Ph.D. Student Bios

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We are delighted to share the bios of the current students of the UW Health Services Ph.D. program in the UW Department of Health Systems and Population Health (HSPop) within the School of Public Health.

Student bios are divided by their area of emphasis.

Evaluative Sciences and Statistics

Lars Almquist

Lars’ research interests lie at the intersection of community violence and public health, with an emphasis on engaging firearm violence as a determinant of individual and population health. Additional interests include the utilization of public health interventions to strengthen community resilience, reduce retaliatory violence, enhance criminal justice reforms, support refugee recovery from trauma, and mitigate the onset of civil war.

Prior to entering the doctoral program, Lars obtained a master’s degree in peace and justice studies from the University of San Diego and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California-San Diego. Prior to enrolling in the School of Public Health, he served as an AmeriCorps VISTA working with Iraqi refugee youth and subsequently worked as a grant writer for San Ysidro Health, a federally qualified health center serving more than 105,000 patients in San Diego County.

Lars’ previous research includes an assessment of the peacebuilding effects of agricultural cooperatives in post-conflict Burundi, as well as serving as the Senior Research Assistant for a federally funded project investigating the scale and scope of street gang involvement in sex trafficking in San Diego.

During the 2019-2020 academic year, Lars is working as a Research Assistant with Dr. Sarah C. Walker at the Center for the Study & Advancement of Justice Effectiveness (SAJE) in the UW Medicine Department of Psychiatry nd Behavioral Sciences.

Harsha Amaravadi

Harsha Amaravadi

Harsha’s research interests include health policy evaluation, Medicare, quasi-experimental research methods, cancer health policy, post-acute care, quality measurement, social determinants of health in payment reform, value-based care implementation, health equity, health technology, social epidemiology, medical bankruptcy, and healthcare financing.

Harsha obtained her MPH at Tufts University School of Medicine where she conducted epidemiologic and health services research on the geographic distribution of opioid overdoses, inappropriate opioid prescribing practices, and Hepatitis C infection spread in Massachusetts.

Prior to starting the PhD program in 2021, Harsha was a research analyst for multiple federal contracting organizations where she assisted with the implementation of various value-based payment programs led by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. These program demonstrations spanned a variety of care settings and clinical domains, with particular focus in post-acute care and treatment for opioid use disorder.

Harsha has been an AHRQ T32 trainee since the Fall of 2021. She has worked on research with the Center for Health Innovation and Policy Science, (CHIPS) conducting research of the effect of the Affordable Care Act on medical bankruptcy. Currently, she’s a member of the Advancing Health Services & Policy In Rehabilitation (ASPIRe) Lab, where she is conducting her dissertation research which evaluates recent Medicare payment policy changes in skilled nursing facilities for advanced cancer patients.

Harsha is originally from Boston, MA and has also lived in Washington, D.C. She loves dancing, cooking, and exploring various Seattle parks and music venues.

Juan Gudino

Juan Gudino

Juan’s storytelling research interests include program evaluation and implementation science related to improving access and quality of health services among US immigrants; the public health implications of immigration and law enforcement; and innovative methods to inform criminal legal and immigration policy reform.

Juan obtained his MPH in epidemiology from the University of Iowa College of Public Health in 2020. Prior to entering the doctoral program in 2021, he was an NIH trainee in the ethical, legal, and social implications of policies of population control at the University of Michigan. He was also a mixed-methods researcher analyzing the community health implications of large-scale worksite immigration raids in the Midwest.

Juan is currently a William T. Grant Foundation trainee under a mentorship grant with Dr. Sarah Walker at CoLab for Community and Behavioral Health Policy where he evaluates Conceptual Research Use methodology and alternatives to detention models among youth in Washington State. He also works closely with Dr. India Ornelas at the UW Department of Health Systems and Population Health to evaluate the waitlist control trial — Amigas Latinas Motivando el Alma — a program which introduces Latina immigrant women to coping strategies and ways to enhance their social support systems in effort to reduce and prevent depression and anxiety.

Juan grew up in rural Iowa and is largely interested in ongoing efforts to advance health justice in population health.

Bulat Idrisov

Bulat Idrisov

Bulat’s research interests include health services spending effectiveness, HIV, HCV, substance use disorders, and digital therapeutics.

He is a physician by training, with subsequent Master’s training in global health policy from Brandeis University, supported by Fulbright. He completed his NIDA fellowship at Boston Medical Center, focusing on research in substance use. Before moving to Seattle, he spent over four years working in Moscow and Ufa, Russia, where his duties extended beyond academia to include teaching and collaborative work with stakeholders such as the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health. His prior research primarily focused on the relationship between food insecurity and HIV transmission and progression. Bulat conducted studies on smoking cessation and co-authored research on the Global Burden of Disease, as well as on mandatory addiction treatment, HIV stigma, and violence in Eastern Europe. He also demonstrated that substance use is not a barrier to achieving successful HIV care milestones. Additionally, he conducted research showing the potential cost-effectiveness of methadone therapy in Russia, where it is prohibited for ideological reasons.

Since joining the PhD program in 2022, he has served as a Research Assistant with Emily Williams, the Health Services PhD program’s Program Director; Joe Glass at Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute; and Judith Tsui at UW Medicine. His contributions are related to projects aimed at enhancing health services for substance use care and digital therapeutics for substance use disorders. Additionally, he has been engaged in close collaboration with the resource tracking team at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, utilizing Global Burden of Disease and Disease Expenditure data for his dissertation.

He also received a pilot grant from the Center for Health Economics of Treatment Interventions for Substance Use Disorder, HCV, and HIV (CHERISH) to investigate U.S. healthcare spending on HIV, hepatitis C virus, and substance use care from 2010 to 2019, focusing on variations by geographic area and demographics.

Visit Bulat’s Linktree to learn more about his work.

Anna Localio

Anna Localio

Anna’s research focuses on evaluating nutrition-related social safety net policies and their impacts on health and health disparities.

Before joining the PhD program in 2019, she received her MPH from the University of Pennsylvania and her BA in Sociology from Boston College. Before coming to the UW, she worked as a research coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania researching clinical interventions for low-income adults with asthma in Philadelphia. She also served as a Jesuit Volunteer at the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona assisting clients applying for SNAP and other public benefits.

She was supported by the AHRQ T32 grant from 2019-2021. Since 2021, she has worked as a research assistant for Dr. Jessica Jones-Smith, evaluating the impacts of the Community Eligibility Provision, a federal universal free school meals policy, on child obesity and related health outcomes.

Ammarah Mahmud

Ammarah Mahmud

Ammarah’s research interests include health policy and program evaluation, social determinants of health, and health care delivery.

Prior to entering the doctoral program in 2019, she worked as a Policy Analyst at RAND in Washington DC. She earned her MPH from Emory University with a concentration in Health Policy.

From 2019-2021, she was an AHRQ NRSA T-32 Pre-Doctoral Trainee. Currently, she works as a Research Assistant with Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute. Her dissertation evaluates the impact of a pilot social health integration program on patient-reported social needs, utilization, and costs in two Kaiser Permanente Washington clinics.

Zoe Pleasure

Zoe Pleasure

Zoe’s research interests include reproductive health, equitable access, care delivery, abortion, contraception, Veterans Health Administration care, and social media.

Zoe received a BS in neuroscience and behavioral biology from Emory University and an MPH from Columbia University. She worked at the Guttmacher Institute for over three years on sexual and reproductive health research. While at Guttmacher, she worked on a variety of projects related to family planning services, maternal mortality, and adolescent sexual behavior. She was also part of Guttmacher’s Reproducibility Initiative, which strives to make quantitative and qualitative research more reproducible and transparent.

Since joining the PhD program in 2021, Zoe has been a research assistant with the VA/UW Women’s Health Services Research team led by Dr. Lisa Callegari and Dr. Kristen Gray. She also has a predoctoral research fellowship from VA Puget Sound. Zoe has continued to work with mentors from outside of the UW on projects related to access to contraception for adolescents and young adults and depictions of abortion on TikTok. In August 2023, she received a grant from the Society of Family Planning to study how contraceptive side effects are discussed on TikTok and what insights the social media platform could provide clinicians and public health researchers about the importance and salience of contraceptive side effects.

Originally from San Francisco, CA, Zoe enjoys knitting, hiking, dance classes with cohort-mates, cooking, and spending time with her family and friends—as well as their cats and dogs.

Max Sgro

Max Sgro

Max’s research interests are health economics and health financing, and he has over 6 years of federal and state health policy experience.

Before he joined the PhD program in 2020, Max earned a Master of Public Policy from UC Berkeley. There, his research focused on analyzing finances within California Hospitals and trends in the budget of the Medi-Cal program, specifically around supplemental payments. He has experience visualizing data to inform policy decision makers, with work in Excel, R, and Tableau. Max also worked in the Obama Administration to support Affordable Care Act Implementation and in the Office of Management and Budget to aid in the development and implementation of the federal budget for health programs.

He works as a Research Assistant with the Puget Sound VA Medical Center, where he is working on research into veteran provider preference in the Community Care program.

Originally from Cleveland Heights, Ohio—when not hard at work, Max can be found in the mountains.

Jamie Wallace

Jamie Wallace

Jamie’s research interests include in policy evaluation, food and nutrition security, and nutrition assistance programs.

She earned her MPH from Boston University and her BA in Biology and Spanish from Colby College. Before entering the Health Services PhD program in 2020, she worked as a project manager at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute in Boston focusing on the impacts of insurance design on health outcomes.

From 2020-2022, Jamie was an AHRQ T32 Trainee. Currently, she’s a Research Assistant for Dr. Jessica Jones-Smith on studies related to food and nutrition policy in Seattle and a Teaching Assistant for the UW Public Health-Global Health undergraduate major.

Originally from California, Jamie enjoys hiking, being outside, and spending time with family.

Health Behavior and Social Determinants of Health

Miriana Duran

Miriana Duran

Miriana is interested in policies that improve childhood nutrition, reducing risk of chronic disease, mixed methods, structural determinants of health, and the Latino population.

A physician by training, she earned her MPH in Global Health at the University of Washington. She has broad experience in community based participatory research, health disparities research, and qualitative research. Topics have ranged from cultural adaptation of evidence-based programs for Latino caregivers of people with dementia, implementing evidence-based interventions for cancer prevention in rural Latino communities, and implementing a risk communication intervention in elementary schools in the Yakima Valley.

Currently, Miriana works as a part-time Research Scientist in the Department of Health Systems and Population Health, and as a Lead Trainer and Data Analyst at the Qualitative Research Core. She is working with Dr. Jessica Jones Smith on the FRESH study, which focuses on improving what is known about the equity and impact of fruit and vegetable incentive programs through the study of Seattle’s Fresh Bucks Program.

She is from Cuernavaca, the “city of Eternal Spring” and lived in NYC before moving to Seattle. Miriana loves spending time with her family, eating, sleeping, and traveling.

Carolyn Fan

Carolyn Fan

Carolyn’s research interests includestructural racism, discrimination, violence, intersectionality, anti-racism, and QTBIPOC health.

She received her B.A. in Global Public Health and Sociology from New York University. Prior to entering the Health Services PhD program in 2019, she worked at Apicha Community Health Center (a FQHC working with LGBTQ+ BIPOC populations in NYC); PRIDE Health Consortium at CUNY; and Mount Sinai Hospital Department of Anesthesiology. She has a broad range of experience in health equity and health disparities research, ranging in topics from racially targeted food and beverage advertising, tobacco use, sexual health, and HIV/AIDS.

From 2019-2021, Carolyn was an AHRQ T32 Trainee. Since then, she has served in a variety of TA and RA-ships. She was a TA for the undergraduate Public Health-Global Health (PH-GH) program and the UW School of Medicine, as well as an RA for VA Puget Sound and the Center for Anti-Racism and Community Health (ARCH). Currently, she is a Research Scientist for the ARCH Center and an Instructor for the PH-GH program.

Carolyn grew up in the Chicagoland area. Her passion for health equity is informed by her Asian American, immigrant, and queer communities. In her free time, she enjoys exploring different art mediums, going to museums, and trying as many bakeries in Seattle as possible!

Dielle Lundberg

Dielle Lundberg

Dielle’s research interests include structural determinants of health, structural and institutional ableism, structural intersectionality, disability studies, disability justice, disability-affirming health care, pain care, addiction care, psychiatrization, madness, neurodivergence, trans health, health equity, and arts-based research and dissemination methods.

She completed her BS in biochemistry at Boston College and her MPH at Boston University School of Public Health where she studied pain treatment and substance use among LGBTQ+ young adults. Prior to entering the doctoral program in 2022, she worked for several years as a research fellow at Boston University gaining experience as a quantitative data analyst.

Dielle has been an AHRQ T32 trainee since the Fall of 2022. Her research has focused on structural ableism within health systems under the mentorship of Dr. Jessica Chen. She is also a research assistant in the Uncounted Lab at Boston University where she works on research exploring unrecognized deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic and structural bias in the United States death investigation system. She also collaborates with investigators at Boston College through the Aftermath Learning Lab where she co-leads arts-based dissemination efforts to advance awareness of environmental health issues. In addition, she is completing a Graduate Certificate in Disability Studies at the University of Washington.

The under-representation of disabled people in health policy-making and her experiences with ableism in mental health and addiction care motivated her decision to pursue a PhD in Health Services. Her research is informed by her lived experiences as a physically disabled, neurodivergent, and mad person. Outside of the doctoral program, she is active as a multi-media artist.

Health Economics

Donghoon Lee

Donghoon graduated from the PhD program in 2023. His research interests include cost-effectiveness analysis, health policy evaluation, and applied econometrics.

Donghoon studied economics in Yonsei University (Seoul), and earned his master’s degree in health policy as part of a joint program between the London School of Economics and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine with a Korean government scholarship.

Prior to entering the doctoral program, Donghoon worked as a researcher for three years, evaluating the cost-effectiveness of health interventions in Korea, such as hepatitis B vaccination, diabetes care for the elderly, and smoking cessation.

Donghoon is a Fulbright scholar for the 2018-2019 academic year.

Diana Poehler

Diana graduated from the PhD program in 2023. Her research interests include applied econometrics, consumer choice, health insurance, and behavioral health. Her dissertation evaluates the impact of Health Insurance Exchange policies on consumer inertia and consumer welfare. Diana is also developing a Multiple Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) with the Veterans Affairs (VA) to help dysvascular patients facing an amputation elucidate their values and preferences for amputation level.

Prior to entering the doctoral program, Diana double majored in Mathematics and Economics at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2013. She worked as an Associate Economist at RTI International prior to beginning her doctoral training.

Diana was an AHRQ NRSA T-32 Health Services Research Pre-Doctoral Trainee from 2017-2019.

Diana is originally from Raleigh, NC, and moved to Seattle to begin school at UW.

Implementation Science

Angela Chen

Angela Chen

Angela’s research interests include health equity, women’s health, Asian-American populations, quasi-experimental methods for causal inference from observational data, and health economics for informing policy and decision-making.

Prior to entering the PhD program in 2022, Angela worked as a Program Analyst in the Office of HIV/AIDS in the Global Health Bureau at the United States Agency for International Development, focusing on the scaling up of multi-month dispensing of antiretrovirals for HIV treatment and prevention in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and scaling-up of machine learning applications for HIV care. Previously, she worked as a primary school teacher for the Spanish Ministry of Education in a rural town in Spain for three years and at the Peace Corps in Washington, DC as a Data Analyst in the Office of Strategic Information, Research, and Planning.

She earned her Master of Science degree in Public Health (Health Economics concentration) from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and her a double bachelor’s degree in International Affairs (Global Public Health concentration) and Spanish Literature from George Washington University.

From 2022-2024, she has been a trainee on the AHRQ NRSA T32 training grant. Angela is currently working as a Research Assistant at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) on the Reproductive, Genitourinary, and Digestive Disease (RGUD) team for the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study.

Angela is originally from St. Louis, Missouri but has lived abroad in 4 different countries for the last 6 years prior to moving to Seattle to begin her PhD. She is an avid globetrotter, having travelled to over 50 countries to date, and speaks English, Chinese, and Spanish. Angela enjoys hand embroidery, reading, baking, and playing board games in her free time.

Jennifer Im

Jennifer Im

Jennifer’s research interests include aging, informal caregiving, serious illness, and end-of-life care.

Prior to entering the doctoral program in 2020, Jennifer worked at the Institute of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation on evaluating access to team-based primary care in Ontario, Canada. Jennifer received her MSc in Health Services Research at the University of Toronto.

Jennifer is a pre-doctoral research associate with the Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence at UW Medicine. Jennifer is supported by the Martha H. Duggan Fellowship in Caring Labor through the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies (2023-24) and Fulbright Canada Student Fellowship (2020-23).

In her free time, she enjoys biking, snowboarding, hiking, and playing tennis.

Taylor Rapson

Taylor’s research interests include health disparities, quality improvement, implementation and evaluation, and methods to promote equity in the delivery of services and improve health outcomes among marginalized populations. Her current research explores the impact of digital health technologies on digital exclusion and how tailored interventions to address barriers to use may promote digital equity and improved outcomes among patients within a large, urban safety-net health system.

Prior to entering the doctoral program in 2020, Taylor worked as a Quality Improvement Manager and Population Health Data Analyst at a federally-qualified health center in Los Angeles’ Skid Row. She earned her MPH in Urban Health Disparities from Charles R. Drew University.

Taylor was an AHRQ T32 trainee from September 2020-2022. Currently, she is a Graduate Research Assistant for a Fred Hutch Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) Ending the HIV Epidemic project where she acts as a practice facilitator and data analyst. In this role, she helps partner organizations adopt quality improvement strategies to improve holistic support for their community members and advance health equity.

Taylor is originally from California, having grown up in the Bay Area and then spent 12 years living in LA. She’s a big sports enthusiast, believes breakfast burritos are the ultimate comfort food, and lives for lake days.

Taylor C. Ryan

Taylor Ryan

Taylor joined the Health Services PhD program in 2021, and her research interests includeyouth suicide prevention, mental health, and behavioral health care.

She earned her master’s degree in Human Development and Family Sciences and a bachelor’s degree in Human Services from the University of Delaware. Taylor spent two years at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health working as the lead study coordinator for a SAMHSA funded project focused on improving mental health outcomes for youth seen in the pediatric emergency department for suicide risk. She also worked closely on a project focused on suicide risk screening for adolescents with neurodevelopmental disabilities and related disorders with colleagues at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. Following her time at Johns Hopkins, Taylor worked as an Evaluation Specialist for Forefront Suicide Prevention at the UW.

Taylor spent one year on the AHRQ T32 training grant, and also worked as a research assistant for the UW School Mental Health Assessment, Research, and Training Center (UW SMART Center). Currently, she works as a research assistant for Dr. Jenna van Drannen and her Research with Expert Advisors on Drug Use (READU) Team and with the King County Public Health School Based Health Center Partnership. She is writing her dissertation in collaboration with Dr. Julie Richards and the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute.

She grew up outside of Philadelphia and loves spending time with family and friends, as well as her dog and horse.

Ashlyn Tom

Ashlyn Tom

Ashlyn is passionate about promoting health and language equity, analyzing healthcare policies and their impact on marginalized groups, and improving communication and community partnerships to advance access to care. Her current research is working to understand the impact of racially, culturally, and linguistically concordant patient navigation on patient outcomes during cancer care. Her Area of Emphasis is Implementation Science.

Prior to entering the doctoral program in 2021, Ashlyn earned her MPH from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology with a double minor in Chemistry and Public Policy from New York University. After completing her MPH, she contributed to several projects advancing cancer clinical care, evaluating healthcare performance, and improving the implementation of health promoting policies while working in research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, The University of Hawaii Cancer Center, and as a Policy Analyst at the RAND Corporation. She is originally from Hawaii.

Ashlyn is a prior recipient of the AHRQ/NRSA T32 training award for 2021 – 2023 and a current NCI BCPT Pre-doctoral Fellow for 2023 – 2024.

Occupational Health

Jane Dai

Jane Dai

Jane’s research interests include economic and spatial determinants of health, food sovereignty, urban planning, mixed methods, and data visualization.

She obtained her BA in Biology and Psychology at Williams College, and her MPH in Social and Behavioral Sciences at Yale University. She has worked in nutrition policy research regarding commercial determinants of health and school meal program infrastructure.

Since joining the PhD program in 2021, Jane has been an Occupational Health Services Research Trainee. She has also TA’d for courses in US food system policy, epidemiology and biostatistics, and public health practice. As a Research Assistant, she has worked on projects on local and state responses to assessing economic determinants of food security and leveraging public-private partnerships to overcome structural barriers to food security.

“I like to consider myself a full-time human,” said Jane about her personal interests, “So I spend a fair bit of time tinkering with sourdough milk breads and pastries, working on puzzles destined to become wall decor, and dog-spotting on runs.”

Stefani Florez-Acevedo

Stefani Florez-Acevedo

Stefani’s research interests includeoccupational health psychology, work equity, social determinants of health, and health promotion.

Stefani holds a master’s degree in psychology from the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá-Colombia, and an MPH in Health Services from the University of Washington. Prior to entering the PhD program in 2021, she gained experience in research evaluation, health promotion research, and work equity research through the International Rescue Committee, the UC Davis Department of Public Health Sciences, the UW Health Promotion and Research Center, as well as El Centro de la Raza—a community-based organization in Seattle. In her work, Stefani has used conceptual frameworks that acknowledge how different socioeconomic contexts create health outcome disparities within and between groups. She also uses mixed methods, qualitative methods, and community-based participatory research to draw attention toward invisibilized and historically marginalized groups.

During her time in the PhD program, Stefani was an Occupational Health Services Research Trainee during the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 academic years. She worked as a Health Research Intern IV at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute for two years. There, she gained experience in the design, implementation, and evaluation of a culturally tailored health promotion program that aimed to reduce sedentary behavior in the Latino community.

Currently, Stefani holds a permanent position as an Occupational Safety and Health Equity Evaluator at the Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention program (SHARP) at the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries where she conducts research evaluation that fosters health and safety for workers experiencing complex workplace hazards.

Stefani is originally from Bogotá-Colombia, and she enjoys hiking the PNW, traveling, and spending quality time with her family.

Shanise Owens

Shanise earned a Master of Science in Global Mental Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and holds a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology.

She previously worked on research to address racial and ethnic health disparities and Sexually Transmitted Infections at the US Department of Health and Human Services in the Office of Minority Health and Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy. Shanise has extensive work experience in the field of mental and behavioral health, and specializes in child and adolescent therapy.

Her research interest broadly include, disparities in health care service utilization, health economics, occupational and mental health.

Shanise is an Occupational Health Services Research pre-doctoral trainee during the 2019-2020 academic year.

Sydney Spencer

Sydney Spencer

Sydney’s research interests broadly include maternal health; racial and ethnic health disparities; social determinants of health; and occupational health.

Prior to joining the program in 2023, Sydney worked on the Occupational Health, Safety, and Research team at Microsoft. She led implementation and evaluation efforts for Microsoft’s employee health and wellness programs.

She is a NIOSH-supported Occupational Health Services Research predoctoral trainee and currently supports Dr. Emily Godfrey on her research in understanding the role of primary care providers in addressing maternal health disparities.

Sydney is originally from Seattle and enjoys hiking, climbing, yoga, and reading.