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Chronic disease control branch

Cal-EIS Fellows


Anthony Arce, MPH

Anthony received his MPH under the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Track from California State University, Fullerton (CSUF).  As a graduate student, he contributed to many studies for several research programs and centers.  Under the Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training Program in Thailand, he developed and implemented a survey in coordination with the local community assessing communication technology and identifying factors associated with social support among rural elders.  In addition, he participated in the Minority Training Program in Cancer Control Research where he performed data analysis and drafted manuscripts for three studies: colorectal cancer screening among Filipinos, vegetable exposure among children, and sweet-tasting among children.  He was also involved with CSUF's cancer disparities center in which he worked with several studies in the topics of skin cancer, nutrition, tobacco control, and palliative care.  Overall, he is interested in preventative efforts and lessening the burden of chronic diseases, particularly cancer. Anthony will be completing his Cal-EIS fellowship with Napa County Public Health, and he hopes to use the experience to pursue a career as an epidemiologist at the local level in California.

Stipend provided by the Napa County Public Health Department.  Preceptor – Jennifer Henn, PhD

Neale Batra, MSc

Neale will be completing his Cal-EIS fellowship at the Communicable Disease Control Program of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.  Neale aims to work at the intersection of communicable disease epidemiology and public health emergencies.  Prior to this placement, Neale coordinated public health emergency preparedness and response programs for the City of Philadelphia, where he was heavily involved in the health and medical response to the visit of Pope Francis in 2015.  He has also led geospatial research projects on global and domestic HIV/AIDS for USAID (PEPFAR) and for CDC.  He holds a bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Michigan and a master's degree in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. 

Stipend provided by the Public Health Foundation Enterprises, Inc.  Preceptors – George Han, MD, MPH and Lisa B. Hernandez, MD, MPH

Lizette Brenes, MPH

Lizette received her BA in Anthropology from UC Berkeley and her MPH in Epidemiology and Statistics from Claremont Graduate University. Before her MPH, Lizette worked for many years with underserved and underrepresented communities in California and internationally, and researched risk factors and barriers that influence the prevention and treatment of sickness, the experience of illness, healing processes, and overall health and well-being in minority and immigrant groups.  As a graduate student, she completed a fellowship with a US Veterans' Affairs medical center in Wisconsin, with a focus on Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) women veterans.  For her MPH practicum, Lizette spent three months at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, where she supported the Ebola Response Team in assessing behavior change interventions, vaccine preparedness and trust, and social aspects of therapeutic and vaccine trials.  She also contributed to systematizing debriefing interviews to identify knowledge gaps in community engagement during the 2014-15 outbreak in West Africa.  Following her MPH, she participated in a six-month health disparities fellowship program at a pediatric hospital in Delaware, looking at pediatric cancer and social determinants of health.  Lizette is currently placed with the CDPH Oral Health Program in the Chronic Disease Control Branch in Sacramento. She looks forward to a future working as an epidemiologist at the state or local level and to collaborating on national and international health equity initiatives.

Stipend provided by the CDPH Oral Health Program.  Preceptor:  Jayanth Kumar, DDS, MPH

Laura Farnsworth, MPH

Laura will be completing her fellowship with the Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health Division at the California Department of Public Health. She is interested in understanding how epidemiological work such as data surveillance and evaluation affects program planning and policy development. Prior to this placement, she completed her MPH at the University of California, Davis. For her Master's thesis she conducted a state by state review of childhood obesity prevention interventions in early care and education environments. This project was completed at the Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Branch at CDPH.  Prior to starting graduate school Laura served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala where she started a health education program aimed at improving the health of indigenous youth and their families. Her primary research interests include maternal and child health, nutrition, chronic disease prevention, and groups that experience health disparities. Laura hopes to work as an epidemiologist at the state or local level after completing her fellowship.

Stipend provided by the CDPH Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health Division.  Preceptors – Michael Curtis, PhD and Carina Saraiva, MPH

Tessa Fischer, DVM, MPH

Tessa is placed in the CDPH Food and Drug Branch.  Prior to the fellowship, she graduated from the University of Illinois with her DVM and MPH in epidemiology/biostatistics.  She has a background in One Health and is interested in the interrelationship between human, environmental, and animal health. Her Master's thesis examined the role of animal contact in the acquisition of sporadic salmonellosis in Illinois. During her doctorate she assisted in the analysis of global maternal deaths associated with malaria.  She has also studied the role of soil solarization in killing weed seeds to reduce the use of pesticides and helped designed solar ovens for a community in Nigeria.  Prior to Cal-EIS, Tessa worked in small animal and wildlife clinics and completed several externships in a variety of medical settings and government departments.  Tessa's career goals include serving as a public health veterinarian and conducting research as a wildlife epidemiologist. 

Stipend provided by the CDPH Food and Drug Branch.  Preceptors – Larry Upjohn, Pharm. D., Maja Hajmeer, PhD, Madhur Kumar, MS, PhD, and Qinyan (Julia) Zhu, PhD

Lauren Gernon, MPH

Lauren will be completing her Cal-EIS fellowship with the Chronic Disease Control Branch at CDPH in Sacramento.  She completed her Master of Public Health with a concentration in infectious disease and vaccinology at UC Berkeley in May 2017.  For her practicum, she was involved in a pilot project using enhanced hypothesis-generating questionnaires for salmonellosis cases in California at the Infectious Disease Branch in CDPH Richmond.  She is interested in augmenting her infectious disease training with work in chronic disease, and will be primarily involved with projects on diabetes and cardiovascular disease surveillance.  Lauren is interested in preventative medicine and hopes to have a career building linkages between population health and policy to individual health and health care delivery.

Stipend provided by CDPH California Wellness Plan Implementation.  Preceptor - Jessica Núñez de Ybarra, MD, MPH, FACPM

Allison Hargreaves, MPH

Allison received her MH in Global Epidemiology from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in May 2017.  Her practicum project focused on identifying and assessing barriers to health care provision for female sex workers in Kigali, Rwanda.  Allison's master's thesis utilized the National Immunization Survey and investigated the association of sociodemographic characteristics and vaccine schedule adherence with completion of early childhood immunization in the U.S.  As a recipient of the Coverdell Fellowship for returned Peace Corps Volunteers (having served in Malawi 2012-14), Allison was involved with the Clarkston-Rollins Connection, a community engaged learning program that partners public health graduate students with local agencies serving refugee communities.  Allison is excited to return to her home state and work with the CDPH California Tobacco Control Program as a Cal-EIS Fellow.  Following this year, Allison hopes to work as an applied epidemiologist at the local, state, or national level.

Stipend provided by the CDPH CA Tobacco Control Program.  Preceptor – Xueying Zhang, MD, MPH, MS

Trang Hoang, MPH

Trang is a Cal-EIS Fellow with the CDPH Environmental Health Investigations Branch in Richmond, CA.  She graduated from the University of Nebraska Medical Center with an MPH in Environmental, Agricultural and Occupational Health.  She is interested in projects that help her to become a well-rounded environmental epidemiologist and a public health practitioner.  A few of her topics of interests are water and air quality; she wants to explore how these environmental indicators affect different health outcomes.  She is also interested in hands-on projects where she gets to interact with the community and brings awareness to people about the conditions of their health, and how the environment plays a huge role in determining their quality of life.  After her fellowship year, Trang hopes to continue working as an environmental epidemiologist at the state or local department, and discerns the prospect of obtaining further education in public health practice and applied leadership skills.

Stipend provided by the CDPH Environmental Health Investigations Branch. Preceptor- Sumi Hoshiko, MPH

Melissa Ibarra, MPH

Melissa received her MPH at the University of California, Davis.  During the course of her studies, she completed her practicum with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.  Her capstone project involved the study of hand hygiene biosecurity practices of fairgoers at California county fairs.  Additionally, she spent the 2015-2016 academic year working as a Graduate Student Assistant at the Cal-EPA's Office of Environmental Health Hazards Assessment.  Here she worked on risk assessment, including preparation of Hazard Identification Documents, literature review, summarization and synthesis of data.  During her first year as a Cal-EIS Fellow, Melissa worked at the Office of Health Equity where she assessed the impacts of climate change on California communities, particularly vulnerable populations.  Melissa hopes to continue to address health inequities through her work at the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.  

Stipend provided by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.  Preceptor – Merry Holliday-Hanson, PhD

Brandi Loper, MS, MPH

Brandi received her MPH with emphasis in Urban Health Disparities, from Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science in June 2017.  During her time in the program, she completed her practicum at Esperanza Community Housing working on the Healthy Breathing Project:  a longitudinal epidemiological study of in-home health visitation program of community health workers, utilizing community health impact data, to describe and understand the distribution and determinants of chronic disease.  After completing the MPH program, she went on to intern at Cedar Sinai Medical Center, as a clinical researcher, where she conducted biostatistical data analysis on national databases within the context of trauma, acute surgical care, and quality improvement utilizing Statistical Package for the Social Sciences.  Brandi is currently a Cal-EIS Fellow placed in the CDPH Safe and Active Communities Branch in Sacramento, where she will be working on prevention of adverse childhood experiences (Essentials for Childhood) as well as addressing the opioid epidemic.

Stipend provided by the CDPH Safe and Active Communities Branch.  Preceptor – Steve Wirtz, PhD

Monise Magro, DVM, MPVM

Monise obtained her veterinary degree in Brazil in 2010 and her master's degree in Preventive Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis in 2016.  She will complete her Cal-EIS fellowship with the Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI) Program within the Center for Health Care Quality at the California Department of Public Health.  Monise is interested in public health epidemiology, infectious and zoonotic diseases, and One health.  She has been actively involved with disease prevention and control initiatives in California and Brazil.  She participated in animal vaccination campaigns targeting underserved communities.  Recently prior to Cal-EIS fellowship, she worked in animal shelters assisting in the prevention of zoonotic diseases and outbreaks.  Monise has had extensive experience with data analysis, geographic information system, and biostatistics.  Lately, she published a research study investigating the association of environmental and climatic factors on aspergillosis in dogs in California.  Her study findings provide novel information about this infection in dogs, promote awareness, can enrich the investigation of risk-based interventions, and serve as a model for further studies of aspergillosis in humans.  Monise is particularly interested in disease outbreak investigation and surveillance, and her ultimate goal is to utilize her medical skills and background experience for the enhancement of human and animal health.  Upon completion of her fellowship, Monise desires to serve as an infectious disease epidemiologist at the local or state level.

Stipend provided by the CDPH Healthcare-Associated Infections Program.  Preceptor – Erin Epson, MD

Victoria Mercado, MPH

Victoria will be completing her fellowship at the CDPH Chronic Disease Control Branch.  Prior to her fellowship, she worked at the City of Berkeley Public Health Division, where she assisted in updating Berkeley's 2017 Health Status Report.  She completed her MPH at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, concentrating in Epidemiology/Biostatistics.  During her graduate career, she volunteered at the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Pacific Health to create data visualizations and reports highlighting the unique health needs of the US Affiliated Pacific Islander population.  She was an active member of Cal Student Assistance for Public Health (Cal STAPH), participating in surge capacity events at local and state health departments. For her MPH internship she conducted data analysis projects focused on the Asian/Pacific Islander population under Dr. Gilbert Gee at UCLA, through the Minority Training Program in Cancer Control Research (MTPCCR).  Victoria hopes to use her experience as a Cal-EIS fellow to begin a career in applied epidemiology at the local or state level.

Stipend provided by the CDPH Chronic Disease Control Branch.  Preceptor – Catrina Chambers, PhD, MSPH

Jessica Parry, MPH, CHES

Jessica received her MPH in Community Health Sciences from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. She completed her MPH field study with the Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control at CDPH, where she was involved in program planning and evaluation for the Delta Mercury Exposure Reduction Program and an occupational safety train-the-trainer for home child care providers. Following her field study, she continued to work with the CDPH Environmental Health Investigations Branch on environmental justice related projects.  Her interests include nutrition and chronic disease prevention, maternal and child health, and occupational health and safety.  Jessica is currently placed at the CDPH Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program for a second year, where her primary research involves better understanding infant and early childhood obesity in the California WIC population.  In the future, Jessica hopes to continue working as a research scientist at CDPH.

Stipend provided by the CDPH Women, Infants and Children Division.  Preceptors – Patricia Gradziel, PhD and Susan Sabatier

Stephanie Sanz, MPH

Stephanie will complete her Cal-EIS Fellowship with the CDPH Safe and Active Communities Branch.  Her interests include maternal and child health, violence prevention, and reducing health inequities.  Prior to the fellowship, Stephanie received her MPH from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology and her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences in Psychology and Women's Studies at San Diego State University.  During her studies, she worked on numerous public health projects with varied goals/populations- a pilot physical activity program for pregnant women, a randomized control trial aimed to increase physical activity among church-going Latinas, a longitudinal study aimed to assess the relationship between neighborhood safety and physical activity, and an evaluation of a state-funded program that provides breast and cervical cancer services to low income/ underinsured women.  In the future, Stephanie would like to work as a research scientist in local/state government or academia and return to graduate school to earn a PhD.

Stipend provided by the CDPH Safe and Active Communities Branch.  Preceptor – Steve Wirtz, PhD

Kali Turner, MPH

Kali is currently placed at the CDPH Food and Drug Branch in Sacramento.  She obtained her MPH in Environmental and Occupational Health from the University of Washington with an emphasis in One Health.  During graduate school, Kali was part of the Student Epidemic Action Leaders (SEAL) Team which aims to provide students with experience in applied epidemiology.  As a SEAL, she worked with Washington State Public Health to develop an online reporting system for foodborne illness complaints and with King County Public Health on the Zika virus response.  She has also volunteered at the Los Angeles County Public Health Department in the Veterinary Public Health program, assisting in creating a survey regarding antibiotic use in small animal veterinary practices in LA County, and assisted in public outreach regarding Rabies and Zika viruses.  Her interests include infectious disease epidemiology, zoonoses, emergency response, and global health. Kali hopes to work as an epidemiologist at the national/local level, or for a non-profit organization after completing her fellowship.

Stipend provided by the CDPH Food and Drug Branch.   Preceptor – Laurence R. Upjohn, Pharm. D.



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