theme at various levels (micro, mezzo, macro), relevant to clinical/public health research and management (such as evidence-based guideline formation, cancer screening, chronic and cardiovascular disease management, disease biomarkers, physiologically oriented disease modeling, NCDs, cardiovascular diseases and obesity), and (3) the underlying theoretical and empirical methods to cultivate research in the first two domains.

Contact Information:
College of Administrative Sciences and Economics
Koç Üniversitesi
Istanbul, Turkey


Jonghan Kim, PhD jk
Yerby Fellow: 2010-2012

Current Title(s):  Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical and Nutritional Sciences, Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Lowell

Research Interests:  Dr. Kim’s research interests center around the characterization of absorption, distribution, and metabolism of metals including iron and other heavy metals and metal-induced toxicity in the context of environmental exposure and genetic susceptibility (gene-environment interactions).

Contact Information:
Department of Biomedical and Nutritional Sciences
Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences
University of Massachusetts, Lowell


Miguel Marino, PhD miguel
Yerby Fellow: 2011-2012

Current Title(s):  Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine. Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Division of Biostatistics, Oregon Health and Science University

Research Interests:  Dr. Marino’s research involves statistical analysis of high-dimensional correlated data, electronic health record data, validation of new instruments, multivariate data, risk prediction, missing data, and longitudinal/clustered data. In addition, his applied research includes: assessing a Medicaid randomized insurance experiment with community clinics; developing innovative methods for patients and clinics to create tools for children care; examining how changing patterns of family health insurance affect children’s health insurance stability and utilization of healthcare services.

Contact Information:
3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road
Mailcode: FM
Portland, Oregon 97239


Josiemer Mattei, PhD
Yerby Fellow: 2010-2012

Current Title(s):  Donald and Sue Pritzker Associate Professor of Nutrition,  Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Research Interests:  Dr. Mattei’s research focuses on the following: 1) Diet quality and risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and related cardiometabolic outcomes; 2) Dietary patterns and ethnic-specific foods associated with type 2 diabetes and its risk factors, and how these shape racial/ethnic health disparities; 3) The global nutrition transition; establishing dietary interventions to improve diet quality and prevent diabetes in Latin America; 4) Effect of variants in genes on glucose and lipid metabolism pathways, on changes in weight and glucose/insulin markers in response to diet interventions; gene-diet interactions and nutrigenomics; and 5) Promoting nutrition/genetic epidemiological studies among Latinos in the US and Latin America, and translating results into community and public health programs.

Contact Information:
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Department of Nutrition
655 Huntington Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02115


Lorna H. McNeill, PhD, MPH jk
Yerby Fellow: 2004-2006

Current Title(s):  Cullen Trust Health Care Chair in Health Disparities Research; Professor and Chair, Department of Health Disparities Research; Associate Director, Cancer Health Disparities and Community Outreach; Director, Center for Community-Engaged Translational Research; and Co-Director, Community Engagement, Center for Clinical & Translational Sciences, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Research Interests:  Dr. McNeill’s research is on the elimination of cancer-related health disparities in minority populations. Her research has particular emphasis on understanding the influence of social contextual determinants of cancer in minorities, with a special focus of the role of physical activity as a key preventive behavior and obesity as a major cancer determinant. Her research takes place in minority and underserved communities such as public housing developments, black churches, community-based clinics and low-income neighborhoods-communities with excess cancer death rates.

Contact Information:
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Health Disparities Research
Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences
1400 Pressler St., Unit 1440
Houston, Texas 77030


Lupita Montoya, PhD  
Yerby Fellow: 2001-2003

Current Title(s):  Assistant Professor,  Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder

Research Interests:  Dr. Montoya’s primary area of research is the study of indoor air quality and the health effects of aerosols (a.k.a. particulate matter). She is especially interested in elucidating the role that biological and physicochemical characteristics of various aerosols play in the development of disease and toxicity. One major thrust of this research is developing new models for the study of disease. In the case of allergenic aerosols, she focuses on the link to allergies and asthma. In this general area, she is also trying to elucidate the connection between the physico-chemical characteristics of various nanoparticles (e.g., TiO2, Al2O3, nanotubes) and possible toxicity and immune effects using in vitro models.

Contact Information:
Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering Department
University of Colorado Boulder
ECOT 514, UCB 428
Boulder, Colorado 80309


Loren Saulsberry, PhD
Yerby Fellow 2017- 2018 

Current Title(s): Assistant Professor (Health Services Research), Department of Public Health Sciences, The University of Chicago

Research Interests: Loren Saulsberry is a health policy and health services researcher focusing on factors that influence both public opinion and behaviors vital to public health. Dr. Saulsberry’s research interests include (1) health care policies and health services that affect cancer care across the continuum from prevention and early detection to cancer outcomes, (2) the relationships between politics and health communication on health policy issues, and (3) the determinants contributing to health disparities affecting vulnerable populations, especially across race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

Contact Information:
Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture
University of Chicago
5733 S. University Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637


Editada en Lumia Selfie

Carlos Silva Garcia, PhD
Yerby Fellow 2016 – 2018

Current Title(s): Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Molecular Metabolism, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Research Interests: Dr. Silva-Garcia’s research interest is to understand how molecular signals from different tissues interact in the organism as a whole to regulate physiological pathways in response to aging. Aging can be accelerated by many internal and environmental factors, and is the principal factor for multiple chronic health conditions including cancer, diabetes, and neurodegeneration. In the laboratory of William B. Mair, his focus is on understanding the relationship between metabolic disorders and aging. During the course of the Yerby fellowship, Carlos hopes to conduct successful research with goal of unraveling molecular mechanisms that mediate plasticity of the aging process to develop novel therapeutic approach to treat age-related disorders.

Contact Information:
Mair Lab
Department of of Molecular Metabolism
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health


Eric J. Tchetgen Tchetgen, PhD
Yerby Fellow: 2006-2008

Current Title(s):  Luddy Family President’s Distinguished Professor
Professor of Statistics, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

Research Interests:  Dr. Tchetgen Tchetgen’s primary area of interest is in semi-parametric efficiency theory with application to causal inference, missing data problems, statistical genetics and mixed model theory. In general, he works on the development of statistical and epidemiologic methods that make efficient use of the information in data collected by scientific investigators, while avoiding unnecessary assumptions about the underlying data generating mechanism.

Contact Information:
The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
467 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
3730 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104


Christa Watson-Wright, PhDChrista Watson top choice
Yerby Fellow: 2015-2016

Current Title(s):  Assistant Professor of Environmental Health, Georgia State University School of Public Health

Research Interests:  Key aspects of her research involve investigating the immunotoxicity and genotoxicity of engineered nanoparticles and the development of high throughput/high content assays.

Contact Information:
Georgia State University School of Public Health
1 Park Place
Suite 725
Atlanta, Georgia 30303


Jie Yin, PhD
Yerby Fellow: 2020–2021

Current Title(s): Assistant Professor, College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Tongji University – Shanghai, China

Research Interests:  Dr. Yin’s research interests lie in the cross-disciplinary field of urban planning/design and public health. His work addresses how bringing natural elements into built environments at different spatial scales (i.e. building, city, and region) affects human health and wellbeing.

Contact Information:
College of Architecture and Urban Planning
Tongji University
Shanghai, China

If you were a former Yerby Fellow that is not  listed and would like to be or would like to provide any up-to-date information, please contact the Office of Faculty Affairs (OFA) at