Students

Graduate

Youdinghuan "David" Chen, MS
PhD student, jointly mentored by Brock Christensen and Arminja Kettenbach
Program in Experimental and Molecular Medicine, 2015-present

Understanding the underlying biology of disease is my passion. For this reason, I pursued undergraduate study in Biology at Pacific Lutheran University and graduate study in Biochemistry at the University of Michigan. I gained laboratory research experience in a variety of disciplines, including developmental biology, immunology, neuroscience, and pharmacology. In Summer 2015, I joined the Program in Experimental & Molecular Medicine (PEMM) that aims to advance the mission of translational research at Dartmouth. In Fall 2016, I became a co-mentee of Dr. Brock Christensen and Dr. Arminja Kettenbach, and received the Burroughs-Wellcome Big Data in Life Sciences Training Grant. My PhD thesis aims to integrate epigenetics and proteomics data for a better predication of breast cancer risks, using bioinformatics, biostatistics, and laboratory-bench approaches. Outside of lab, I enjoy baking, gardening, music, and literature.

 

Despina Karalis
Masters Student, mentored by Margaret Karagas

I was born in Athens, Greece, moved to Palm Desert, CA, USA, eventually found myself at Hanover as an undergrad at Dartmouth College studying Biology and Women, Gender, and Sexuality studies. Now I am staying at Dartmouth as a grad student in QBS in Epidemiology. My passions include women's health, reproductive health, sexual health, and the intersections/overlaps of all. I am particularly interested in empowering and helping immigrant and underserved women and researching how the adverse conditions they face affect them and their children's development and health. I am hoping to eventually attend medical school and pursue Obstetrics and Gynecology while also doing research on these topics. On my free time I love cooking, taking long walks, reading, and spending quality time with my friends.

 

Jai Woo Lee, MS
PhD student, jointly mentored by Margaret Karagas and Jiang Gui

I am originally from South Korea, and I usually enjoy hiking, traveling or writing. I completed my undergraduate studies at Carnegie Mellon University and majored in computer science and mathematics. Before entering graduate programs at Dartmouth College, I mainly focused on graph theory and its application with/to computational methods in Operations Research in the field of Theoretical Computer Science and Discrete Mathematics. I also completed my Master's degree in computer science from Dartmouth College. My current research interests lie in utilizing and developing statistical and computational methods in Bioinformatics, Biostatistics, or Machine Learning to analyze biomedical data related to various fields of Epidemiology. Given the high-dimensional metallomics or metabolomics data in which many entities interact with each other in a complex manner, I am interested in studying graphical models and network analysis techniques for discovering environment-environment or metabolome-environment interactions which may define a complex disease.

 

Reno Leeming
PhD student, mentored by Michael Passarelli

Having worked in healthcare for many years, I have a passion for translational research. My primary interests include the etiology, progression, and treatment of cancer. As a PhD student at Dartmouth, I am studying genetic and dietary biomarkers that impact bladder cancer survival

 

Julia Litzky, BS
MD/PhD student

I grew up outside of Annapolis, MD and did my undergrad at Hamilton College. There, I majored in Neuroscience and minored in Philosophy. At Hamilton, I did research in the Lehman lab on drosophila tyrosine beta-hydroxylase protein expression. Over the summers, I worked in the Quinones-Hinojosa lab at Johns Hopkins studying the migrational characteristics of glioblastoma multiforme brain tumor stem cells in comparison with fetal brain cells and in relation to Slit proteins.
From Hamilton, I entered the MD/PhD program at Dartmouth. I'm interested in prenatal neurodevelopment and the hormonal and environmental factors that contribute to making us who we are once we're born. I hope to pursue a career in research science in neonatology or maternal fetal medicine.
In my free time, I enjoy baking, reading, spending time hiking with my dog, Byron. I am also an avid Bikram Yogini. I also volunteer as an advocate for Wise (the local organization for victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and stalking) by helping to staff their 24-hour crisis hotline. Additionally, I volunteer with Geisel's Art for Kids/Faces of Art in the pediatric craniofacial clinic at DHMC, which works to bring the expressivity and fun of art into the clinic to take some of the stress out of going to the doctor. I'm also a co-leader of the Geisel chapter of Medical Students for Choice, which works to bring education regarding family planning and abortion to medical students, and an editor of Lifelines, Geisel's literary journal.

 

Sara Lundgren, BA
PhD student, jointly mentored by Brock Christensen and Anne Hoen

I graduated from the University of Chicago in 2014 after studying Comparative Human Development and minoring in Statistics, and developed an interest in epidemiology through Statistics coursework and my longtime enthusiasm for delineating health behaviors and associated outcomes. I am currently in Dr. Christensen's lab.

 

 

Jennifer Luyapan, BS
PhD student, jointly mentored by Michael Passarelli and Christopher Amos

My research interests include genetic epidemiology and cancer prevention. My research background includes genetics, protein biochemistry, cancer biology and clinical trial research. I am studying the association of germline genetic variation of folate metabolism genes and colorectal adenoma recurrence to better understand the biological mechanisms of folate metabolism and colorectal adenoma development.

 

Yuka Moroishi, BS
PhD student, jointly mentored by Jiang Gui and Margaret Karagas

Originally from Japan, I completed my B.S. in statistics at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA with minors in economics and healthcare policy and management. I am currently a PhD student in the Quantitative Biomedical Sciences program. My research interests include the statistical modeling of human gut microbiome and infectious disease data, as well as mediation analysis with respect to arsenic exposure in infants. In my spare time, I enjoy exploring the local food and drink scene.

 

Meghan Muse, BS
PhD student, jointly mentored by Brock Christensen and Diane Gilbert-Diamond

I am interested in studying maternal and child health through the lens of bioinformatics and epidemiology. I chose the QBS program at Dartmouth because it provides the unique opportunity to be cross trained in these fields as well as the field of biostatistics. Outside of the lab, I enjoy running, hiking, and taking advantage of all the other outside activities that New Hampshire has to offer.

 

Miguel García-Villarino

PhD student, mentored by Margaret Karagas

Exchange Visitor, Department of Epidemiology, Geisel School of Medicine (September - December 2019) Ph.D. student, Department of Epidemiology, University of Oviedo (2017-) MSc in Pathophysiology and cellular and molecular pharmacology, University of Salamanca (2016) B.S. in Biology, University of Oviedo (2015) Mr. García Villarino studied Biology at the University of Oviedo (north of Spain) and he got a Master's Degree in Physiopathology and Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at the University of Salamanca. He is currently doing his doctorate in the field of Epidemiology at the University of Oviedo. His research focuses on the association between environmental toxicants such as Persistent Organic Pollutans (POPs) which act as endocrine-disruptors and genital development in children, particularly through the measurement of the Anogenital Distance. The research is part of the INMA [Environmental and Childhood] Project and he is granted by CiberESP.

 

Quang Nguyen, BS
PhD student, jointly mentored by Anne G. Hoen and H. Robert Frost

I graduated from Bates College in 2017 double-majoring in Biochemistry and Mathematics. My current research interest is in investigating the dynamics of the infant gut microbiome and its impact on infant health. This interest is motivated by my previous undergraduate work in gene expression dynamics across developmental stages in zebrafish. Other than research, I enjoy hiking, cooking, knitting and yearly rereads of all the Jane Austen novels.

 

Elle Nutter, BS 
PhD student, Doherty Lab

I did a rotation in the Cancer Epidemiology Laboratory during the summer of 2015, and eagerly decided to stay on for my thesis work. I am currently working on a genetic association study for lung cancer susceptibility, and am interested in continuing to do research pertaining to the genetic and environmental risk factors for lung cancer. My major interests lie within the realm of disease prevention and translational research. I am co-mentored by Dr. Tracy Onega.

 

Curtis Petersen, MPH
PhD student, jointly mentored by Brock Christensen and Ethan Berke

After a lot of experience working in molecular research I decided to try and understand how macro factors influenced the micro systems I had been studying and working with. In this endeavor I studied epidemiology as a masters student at The Dartmouth Institute where I focused on breast cancer. In 2014 I helped start a remote medical sensing group working on how we can use technology and big data to help people manage their health. This process spurred me into thinking about how we might be able to use this information to interpret epigenetic changes.

I am interested in examining next generation phenotyping, bridging the gap between the exposome and disease. I aim to link the huge amount of data that we are now continuously collecting from people to how it influences genetic expression. I think that our health systems can be greatly improved through advanced analytics of new data. I hope that this work will help influence how policy is shaped and how we measure quality healthcare.

 

Alexander Titus, BS, BA
PhD student - Christensen Lab
My typical week: study, research, get stuck, get unstuck, implement, get lost in the woods, get unlost out of the woods (repeat).

I'm a PhD student in the Quantitative Biomedical Sciences (QBS) program, where my interests intersect bioinformatics, biostatistics, and epidemiology. When I'm not in lab or class, I'm exploring NE by foot, pedal, or paddle. I'm interested in developing data integration tools and techniques to make analysis of the big data explosion in healthcare easier and more efficient.
I have two bachelor's degrees in Biology & Biochemistry, as well as a minor in Mathematics. Between undergrad and grad school I did research, worked at a start-up and a data visualization company, and then rode my bicycle from Northern Alaska to San Francisco, CA.

 

Owen Wilkins, BS
PhD student, Christensen Lab
Program in Experimental and Molecular Medicine

Whilst completing my undergraduate degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom, I gained a particular interest in the complexities of cancer biology. To pursue this curiosity I joined the Program in Experimental and Molecular Medicine at Dartmouth, where I joined the laboratory of Dr. Brock Christensen. My thesis research focuses on more completely understanding the functions of non-coding RNAs in cancer. Specifically, I study how variations in microRNA-related single nucleotide polymorphisms are associated with clinical outcomes in different cancers. Outside the lab, I enjoy several outdoor pursuits, including hiking and rock climbing.

 

Medical Students

Cynthia Chan
Geisel School of Medicine Student, mentored by Margaret Karagas

Cynthia grew up in New York City and China, majored in Biology at Yale University, and conducted occupational health research in China before attending Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. Her research during medical school has focused on pediatric nevus development under the mentorship of Dr. Karagas, oncologic dermatopathology, and non-invasive cutaneous imaging devices.

 

Nicolina (Nina) Mascia
Geisel School of Medicine student

I grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina, and I am currently a 2nd year medical student at Geisel School of Medicine. I studied neuroscience at Dartmouth College before continuing on at Geisel. My research interests include infertility, neonatal exposures, and developmental outcomes. I hope to use all I learn with the Department of Epidemiology and NHBCS to pursue a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology and possibly a fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.

 

Larry Kuklinski
Geisel School of Medicine Student, mentored by Margaret Karagas

Larry is a 4th year student at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. Originally from Southern California, he studied neuroscience at Harvard College before coming to Dartmouth. His clinical interests include dermatology and pathology, and he plans to pursue a residency in dermatology and possibly a fellowship in dermatopathology. He has enjoyed exploring the epidemiology of keratinocyte cancers with Dr. Karagas and his published work has included case-control studies of the risk of keratinocyte cancers in relation to sex hormone exposure and photoaging. He is also interested in the intersection of hematology and dermatology with research on keratinocyte cancers in the post bone marrow transplant setting as well as mastocytosis.

 

Undergraduate

Alexandra Eyvazzadeh ’21

I am currently a junior at Dartmouth College, where I have translated my interests in global health and healthcare equity intoa curriculum including the Sociology major, Global Health minor, and pre-med track. In summer 2019, I began working for the NHBCS, and the experience has only proved more and more invaluable. Joining the project has taught me the fundamentalsof population-based research through my work in data collection, and exposure to research methods and outcomes. I planto use my work experience from the NHBCS in Kosovo this upcoming winter, where I will be working for the Global Health Policy Lab. My future aspirations include attending medical school and  continuing to be an advocate for globalhealthcare equity wherever my work may lead me.

 

Brynn Rankin

I grew up in York, ME, and am currently a sophomore at Dartmouth College looking to major in Biology modified with Math. In January of 2019, I began working with the Department of Epidemiology in the NHBCS as a research assistant, and the experience has allowed me to learn more about what goes into research and all the moving parts that need to be coordinated for a successful study. I am so thrilled to be able to work for such an important project and wish to attend medical school after graduation.

 

Michael Green '21
I was born in Columbia, Maryland, and am majoring in Biology with a minor in Global Health. I started working for the Department of Epidemiology during January of 2018, within the NHBCS. With the NHBCS I have worked as a research assistant. During my time with the team I have developed my skills as an aspiring scientist by working on different data collection methods and evaluating the protocol implemented regarding the collection and entry of this data. At Dartmouth, I joined the heavyweight crew team as a novice during my freshman winter. Additionally, I have been an active member of the EE Just program and received funding from them in order to gain experience that will help my path towards becoming a research scientist. My time with the Department of Epidemiology has given me a desire to pursue some form of a Doctorate degree in a public health field.

 

Nate Gallagher

Nate Gallagher is an undergraduate student majoring in biology and anthropology at Dartmouth College. His research examines the association between inflammatory markers during pregnancy and birth as they relate to neurodevelopmental scores in infants. Beyond inflammatory markers, he is interested in other mechanisms by which maternal experiences of stress or discrimination can be embodied and transmitted to the next generation.

 

Stephanie Rivera Ithier '21
I grew up in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I am currently a freshman at Dartmouth College studying Biology and Spanish. Being part of the Department of Epidemiology has allowed me to gain a new perspective on research, a truly invaluable opportunity. Since I began working for the NHBCS, I have been able to learn about the distinct methods of data collection used in epidemiological studies. Moreover, I have witnessed all the preparation and, most importantly, the teamwork that is necessary for such amazing projects to be carried out. I hope to go on to medical school to obtain my M.D. degree after graduation.

 

Haillie Zens

I grew up in Thetford Center, Vermont.  Currently, I am in my second year of undergrad at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario majoring in Chemistry. I am interested in pursuing a career in medicine. During the summer of 2019, I worked in the Department of Epidemiology as part of Anne Hoen’s Lab, where I learned valuable programming and analytic skills while helping clean datasets from the NH Birth Cohort Study for use in analyses. When I’m not in the lab or the library I enjoy dance, theatre, going to the movies, and cooking.

 

Jorge E. Moreno Olivas '19
Born and raised in Mexicali, Mexico, I am a senior at Dartmouth College where I am majoring in neuroscience while also following the pre-med track. On March of 2018, I began working for the Department of Epidemiology in the NHBCS where I have been able to get experience as a research assistant and manager. I have gained proficiency in data cleaning and efficient data management and improved my organizational, structural, and teamwork skills. Moreover, I have had the opportunity to work in a study that started out as a small research project and eventually became a cohort study that examines multiple aspects and angles of pregnant mothers and their children in New Hampshire. This, to say the least, is fulfilling. After college and after getting more research experience, I plan to attend medical school.

 

Cindy Takigawa '21
During the time I have worked at the Department of Epidemiology, I have learned and gained many invaluable skills. I now understand how much coordinated effort goes into research, and have become more productive and methodical with how I use my time. Working at the NHBCS has broadened my view on research, and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work here. After graduating, I plan to attend Medical School.

 

Former Students

Shania Shehata
New England College '20
My work and contributions to the Epidemiology Department with the NHBCS was not only a rewarding experience, but also a definitive jumpstart towards my aspirations for the medical field as a future Pediatrician. All members of the cohort welcomed me as their protégé with open arms and lead me towards experiencing the most insightful summer of my life. The work that I conducted with the NHBCS granted me the ability to present my findings, and further promote the cohort, at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Indiana, Indianapolis on Nov. 14th-Nov.17th, 2018.

 

Michelle Martinez '18
I am currently a senior at Dartmouth College studying Neuroscience and Anthropology. I have been with the Department of Epidemiology since my Sophomore Fall in 2014. Throughout my time with the department, I have improved my communication skills, gained insight on the field of research, and have also helped the communities surrounding Dartmouth. I am very grateful for my opportunity to both participate in research and work alongside the staff at the NHBCS. After graduation, I will continue to do research at Columbia University and this decision was heavily impacted by my experiences with the team here.

Thuy-Vy Nguyen '19
Research-grade eye-trackers are extremely expensive, so low-cost devices that give comparable data quality could allow for much more research to be done. I am researching low-cost eye-trackers and helping test an inexpensive device we have in the lab to determine data quality and how to overcome some known limitations of low-cost eye-trackers. We hope to eventually design cognitive studies with children using these low-cost eye-trackers.

 

Gabrielle O'Donoghue '17
Gabrielle is a New York native fulfilling her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, concentrated in health care systems and global health at Dartmouth College. Gabrielle plans to attend graduate school for a dual Masters of Public Health and Masters of Business Administration then hopefully on to her medical degree. She hopes to one day be Chief Executive Officer of a hospital and eventually go into hospital administration and policy reform. When asked how her position with the New Hampshire Health Study has influenced her Dartmouth experience and future career goals, Gabrielle responded: “Working with Joan and the rest of the New Hampshire Health Study staff has taught me enumerable valuable lessons including time management, organization, and confidence in a workplace environment. By having this job, I had the confidence to apply to various internships for my off-term and ended up at a clinical research group that also established a trauma center in the region they were located. Having that work experience in conjunction with my time at the New Hampshire Health Study, has positively molded my desired career path aspirations.” Gabrielle, having worked with the New Hampshire Health Study for over a year now, hopes to continue to grow from her experience here and help with such a an impactful study for the New Hampshire population.

Alisha Yan '19
Working for the NHBCS has provided me with new insight into how much work goes on in preparing and collecting data for epidemiological studies. I have definitely become more efficient, organized, and detail-oriented from my time working at the study. As of now, I plan on going to law school and pursuing a joint JD/MPH degree to hopefully work in global health law.