Sameena Azhar, MSW MPH

Sameena AzharSameena Azhar graduated with an MSW/MPH from UPenn (2007) and a BA in Philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley (2002). Sameena received both the Otto and Getrude Pollack Scholarship and the Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship at Penn. Sameena's areas of interest are the clinical fields of mental health, substance abuse, sexual trauma, and HIV/AIDS. As a recipient of a service fellowship from the American India Foundation, Sameena spent a year working at Mamta Health Institute in New Delhi, India, where she conducted a research study documenting the stigma and discrimination experienced by people living with HIV/AIDS. Sameena has worked in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment at the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies at the University of California, San Francisco; Congreso de Latinos Unidos; and Blacks Educating Blacks about Sexual Health Issues (BEBASHI). She has also served on the Board of Directors of AIDS Services in Asian Communities (ASIAC) in Philadelphia. She currently resides in San Francisco where she works as a Clinical Supervisor at the Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center.

David Beckmann, MD MPH

David BeckmannDavid graduated from Duke University with a degree in psychology and concentrations in neuroscience and mathematics. He then worked in Duke's division of child and adolescent psychiatry as a research assistant and a program coordinator for a clinical trial comparing treatment modalities for adolescents who have attempted suicide. After some additional course work at Bryn Mawr College, he came to Penn in 2007 and is currently an MD/MPH candidate. David is particularly interested in mental health disparities in children and adolescents.

Julie Cederbaum, PhD MSW MPH

Julie CedarbaumJulie joined the USC School of Social Work faculty in 2009 after completing her PhD in Social Welfare and MPH at the University of Pennsylvania (she also holds a MSW degree from UCLA). Julie is a clinical social worker, whose expertise lies in the design and utilization of mixed methods in research, particularly on the topics of family process (communication, monitoring, role-modeling) and risk prevention with vulnerable populations. Substantively, she has used both Social Work and Public Health perspectives in investigating family process and the primary and secondary prevention of HIV/AIDS through reduction of drug use and risky sexual behavior. This background lends to the exploration of family process and help seeking in other populations at risk for emotional/physical disparities.

Her most recent completed projects as PI were a sequential mixed methods study examining the influence of parent-child sexual risk communication among a cohort of African American HIV-positive and HIV-negative women (F31 MH076697-01A1), and a study to examine Latina mother-daughter dyads funded by the Center for AIDS Research at the University of Pennsylvania (P30-AI-045008; PI Hoxie). Julie’s current funded work (as a principal and co-investigator) looks at, a randomized control trial examining if mother’s were able to influence their son’s alcohol, tobacco, and other substance use behaviors (R03 DA029707), adaptation and adoption of an evidence-based HIV risk reduction intervention for homeless women (R21 DA031610-01; PI Wenzel), pregnancy and parenting in foster youth (Conrad N. Hilton Foundation; PI Putnam-Hornstein), and a pilot study examining social networks and social supports of HIV-positive women using name generator interviews and a modified iPad application. Julie teaches clinical social work practice in healthcare settings in the Social Work program and foundations in health education and promotion in the Public Health program at USC. Dr. Cederbaum is bi-lingual in English/Spanish and has extensive clinical social work.

Carly Chornobil, MPH

Carly ChornobilCarly Chornobil's personal interest in public health was fostered by her academic studies in psychology and neuroscience at Kenyon College. As a first year student in the MPH program, she completed a concentration in Public Health Policy and Management. In addition, she hope to explore issues surrounding global health. Her primary objective is to improve the quality of health care for individuals at a national level, with a focus on family health care. She wishes to be more involved in formulating policy and optimizing administrative and operational development. Furthermore, she plans to broaden her public health knowledge through advanced research opportunities.

Merlin Chowkwanyan, MPH

Merlin Chowkwanyun is a joint PhD-MPH candidate in History and in Public Health. He is writing a dissertation of post-1945 public health that examines the history health services and environmental health burdens in four American regions - and a related separate study on health care social movements in New York City during the same period.

Joel A. Fein, MD MPH

joel feinJoel A. Fein, MD MPH is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and an Attending Physician in the Emergency Department at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). His areas of interest include violence prevention and pain management in children and adolescents. Dr. Fein is the co-director of the Emergency Department Violence Intervention Project at CHOP and The University of Pennsylvania Medical Center/ Dr. Fein has authored review articles and original research papers on the topic of violence prevention and the evaluation of post-traumatic stress disorder, and was the guest editor of the "Injury Prevention and Control" issue of Clinical Pediatric Emergency Medicine in June 2003. He is a manuscript reviewer for Pediatrics, Annals of Emergency Medicine, Pediatric Emergency Care, and Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. Dr. Fein is the Chairman of the Patient Satisfaction Subcommittee at CHOP, a member of the Youth Fatality Review Team of the Philadelphia Department of Health, and a member of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Heather Forquer, MPH

Heather Forquer Heather received her MPH in December 2012. Throughout the program she worked for Penn in the Center of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research at the Annenberg School, eventually becoming associate director of administration for the center. She completed her fieldwork at the Maternity Care Coalition, providing data analysis and reports comparing teen and older moms. Her MPH Capstone focused on psychosocial determinants of pregnancy spacing, including stillbirth and neonatal death, pregnancy intention, and contraceptive practices. She is now excited to begin a new job in the field of maternal, child, and adolescent health. In August 2013 she will begin working as a research scientist for the California Department of Public Health in the epidemiology, assessment, and program development branch. She is confident that her coursework in epidemiology and statistics, in addition to her focus on maternal and child health issues during the capstone experience, will serve her well in her new position.

Noel Harbist, MD MPHH

Noel HarbistNoel is enrolled as a full-time MPH student, having affirmed her interest in public health through course work last year prior to matriculation. Noel's background is in primary care pediatrics. She first considered public health after participating as a facilitator in an American Academy of Pediatrics program on the prevention of child abuse. She currently is serving on the New Jersey American Academy of Pediatrics Government Affairs Committee, which has given her the opportunity to observe the process of policy development and participate in the translation of policy into pediatric practice.

Marion Holaday, MPH

Rio Holaday is a generalist MPH student with experience in social work and research. She has worked with resettled refugees in Vermont on issues of accessing social services, and conducted Fulbright research on migrant networks in South Africa. Most recently, Rio was a Research and Data Analyst at Harvard Medical School. She holds an MA in Forced Migration Studies from the University of the Witwatersrand and a BA in East Asian Studies from Wesleyan University.

Rio's interests include social and behavioral health, low-income migrant communities and access to healthy food. She is especially interested in bridging the gap between academic research and practical application. She hopes to expand her skill set, perspective and interests during her MPH studies.

Shally Iyer, MPH

Shally IyerAfter graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts in Hispanic Studies with a concentration in cultural competency, Shally pursued a career in healthcare consulting. She specialized in clinical operations improvement and worked for the New York Department of Health and Mental Health to improve medical intake procedures for Rikers Island Prison Facilities. Shally's work in New York stimulated her interest in clinical improvement for underserved communities and she is excited to be returning to her alma mater for her Master of Public Health.

Vanesa Karamanian, MD MPH

V Karmanian picDr. Vanesa Karamanian received her MPH in Global Health from the University of Pennsylvania in 2011. Currently, she is the Monitoring and Evaluation Manager at the Health Promotion Council, an affiliate of the Philadelphia-based Public Health Management Corporation.

Prior to her MPH studies, Dr. Karamanian received her MD from Universidad Favaloro in Argentina. She came to the US as a postdoctoral fellow and has conducted research in several areas including cell biology and human health and behavior. While enrolled in the MPH program at Penn, she was awarded the University of Pennsylvania MPH Scholarship and completed an internship at the Pan American Health Organization in Washington, DC. After concluding her MPH, she became an adjunct professor for the Master in Public Health Program at Drexel University where she conducted lectures and oversaw several projects on poverty, food insecurity and hardship, nutrition education and behavior. In her current role at the Health Promotion Council, she oversees HPC’s monitoring and evaluation efforts on nutrition, tobacco, breast cancer, cardiovascular diseases and advocacy.

Her professional experience includes program planning and evaluation on maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS, breastfeeding and point-of-care diagnosis.

Susan E. Levy, MD MPH

S LevySusan E. Levy, MD MPH is a board certified pediatrician with certification in neurodevelopmental disabilities. She is currently a clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Associate Division Chief for the Division of Child Development, Rehabilitation and Metabolic Disease of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), and the Director of the section of Developmental Pediatrics. Dr. Levy's research interests include epidemiology of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), early identification of children with ASD, and Complementary and Alternative Medical treatments of ASD. She is the Co-principal investigator (with Dr. Jennifer Pinto-Martin, UPENN School of Nursing) of the Pennsylvania CADDRE (Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities Research and Epidemiology), which is funded by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This multi-center grant is devoted to investigating risk factors and causes of autism in children ages 2-5 years of age as well as conducting surveillance studies of ASD.

Dr. Levy is active in policy and advocacy on the local, regional and national levels. She co-chaired the research subcommittee of the Pennsylvania Autism Task Force and was chairperson of the workgroup to standardize ASD evaluation in Pennsylvania. As a member of the Autism Expert Panel for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Dr. Levy contributed to the recent (2007) clinical report and Autism Toolkit for pediatricians. She is a member of the Executive Board for the Council on Children with Disabilities of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Hillary Nelson, PhD MPH

Hillary NelsonHillary Nelson, PhD MPH is an Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Despite spending most of her career as a molecular biologist and biochemist, Hillary has always been interested in the public health implications of basic science. As a MPH student, Hillary did an independent study reviewing the public health implications of genetic-testing for smoking cessation. She did her fieldwork as an intern in HHS, working under Dr. Dalton Paxman, Regional Health Administrator for the mid-Atlantic area. Hillary’s main project was to interpret the newly-signed Affordable Care Act in terms of its impact on public health policies, specifically those related to the regional office. She also helped on other projects including: designing an educational program for federal workers about health disparities; assisting with the federal collaboration with local public health department on their tobacco and obesity grants; and evaluating the federal response to the Gulf Oil spill. For her Capstone research, Hillary switched to the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals: her paper was titled "A Critique of the FDA's Guidance to Industry on Antibiotics for Food Animals." Currently, Hillary is expanding her Capstone project. As she continues in public health, her emphasis will be on how basic science impacts public health policy.

Vishnu Potluri, MBBS MPH

Vishnu PotluriVishnu's training as a physician in India brought him across a large number of people who had been suffering from diseases. Many of these diseases could have been prevented by following proper immunizations, regular screening and maintaining proper hygiene. Through his work on "The Prevalence of Asymptomatic Bacteriuria in Pregnancy" he and his colleagues were able to identify and treat women who were at risk of developing complications due to it, such as premature delivery, pyelonephritis, and low birth weight infants. This was his first experience at conducting a screening study and realized that the ability to conduct a sound study in a population at risk had the potential to be of immense benefit to the community and this is when he became interested in public health. After completing his MPH Vishnu wishes to utilize the skills he acquired to teach and conduct beneficial studies in the community that he serves.

Chantel Priolo, MPH

Changel PrioloChantel received her MPH from the University of Pennsylvania in 2013. After graduating, she enrolled in the Physician Assistant program at Emory University. She hopes to use her knowledge in public health to explore population-level problems that exist, while helping patients individually. Prior to attending the University of Pennsylvania Public Health program, Chantel received her B.A. from Johns Hopkins University in 2008 and soon began working as a Clinical Research Coordinator for Dr. Andrea Apter in the Department of Pulmonary, Allergy, Immunology and Critical Care. The team’sresearch concentrated on eliminating health disparities, with a focus on asthma, and led to Chantel publishing several journal articles along with her research team. The team also studied barriers to adherence, the patient-provider relationship, and the impact of the health system and the social environments on patient health. Chantel’s Capstone was closely related to her research work and focused on health literacy and numeracy in patient visit instructions. Chantel intends to use her findings as a Physician Assistant to improve understanding among patients and help better manage their chronic health conditions.


Amna Rizvi, MPH

Amna RizviAmna Rizvi's interest in public health arose because of the deteriorating health situation in the country she was raised - Pakistan. In Pakistan, there are approximately 4 doctors for every nurse - a relatively large ratio of skilled personnel – but there is a grave lack of understanding about what systems of prophylaxis are best suited to the country. Amna got her Bachelor’s in journalism from Temple University, Philadelphia, PA and moved back to Pakistan, where she became the primary health reporter at Dawn News, Pakistan’s first English language news channel.

She wrote articles and produced television stories on pressing issues such as unsafe abortions, domestic abuse, lack of breastfeeding, dengue and bird flu outbreaks. She also worked as a communications consultant for two maternal health organizations in Pakistan. After moving back to the US, Amna continued to work for mothers in developing countries by becoming involved as a PR/editorial coordinator for a maternal health organization in Boston. Amna plans to pursue the Global Health track of the MPH program. She wants to work in the maternal and neonatal health field, specifically to devise effective prevention strategies and to uncover the eyes and ears of the public to the tragic realities of maternal and neonatal health in developing countries.

Megan Rowlands, MPH

Megan RowlandsMegan Rowlands currently works as a clinical research coordinator in the Schizophrenia Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania. She received a BA in neuroscience with a cellular and molecular concentration and a BA in Spanish from the Johns Hopkins University in 2009. She is primarily interested in exploring the factors that contribute to psychiatric diseases and the existing barriers that complicate the delivery of adequate treatment for these diseases. She will pursue an MPH degree so that she can better understand psychiatric diseases within a civic and social context and learn how to conduct research in the field. She is planning to apply to medical school, and will use her MPH degree and research experience to investigate and design more efficient interventions for psychiatric diseases.

Katelyn Tente, MPH

Katelyn TenteAfter graduating from Penn with her Masters in Public Health and my Masters in Social Work, Katelyn was offered a position at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as their new Family Centered Care Program Coordinator. She works with a team of parents whose children previously were patients or currently receive care at CHOP. Her team works to advance Family Centered Care (FCC) in all aspects of the institution. This is accomplished by training and mentoring family members to share their experience at CHOP in various venues such as new employee orientation or new resident orientation, sit on hospital committees to integrate the family voice and perspective such as Infection and Control, Strategic Planning and Steering Committees as well as review documents to make sure hospital communication aligns with the principles of Family Centered Care.

Her MPH has been essential to this new position. She was able to join the team and utilize her research background to begin the work of connecting her team's FCC work with their Family Experience Surveys and the NRC Picker data the hospital collects in our Department of Feedback. This allows her team to use actual data to support the work of advancing Family Centered Care. The goal in her work is to develop data informed models, training, language and behaviors that support frontline clinicians and staff to partner with families at the hospital so patients and families have a better experience at CHOP. Additionally, she works with interdisiplinary teams conducting quality improvement projects and researchto align their goals and outcomes with FCC and incorporate families as members of the project and research teams.

With health care policy in the pediatric world beginning to move in a direction that looks at patient and family satisfaction based on their experience and not just the health outcomes there was a great opportunity to use her MPH to help the institution develop methods of how FCC could be operationalized and measured. What she has realized in this position is how expansive the field of Public Health is and how the work she does with Family Centered Care is not just about CHOP getting higher patient and family satisfaction scores, but about providing patients and families with safer and better quality care.

Jennifer Walton, MD MPH

Jennifer WaltonJennifer is a fellow in developmental and behavioral pediatrics at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. She graduated from Kent State University with a BS in integrated life sciences, received her medical degree from Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine, and completed her pediatric residency at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan. Jennifer's focus is on education and policies on children with special healthcare needs. Jennifer is currently working on research involving urban children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder..